Dave Van Damme: Yoga Teacher
What brought you to yoga?
About 7 months before I started yoga, I shattered my shoulder blade in a mountain bike accident while on holiday in France. It was pretty awful, and when I healed up, hurling myself down a mountain just didn't seem all that fun. I was on the lookout for something equally challenging and engaging, but less risky. My partner Em had just started going to GRY, and kept telling me it was awesome. There was a free 'bring your partner' class, so I went with her. I loved it. Downhill and cross country mountain biking for yoga? Seriously? Yes, you clearly haven't come to a power class. Strength, cardio, balance, crazy potential, great fun. That's the initial aspects.
What made you stay?
Like a lot of people, my head feels like a maelstrom of thought; I can be quite competitive; I like a challenge; I love learning new things; . A good practice will quieten those thoughts to just a simple count, have no competition with myself or anyone else, bring a healthy challenge and teach me something.
I also can't stand conflict, violence and contact sports. I'm not interested in winning a game if the other person has to lose. I'm used to everything being won or lost, but I surprised myself by adjusting to enjoying something that didn't operate with that rule set. There's no goal post, no PB, no critique of performance, or disappointment at losing. Its solely about having put in enough effort to satisfy myself, enjoying that, and not getting annoyed if something did or didn't happen. So i fall out of bird of paradise, or my float forward doesn't work. Did I learn something from doing them? Yes - that's enough, though if I don't learn anything, it doesn't actually matter anyway.
What is the best part of being in the Green Room community?
Completely geeking out on anatomy on one hand, like finding better ways to activate the seratus anterior in chatarunga, and then learning that crystals need to be placed in bare soil under a full moon to recharge. Its the variety and contrasting knowledge and views of the people I get to talk with. Its the fact that I look forward to stepping into the studio every day to begin the first few sun salutations. Its hearing a room full of dedicated ujjayi as we all move a bit lower in uktatasana, or when someone tries side crow, slips off their knee into a sweaty pile and chuckles about it.
When you are not bending and sweating what do you like to do???
I'm a complete nerd. I love learning stuff. Or I'm building something on my PC, or trying to build things in the shed - where 'undo' is not an easy keypress.
What is your favourite word?
My most inspirational learning experience?
Travelling around the northern hemisphere with Em, and a lot of time by bicycle. moving through the landscape at 10 kmh changes everything. We always felt the wind, always. We ate amazing cakes (continuously). We saw faded blue smudges coalesce into staggering mountain ranges and then into multi-day ascents up switch back roads in Bulgaria. We got rained on continously for days at a time - everywhere. Our bike trailers got flooded many times. We hung our tent and sleeping bags up in a broken down boiler room, then stayed in a room above a country pub while they celebrated something with heavy metal accordion music until 6 am in Romania. We hiked to the top of a mountain in Norway above the Arctic Circle to watch the sun kiss the ocean at midnight. We walked out of a torrential rain storm into a pub, climbed out of our boots and ordered a the best red ale and pie ever in England. We got chased by rabid dogs - they hate bikes - often. We used string and sticky tape to hold our stuff together. We drank water we through was ok, and got sick for days.
What has been the major turning point in your life?
I worked on an organic farm in northern England for nearly a year. Surrounded by about a tonne of just picked leeks, I was excitedly explaining some computer graphics theory (how a biased rendering engine handles ambient occlusion calculations or something equally untranslatable) to another farm worker - Steve - and at the end Steve asked me what the hell was I doing on a farm surrounded by leeks. By this time Id been studying computer graphics and programming for about 7 years, and had taken a 18 month break. It was time to get back at it.
What is your hidden secret or skill?
I'm wickedly talented at improvisational poly-rhythmic percussion on found objects. Em calls this tapping my fingers and feet on anything I'm near.