We get to chat with a lot of inspiring people for Yoga Wake Up’s blog, and we’re so excited for the latest yogi gracing our space: Andrew Sealy, co-founder of @YourAlignedPurpose. Keep reading for our interview with Sealy, which includes tidbits about his yoga journey, his self-care routine & why self-care is important and shouldn’t be limited to just women.
When did you start and why do you practice yoga?
My yoga journey began when I was 19 years old in San Luis Obispo, the central coast of California. At that time, I was playing competitive soccer and was going to Cal Poly, studying microbiology and I had a very stressful life because I was also going to fraternity. I was the commissary, so I was cooking for all of the gentleman of the fraternity. I basically was stressed out, had an ankle injury, and a girlfriend of mine decided to ask if I wanted to go with her to a Bikram yoga class. And Bikram yoga, as you know, is hot yoga. I had no idea what that was, and I was like, “Oh, yoga is for girls. I don’t really need to go. We stretch on the soccer team.” And she was like, “No, no, you should really come because if you continue sitting on the bench during this injury, it’s only going to atrophy and you’re going to be worse off when you get off the bench than before. Whereas, if you come with me to Bikram yoga then maybe after this yoga class and being in this recovery, you’ll be better off than you were before.” And I was like, well, that makes sense – keeping the body fluid and keeping the muscles strong, lucid, and supple. I was like, I might as well try it out. I literally went back every single day for 100 days. I did a 30-day challenge and then after that, they had a 60-day challenge and then I just continued forth with Bikram yoga. That was when my yoga journey first began. Now, I practice every single day. I’ve been practicing every single day for the last 11 years and I find yoga to be one of the most incredible practices to get into the body, to find a deeper sense of awareness, how you move through space, and – most importantly – to tap back into the creative energy of your heart and to focus and calm the mind.
Yoga is perceived by many (mostly on the outside) as a practice that’s practiced by white people. As a Black man, how have you navigated this?
Yes, yoga is perceived by many people as a practice that is predominantly practiced by white people. Yet, and still, yoga comes from India and when yoga was brought to America, which is the country that oftentimes adulterates any type of spiritual practice and will oftentimes capitalize its accessibility and will oftentimes utilize this deep sense of making money – profits — rather than staying true to the roots. It is what it is. America has created a lot of what I would call disconnect from the origin and source of yoga. But it has also allowed yoga to spread to millions upon millions of people worldwide and it also leveraged technology to allow yoga to be accessible to people now more than ever online. Essentially, I have been embraced by many communities as a Black man practicing yoga and I think really, what it comes down to is the truth of your practice will shine through your actions and what you do. It doesn’t matter what color you are, what creed you are, how heavy you are, how small you are, how tall you are – all that matters is you’re practicing with a deep sense of heartfelt engagement, embodiment and acceptance. And I feel like when people see that and feel that, they, too, wish to be in that space of acceptance. And that’s how the community continues to be embracing of all kinds, of all bodies, of all people. Yoga is union.
Self-care is an important topic – but it’s mostly spoken about and marketed towards women. How are you dismantling that?
Self-care is a very important topic, especially in times like now when so many people are suffering from mental health and from physical health depletion. Essentially, self-care is one of the best ways to get back into that space of self-worth. And yes, self-care has been marketed toward women predominantly, I feel that that is due to societal constructs and indoctrination and teaching of a different type of sex being more “feminine” and more “soft” and more receiving and receptive to these types of practices. Yet, these practices are beneficial for all because we all have a feminine and a masculine side within us. That’s predominantly what yoga teaches – that there’s a balance of the two. It’s a balance of your feminine and your masculine, a balance of the sun and moon, a balance of hot and cold, a balance of the here and now. All of this is a balance that brings forth a deep understanding that self-care is for everyone and the way I feel I dismantle that is by showing my own practice, sharing what has been helpful for me is one of the best ways to be able to be an example. A good friend of mine says the best form of activism is “attractivism,” so making self-care attractive to all people no matter their sex, creed or color, is the key to making it free for everyone to be able to practice that same sense of self-care and love.
What does your self-care routine look like?
My self-care routine s quite simple. It’s morning meditation. It’s nice, relaxed yoga in the morning, getting into my body, stretching out any tension, any stress, any anxiety – just letting it go. My morning routine also includes tea. I love tea. It’ a great way to get back into the body and get back into the mind. My morning routine and self-care routine looks like taking the time to take care of myself, taking a salt bath if I need to, take a walk in nature if I need to, playing musical instruments, eating gluten-free cookies, being kind to my body. I need to be kind to my body while at the same time practicing discernment and practicing a deep sense of knowing when I do need to move my body and practicing a deep sense of knowing when I do need to move my body and do something that’s a little high intensity. Maybe it’s a rock climb, maybe it’s a trail run, maybe it’s a day at the beach boogie boarding or surfing. All of those are different aspects of how I continue to take care of myself through a self-care routine. The majority of the self-care routine stems from meditation, yoga, healthy eating and being around positive people who continue to uplift me to my highest state of shine.
What would you to those who are hesitant about incorporating yoga into their lives?
I would say yoga is one of the best ways to face your fears, to see yourself in a mirror of self-reflection and to allow yourself to move forward in a direction that’s in alignment with your heart. If someone is hesitant to incorporate yoga into their life, I would say the first step is usually the hardest step. Once you take the first step, the momentum you have into bettering yourself will motivate you to continue to stay on the path to continue to grow, to shine, and to show your full heart’s intention to the world. That’s what we need more of – people who are fully embodied in their heart to bring forth their art.
Do you have a favorite Yoga Wake Up audio-guided session?
It’s definitely “Open To Be Happy And Free” because I feel like it’s a direct representation of me and it’s also something I feel a lot of us feel right now. It’s the opportunity to be open, to be free and happy. Happiness comes from that deep sense of knowing you are enough. Once we continuously practice that as a daily affirmation when we do realize happiness is our inherent being. I’m so excited about the opportunity to share this with the Yoga Wake Up community. This session will really uplift your spirits and bring you to a space where you feel happy and free.