July Student of the Month: Wayne Scank

WayneCongratulations to Wayne for being the July Student of the Month! Wayne is one of our most consistent students, at the studio multiple times a week without fail. Trying out everything from Meditation to Yin, you’ll find him in all different styles of classes. Every time he leaves the studio it’s almost a guarantee that he’s folded towels and brought a full basket of them into the studios. He’s the type of student who will do these acts of service without being asked. He’s helped with all sorts of projects around the studio and we’re so lucky to have him as a student at Asheville Community Yoga.

What was the experience with yoga that got you hooked?

I first began getting hooked on yoga during two Artists Way courses, co-facilitated by Anna Ferguson and Mado Hesselink in 2011 and 2012. They applied yoga’s “finding your appropriate edge” to artistic processes. I discovered the discipline of yoga was transferable to not only art, but to life also. I took in Anton Chekhov’s quote, “If you want to work on your art, work on your life.” Having taken the course first in 1997-1998 in Richmond, VA, in the 2012 course here, I asked myself, How can I go deeper? I decided to take a yoga class on emotional health (based on Amy Weintraub’s Yoga for Depression), which was taught by the late Trish McDonald at One Center Yoga in Asheville. I would also say experiences which got me hooked – and continue to keep me hooked – on yoga has been, and continues to be, an evolving process of discovery over these last two years at Asheville Community Yoga. Slowly, I became aware “I needed this.” One such experience was chanting Kirtan in Liz Craig’s Bhakti class; I felt such a buzz that made me realize chanting is better, for me, than cups of coffee. Yin continues to be my main practice; I love the bliss created by such a meditative set of asanas.

What inspires you to continue yoga?

The more I practice, I see more positive “ripple effects” in all areas of my life. I feel “happier”; I am less emotionally reactive. I continue because of the community, which I find is loving, kind and without egos (it is not a community of “personalities,” which I have found in other spiritual centers). From yoga, I am focusing better. I have found I can get through emotional and physical pain. I continue practicing because there is so much to learn. I continue because yoga is life-affirming. Asheville Community Yoga is a center I look forward to coming to. The center is a place where I feel I “fit.” Helpful by nature I like volunteering and contributing. I have been volunteering in cleaning the bathrooms for several months, and I have joined Wendy’s landscaping crew. I am finding more areas in which I can help.

What is your favorite pose?

I absolutely love Yin. My favorite two asanas are Sleeping Swan and Caterpillar. After 75-minutes of yin, I generally feel a buzz, bliss. I find I get into a meditative state in Caterpillar.

What is your most challenging pose?

Because I often have toe inflammation and foot fascia pain, Downward Dog is my most challenging pose. I usually opt for Child’s Pose. Although yin poses are difficult to hold for several minutes, I love exploring becoming comfortable with discomfort.

What is your favorite time/place to practice?

I practice at the Center primarily in late afternoons and evenings. I have not yet established a practice outside classes and workshops here.

How has yoga changed your life?

Ways in which yoga is changing my life are: Increasing focus, alertness and Mindfulness; decreasing my emotional volatility; increasing my ability to accept discomfort in my body and in life; introducing my to a life-changing Path.

Do you have a favorite yoga book or video?

I am very interested in getting DVDs and books on yin yoga. I have Yoga for Depression. I have glanced at other books on yoga for trauma and anxiety. I am very interested in discovering how yoga can spur the creative process. Of course, I see many parallels between The Artists Way and yoga.

Is there a recurring theme that runs through your yoga practice?

I do not have to “strive,” nor “push” to be serene or to accomplish anything. I am discovering happiness and joy truly come from within, and that yoga is very influential in that shift.

If you could just share one practice that has helped you the most, what would it be?

Yin practices are very grounding and in themselves, meditative.

What is your current or all-time favorite song or artist for a yoga playlist?

I love Anugama’s “Shamanic Dream,” “The Eternal Om,” George Harrison’s “Within You Without You” and “My Sweet Lord.” I was introduced to Rasa (the album “Devotion”) around 2000. In “Shamanic Dream,” I like the chanting of “So be it,” which I take as an invitation to become, from within, and to accept what its. I love chanting Om Nama Shivaya: Lam Vam Ram Ham Om Baba Nam Ke-va Lam.

Do you have a passion other than yoga you’d like to share about?

Photography is my primary passion – namely abstracts of graffiti at the old warehouses in the River Arts District. I also take abstracts of nature, such as colorful reflections off water. I love abstracting images which are already abstract. I have been photographing and writing creatively (poetry, journals) since 9th or 10th grade. My poetry tends to be Haiku-like or “Zen moments.” I majored in English and journalism at Buffalo State College in Buffalo, NY. At times I wish I had majored more in creative writing. I freelanced in photography for a supplement to The Roanoke Times, covering Smith Mountain Lake events, for several years. I also sold images to Leisure Media360 for the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce visitors guide. I am a firm believer that the Artists Way is a life- and art-changing process. For about 18 years, I was very involved in contra dancing in Asheville; Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia; and other smaller dances in Virginia. After becoming gradually more involved in yoga, I decided to no longer dance –primarily because of the stresses on my feet and joints. Yoga became my new passion. I read frequently about musicians (primarily the Beatles); music history; and the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Faire, which took place in my home state. I was 10, and my family was camping in the Adirondack Mountains that weekend.

How did you find Asheville Community Yoga?

I first knew about ACY while living near Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa from 2010 to 2012. But, I figured it “was too far to drive to.” Following a two-year residency near Portland, Oregon, I returned to Asheville in September 2014, living in Woodfin for over a year. In February 2015, I began classes (Qi gong, gentle yoga and meditation) at ACY. Because I had (and still have) many connections to North Asheville, I was passing the studio daily. Although I now live outside of Leicester, I am at the studio several days a week.

Do you have a spirit animal? If so, what is it?

Yes, Hawk.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?

Three words which describe me are curious, creative and helpful.

We agree, Wayne! You are so helpful around the studio. Thank you for being so genuinely you and sharing your practice with us. We are grateful that you’ve decided to make Asheville Community Yoga your yoga home!