Meet our Teacher of the Month, Rich Risbridger! Rich has been a dedicated yoga practitioner for more than 15 years, a yoga teacher for more than eight years, and an instructor here at Asheville Community Yoga for the past three years. We love having Rich around because his dedication, skill and sincere love for the practice is infectious and brings great joy to us all!
Rich started practicing yoga years ago at a gym, and found the combination of strength and flexibility training to be the perfect workout. He noticed feeling stronger and lighter after yoga practice, rather than sore and weak as he did from weight training. Along with his body becoming stronger, he also noticed his mind feeling calm and blissful as well as a result of this practice. After about a year, Rich was seeking more than the practice offered at the gym and his teacher gave him a free class pass to the studio where she practiced. It was there that Rich first encountered the full Ashtanga Primary Series. He dropped the gym membership, bought an unlimited monthly pass to the yoga studio, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Here’s what Rich has to say about his journey on the yogic path:
“Over the past 15+ years yoga has become a cornerstone practice in my life. It’s simply part of who I am. When I think about the future and priorities for my time (which include things as different circus acrobatics training, storytelling, voiceover acting, and running my own graphic/web design business) yoga is never on the chopping block. It keeps my body healthy and my mind sane and it’s quietly a spiritual practice for me. It works on all levels of my being and there is constant progress. As I continue yoga asana my body is refined and ever more able to do more fun and interesting things. When I practice regularly my energy is better, my mind sparklier and more playful above a deep well of calm. I never started doing yoga as a spiritual practice, yoga starting doing me as a spiritual practice! I have faith in that. As I continue to practice, I become interested in things that did not interest me before, like seated meditation. Being Rajasic, hyper, and athletic by nature I never had any interest in sitting around for a long time, whether it was watching TV or meditating. But after about 7 or 8 years of yoga asana I started feeling a desire to meditate. So I just practice and let things unfold. And, it brings me immense joy to offer a gateway to this sort of experience to others.
Recurring themes that run through my practice and teaching are mindfulness and playfulness, balancing enthusiasm with non-harming and contentment and treating the body as a model for the Universe: As above, so below. I love the idea that we are all the Divine experiencing itself. If you move from that essential understanding, that we are all simply different pieces of the same infinite entity, you might just be able to find the answer to everything truly important.”
Check out our YouTube channel to see a video of Rich teaching one of his favorite poses, Marichyasana A!
Rich, you are an amazing teacher and an all-around inspiring human being. We are so grateful for the skills you share, your devoted service and your dedication to the practice of yoga. We are so blessed to have you among us!