We are honoring Eduardo Drivon as our February Teacher of the Month! He volunteers his time to teach 3 different classes a week, recently adding Yoga for Men on Mondays from 7:30 to 8:30 am. Eddie’s background as a Philosophy professor shapes how he offers his classes, pondering the what’s and why’s in life. He is welcoming and subtle in his offerings, making his classes accessible to everyone. In addition to teaching, Eddie has also committed himself to a year of service at Asheville Community Yoga helping with grant writing. We are so appreciative for all that he does here! Continue reading to learn more about Eddie….
What was the experience with yoga that got you hooked?
A former Air Force pilot taught Ashtanga Yoga at the university where I was a philosophy professor. Twice a week he taught beginners and on Friday he practiced the primary series, without any instruction, to whoever showed up. I attended the Friday class, and I couldn’t keep up. The poses seemed impossible and frankly ridiculous. I got so angry because he wasn’t paying attention to “struggling” me, I swore off yoga… although something happened in that hour and a half that I couldn’t quite explain. Two years later I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and by some strange coincidence a yogi friend of mine was there too. He’d been saying over and over that I should try hot yoga because it was good for Lyme’s disease. So, I humored him. If there was ever something worse than Ashtanga this was it: sweating profusely in 105 degrees, contemplating whether I should run out of the room, not taking kindly to the drill sergeant belting out instructions, finding it hard to breathe. I was beat. Yet, again, something happened: an intuition that yoga would help me. So, I kept going. When I moved to Asheville in 2014 I started practicing regularly—and here I am.
What inspires you to continue yoga?
I practice yoga because I have to. I never regret going to a yoga class, although getting there is not so simple! I wake up. Don’t think too much. Put one foot in front of another. When I arrive, I am usually a mess. Then there is that moment of release to the inevitable: Yoga is surrender. Some say that through yoga you find yourself. True, but not entirely. Though yoga I lose myself. I believe we need to be “other” than we are to live well.
What is your favorite pose?
The poses I can’t do, and those are mainly balancing poses. In these I notice my fear, a feeling of incompetence, that I will never “get there,” that other people are looking, that I will be thought less of as a yogi. Each and every practice, I have to come to terms with these voices in my head. I realize that the instability is mostly mental, then I start to get quiet. I shake less. I feel that I am lifted to the heavens as much as I am grounded on the earth. Then I fall and try again.
What is your most challenging pose?
Savasana. There are many qualities to a pose; relaxation and clarity are two important ones. It is common to relax and become dull. It is equally common to be so attentive that we cannot let go. In Savasana I reach a state of consciousness that is somewhere in between awake and asleep. Not always, of course. When I am there it is pure bliss.
What is your favorite time/place to practice?
In bed. Seriously. I’ll talk a bit more about Lucid Dreaming and Dream Yoga later. I love releasing into various states of consciousness. I stop breathing myself and notice the body breathing me.
How has yoga changed your life?
In response to this question, it is easy to become self-indulgent… because yoga did save my life, when conventional medicine ruled me out. I don’t want to ascribe miracles to yoga alone, because there is a curious coincidence of events that made dealing with my circumstances tolerable. But yoga is not a body thing alone; I believe that, comprehensively understood and practiced, yoga provides a path that helps us move from enslavement to freedom.
Do you have a favorite yoga book or video?
I was an undergraduate for five years, a graduate student for seven, and for twenty years taught philosophy at a small liberal arts college. Let us say that I spent most of my life in the Ivory Tower, where I read and read and read. I discovered that philosophy doesn’t deliver on its promise and wondered, where to turn? Then I came across Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It explained so much of what I intuited but could not manifest. The book’s central claim is that there is a fundamental distinction between “self” and “seer,” that I am not these movements of consciousness. I am more decisively the quiet seer, the witness. That can be a source of freedom.
What are 3 words you would use to describe yourself?
Resilient. Introspective. Mystified.
Is there a recurring theme that runs through your yoga practice?
Trust. Trust the practice.
If you could just share one practice that has helped you the most, what would it be?
For various reasons not worth mentioning here, I found it increasingly difficult to fall asleep. When I did fall asleep, I would wake up repeatedly through the night. Knowing nothing about Dream Yoga and Lucid Dreaming, I developed a method to put my body to sleep while still remaining conscious – awake even. I’d do a body scan from my feet, to my legs, my arms, my torso (and so on) and put them each to sleep. There I found rest even as I was still “awake” or conscious. Later, after I started practicing yoga in Asheville, I discovered the practices of Lucid Dreaming and Dream Yoga. One advice given to meditators is to treat life as a dream. Sometimes waking life feels more like a dream, and sleeping life more like reality. If that qualifies me as insane, I can live with that.
What is your current or all-time favorite song or artist for a yoga playlist?
I love making playlists. I’m constantly introducing new and old music to my fellow practioners. As I gather this and that song there is always one that haunts me. Currently, that song is “Without You” by Freya Ridings. Someone is standing on a platform seeing their loved one go. He or she wants to see the world, and the forlorn lover lets them go. The song blends the strength of release with the longing of holding on. Our feelings are always mixed. There is melancholy to be sure. I also see bravery – to do what is right even when our sentiments would have it otherwise.
What is your mantra?
When my mind is racing I usually recite: “Om Mane Padme Hum.” For me, the power is in the sound not in the meaning. I recite it quietly and just watch. When I speak or sing it, the words have a particular vibration – I imagine the earth rotating on its axis, hurling thousands of miles an hour through space, humming “Om …”
Do you have a passion other than yoga you’d like to share about?
Marriage. If yoga is union, then marriage is yoga. We tend to fall in love with love; it is a very different matter loving another human being, to love that singular person singularly, not in abstraction. I am not afraid to say that I am devoted to my wife. I love her because she is who she is.
How did you find Asheville Community Yoga?
Like this: My wife sees an ad for a spot in teacher training for someone who wants to teach yoga in Spanish. I decide to reply with my resume. Interview arranged. I come in and meet with three delightful persons. Michael asks me to offer an assist – a sort of test I suppose. He pretends to be a limp and misshapen student. I make suggestions here and there and in an instant Michael says he’s confident I can do the job. It becomes evident that I am not interviewing for a yoga-in-Spanish gig; there is a sense then that other possibilities are afoot. Michael understood that before I did. What those other possibilities are is beginning to emerge. Whatever my gifts may be, I am happy there is Asheville Community Yoga where I can be of service.
Do you have a spirit animal? If so, what is it?
Elephant. Ganesh is usually thought of as a remover of obstacles, but he also places obstacles in the way of those who need to overcome them to be themselves. When I had him tattooed on each arm I did not think this would be of any consequence. Since making him a part of my flesh and blood, some astounding events have taken place in my life. To my benefit, I believe. But not without having me confront my vanity and my ignorance. Let’s just say that I have some serious karma to burn through and plenty of it. Ganesh is also identified with the mantra “Om.” He is patron of letters and sciences, and a symbol of beginnings. I’m still discovering if these attributes have something to do with me.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in a yoga class?
There is a hot yoga competitor at one of the studios I practice. After knowing each other for a year, he turns to me and says: “Those shorts have to go!” Unlike virtually all men at hot yoga, I practice with my shirt on and with baggy shorts. I don’t need to strip down to do my yoga. I’m not one for advertising my body. Truth be told, I am shy. And a bit embarrassed. Anyway, this fellow didn’t approve of my outfit. Class is about to start in a few minutes. He runs out of the hot room and returns with a new pair of skimpy shorts. “These are for you,” he says. “Okay,” I say with much trepidation. I go back to the locker room and put them on. I come back to the hot room. At this point my mat is where I put it, in the front row. And across the front wall is a mirror. I am now watching a horror show. I can’t tuck my shirt in. As I move my waist is exposed and I am worried I don’t have a six-pack. We get to triangle and it looks X-rated to me. In my delirium, I wonder if someone has made a huge mistake and enrolled me in pole dancing school. I barely make it to the end of class. My generous patron has a smile on his face as if he had somehow accomplished something. I suppose he did.
It is a gift to know you and we are grateful for your presence here! If you haven’t been to one of Eddie’s classes make sure to check them out- here is what he is currently offering: