Good morning, would you like to introduce yourself to the Reyn community?
Yes, hi i’m Jerry Tassin.

Who are you on and off the mat Jerry?
Job wise, I have always worked in IT. These days I work as a stat man, a data analyst for the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Wow, okay!
In the drug court program, which is very interesting work. We just started a new software project to replace our current case management system, so I am up to my knees in data conversion and configuration and whatnot so that has been a lot of fun. Besides practicing yoga and work, I read a lot. I like to read lots of different types of books.

That is fascinating work I’m sure. Any particular genre you like to read?
Well, there is a series of Zen authors and Zen books that I like to read, ancient as well as current. In these last couple years I have started to like poetry more, I like essays, and the fiction I read is mostly ideas rather than plot driven.

Awesome, it sounds like your off mat life is reflective of, yet has some serious variances from the rigorous practice we are used to seeing you do. What brought you to yoga initially?
Back when I was in my fifties, when I started to feel less flexible, stiff and achy, my wife suggested I try yoga. We were living in Texas then, so I went with her to a wellness center there and learned a few asanas, poses, back then especially I was adverse to groups, so I developed a sequence for  myself that I practiced at home. Then, when we moved back home, here to New Orleans I felt I needed to up my game some. By then I was in my sixties {chuckles}, so I started exploring, and I discovered vinyasa, and I discovered Reyn Studios and I have been here ever since.

Jerry that is beautiful. You committed to about ten years of a solo home practice, that is a really interesting and powerful way to begin your practice.
Yes, but I have learned the wonderful thing about coming to a studio is the teachers. You know, when you can refine using their verbal cues, and when a teacher uses a physical assist, gently drawing your shoulder back in trikonasana, or helps you move your hip creases back in downward dog, and you get to a level that is hard to achieve on you own, that is the wow! It is a really wonderful feeling. I really appreciate the teachers, and am now more comfortable in groups but it is really the teachers here that have been terrific. Those that were once here and are no longer, as well as many of the current teachers. I realize I haven’t had a class with you yet!

Aw, I know. We have some good ones, and I have such a limited schedule I feel like I do not get to spend as much time with all y’all as I’d like at the moment.
You are in good company, there are wonderful people who teach and have taught here and I really cherish what I have learned from them.

Beautiful, besides your personal desire to improve your practice, as lead you to feel more comfortable and drawn to practicing in a group setting rather than practicing on your own?You know, I’m not sure. Coming here, you walk in the door and you are welcome. There is always a smile, a welcome, a chit chat before you head up to class, you  don’t just walk up say hello sign in and move along, it's not that type of thing. There is always a welcoming atmosphere here. And, the teachers, the teachers, it is all of that which has made me less averse so to say, and just the familiarity of the place.

We do try to make it feel like home a bit, so we are happy to hear it works for you. Do you still practice with your wife?
No, we actually no longer live together {laughs} but we are still married. I do practice with my daughter, she is into yoga. In face any visit to Chicago where she lives is also a visit to her studio there.

I didn’t mean to pry, but that is so cool that you get to share your practice with you daughter. Yes, she was recently here for a work conference, and I brought here to practice here. We have had fun practicing together here.

Do you feel like practicing with family, in these sometimes challenging or vulnerable poses or classes, changes or influences your practice?
No, not really, but it is nice when there is a particular challenge to hear someone else’s perspective.


Do you think having that shared experience on the mat helps your relationship in other ways, or allows you to have a different type of connection?
Yes, I do. Yoga as a whole makes you more open, and of course there are other areas that we have in common. Sometimes you know, you leave a yoga class and you feel bigger than you are, your heart, your lungs, your capacity is greater, so yeah I think it does help in all relationships.

Definitely, what are some other ways you feel your yoga lessons have seeped into your off mat life?
It has transferred in to my work life, oh yeah. The patience, and the concentration of trying to focus and to occupy a pose, it trains you to be in the moment so that you learn to focus your attention on a specific movement or in a specific situation, it helps. You are able to be more present with individuals and more present to the work that has to be done, so rather than going off in all directions I am able to focus my mind more on what it is I need to be doing.

This conversation demonstrates that you have a really good connection to not only the physical asana, but also to the metaphysical components through your study of philosophy and Zen scholars.
The mental aspects of it have been terrific for me. You know, in fact, as I near my seventies, the mental aspect has become more important you know, and even that, being able to be in the moment, no matter what is going on around you, it helps. The mental aspects is a big deal, and I really enjoy what I read.

We you interested in the Zen philosophies, and the more traditional Easter Spiritual text prior to your relationship with yoga?
Only a little bit, there was a curiosity but I wasn’t moved to study it.

As we go we delve a little deeper.
Yes, I like it a lot, the focus on experience, just the idea of experiencing an asana or transitioning into an asana, the focus on your daily life, eating, sleeping, cooking,  you know whatever, it is fulfilling to notice each of these things.

I find one of my important take away lessons, which helps me off the mat, is being more mindful of those transitions like you mentioned. Being more mindful in how I move through the day, not focusing on getting from point A to point B, but instead being more aware of the process of the journey. I really appreciate what your talking about in that aspect.
My relationship to one legged standing balances is interesting because it frustrating for me, it's either hit or miss, and some days the right leg and foot are better, and other days the left leg and left foot are better and who knows why? It gives me the opportunity to laugh at myself for one thing.


Then it also translates into living, Catherine Burke talks about this often, about balance, and correction. Sometimes we might correct a little too much and we have to come back, or we might get a bit overly emotional about something, not that emotion is bad, but maybe you overreact to something so you have to come back from that. You know I think the standing balances offer me the most lessons as far as life is concerned. Then of course on Saturday, Lindsey said “you are welcome to wobble” which you know is true, it's a thought which most the time you think “no I don’t want to wobble” so to welcome it, it changes concepts and thinking.

Yes, it is okay to wobble, to feel the shakes and know they mean change, its all okay as long as we can find our breath right?

{Laughs} Very true, very true, sometimes easier said than done.

Besides standing poses are there asanas or a series that you find yourself more drawn to in your practice?
I really like the standing stretches, those like trikonasana, extended side angle, half moon, though it is only now that I am becoming comfortable with half moon, I like those because you are expanding in all directions and that feels good.

That balance between strength and vulnerability is really powerful. Are there poses which you find yourself more averse to?
Inversions {Laughs}, I can do a headstand supported, but I have never been able to do a headstand without some kind of support, handstand I have never done. I don’t know what it is, but I do have an aversion to it, I don’t welcome those.

From my perspective it sounds like it might be a bit of a mental block to getting there rather than a physical block as I do think you have the physical capacity to find those poses if you’d like. There is something that feels unnatural to most about flipping your weight totally upside down, which is often challenging to come to terms with.
Agreed, you know some people do it because they like the challenges, but there are other poses such as side crow which offer me a challenge that I welcome, and I think ‘well some poses I just don’t have to do’. For example, whats the pose where you bring your leg over your shoulder?

Compass pose?
Yes Compass pose, I’ll never be able to do that. No matter what I won't get it but I will always try it, just to see how far I can get and of course have a good laugh about it as well.

Awesome perspective. Do you think that you have always had such a great sense of humility? Or has yoga helped you explore and cultivate that side of yourself?
I think yoga has helped, I’ve got an ego just like anyone else. I think one of the things I have learned from Zen is that you may think something but that doesn’t mean you have to say it, and that works in line with this, if your ego is too strong maybe you might feel like you have to spout, but I have found I can hold back better than I used to.

What an incredible lesson, it is definitely something most of us are striving for both on and off the mat. Is there anything else in particular you would like to share about yourself or your practice? Or is there anything you would like to share with people who may be new to the practice or hesitant about trying?
Going back to when I said I did not want to practice in groups I really think yoga teachers make it. I really admire the preparation, the vulnerability, all of it. Reyn Studios has had, and still does have such wonderful people here teaching, it is worth it to explore all the teachers, there will be some you are able to connect more with,  so try them all out. There are some that are just really really special.

I strongly agree with that, you mentioned Catherine and Lindsey earlier and they both really brought it all together for me as well. With them I felt, still feel, brought into the fold, which gave me that kind of epiphany, click, like ‘oh this is what we’re doing here, I like it’ I think that, and then finding your space change things for me a lot.
{Laughs} Yeah, and that also helps with your ego in that, I tend to be very independent, but knowing that the teachers can help you manage your independence and to grow in your practice is really special.

To find strength in our community, knowing we are there to support each other.
Yeah, I think the students who practice here have a good attitude, it seems to be a community and convivial attitude. I don’t really see anyone trying to show off or take up all the space or all the attention.

That is something we as a staff have been working on and encouraging in each other as well, so it is rewarding to hear it has permeated and is felt by the students as well. You know, you’re okay wherever you are.
That is a Zen thought!

What poses would you like to share with us today?
Why don’t we try tree, see what that feels like since I spoke to it and because it will be fun to see what today holds. And I can do sukhasana, because I meditate.

I would love to see that. How long have you been meditating?
In my current phase I mediate first thing in the morning, and that has been going on for over a year. Before that it was more of a, whenever I felt like it type of thing. Of course when Shannon was here and she had that meditation class I learned a lot from her. It is interesting, even mediation people address very differently, or approach it differently. That whole idea of returning, returning to your breath, returning to your seat, returning to yourself. Just letting those thoughts, recognizing it but letting them go, it a good but challenging thing.  I wear this {wrist mala} first to remind myself not to take myself too seriously, and also the idea that, it is a term I have just learned the jiko, the universal self, so that, my approach to people can be, yeah we’re all in this together.

Wow, thank you for sharing, that’s inspirational. I know you thought about participating in our teacher training…
Yes, I have earned my 200 hour certificate, but I do not think it is sufficient. The reason I wasn’t able to take the teacher training was due to this new project at work. With the new aspects would not be able to commit to the time or effort. Once we have the software ready I will have to travel around the state to do trainings on it, so I will be away a couple of different times. This is a bit disappointing but you know how it is.

It just wasn’t the right time.
Yeah, maybe next time or next year.

How does travel, especially for work, impact your practice?
Well I don’t travel a lot, this is a bit unusual. I do have a travel mat that I pack and take along, I go through a sequence in the hotel room, and I think at this point I can’t do without it.

Especially when you are traveling, the energy and odd positions we find ourselves in for any length of time.
Yes, and your diet is often a bit different.

Totally, I know I need to be able to shift all that energy around, and you know, come back home. There it is, coming back to your seat, coming back to the breath, no matter where you are.
Yes it is so important. I can’t imagine not practicing at this point, you know it is more of a matter of when not if I will.

Do you practice everyday then?
I do, whether it be here or at home or both. I have a thirty minute sequence I have made that I do at home.

How long have you had such a rigorous practice?
A few years, up until a few months ago since I have been coming here I was always a morning person. Then I had hand surgery so I became accustomed to having mornings to myself, so now I am an afternoon person here. But I do sit for a time and do my sequence in the mornings pretty much everyday. When I come here in the afternoons it is after work and an addition.

A bonus, or time for your community practice. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
No I think that is about it for now.