Named “one of the teachers shaping the future of yoga” and considered a “teacher’s teacher”, Jason Crandell has been active in the international yoga community for more than a decade. He has taught on countless teacher training faculties, leads trainings globally, and regularly presents teacher training content at esteemed conferences.
Asana talked to Jason about his journey and how he inspires his students to follow the path.
Asana: How did you discover yoga? What attracted you to continue and become a teacher?
Jason: I was studying Philosophy in college and I needed one final credit to graduate. My girlfriend suggested that we try yoga and, honestly, I wasn’t interested! I was an athlete and I felt very skeptical about its mystical elements. And, to tell you the truth, it wasn’t love at first down dog! Yoga was frustrating for me because my body was tight and my mind was resistant. But, after class I felt incredible. I felt calm, grounded and focused—three things that I desperately needed in my life.
I started teaching—believe it or not—at a time when there weren’t many teacher-trainings. Teachers, like myself, started teaching yoga because their teachers requested it. To this day, I’m honoured to have started this journey with my teacher’s blessing.
Asana: Have you always focused on vinyasa yoga? Is there a lineage to which you relate the most?
Jason: The first yoga that I practised and taught was ashtanga yoga. I loved its physicality and discipline. I was an athlete so I also loved that it was strict and repetitive. After 5 years of ashtanga yoga, I found my primary teacher, Rodney Yee. I was heavily influenced by his approach and by the teachings of the Iyengar tradition. Prior to yoga, I played hockey and skateboarded for over 15 years, so I had countless injuries. The specificity of Iyengar’s approach helped me slow down and treat some of my underlying imbalances. Rodney’s approach taught me mindfulness and self-awareness, as well as skill, focus, and determination.
My brand of vinyasa yoga incorporates the best elements of my study and practice: anatomical precision, power yoga and mindfulness teachings.
Asana: How do you see your practice evolve through the years?
Jason: My practice has gotten slower and deeper. I’ve been maturing and I treat my body with much more gratitude and respect. I’m not trying to prove anything any more. Instead of using my body to do yoga postures, I’m using yoga postures to understand how to live in my body with strength, precision and mindfulness.
Asana: How often do you practise yoga? What would be your typical practice?
Jason: I practise yoga 5 days a week. I’m over 40, so I’m also doing some light cardiovascular and strength training exercises. Believe it or not, I don’t have a typical practice because I’m focused on listening and responding to what my body needs. Sometimes it’s a strong vinyasa practice. Other times it’s a restorative practice. Sometimes, it’s just a long seated meditation. Usually, it’s a combination of all of these elements.
Asana: What do you think about being named “one of the teachers shaping the future of yoga”? What are your goals and how do you pursue them?
Jason: I’m honoured by the acknowledgement. There are countless excellent teachers around the world, so I’m proud of the recognition. To me, it’s a statement about the dedication that I have to the actual craft of teaching. So many teachers become overly focused on what their body can do instead of learning to see and understand what other bodies can do. It’s not my job as a teacher to impress you with my ability or skill. It’s my job to see you with clarity and help translate the sublime teachings of yoga in a way that you can understand.
My goal is to continue honing my craft. I want to continue to understand the teachings of yoga so clearly that I can teach them to anyone in clear, accessible, relevant language.
Asana: How did you come up with “Power + Precision + Mindfulness”? What is the key focus?
Jason: When you teach anything for long enough, you develop a point of view. Power + Precision + Mindfulness, represents my point of view as a teacher. “Power” implies that I teach a dynamic, strength building practice rooted in vinyasa yoga. “Precision” means that I focus on the technical elements that make the postures safe, efficient, and effective. “Mindfulness” states that my teaching is rooted in contemplative practices that help us create more honestly, comfort, and compassion with ourselves and others.
Asana: Having conducted workshops and training around the world, is there a particular location you enjoy the most? Do you note any differences in practices around the world?
Jason: It’s so hard to say since I love different locations for different reasons. Southeast Asia comes to mind for the richness, depth and layers of its culture. The students in Southeast Asia have incredible focus, attention and ability. But, honestly, you can put me in nearly any location in the world and I’ll be more than happy to teach.
Asana: Rodney Yee was quoted to compliment you for “taking the art of teaching yoga to its next level”; and you are one of the most in-demand teachers at conferences internationally. How do you approach teaching? What are the major elements in the art of teaching for you?
Jason: I want my teaching to be honest, real and relevant for my students. I want to teach the nuances of yoga and be philosophically accurate, but it’s important to make sure the teachings are accessible. I want to help my students understand who they are in this lifetime. I want to help students appreciate their body and use it with more skill and ability. I want to help my students appreciate their breath and accept the complex working of their mind. Going back to Power+Precision+Mindfulness, I want to help my students feel strong, safe and attentive on and off their yoga mat.
In addition to these components, students resonate with my teaching because I make complex and esoteric teachings accessible. And, even though I’m technical, I don’t get carried away with excessive, tedious detail. Students need help moving, breathing and staying focused on what really matters in their life. I do my best to facilitate this process.
Asana: What is your typical day when you are neither travelling nor teaching?
Jason: When I’m not on the road, I’m focused on spending time with my family. I have a wife and daughter. I love having a quiet family life when I’m home. Also, I spend many, many hours preparing for my trainings and writing curriculum. I also study every aspect of yoga so that I can teach with integrity, depth and inspiration. If I’m not connected to my practice, my job becomes tedious and difficult.
Most days, I wake up with my wife and daughter. I grind my coffee and make a pot of French press. We have breakfast together and take our daughter to Preschool. I spend a few hours working on content, running my business and studying. In the afternoon, I practise and spend time with my daughter. As any parent knows, it’s a little chaotic at times, but it’s incredibly sweet.
Asana: How do you relax yourself? Apart from yoga, do you still play sports such as hockey and skateboard?
Jason: I love sports, but I don’t play them anymore. I miss hockey and skateboarding, but those times are long gone!
Asana: How do you get grounded and be mindful in your daily life?
Jason: Staying grounded and mindful requires constant practice. I’m prone to tension, stress, and the need to control situations, so I need as much ongoing practice as I can get. Of course, the main ways I stay grounded and mindful are through asana, pranayama and meditation. But, I also find that other forms of exercise like cardio and resistance training to be incredibly effective. Spending time with my loved ones also brings me into the present moment. Toddlers are pretty good at making sure you’re paying attention!
Asana: Do you feel yoga has changed your life, including meeting your wife? Does she practise yoga too?
Jason: Yes, immensely. It’s provided me with the tools to see my patterns and behaviours. It’s taught me how to use my body, deepen my breath and witness my mind. It’s helped me appreciate the extraordinary qualities of ordinary, every day living. It’s helped me become more kind, measured, and compassionate toward myself and others. Also, yoga has made me even more curious about the human condition and given me the tools to manage it.
And, yes, I met my wife through yoga—she was the Executive Editor at Yoga Journal Magazine for many, many years. She was my editor for countless articles. She has moved on from that position and is currently working to develop content for my website, Jasonyoga.com.
Asana: Do you plan to release more DVDs? How effective do you consider are the online classes?
Jason: I don’t have any plans to do more DVD’s. I’m focusing all of my attention on online classes and training programs. They’re extremely effective! I can’t tell you how many thousands of students have expressed their appreciation for my online yogaglo.com classes over the past 4 years. It’s different than practising with a senior instructor live, but they are the perfect way to maintain a consistent practice at home. These services have revolutionized students’ access to quality content and I’m happy to be so easily available for students around the world.
Asana: Is there a location you wish to teach?
Jason: Everywhere that will continue to have me over the years!!!
Asana: If you had an opportunity to redo it all over again, would you have walked the same path?
Asana: What is the one thing you wish to either pursue or achieve?
Jason: I want to continue learning how to be kind and compassionate toward myself so that I can be the best father, husband, and teacher possible.
Jason strikes us as a humble teacher. He is articulate and down-to-earth, which is reflected in his teachings and approach to yoga and life. Those who have attended his classes would have appreciated how he integrates the elements of power yoga, anatomical precision with mindfulness. The Editorial wishes to thank Jason for taking the time not just to talking to us, but to present us with numerous photos. Not many masters would have taken the trouble to do special photos for an interview.
For more details about Jason, please visit his website at www.jasonyoga.com. Jason can be found on various social media:
Facebook: Facebook/jasoncrandellyoga / Instagram: Jason_Crandell / Twitter: @Jason_Crandell. You can take his online class as www.yogaglo.com.
To read the full article please download our Asana Journal App or purchase Issue 145 January 2015.