Name: John V Riccio
Lives in: Milwaukee
Trained in: Milwaukee, July 2015
Starting April 14th John will be teaching in evolation yoga tampa
What have you done since we last spoke?
Since we last spoke, many things have happened. First, for perspective, my studio’s then-manager/now-owner was present at my final hour-long class during training, so that served as my mock-class. I was put on the schedule for 5 classes a week, right off the bat. Within a couple weeks I was up to 8 or 9 per week, covering for others and after a couple teachers moved away in Autumn, I was locked in for 11+ classes a week. This schedule was just what I wanted. I had all the 6am classes and my Tuesdays & Thursdays were my heavy days with the 6am (90min), 930 (90min), & 1200pm (60min), which left me with Sundays off and M/W/F with only one class. Saturdays I had the 1200pm & 330pm, both 90mins and I was loving it. The amount of time dedicated to teaching along with the variety of times and range of students gave me the platform to grow quickly as a teacher. Around that time, I heard from the senior teacher of my training, Gary Davis, that during Evolation Tampa’s upcoming teacher training in January 2016, they’d need a little help covering classes and assisting around the studio. I lunged at the chance to get away from the arctic freeze of winter and head to Florida for a month. Not only did I teach the 6am classes, but I was able to room up at the studio, and assist Gary and his staff of teachers for the entire training. I looked at it as my training 1.5… and I got to see how a training was run from the teacher-point-of-view. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did I get paid for teaching 5 classes a week while being able to live rent-free in sunny Tampa Bay, but I grew as a teacher and student from the amazing staff of teachers (such strong, honest, & loving feedback on my classes!) but to be around another group of trainees was golden. I felt a bit like one of them still, in a way, but I could also lend some advice to them as I was still fresh off my training, just 6 months previous. Yes, I teach, but I’m forever a student.
Is there something about teaching that you didn’t at all expect beforehand?
I can honestly say there was nothing in my mind that I was not prepared for when it comes to the act of teaching the 26&2 class, BUT and its a big but, I was not ready for (and I don’t feel anyone can be, its something you have to experience for yourself to understand) the energy and immense power that is given BACK to you, as a teacher, FROM the students themselves. The first official class I taught I was a mess, of course, but I got through it. The second class I had a bit more focus and confidence, and that’s when it hit me, like whoa, the focus, the breath work, and the silence in their moving meditation… the students really blew me away and that is when I realized the sheer force within the yoga studio during class is something as a teacher, must not be taken lightly and honored from all perspectives.
How has teaching affected your personal practice?
Teaching has affected my personal practice in a couple ways. First, due to the volume of classes I am teaching per week, when I am up to a dozen a week, I only get in the hot room about twice a week. But this is the most beautiful thing I find that has happened to me as I grow as a teacher – my “student” identity is spreading out immensely. I have started studying and practicing other disciplines that have only strengthened my hatha practice. My vinyasa flow class attendance went up, heated and non-heated classes alike. I visited a local Iyengar studio and added the Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation to my repertoire. I realized that its true that as I change, my yoga changes, and as my yoga changes, I again keep changing… yoga is a lifelong practice through the self, to the self and beyond… more perspectives of my self and my yoga, the better… and greater perspective means higher wisdom. Overall, my mind-body connection is the strongest its ever been. When I do practice the traditional 90min hot class, my breathing is deep and calm all throughout class. This has led to deeper patience and control over my mind and asanas alike.
What is your main tip for new trainees starting their teacher training?
LET GO. Let go of all the outside world and surrender to everything yoga. The only way to be an authentic yogi is to live it. Let go of the fears put on you from the outside world. All the answers lay inside of you and you are choosing to be trained to teach yoga for a reason. That reason, whatever it may be, is the spark to your shining light. In order for that light to grow and warm others, illuminating joy for yourself and enough to share openly, one must know that they are safe in the ancient wisdom of yogic teachings and that even though the tearing apart of the negative ego will be uncomfortable, it will always be beneficial in the end. From the food you eat, to the music you listen to, the hours of sleep you get, the amount of sitting/silent meditation, and how you think, speak, and listen during training… all is connected and all is part of walking the right way, the middle path. Practice is the only way to the goal… you will teach how you practice, and therefore you must practice what you teach.
Where would a cool place to do yoga be?
I could say the artic circle or some ancient temple like Angkor Wat, but what yoga has taught me is that our perception of the material world is not what it seems. In saying this I mean, when one does yoga and finds the peace within and union with Source, even the seemingly mundane can be cool, even mind-blowing… like doing yoga (alone or with friends) at your old high-school or back in the childhood neighborhood… even at the local park you’ve always wanted to spend time at but never have, for whatever reason. Finding the awe-inspiring view or feeling wherever you are, because wherever you are is where you’re meant to be, its perfect. Whether its a snowy, grey and cold residential block of Milwaukee, WI or a sunny, white-sand beach of Costa Rica, a deep breath and still mind holds the same beautiful essence.