After an all-day yoga retreat at an Ashram in Florida, Alex Rosen went to reach for a cigarette but decided against it and hasn’t looked back. At that time in 2008, Alex was smoking cigarettes and living in Miami. Now, Alex is a non-smoking yoga teacher and dad working at the Department of Commerce in Washington, DC. He has taught over 60 Sivananda classes at M Street Yoga (MSY) since its opening in September 2014.
Alex did not go to yoga to quit smoking or with the intention of becoming a yoga teacher. Once a professional athlete, Alex was looking for a physical practice and a friend convinced him to visit an Ashram nearby his house. (An Ashram is a spiritual center where people go to learn more about yogic philosophy much like a convent.) Those who know Alex will say he’s open to new things so it’s not unsurprising he decided to give yoga a whirl. Not long after, Alex studied for a year at the Ashram and became trained as a yoga teacher.
Using what he learned from Guru Yogi Hari, Alex built a practice for Sivananda Yoga at M Street Yoga. Sivananda is an integrated style incorporating “Proper Breathing, Proper Exercise, Proper Relaxation, Proper Diet and Positive Thinking and Meditation”. These are the “5 Points of Yoga” taught by the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. Individuals with some yoga knowledge will recognize the 12 basic Asanas (poses) and sun salutations that are found in Vinyasa classes. What is different from Vinyasa is that in classes like Alex’s, students will hold the poses longer to fully engage the body. Many yogis will tell you that Sivananda requires more discipline and the ability to submit to the pose in a way that’s different from Vinyasa. Following the sequence, students will rest to absorb the poses.
Despite the inward focus of Sivananda, Alex’s classes are trademarked by his approachability and openness. DC can be a very serious place but Alex encourages his students not to take themselves too seriously. “People should enjoy themselves in yoga. It’s not a competitive sport, but rather an opportunity to step out of your normal world and take a moment for yourself,” says Alex. How often are you encouraged to take time for yourself? Likely, not enough.
Along this journey, Alex thinks of himself a “guide” here to help students make the most out of their classes. While he may challenge students, he will never push them beyond their ability. Regulars of Alex’s Wednesday night classes say that his patience has allowed them to deepen their practice in new ways. "Balance is the word that comes to mind when I think about Alex Rosen’s class. His classes involve a harmonious combination of poses that strengthen, stretch, and calm the body and mind. Yogic philosophical insight is also complemented by Alex’s sense of humor and down-to-earth perspective." says Patricia, an MSY VIP who regularly practices Sivananda with Alex.
Alex and his wife, also a yogi, are now testing his skills on his 23 month old little yogi Zoe. Together, they have brought yoga into Zoe’s life from her first breath. Her first class was when she was three weeks old and she is a welcome visitor at MSY.
Since that first visit to the Florida Ashram, yoga has brought balance to Alex’s life and the community at MSY is fortunate to have Alex here to share how yoga has helped him on his journey.
Join Alex on Wednesdays at M Street Yoga for Sivananda from 6:45pm - 8:00pm. Sign up here.