Simon Park has come a long way since he first began his yoga journey with Shiva Rea at UCLA following a motorbike accident. The “Flying Nomad” has been named by Yoga Journal as “one of the most influential and gifted, next generation of yoga teachers” who can make you fall in love with the practice all over again.
We sit down with Simon for a quick chat on the mat ahead of his trainings and workshops at BodyMindLife.
Can you tell us a little about how you came to find yoga?
I was a student at UCLA in the 90’s. I had a motorcycle I bought from a famous TV producer’s butler. On a ride back from Venice Beach, I got hit by a car running a stop sign. I sustained a knee and back injury. In the recovery process, I inquired about different ways to rehabilitate.
The most intriguing answer I received from my neighbor in Venice was to try Yoga. I didn’t know much about it, but was willing to try. I signed up for a class at UCLA in the world arts and cultures department. The teacher of that class was Shiva Rea, long before she became a world famous yoga teacher and one of the formative forces in the evolution of modern day vinyasa. She became my teacher for the next 20 years.
Soon after I started practicing, I went to YogaWorks in LA and began practising Mysore style Ashtanga with Maty Ezraty. Then, when I moved back home to Philadelphia, I practiced with a senior Iyengar teacher named Joan White who studied directly with BKS Iyengar beginning In 1973. I would also include Dharma Mittra and Richard Freeman as very influential and inspiring teachers along the way. I would say Maty is now my most direct teacher.. . and my passion to study with her is as strong as it was 20 years ago. These senior teachers are invaluable to the transmission of the yoga tradition to the next generation.
What did you do before teaching?
I was a university student. I was always into sports. I was playing rugby and basketball at the time.
Before I started teaching, I was working in restaurants essentially to sustain my yoga habit. I waited
tables, I catered at Hollywood parties and trained as a sushi chef.
What have you learned from the practice?
It is a tool, a discipline and a gateway to a deeper connection to life, to others and the mysteries of her
Where has yoga taken you around the world?
I would say I’ve done my fair share of yoga travel. During the busy periods, I averaged about 15
countries and 35 cities a year. Almost every corner of the US, a few cities in Canada, Central America,
South America, many cities and islands of Europe, quite a bit of Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii,
Iceland. I spend quite a bit of time in a magnificent part of the French Alps, where I facilitate teachers
Next year I’m doing a teacher training In Tahiti. The South Pacific has always been a dream destination
to visit. The world is seems both small and vast at the same time. I don’t think I’ll ever lose the traveling
wanderlust, but I want to travel differently in the future… more for my interests outside of yoga, places
where amazing nature is intact and most importantly, a place to call home.
How would you describe your teaching style? What’s a class like with you?
I can say that I do place quite a bit of care into the how it feels in terms of how it makes sense in the
body.. which means emphases on warming up properly and getting a broad range of motion in the
postures and working in a balanced way.
Do you have a morning routine?
It varies quite a bit depending on what is going, where I am, and the climate. I try to get in some slow
simple stretches, a few sun salutes, and core work.
What can students expect in a class with you?
Hopefully a balanced class that leaves the body feeling pretty good and space to process your personal journey.
You’re leading a 50hr intensive in studio next month on advanced assisting and energetics – who’s this training for?
It really is for all students who are not afraid to find out precisely what is happening in their bodies. And if you are teaching yoga, then it’ll help you understand what’s happening in others bodies.
I know that with precision, comes freedom, so I enjoy being able to take the time to go in depth with students over the course of many hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades of interaction.
Lastly, tell us three things you couldn’t live without?
Pristine nature, amazing food and lovely, interesting and vibrant humans beings!
Simon is set to lead his 50hr training at BodyMindLife from 10-14 April and three workshops from
12-14 April, check out the line-up here.