This month’s instructor we met at the cross walk in front of our Santa Monica office. Ben had just finished a class and we struck up a conversation, since we all had yoga mats under our arms. This guy was one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. His positive outlook and great aura had us wanting to practice yoga with him. We asked Ben to share his story with us and he was kind enough to divulge.
Hi, I’m Ben, a full-time Zen practitioner, yoga teacher and surfer. For the most part I am a really happy, healthy and balanced person, but I can assure you, I was not always this way! Almost ten years ago at the age of 24, I was lost, confused and falling into a deep depression. I had just experienced my first devastating heartbreak and simply could not make any decision about what to do with my life. I was so incredibly befuddled and perplexed by life. Since I was about five years old, I had a strong desire to understand life’s deeper questions that I buried as I grew older: Why am I here? Why is anything here? What am I!? Twenty years later, it was time to get some answers.
To snap myself out of the worst funk of all time, I threw myself into a 45 day, silent, Zen retreat with the Kwan Um School of Zen, one of the largest schools of Zen Buddhism in the western hemisphere. The result? I went totally insane! And did I have all the answers to my questions? Absolutely not! But, I now had a practice that provided me the structure, support, and community I needed. My mind felt better however, my body was a wreck. My affinity with yoga began, realizing that it is much easier to open the mind with a strong and open body. I practiced yoga almost every single day, mopping yoga studio floors in exchange for classes for about four years. In 2012 I did my first yoga teacher training at Liberation Yoga and began teaching soon thereafter.
While I continued to grow as a yogi, my Zen practice also flourished. I became a Zen Dharma Teacher and the director of Dharma Zen Center, a Buddhist living and practice facility in Los Angeles. I travelled to Korea to do another silent retreat, this time lasting for 90 days! Realizing how much my Zen practice developed through travel, I knew I would have to do the same for yoga. In the spring of 2015 I made the big trip to India, where I did an advanced study with renowned teachers, Rolf Naujokat and Ganga Puri.
India was amazing, but coming back was not easy. I found myself with no money, job or car. Out of sheer desperation, I put my practice to work and became a full-time yoga teacher. I am blessed to be able to share what I’ve learned with students on a daily basis. I teach a fun, challenging flow that will definitely bring you into a heightened meditative state!
Outside of teaching and practice, my greatest joy is surfing. It allows me to connect with nature, Allowing me to live in the moment. I take great delight in sharing this joy with my students. Every Saturday morning I run a donation based, yoga-surf session at different beaches around Los Angeles. It’s a total blast for all levels of yogis and surfers. To find more information about Yoga-Surf, or to see what studios I’m teaching at, check out my website bengettingeryoga.com. I hope to meet you on the mat or in the water! Hari Om! – Ben
Do you have a yoga teacher that inspires you? Reach out and let us know. We would love to send some love to instructors all over the world.