Before teaching yoga, what did you do?
I spent 27 years in the biotech industry working as a research scientist discovering new medicines for people. I was that stereotypical geek wearing a white lab coat, latex gloves and safety glasses growing cells in Petri dishes, mixing chemicals in test tubes, purifying DNA and RNA and trying to figure out how the new medicines worked at the molecular level. I slowly climbed the corporate ladder and eventually found myself in upper management. But I realized then that my joy was gone. Supervising people, managing budgets, hiring and firing personnel ( and wearing a tie) was not my cup of tea. I then decided to teach science so I went back to school and got my teaching certificate and taught middle school science in Singapore for 3.5 years.
Why did you start teaching yoga?
I knew early on in my yoga practice that I would someday teach. It was a calling, not really a decision. I was patient and waited for the universe to open for the right time and opportunity for this to happen. I started practicing yoga purely for the physical aspects but over time I grew to love and understand the importance of the spiritual side. Teaching allows me to go deeper into my practice than I ever knew. I’ll never be done learning yoga.
What do you love about naked yoga in particular?
I love the freedom it allows me to accept myself as I am in the moment without any barriers hiding my imperfections. I love seeing my students have the same experience and coming to terms with their image of their body. Louise L. Hay writes in You Can Heal Your Life “The innermost belief for everyone I have worked with is always “I’m not good enough!” Being naked in a room full of strangers is a humbling situation that allows you to address that thought “I’m not good enough”. That’s the ego talking to you and it’s time to get rid of that thought.
What are your biggest aspirations?
My biggest goal for 2014 is to do a 10 day vipassana meditation retreat. I am anxious about sitting quietly and doing nothing for 10 days because I am a very kinetic person.
What is something people usually don’t know about you?
I am listed as an inventor on 5 patents for new medicines. I received one dollar for each one from the company where they were invented!
Do you have any exciting plans coming up? Do tell!
I am going back to Mysore, India this summer to do a one month intensive teacher training program plus a little bit of adventure travel. Also on my radar is to be a student of Elysabeth Williamson’s partner yoga teacher training course.
Since 1997, Tom has studied several yoga methods, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, Sivananda and Hatha yoga. He recently completed a 500-hour certification in India at Rishikesh and Kerala at the Sivananda ashram. “To me, yoga is the practice of right living and when integrated into our lives it can have profound benefits on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual lives. You do not have to be flexible or strong or have lots of stamina to do yoga. You just have to be willing to come to the mat!”
Our 1-week retreats are scheduled throughout the year, some overlapping the legendary Full Moon Party. Arrival and group dinner is on the first day of the retreat and we conclude in the morning on the last day. All yoga practice is done in the nude. Our 2014 retreat dates:
May 10 – 17 (Full Moon)
June 14 – 21
November 28 - December 5