We had the good fortune of connecting with Brent Laffoon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brent, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
I think more than anything the habit that has most helped me succeed is the habit of cultivating a positive outlook. Some days it comes naturally, but inevitably there are times when the obstacles life throws our way can seem like “problems” or “bad news.” Having a conscious practice of keeping an open mind and choosing to see opportunity in less-than-ideal circumstances has enabled me to turn disappointments into discoveries, pain into growth and confusion into understanding.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Teaching yoga in the time of Corona has been an adventure, to say the least! Part of what’s been keeping me busy lately is simply transitioning to a whole new way of connecting with students and helping them maintain their practice. Zoom has been great, but in the last month I started teaching classes on the beach in Venice, which has been amazing. Practicing on the sand lends itself to all kinds of interesting creative exploration and new discoveries, and people have really responded well, so that’s been very gratifying and exciting. In addition, I recently launched a non-profit, The Association of Yoga Professionals, a.k.a. The AYP. Our mission is to raise the standards for yoga teachers by offering an actual certification process, which hasn’t existed until now. Our hope is that by raising the bar for teachers, we’ll also raise the quality of the experience for students — i.e., fewer injuries and more people experiencing more of the benefits yoga has to offer when taught and practiced correctly (which is different for every student). It’s a lot of work, but the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, so that’s encouraging. On top of all that, I’ve also been writing a book, which I thought I was done with, but it turns out I wasn’t, so… deep breaths, ya know? And back to work!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh, man… there are so many great options. As Woody Guthrie sang, “California is a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see!” If we had a week, I’d start with a road trip up the coast, and I’d definitely bring camping gear and some surf boards. El Capitan in Santa Barbara is a fantastic place to sleep under the stars, and if the waves are breaking, it’s pure joy. From there I’d head to Big Sur, and if the gods were smiling on us we’d score a campground at Kirk Creek, which sits on a little cliff that looks out over the stunning expanse of the Pacific. It’s peaceful and perfect in every way, and every now and then if you look carefully you can catch a few whales breaching as they make their migration. From there, we’d be remiss not to head up to San Francisco for a day or two and enjoy the many wonders there… but really, you can’t go wrong in California. Joshua Tree, Yosemite, the Mendocino Coast, Lassen Volcanic, Pinnacles, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks — they’re all total stunners. A week would be a great start, but if you love nature and being outdoors, you could spend a hundred lifetimes exploring California’s many wonders and still not be able to take it all in. And then you’d need a few more lifetimes to take in all the incredible food, museums, remarkable architecture and cultural reference points. The list of things to see and do is virtually endless, although if I had to pick one thing that I wouldn’t want my best friend to miss out on, it would be a concert of the LA Philharmonic at the Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA. What a marvel that place is, and what incredible music they make there. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, I hope you will someday soon!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There have been so many people who have helped me along my path. Ally Hamilton, who started Yogis Anonymous, was the first person to give me a chance as a teacher, and in many ways that chance opened every door that came after, and I will always be eternally grateful to her. Clio Manuelian came to me one day with a crazy idea for the two of to lead Teacher Trainings for Equinox, and Angela Leigh made that dream come true for us, so I’m also extremely grateful to both of them, as leading Teacher Trainings for Equinox has been one of the greatest blessings of my teaching career. Likewise, Jay Co, who owns Yogaraj, also asked me to lead Teacher Trainings with him, as well, and that experience has not only been invaluable as far as helping me develop as a teacher, it’s also been a lot of fun. Finally, my dear friend Ismini Papa helped me lead two amazing retreats to Greece, which not only helped me grow my business, it also brought me to some incredibly beautiful places with some of the most wonderful people I know. And last but not at all least, my teacher Daniel Aaron, who founded Radiantly Alive in Bali, was exactly the right teacher at exactly the right time for me, and I will always be eternally grateful, not only to him for his mentorship, as well as his friendship, but also to the stars that aligned for our paths to cross when they did.