We had the good fortune of connecting with Knekoh Fruge’ and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Knekoh, so many of the folks we connect with are focused on having a positive social impact on their community or the world at large. Can you talk to us about how you are helping the community?
Yoga is an ancient system of healthcare. Here in the West we have successfully tapped into one of the many tools Yoga has to offer in the form of asana (pose) practices for the ultimate in physical health and fitness. Go onto any social media platform and it is easy to find countless Yogi’s demonstrating their prowess with the asana. A veritable window-full of eye candy; it delights the eye and inspires the spirit. To reach this level does take dedication but the kicker is, along the way to that degree of physical fitness, the practice is both enjoyable and easy. Yes easy! Any Yogi will tell you it’s almost as if we don’t notice how strong and flexible we are becoming because the practice seems to evolve itself. And it does. One of the guiding principles of Hatha Yoga is sutra 2.46, ‘sthira sukham asanam’, which means the posture must be practiced steadily (sthira) and with ease (sukkah). And oh my, have these yogis mastered that! But listen to this, of the 196 Yoga Sutras (guiding principles) this is the only time asana is mentioned. So what about the other 195? That contemplation makes us realize the physical facility created by the practice of the poses merely scratches the surface of the possibilities utilizing the tools presented in the Yoga Sutras. One of the best things about Western medicine is also its shortcoming. In the 1940’s the West enjoyed the widespread production of the antibiotic and the world has not been the same since. Countless lives have been saved thanks to that wonderful little pill. The problem though is that it has instilled within our consciousness the notion that we can fix anything with a pill and we can fix it fast. Thanks to that addiction to and conviction of the ‘quick fix’, in only about 70 years, we have forgotten how to use the art of healing developed/discovered by mankind over thousands and thousands of years. We have forgotten that true, thorough healing of the body takes time and with time anything is possible, whether it be mastering a CRAZY asana or curing oneself of a devastating injury. As a Yoga Therapist I have witnessed clients fully recover from chronic illness’ and injuries that have blown my mind. From people who were told by a doctor or chiropractor their body was as good as it can get and would forever hurt, to the stage 4 cancer survivor who is alive 15 years later thumbing their nose at the doctors who told her to prepare her will, to the hopeless depressive feeling bound to one anti depressant after another with no joy in sight. I know I have yet to see the end of possibilities and I know first hand the power of healing.This is not to say that Western medicine does not have its place. It does most assuredly but we should never try to use a pill or surgery while a bit of self care and healing through the natural process of Yoga is available. I dream of a world in which Western Doctors and Yoga Therapists work hand in hand, and I believe that day is not far off. For years University’s across the US have been researching the efficacy of Yogic claims. Every ounce of research into the subject of Yoga has proven, it really truly works and unlike the devastating side effects of some pills or surgeries, the only side effect of Yoga is physical fitness, lasting happiness and well being. How lucky for us to live in this era of widespread Yoga, of knowing transformation is ours for the taking.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Before there were Yoga Studios on every corner and a teacher at every turn there were dedicated Yoga practitioners gathering in living rooms as yoga circles to share knowledge and practice together. This concept became the inspiration for the name Yoga Circle Downtown and the energy that creates our community. It is from this concept of the yoga circle, that I hosted my first class in DTLA in the Arts District in a friends loft in 1999. That class became two, those two became four ultimately leading the Yoga Circle community to expand into the old Farmers and Merchants Bank in the historic core in 2001. By 2003, needing a more permanent home, I invited other teachers to join me and opened Yoga Circle Downtown’s first dedicated space in the San Fernando building in 2003. From the beginning both the teachers and students who have gravitated toward Yoga Circle have been those dedicated to the tradition of this ancient practice.. Yoga culture in the West is ever-evolving, and we feel that it’s become all the more important to have a place that specializes in traditional yoga and yogic philosophy. What we’re here to do is bigger than physical fitness—yoga is a practice for the body, mind, and soul. Sincerely we believe, Yoga is for every body. We want everyone to come in and feel comfortable practicing with us. All of our classes are designed to be inclusive and accessible and cater to mixed levels. Of course we do have a few of the requisite advanced classes for those who thrive in the challenge of a well placed inversion or a strength building arm balance. But no matter the class, our teachers teach from the heart and prioritize the breath. We build from the breath to find the poses, and in the poses, we find the moment. And in that moment we find the peace of meditation. Study upon study is proving, just as the ancient texts reveal, meditation is the key to happiness. At Yoga Circle Downtown, that is our goal for all, happiness, health and peace through Yoga. Having practiced Yoga for more than 37 years, I am not only a teacher but forever a student of Yoga and a student of life. I have had the honor of studying under some of the most renowned teachers of the day. From the hierarchy of Sivananda through Integral Yoga and the Sivananda Vendanta Center to the Krishnmacharya tradition exemplified through the staff of Loyola Marymount University’s Yogic Studies program. Having studied with some of the best the world has to offer, I am forever grateful! Over the last 17 years as Yoga Circle’s resident Yoga Therapist I have helped a plethora of individual clients as well as those in the group class setting find their center again via that final relief from chronic pain, injuries and diseases that plague the modern body and mind. I understand through personal experience as well as my years of education that pain whether it be physical or mental can lead one down a path of depression and anxiety. When I work with my clients I craft a therapeutic approach to encompass the body/mind as one field that has many layers. I see each of my clients and students as individuals. I know and understand implicitly that each individual has their own special path that led them to Yoga Circle Downtown. It is the combined energies of this cast of characters gathering to teach, learn, and explore yoga that embody Yoga Circle’s heart and soul that has been evolving over the last 20 plus years. Through the natural process of evolution we are proud to be leaders in Yogic culture, philosophy and tradition carrying the torch for the next generation. Our dedicated team of teachers are highly sought after for our expertise in Traditional Yoga and Meditation, Advanced Asana, Yoga as Therapy, Teacher Trainings, and Yoga in the Workplace for a host of Corporate Clients from small Non-profits to large Multi-National Corporations. We are humbled and grateful and just so happy to be here.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Being a tour guide for Los Angeles for a week would be thrilling and I’d hardly know where to start as there is so much to choose from. I Love California, Los Angeles in particular. We have amazing weather and wonderful people all bustling with ideas and experiences to share. We are so lucky to be home to a broad range of cultures from around the world. One could literally close their eyes, turn a globe, land a finger on some spot in the world then do a quick search to find a restaurant here in LA that specializes in that cuisine. Some of my favorites are Little Ethiopia in West LA, Thai Town near Hollywood and of course as a Yogi I adore all the Indian Restaurants that pepper the city. But what would a visit to LA be without a sampling of the wide array of taco stands and trucks we have to choose from. My mouth is watering now just thinking about the possibilities. Once fed it’d be time to head out to soak up culture of a different sort, our museums. Los Angeles is home to a plethora of AMAZING museums. I adore the Norton Simon for its incredible collections. As a Yogi I am enthralled with its vast assemblage of Eastern art from Ancient India to Thailand and beyond. As a Westerner, I could for hours haunt the galleries that house centuries of European art from the unknown artists painting early Christian iconography to the Dutch masters such as Vermeer, Frans Hals and Rembrandt as well as the more modern impressionists Manet, Renoir and Degas. We’d then take a stroll through the garden there that is home to fascinating sculptures at every turn; even one of Rodin’s masterpieces, the ‘Thinker’ is there. If we’re still hungry for more fine art, we’d head over to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art or the Museum of Contemporary Art/The Geffen. Once we’ve had our fill of art we could head over to the Natural History Museum, the Peterson Automotive Museum, The California Science Center, The La Brea Tar Pits or the Griffith Observatory plus so much more. If I were hosting a cinephile, no tour of LA would be complete without a trip to one of our wonderful movie studios to explore how the magic happens. We could line up to be a guest in the audience at one of the many talk or game shows or we could ride in one of the golf carts exploring the fake-front towns that stand in for main street USA in many of the beloved films of our times as well as days gone by. As night falls, it’d be time to head over to another speciality of LA, our music scene. On any given night one can find live music here. From the iconic clubs of the Sunset Strip such as the Whiskey a Go Go, The Viper Room or the Troubadour to the smaller ‘hole the walls’ where one is likely to find the stars of tomorrow or the Jazz trio of yesteryear. Lastly, one of my favorite things is a day trip by car. We’d head up through the mountains behind us along the Angeles Crest Highway, drop down into the Mojave desert via Pear Blossom Highway, over the neighboring mountains along Highway 126 to the ocean at Ventura, finally following the Pacific Coast Highway back into the city. This route is always impressive no matter how many times I traverse. One gets a taste of majestic mountains covered in the Sequoia of our national forest, the red rocks of the high desert, the awe inspiring lunar-esque landscape that is our Mojave and finishing with sunset over the Pacific. A perfect drive after a busy week of city sight seeing. We are so lucky to live here in Southern California and Los Angeles is truly a special place indeed. I believe I could fill a book with must sees. I know a week would not be enough to explore truly what LA has to offer but it would be a good start.
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?
I‘d like to Shoutout Loyola Marymount University’s Yoga Studies program. A dedicated group of teachers, doctors and therapists headed up by Dr Christopher Chapple and Dr Larry Payne. Outside of India this is one of the most important institutions of higher education in Yoga. It was the first to offer a master’s degree in Yoga Studies here in the United States and is also one of the most respected schools of Yoga Therapy in the West.
Instagram: @yogacircledowntown , @yogiknekoh
Facebook: Yoga Circle Downtown , Yogi Knekoh
Youtube: In the works