“When I was 10 years old I had cancer. I’m 36 now, so it seems like forever ago, but it still affects me. It was a harrowing experience, more so for family and friends than for myself, but there was still suffering. It was my first brush with death, and mortality is hard to process as a child.
From the start, and going through school, I never really fit in. I was always an outsider-nerd, loved science, and have always thought in a very systematic way. Once I finished high school, I really had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted to do. At all. I fell into a job at a dealership, which paid my bills, but I ended up just just going through the motions. It wasn’t challenging my mind; it wasn’t interesting, and I wasn’t around positive people.
I needed something to bring me joy and stimulate my in my life so I decided to buy a motorcycle that I knew would give me a dose of adrenaline. I enjoyed this feeling of flirting with disaster, and ended up being pretty good at it, so I started officially racing motorcycles. I raced competitively up and down the east coast and went on to win a national championship in 2007 in Daytona. I quickly realized, though, I was in over my head – not only with the build of my motorcycle but with the build of my body. The need to get fit drew me to track cycling, and man, did I fall in love with it! I dove in wholeheartedly, 100% – like I do with all things.
In 2015, I broke my neck biking, and yoga brought me closer to recovery both physically and mentally. This was more than a difficult time for me, but it’s when I realized yoga had such a strong influence in bringing balance to my track cycling training. So, what I need is that balance and for things to be put into perspective. When I’m constantly breaking my body down, and things are going on in my life, everyday stress can be overwhelming – and yoga brings me back.
I feel like I’m a squirrel just vibrating with energy all the time now, whenever I’m on the bike or at the gym! Now, training for the world championship, I’m always in high gear. Whether I’m in the gym, on the bike, or at training events, my emotional investment is through the roof. I’m always push push push, go go go, all of the time.
While, the style of yoga that I practice: Baptiste Yoga is in one sense intense, it’s also very calming. Whatever pace the instructor is going at, I’m always following my breath which is guiding me through my practice. It’s the ‘moving meditation’ aspect that keeps me addicted and coming back.
After getting into a routine and rhythm practicing in my recovery from a broken neck, I became really comfortable with the poses and techniques. One of the instructors approached me after class, and asked if I was an instructor myself. When I said no, she remarked on how intune I seemed and that maybe I should look into it. I thought to myself, “That could be something”, because I was out of work, and collecting disability at the time.
I pursued it, and found a studio that was holding a 200-hour teacher training a few months from then. I dove in once again, and completed the 200 hours. As soon as I got my certificate, I reached out to every single studio I took a class at and asked to be put on their sub list! All of them responded with overwhelming ‘Yes’”, which is just one example of how great yogis are!
Flash forward to January of 2017 – I started my own business with a partner, called Traveling Mat Yoga. We started providing corporate yoga to different companies, so I drove around with 15 yoga mats and 30 blocks in my car at all times. It really took off with a big company, Brady Sullivan Properties in Manchester, so we have a room at their facilities where we hold classes 3 times a week – that we now open to the public. That’s become our main hub, but we still do the traveling as well
The thing that I really love, is that these office people who we serve, are so excited to see us. It doesn’t get any better than to be able to facilitate a feeling for them where they leave completely refreshed and renewed. Teaching yoga beats working on cars by a longshot! Looking back, I can’t believe how unhappy I was.
Even though breaking my neck was a rough time in my life, when I was collecting disability, it afforded me the opportunity to set myself down this path. It’s been such a learning experience, and what I’ve learned through my journey with yoga are things I’ll keep with me forever. Not only do I have takeaways from my own physical practice, but instructing is such a unique evolutionary process of growing and learning. I still feel like I’m the same person and the same instructor at the core, but just a better version of him. But that’s yoga. It’s a weird thing to me, to be getting paid to do it. Granted, I’m not making as much as I was before, but my quality of life is so much better and I’m so happy doing what I’m doing and creating this for other people.” – Chris Watt
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