The beauty of seeing a community take shape exists in each of the individual members. In the chaos of life, so many different individuals with lifetimes of different experiences are, for whatever reasons, brought together to share time and space. Over time, the reason the individual was drawn to the community begins to reveal itself and the order of chaos is seen.
The contributions each individual makes in bringing their presence alone is beyond value. Each individual is bringing a lifetime of unique experience, of perspective, of wisdom that can never be replaced. For that reason, each individual’s presence is felt deeply.
One dearly beloved member of our Bristol Yoga community brings a presence that is truly her own. With her deep well of philosophic knowledge and overall kick-ass attitude, this individual brings strong presence that is invaluable.
And that individual is… Adriel Slaughter!
Here are some of the questions we asked Adriel to give you some insight into what a treasure her presence is in our community.
- What inspires you to teach yoga?
I love to teach! Teaching yoga allows me to share the lessons I have learned on the mat with others - most often this means doing something I think I can’t do and guiding students to that place in class, either through a challenging pose or just a long Savasana, it’s pretty magical.
- What are you doing when you are not teaching?
I teach, ha ha. I teach Philosophy at Virginia Highlands, King University and Northeast State. Time not teaching *something* is spent reading, watching tv [I was not allowed to watch television as a child; I love television]. I really enjoy sewing and knitting but don't have enough time these days . . . the rest of the time is spent chasing our 6 year old daughter, Harper and hanging out with my husband and our dog and cats.
- What does yoga mean for you?
To flex (says Harper, my daughter)
Yoga means union, literally and that is what it means in my life - it’s been a connection between physical and mental exercise. I was drawn to the very physical side of yoga when I started. Like many, over time, I have come to appreciate and integrate the breath and meditative part of yoga into both my asana practice and my life.
- Who is (are) the most influential person (people) in your life?
Aristotle. I took a class on Aristotle in college and it changed the course of my life. I was presented with a new way to view the world through philosophy - one that has extended to every facet of my life.
- What did you learn from Aristotle that still applies for you today?
I took a class in undergrad on Aristotle. It was the first philosophy class I had taken and opened my eyes to an entirely new way of viewing the world. Briefly, a few things that were, and still are, significant about Aristotle's philosophical system are his conception of the soul (in the sense of life-force) and his ethical theory. He asserted that everything possesses a soul: plants a nutritive soul, animals both nutritive and appetitive, and humans both of those as well as a rational soul. This means that we have so much responsibility for our own development and our ability to flourish (my favorite word, eudaimonia, expresses this idea) in this life depends on feeding our souls. We do this by living well (there are multiple writings addressing this question: what does it mean to live well?). For Aristotle, this means finding the mean, the middle way, if you will, between extremes. This applies to everything and I have found through my study and practice of yoga many overlaps: we possess within us the ability to flourish through feeding our souls by practice of asana, breath and meditation. Yet we need to make the right choices for us. As this connects to yoga: we have to find a practice that feeds our souls and one that is good for you. The asana practice that feeds my soul might be torture to yours - luckily, there are many styles of yoga and it wasn't until I stumbled upon Power Yoga that I found the style that spoke to me. I'm not very good at slowing down and through the challenging practice, I have been able to work in through physical movement and slow down mentally.
- What is the most important lesson you have thus far learned from your yoga?
Patience and stillness. I want to immediately be able to do all the poses and I find it challenging to hold still. It was not until I found Power Yoga that I learned this lesson. I want to go - go - go and in my personal life, that has gained me things like stress fractures and arthritis from overuse. In a power yoga practice, we flow through challenging poses while holding other poses for several breaths. I have found that in doing this I am able to extend it to life off the mat - flowing through and holding strong in challenges.
To be kind to others & to learn new things (Harper).
- What is your favorite book?
Toss up between Crime & Punishment and Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. I also have a strong affinity for ancient Greek Philosophy as well as Nietzsche and Existential Philosophy.
- What do you appreciate about Existential Philosophy?
I find myself drawn to Existential philosophy as well. To summarize, one of the things Sarte said about life is that, "existence precedes essence." This means that nothing is inherently meaningful - meaning is something that we must determine for ourselves and it it a huge responsibility. I find myself questioning the point of things - why should we get up in the morning? why should we open ourselves up to love? should i eat popcorn for dinner? Existentialism answers these questions: none of it matters in any grand sense. What matters is that I'm faced with choices, decisions to make and based on what meaning I am searching for, that's where the significance lies. There is so much more to Existential philosophy; Sartre's No Exit is a good place to start. As far as this has influenced yoga, I think it goes back to the question of meaning. Often in a class or in my own practice, I'll set an intention at the beginning of class based on what I want to get out of the practice that day. It's much like Existential philosophy: there is nothing inherently meaningful about yoga or anything else; meaning comes from within us.
- What about music? What is your favorite music genre/band/or musician?
The Cure! Nine Inch Nails! Queens of the Stoneage! New Favorite is Chelsea Wolfe - check her out!
- Top three things you would bring to a *magical* deserted island:
I fixed that question for you and added magical to it - now that the island is magical, there will be an infinite supply of coffee and my 17 year old cats will live forever. I will also be able to think of the book I want to read and it will appear, as will anything else. I'll have to be careful what I think about . . .
- Who are your three favorite philosophers?
Eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism
- What do you want your students to take away from your teaching?
I want students to take away a sense of their own strength - our source of power comes from within, not from without and we all have that power. It often is a matter of connecting with that power and I try to design my classes to open students to that option.
Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander