Five Pillars Yoga

Terrence Monte

Where are you from?
I was born in the Bronx, and I always say that because I feel like it gives me a palpable credibility. Then, I undermine that immediately by saying I moved to Westchester when I was 4 years old. So I grew up in the suburbs. I know. So close to being cool. Story of my life.

How did you come to Yoga? How and when did your yoga practice begin?
I actually was absolutely opposed to yoga, but was required to do it in my MFA program at the University of Iowa. I wrote a letter to the head of the faculty there saying I thought it was unfair we had to “do this chanting bullshit” as part of a curriculum for performance. He very politely dismissed my naiveté and said if I didn’t like the curriculum I could certainly transfer to another school. Needless to say, I walked in the yoga class with an attitude one does not normally encounter when trying to better oneself. But twenty minutes into the class, I fell in love; I fell in love in a romantic way, in a way I would fall in love with a woman. I thought about yoga when I wasn’t doing it, I would daydream about it, I would read anything I could get my hands on if it remotely alluded to the practice of yoga. To this day, I still consider myself married to it.

How would you describe your teaching style?
It is my greatest prayer that I can show people they don’t EARN enlightenment, that they don’t ACHIEVE divinity; rather, you REALIZE enlightenment, you ARE divine BECAUSE you’re human (not in spite of it). My teaching style is rooted solely in that idea.

Who inspires you?
My first inspiration is my mother. I was raised by a single mom who had about $27 to her name and no job when my father left at 6 years old. You would think after all this time I couldn’t get any more inspiration from that well, but I learn more from her on a daily basis about what it means to have empathy, compassion, love, about what it means to do something whole heartedly, about what it means to work past the point of what you thought was possible, about how language matters, about challenging that which you believe to be most High.

Current favorite inspirational quote?
“The genius of God is that she hides where we would last look for her: in our own darkness, our own muck, our own humanity.” — Martin Sheen

Do you have a spirit animal?
David Regelin is my spirit animal.

Personal Motto or Mantra?
If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

Complete this sentence: I practice because….
I am immensely curious as to the whys of the world without, and yoga reveals that the answer is within.

Which of the Five Pillars most resonates with you (right now) and why?
Right Nutrition. I strongly believe that food is the most abused anxiety drug we have today, and I’m certainly guilty. Making what I eat a priority has made my life much more joyful.