• Grace Yoga (GY): Cody, what type of work were you doing before you became a yoga instructor? What inspired you to make the change?

    Cody Freas (CF): I’ve been teaching off and on for the last 7 years. Over the course of that time, Ive always fallen back on odd ball jobs to pay rent because unless you’re an Insta-famous Yoga Practitioner it’s really hard to make a living just teaching yoga. With that in mind, my main source of work has been Accounting/Business Management. One of the first jobs I ever had was working in an Accounting office, so I learned a lot of tools there and it supplied an income for me to explore my passion (teaching yoga). But that type of work does not fuel my soul, yoga does. But, bills need to be paid. Right now I work a few days a week at an Counseling Center, I teach at a few different studios, and I also drive or Lyft whenever I can in between everything. I moved up to Pacifica from LA about 5 months ago, so I’m still trying to get grounded, but as long as I am teaching classes, everything else will take care of itself.

    GY: This month we are focusing on Samyama: The practice of these three (Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi) when applied to an object is called Samyama (perfectly controlled). What is your personal definition on what these three applied looks like?

    CF: What it looks like to me, is if you were to Google Jimi Hendrix Live @ Woodstock in 1969, that is what it looks like. In short, Patanjali said, and I’m paraphrasing here, is that Samyama may be applied in various things. I think he outlined these three things, Dharna, Dhanya and Samadhi to point out that it can be applied to really anything in life, not just on your yoga mat. There is nothing more divine than something else, its all divine, and it all can be a tool for our awakening or achieving these states. There nothing more spiritually greater than say a guitar player lost in his instrument, absorbed in a state of Samadhi, or a meditator achieving the same state, or a wood worker lost in his craft. It took me a long time to realize that.

    GY: What is your personal philosophy about maintaining a yoga practice with a busy lifestyle?

    CF: Let me start by saying that it’s extremely hard to do. The older we get, the more commitments we acquire and I’ll be first to admit that it’s hard to set aside time for our self practice. That’s why fitting a class or two in your weekly schedule can be so helpful. It helps keep you accountable, because like Woody Allen said “80% of life is just showing up”. Once it becomes routine, then maybe develop a small self practice at home. Certain things you know how to do, and just taking a few minutes before bed or to wind down at the end of a long day can do wonders for retraining the mind to make it a habit and part of your routine. *But do so once that routine is strong*, because if it isn’t, it will be really easy to put off, throw on Netflix and eat a pizza. I’ll wrap up this part by saying that a Zen master once said, you should meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, you should meditate for 20.

    GY: As a teacher and a student of Yoga, you are exposed to so many facets of Yoga as a practice. What is the pure objective of yoga as you currently understand it?

    CF: I can only tell you what the pure objective of yoga is for me, I don’t know what it is for you, but for me, its to blur the line between object and self. Very similar to what was previous discussed with Samyama. Yoga by definition means to yoke, to join, to merge…so merging body and mind…Spirit and soul. When we are in that state of union, Ultimate Truth is experienced. We are a conduit, a channel for this Truth to shine through.

    GY: In 2008 you traveled to India and Nepal, tell us about the moment of realization that lead to complete your teacher training in 2011?

    CF: I was on my first yoga retreat in Santa Barbara. I think I found about the retreat via Yoga Journal at the time. This was over 10 years ago so there was not any Social Media like there is today. I did not know anyone going, but I had a little bit of money saved from my job and wanted to get away. Little did I know that the first class would crack me open completely. It was my first time hearing the Anusara Invocation be sung, in a room full of yogis and yoginis, and I was absolutely puddled by the end of it. I cracked. I was never the same after that class. I immediately knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn’t care about fame, or fortune, but rather being a conduit for other people to crack open, like I did. So I saved up and went to India for about a year because I felt I needed to go there to learn yoga (asana). And I did. But in a different way than what I was expecting. I did my certification here in the States, but India taught me that 1) We have better schooling here in The States, and 2) Once I learn what I need to, do I run to the Himalayas and join the other Sadhus, waiting for people to kiss my feet calling and call me a Guru? Or do I jump back into the world and try every day to apply what I have learned? The answer for me was to jump back into the world.

    GY: What is your personal philosophy about where yoga fits in along your path to self-realization?

    CF: Its been such a interesting ride over the years. When I first got the yoga bug, that was all I did. Classes, retreats, workshops etc. But then came meditation because that’s where I felt the spiritual big leagues were. All the great masters of the past and present talk about meditation the most, so I ended up living on a meditation center for almost 2 years, not practicing any asana at all, sometimes meditating for almost 12 hours a day. When I came out of that center, it became apparent to me that you don’t need to run off to a cave, or a meditation center to try and achieve any of those states that we talked about earlier, its all right here. If it isn’t, then where the hell else would it be??? I needed to give up that notion because it really is not what I need or what the world needs. The world needs awakened people IN the world, serving you coffee and food, cleaning your houses, doing your tax returns etc. We need to share our light and love with one another, wherever we are, in whatever we do and not for us to run off to the hills to try and achieve something in isolation. The current state of affairs is a exact reflection of the state of the world, its extremely sick and needs love!

    GY: Please tell us any other interesting tidbits you’d like to share.

    CF: Last thing I want to add, is to question everything. Question everything that I just said. Come to your own conclusions via your own direct experience. Not the experience of others. In this way, you can stand firmly in what you believe. Or don’t believe. Or don’t know yet. That concept of accepting something as real, or true *through my own direct experience of it*, has single-handedly changed my life and is something I try to bring into anything I do, every day. Even in my classes. Don’t believe something just because I tell you. Get in your body, feel for yourself, study it, and practice, practice, practice!