Interview with James Brown
Founder - American Yoga School
James started teaching in Washington, DC in 1996, where he was American University’s first Adjunct Professor of Yoga and the private teacher to the family of Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore while he was Vice President of the United States.
In 2001 he started teaching at YogaWorks’ original Montana Avenue studio under the close mentorship of Maty Ezraty. James helped developed YogaWorks’ acclaimed teacher training curriculum, which he then introduced in foreign markets. He was YogaWorks’ Director of Yoga Content until December 2012 and is the founder of American Yoga School.
In 2015, James published Words About Now: The Yoga Sutras for the Modern Practitioner and The Asana Guide for Yoga Teachers 2015, both available in the iBookstore.
You can find more about James and the incredible work he does here: https://americanyoga.school
Andrew: What is the #1 thing you do to maintain your health?
James: Health has many parts. I think that where most people get off track is when they spread themselves too thin and therefore have to do things because they’re convenient; instead of choosing things that are nurturing and good.
Andrew: Where is your favorite place in the world?
James: My cabin in Maryland. Fortunately, I live in it.
Andrew: Beach or Mountains?
James: I would have said beach up until North Korea got the nuke. Now it’s mountains all the way.
Andrew: Was there one moment or event that set you on track for a healthy lifestyle?
James: The biggest one was when I was a nightclub promoter, who also did yoga, back in the early 90’s. I was laying on my couch one Sunday after an all nighter drinking and snorting things. I was dozing off, repeatedly going into this place where I would stop breathing without realizing it. I would have to consciously tell myself to inhale. It scared me. In that moment, I decided to stop the nightclub stuff and do more of the yoga stuff.
A few years later, early on in my teaching career, I went on tour with a big rock band. We spent all of our time together and they lived that super healthy clean celeb lifestyle that has become so synonymous with LA now but this was 20 years ago and I hadn’t moved to LA yet. Nothing passed our lips that wasn’t deemed uber perfect. A few weeks of that and I was hooked. I felt really good. Then I moved to LA after the tour. Those things were real turning points in my life.
Andrew: What ONE thing would you recommend everyone should do daily?
James: Observe their own thought patterns with scholarly interest. They are the building blocks of every other aspect of experience.
Andrew: Where do you draw inspiration from?
James: I get most inspired when I’m around people who are at the top of their game, whatever that game is. I recently got to know a successful writer and was so inspired by the fact that he’d managed to find a way to have a career where he’s doing that one little niche thing he does better than anybody. I wish we could all know what we are best at do that we each could do it.
Andrew: Can you sum up your philosophy on health in one sentence?
James: Use it or lose it. Cook your own food whenever possible. Try to create frequent situations that involve eating, dancing, having sex, laughing or being with a dog. Surround yourself with people you love. Do not delay happiness.