Dylan Werner (“Dylan”) was born and raised in the mountains of Southern California. Having a passion for healthy living and an active lifestyle, he dedicated his life to pursuing this way of living. With a background in wrestling, rock climbing, martial arts and health and fitness, Dylan found yoga to be a culmination of everything he loves. Dylan has led teacher trainings and workshops all over the world. Asana caught Dylan before he started his world tour.
Asana: How did you discover yoga? What attracted you to pursue the practice and now a career?
Dylan: I first got into yoga because I thought it would be a good place to meet girls. But as soon as I took my first class, I feel in love with the practice. It was challenging and so different from all the working out that I had done in the past. There was a so much more to it. I really wanted to discover what that was.
I never thought I would become a full time yoga teacher. I was a fire fighter/paramedic and had my career. I took a teacher training just to support my girlfriend. After my training, I found that I really loved teaching and I would teach 3 classes a week on the side, just for fun. I ended up losing my job and decided to take a chance teaching yoga full time. Now here I am!
Asana: Have you always had the strength and flexibility? Has it been hard work to reach where you are; or is most part “in-born”?
Dylan: I have always been strong. I didn’t really understand how to use my strength until I started yoga, and I didn’t have a handstand or arm balance practice before yoga. However, I was not at all flexible. My toes were really far away, I had super tight hips. It took me over two years to be able to do lotus. And I had no backbend. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am at with my flexibility and I know I am barely at the start.
Asana: How do you describe your practise? Have you always been specialised in inversion and arm balance?
Dylan: My practice is a lot of stretching. Lots of yin. I handstand and do arm balances every day. I have my things like I like to do to help strengthen my inversion and arm balance practice. I try to take as many classes as I can. Usually, I can only make it to 3 or 4 classes a week. I started doing arm balances and handstands when I started yoga. I used to be able to walk on my hands as a kid, but it wasn’t until I started yoga that I learned how to do a stationary handstand. Now I can’t stop.
Asana: Which is your favourite style / lineage; and your teacher? How often do you practice?
Dylan: I practise vinyasa. I love the freedom that I have with vinyasa. I try and take as many teachers I can and learn from all of them. I have had the privilege of taking so many great teachers, some very famous, some not famous. I feel like too many people get caught up with names. I try to stay away from that. I don’t teach my teachers practice. I teach my practice, because I only know my practice. I try to practise every day. I feel I need to get to my mat every day, even if it is only to stretch for a little bit or do a few handstands.
Asana: Since you have a strong practice, do you consider students are attracted to achieve what you can; or too scared to try what you can do?
Dylan: I think it’s both. I teach with a lot of options. I try to make my classes accessible to anyone willing to try. You don’t have to be strong, you don’t have to be flexible, you just have to be present. My classes are all levels. All levels hard. I teach my practice but I want my students to do their practice.
Asana: Do you consider your background in wrestling, rock climbing, martial arts, health and fitness help in your teaching?
Dylan: From wrestling, I learned how to move people. It has helped me so much in understanding how to move someone else’s body when I assist a student deeper in his/her practice. Rock climbing taught my about core stability, control and proprioception. Martial arts really helped me understand how to move. All three have been a big influence on my teaching and practice.
Asana: You have been conducting workshops in the US, Europe and Asia. Do you notice any differences in the practice? How do you adapt your teaching to different cultures; or do you?
Dylan: Yogis are yogis. I just share my practice the only way I know how. I do teach Americans any different than Asians. There are small differences that I see but for the most part we are all pretty similar.
Asana: What are your key tips for inversion; and arm balance?
Dylan: There is just two much to talk about to list here. I teach a 3-hour inversion workshop and I feel like I barely get through handstands.
Asana: What is your typical day when you are neither teaching nor travelling?
Dylan: I try to do a little self practice or take a class. I answer e-mails. I take pictures for Instagram. I go to the beach, play music, watch tv. I like to be lazy when I have a chance to be lazy. It’s important to rest and relax and enjoy.
Asana: Does your family support your career? Do you inspire them to practise yoga?
Dylan: My family is very proud of me. I don’t live by them but my mom practises my yoga strength basics plan on Codyapp.
Asana: Do you still wrestle, climb rocks or practise martial arts? What is your favourite pastime?
Dylan: I still like to rock climb when I can. I haven’t been in a while. Every time I get asked if I still climb, it reminds me that I need to go rock climbing. It’s a great sport. I don’t wrestle or do martial arts any more. It’s been over 10 years since I’ve done either. I love to play music. I’ve been playing in bands since I was 13 years old. I am still playing music with my friends.
Asana: What do you do to keep up the physical practice; and maintain strength to get into the various challenging poses?
Dylan: I do my yoga practice. I practise handstands and arm balances to maintain strength, and I stretch.
Asana: Are you planning more online training? How effective do you consider this is?
Dylan: Yes. I am going to be doing a Codyapp for Inversions and Arm Balances soon as well as some more stuff in the future. I think online training is great. I’ve learned so much from so many teachers that I have never met from online training. Nothing beats training with a teacher in person but when you can’t do that, online training is the next best thing.
Asana: Is there any location you wish to visit or conduct training?
Dylan: There are so many places that I want to go. I am really hoping to make it to Denmark soon. I have a lot of places that I’ve been wanting to go to line up over the next year. The more you travel, the more you want to travel.
Asana: Is there any project you really wish to undertake?
Dylan: I am currently working on a project on the side. I’m writing a yoga album for my band. It’s really cool stuff. Kirtan meets modern music. We have 4 songs so far. We hope to finish the album by the end of the year.
Asana: What is next for you in your yoga career or life generally?
Dylan: Honestly, I wish I knew. I just keep saying yes to whatever happens and amazing things keep happening. I just want to keep teaching. I love it and I feel like the luckiest person to be able to do what I love.
To read the full article please download our Asana Journal App or purchase Issue 150 June 2015.