When Mercer Smith tried yoga for the first time, he desperately needed to fill in high school athletic credits. (Spend an hour stretching?totally overrated was her original idea. ) However, to her surprise, she found herself enjoying the meditative nature of each pose.
Fast-forward 20 years, and the Austinite is now a tech industry professional, co-hosts the Support Help Desk Podcast and the Multiplier Rewards Podcast, and — you guessed it — teaches yoga in her spare time in the Mohawk (here). Register for a course) ). It’s just that it’s not any yoga.Determined to create a safe space for everyone and every age, she shares her message of acceptance by punk rock Yoga, matching “intense lyrics and sounds” with “intense, conscious movement.” Below are six of Smith’s questions.
Why do you feel the need for this approach?
I don’t see many people like me. I have tons of tattoos, I don’t have a pair of yoga pants, I don’t wear matching outfits – I’m wearing a band tee. I decided to do teacher training in 2014 and started teaching more accessible courses. For example, I started doing rehabilitation classes for people in the 12 Step program. I started teaching incarcerated people, teaching through Boston’s prison system. It has always been my mission to bring yoga to people who are not the primary target of yoga’s marketing.
How is punk rock yoga different from a rigid class?
I’d definitely be more relaxed and use a colloquial tone. Music is not typical of yoga, I mean, you can find something different, but usually cooler. Second, I brought a very punk spirit, and like me, I’m not the master of the field. If there is something I say to do and you feel no, feel bad, don’t do it. I’m not going to judge you, and neither will anyone else around you, because everyone here is just trying to survive the next 60 minutes of this class. I changed the environment I was cultivating to be more accommodating to those who might not be comfortable.
How has punk affected you?
I was a very lonely kid, didn’t have a good childhood and didn’t fit anywhere. When I was in high school, I started hanging out with people who listened to this kind of music, and there was a girl who drew a bunch of bands on Doc Martens. So I looked up some bands and I thought, this is good, I love these things. I feel it resonates. I think in punk music there is a very good balance between intellectual curiosity and anger. I have found a community that accepts me no matter what I look like.
You’re also an instructor at Oal + Lotus, working in the tech industry, co-hosting and writing two podcasts. Did you take time off?
I just want to have a two month vacation where I can do something and work a little bit on a project. In this case, I am having a baby.
Besides music, what’s the best part about teaching a punk class?
I love the excitement of seeing people who have never done yoga before. A lot of people come and they’re like, “I’m really here just because you play punk rock,” or, “I want to do yoga for a while, but I don’t want to do it anywhere else.” Then they try a challenge Sexual poses, surprise yourself, and keep coming back. I love building relationships with people and seeing them get better in practice.
How do these classes take the Austin community beyond the music world?
It brings people together who might not normally have a chance to speak when they go to a party. Sometimes you get angry because the person in front of you spills beer on your shoes or something. Punk yoga has none of these. It’s like a more cultured calm space.