This is the second in a series featuring Yogi(s) of interest to the Yogi community. Now we get a glimpse of the Yogi front-and-center in the Udaya Entertaiment produced “Ultimate Yogi 108” DVD Series, Yogi Travis Eliot.
Travis was born in Houston, Texas. At the age of four, he would relocate to the Appalachian Mountain area: Winston Salem, North Carolina. This was because, in Travis’ words, “my parents got sick of the floods and the insanely hot weather”.
Eliot enjoyed playing soccer and as he grew older became involved in cross-country running, weight lifting, skateboarding, surfing, and mountain biking.
Travis has been practicing Yoga for eleven years. He was nine years old when he gained his first exposure to meditation. This was due in part to his mother whom he credits with being spiritual and giving him the tools to practice meditation.
Travis has two children from a previous marriage and although he is not currently married he is, in his words, “….in a very special serious relationship with Yoga teacher Lauren Eckstrom.”
Through this Q&A Travis reveals some tidbits that many may find to be revealing but, given the nature of his “Ultimate Yogi 108” Series and stage presence; not surprising.
Here we have it: a Q&A with Yogi Travis Eliot.
William Hunnell: What lead you to practice Yoga? In other words, what's your backstory?
Travis Eliot: Before being led to yoga I worked a lot in the entertainment business as an actor. At one point I became a Teamster on a John Travolta and Vince Vaughn film called "Domestic Disturbance" that was filmed in Wilmington, NC. Right after that movie wrapped I moved out to LA a couple of blocks from the Sunset Strip. At that time I was supporting myself by working at the Ritz Carlton. This guy I worked with kept talking about how amazing his yoga class was and after about a year he convinced me to go. For some reason I was resistant to it but when I finally made it in (to class) it was 'love at first sight!'
WH: What lead you to teach Yoga?
TE: Although I thought Yoga Teachers had it made; I never really aspired to become one. I think at one point I was still clenching on to this idea of staying in the entertainment business forever.
I had a near-death drowning experience in Kaui that really started to shift my perspective. Then, I went on a Yoga retreat in Thailand where I had a ton of breakthroughs. At the end of the retreat they invited me to stick around and teach Yoga.
Even though I had never done a teacher training I knew that was all I wanted to do. There was something about it that felt deeper, more truthful, and more real than anything I had ever felt as an actor. I was able to express myself in a truly multi-dimensional way free of all restrictions.
I remember at one point during a meditation in Thailand that I committed to the Universe that if it would support me I would go spread Yoga with a vengeance. At that point I felt waves of energy pulsating through my whole entire system and tears of truth streaming down my face. Ever since then I've known that the Universe has got my back and as long as we can break through our fears nothing can hold us back!
WH: Where and under whose guidance did you receive Teacher Training?
TE: When I started teaching Yoga I hadn't completed a teacher training so I just taught what I knew by being a student. Those experiences as a student and passion gave me some good mileage for awhile. Eventually I went on to study a 660 hour course of Ayurvedic Medicine with John Holmstrom at The American University of Complementary Medicine.
I also spent time studying with Srivatsa Ramaswami at Loyola Marymount University. He taught me a lot about the Krishnamacharya lineage and the many different limbs of yoga.
I (even) spent some time studying Kirtan music with the amazing Jai Uttal. Lately I've studied a lot with the wonderful Annie Carpenter. I have to give a huge shout out to Bryan Kest and my first teacher Govindas for being the greatest of mentors!!
WH: Who or what inspires you?
TE: My kids inspire me! My teachers inspire me! Music definitely gives me some serious mojo! Also, the stories and feedback that I hear from students is a huge source of inspiration! There's nothing that makes my day more than when a student shares how their yoga practice has shifted their life in a deep, meaningful way.
WH: If you could give someone new to Yoga just one piece of advice (in one sentence) what would that be?
TE: Just focus on the breathing and everything will fall into place.
WH: You were the centre-piece of the Udaya Entertainment production of "The Ultimate Yogi 108”. What was your experience with that?
TE: It was one of the best experiences of my life! I had a blast creating the program, getting on my mat and figuring out how to create the most transformative program I possibly could. And as I was going through my own program I could see how powerful it was, taking me to the best shape of my life.
The filming process was exhilarating! I had my best friend Jason Reim directing it. Yariv Lerner (Producer) gave his all to support the vision, and then I had the most amazing students in the world take the trip with me to Bulgaria.
I just remember shooting five to seven classes a day with real crew, top-notch cameras and just thinking "I am the most blessed person in the world to have this opportunity!" Also, I knew without a shadow of doubt that what we were doing was extremely special as we pioneered a concept that had never been done before.
It was capturing the proverbial “lightning in a bottle”! Sometimes you go and make a DVD or record an album and for some reason it doesn’t translate well. But for us, I think, we all had grace on our side and the end product is a result of the alchemy of many different people that gave UY their very best.
WH: And lastly, is there anything you would like folks to know about you or your practice?
TE: I don't really need people to know anything about me other than what they see in my DVD's. What you see is what you get with me in real life. I'm teaching at a wellness retreat right now and this lady just came up to me and was like "I feel like I really know you from doing your DVD's!" And she does.
I think my practice is all encompassing. It's athletic, soulful, meditative, sensuous, dynamic, accessible and inspiring! At least that's the intention!!
So, there you have it: Travis Eliot's ultimate journey to become the "Ultimate Yogi".