When you sit down with a Yogi renowned and respected like Todd Lavictoire, you sort of expect to meet an esoterical, Zen and hippy individual that speaks in mystical ways. Instead, we came to face with a grounded, smart and caring person, hoping to help heal other’s physical and mental pain through his yoga teachings.
Todd describes himself as a particularly introverted individual, one that likes ideas and learning new things. He spent a lot of time learning through formal means. With an English Literature and Philosophy degree to which he added a sociology degree, Todd then went on to complete an Education degree. However, what strikes the most is his constant desire to learn from all things of life, always questioning himself and the world he lives in, in order to evolve and stay true to what he considers to be the most important. The path that led him to teach yoga has not been simple. Being such an introvert, he does not easily come out of his shell to connect with people. He did teacher’s training as a mean to mostly be able to practice on his own. Faith had other plans. One of his teachers asked him to cover for her while she was away for a month. Feeling like he owed her, he accepted, although it did not want to do it. It did not go over so bad, nor so well, but throughout that month, one thing happened. Todd realized that he could help people dealing with their pain.
“I’m sure that certain people have come to my class and I have given them a bad first impression. But over time, I think most people appreciate what I am bringing to the table. People that get to know me understand that I am very caring it’s just it does not manifest the way people expect it to.”
He says it himself, he’s not the usual cheerleader type of mentor you usually meet in fitness, there is a lot of dry humor in his approach, but he truly feels that the Yoga Tune-up® methodology can actually address people’s pain.
“It can really be tailored in a way where you are going to leave the class feeling better and feeling like you can take care of yourself more.”
He also wants to expand that approach into healing the mind by learning more about somatic therapy. A good friend of his, Christopher Walling, believes that the body is a manifestation of the mind. It is a philosophy that resonates with him and his vision of the impacts of energy on our lives and bodies.
“Energy loops, where it starts doesn’t really matter. If I am going to the gym and trying to kill the weight, that energy is going to fall on other places in my life. The physical practice is also a microcosm for the rest of your life.”
That concept is the cornerstone of his daily practice as it pushes him to be present in the moment at any time, which is in his idea, the essence of yoga.
For similar reasons, one of the constant interest in his life has been weight lifting. It provides him with an excellent mean to care for his body and practicing being fully in the moment while doing so.
“The weight will never lie to you. You might come in feeling great and you try to lift and you realize you’re actually quite tired, or you come in feeling tired but you’re actually quite centered. At least once during the workouts that I feel good in, I see what my limit is. I think it’s yoga because it makes me present and into the moment during this lift”
However, it hasn’t always been that way. In his 20’s he used weight lifting as a mean to channel anger. These years of imbalanced practice have caused Todd a great deal of neck and shoulder pain. He then discovered yoga through a class that was given at the YMCA where he also trained. Not only did he find that it could help with his pain, but he was also quite inspired by the Eastern teachings. He did 7 years of yoga practice and asana, but found unfortunately that through it he had overstretched muscles causing important back problems. Going back to weight lifting while still practicing yoga comes together and makes proper posture easier, creating less pain.
“It’s a practice that serves the long term goal of living better in my body, living with less pain in the long run.”
His practice in the recent years has helped him on the emotional side as well. Through the Yoga Tune-up® approach that uses balls to roll on tension points in the body, Todd has been able to work on his own old built-up tension points and it has led to the tremendous growth in his spectrum of emotions. By getting rid of the blockages, he feels like he can now experience the emotions and even enjoy them.
“I now really love being open to the experience of a good cry. In my 20’s that was impossible. I think the yoga practice has really opened that up and a lot of it comes from presence.”
He claims that being aware of his body is one of the most valuable things he learned and that it had a major impact on all areas of his life, from his ability to stay calm and focused during a heated argument, to how he approaches fatherhood. When asked how he defines himself, fatherhood is the first word that came to him. “Having learned from my kids so much and feeling responsible for them on every level but also being unattached to the outcome”, is how he describes what this role means in his life. You can really tell his attachment to his kids and the importance he puts on ensuring that his teachings and values are reflected in the way he raises them. His teachings are not literal ones where you need to do as he tells to find truth, but more ones where ideas and thinking takes you to a place where you make choices and decisions by thinking for yourself and there is no better way to illustrate that than to quote him on how he views yoga practice.
“If you sat in nature, looked at the stars, looked at a landscape and have been amazed, you’ve done yoga the way it’s supposed to be done. If you’ve seen the wonder in your own body and your own existence then you’ve also done yoga. Not this Western way of sitting in front of a fucking mirror doing the same thing over and over again.”
Follow Todd adventures on Instagram, at @movement_teacher.
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