Brian Swope, RYT-200, is a certified alignment-based hatha yoga teacher with a decade of practice.
His journey of yoga started in a gym class through asana, but as the benefits beyond the body began to show themselves, his interest and direction grew inward. It is from this place - from body to mind and back again - that Brian has developed his teaching voice and perspective. With the continual understanding of being a beginner after 10 years of practice, his classes reinforce foundation and skillful alignment while encouraging students to explore their own journey on and off the mat.
Off the mat, Brian works as a private practice couples and sex therapist in Philadelphia, his adopted hometown.
1. What motivates you to teach today?
Sharing my experience and exploring it with other people, all with their unique capabilities, during our time together and being a part of each student’s own experience provides immense motivation. I’m relatively new to teaching so I’m still noticing all these connections and seeing the trainings applied to a diversity of people is really exciting.
2. What motivates you to get on a mat?
I come to the mat every time knowing that I will feel better - regardless of how I’m feeling already - once I step off the mat, and that change stays with me and affects the rest of the day. So much of my day is switching gears from yoga student/teacher to therapist to partner to dog dad to friend, that even a few minutes of dedicated and mindful, connected movement is centering and grounding and empowering enough to continue on.
3. What is your favorite yoga pose and why?
Baddha parsvakonasana and the twisted variation have been lifelong favorites. I just feel everything everywhere when I’m in that pose. And the poses possible from this one are still intriguing for me and works in progress.
Urdhva Dhanurasana is a more accessible pose that gives me all the feels, too.
4. If you have one, what is your favorite deity or mythological story? Why?
My exploration of mythology has been most deeply connected to the yogic tales. Arjuna and the Bhagavad Gita is to tale I gladly step into with each training and for my own reading. It was the most applicable as a larger tale - that being a warrior is yogic - something that I think is difficult for most non-yogi people to understand. I’ve even explored the three warrior poses and the story that informed them - love, passion, despair, and even retribution.
But the tale of Ganesha’s birth and who he is is a tale so rich with stories and meanings; I can listen again and again.
5. What is your Astrological sun sign?
6. What’s your favorite place to eat in Philly?
Impossible to answer. I’m such a foodie. I could give a list of 10. But I’ll have to say pizza and Indian and Mexican cuisine are tops.
7. Were you born here/What brought you to Philly?
I was born in Lancaster, Pa., and I’m particular about that pronunciation! I moved to Philadelphia for college - it was also a ticket out of much more rural parts of Pennsylvania where I was at the time. I connected with Philadelphia almost instantly and have only briefly considered living elsewhere. I came here and found my professional passions, my loves, and yoga. I love to travel, but Philadelphia has always been where I long to be after my time away - it just feels like home.
8. What is your favorite vacation spot? If unsure, where would your dream vacation be?
I love to travel, so that’s a hard question. I’ve visited Puerto Rico more than any other place, even anywhere elsewhere in the United States - an online quiz pegged me as boricau: a Puerto Rican living on the mainland. But the most magical places I’ve visited would have to be Cuzco and Machu Picchu in Peru, and Iguazú Falls. I was fascinated by Incan culture even as a kid, so actually being was so electrifying and dizzying from the altitude!
9. What is your favorite color?
10. What is your favorite animal?
In the spirit of this yoga studio - in what element? I love the water - a dolphin; I’ve always loved the feeling of flying though I don’t have a particular bird; I’m pretty earthy - so an elephant for that.
11. When you are not teaching or on your mat, where can you be found?
Either at my psychotherapy practice, trying to chill at home - 2 Dalmatians makes that difficult - or in Asbury Park, NJ, at the beach.