Jason Naylor

Jason Naylor

Jason Naylor

By iana velez


Jason Naylor ART

“Do you remember when you were too cool for LOVE? When you were too busy being tough or macho to let any one know that you actually have feelings? Well, were you really tough? Because guess what…that shit is over…love is on fire. All the cool kids are into it. And I’m proud to say that I think love is tough, cool, masculine, AND manly. And NOW is a great time to talk about it. So get into it…get on the love train with me, and if you’re not, then start learning. Learn to love LOVE. Because love can change the world.”


Bold. Colorful. Happy. Scroll through Instagram and Jason Naylor’s art is sure to catch your eye. With messages of positivity delivered in his signature syle, when you see his work, you can’t help but smile. We chatted with Jason to learn more about the man who put the smile on our face.

I think i’ve always been a pretty positive person, like sorta relentlessly optimistic. I like to look for the silver lining in everything and I guess i’ve kind of discovered that most people really respond to and enjoy positivity and optimism. Something I realized a few years ago was that there is this world of positive quotes and motivational messaging and its huge – but its a smidge cheesy in terms of design. That “motivational world” is full of beautiful messages that resonate with me and millions of people, but the messages come on tacky refrigerator magnets with sad font choices and unfortunate typographic designs.

I started putting up my own positive messages in an application completely opposite the fridge – the street. There’s something magically vulnerable about putting your art on the streets because it is an open forum for any and all to love, despise, photograph, celebrate – even destroy (but please don’t do that). It’s the most public forum to express any message, so what better place to express positivity, color and love? Visually, street art has edge to it, but I believe that feelings are the new edge. Love is the new black. And vulnerability is the new chic. So to me, bright colors framed in black is the perfect way to design a message of love for the street. And I sincerely hope my designs are a little better than the ones found on the refrigerator magnets.

I often think about baby me, and how crazy I was. I grew up in a very stringent religion/culture so I went through the expected rebellion to escape it. But crazy as I may have been, I feel that I wouldn’t be the “me” I am now (and love). However, here are a few things to say to that guy in hopes of sparing some unnecessary troubles.

This is the biggest one. My whole life I felt people were telling me what to do and who to be. In order to feel like I was myself, I had to prove that I wasn’t like anyone else by being the opposite. This is a disaster, because the opposite of what you think people expect of you, is not necessarily who you are. And who you REALLY are IS cool. So f**k what people expect of you altogether, and be comfortable with you are. Easy to say, hard to do.

I have gone through a lot of extremes in terms of behavior, appearance and opinion. Extremes often affect the balance in the system, and lack of balance causes unrest. Peace and happiness are more easily found when you have balance in your life, so practice moderation in things. Balance things out a bit, and you’ll find yourself at peace more frequently.

This one is huge, and easy. Gratitude can solve all your problems in seconds, and it’s the easiest and most effective way to change your attitude. Remind yourself to feel thankful for the good, the bad, and the difficult. Feel thankful for the things that are easy, thereby enabling you to endure the challenges. Feel grateful for the pain so you know what it feels like when its gone. Practice gratitude. Do it.

This takes us right back to my advice to “Jr. me.” Its ok to be you. Understanding who you are relies on being honest about what really is TRUE to you. It’s a simple concept, but in practice it can be difficult. Being honest with ourselves is something that I’m sure we can all improve, and I think it’s safe to say we, as a culture, don’t do this enough. What do I really like? What do I really think about life? What kind of music do I like?

Start small, ask yourself what do I want for dinner? And then notice that your opinion will begin with scanning your expectations of what others may want, and weighing those into your opinion. DON’T DO THAT! Stay in your lane, don’t worry about what others want or like. What is it that YOU want. Just you. So that’s a little bit on being honest with who you are, what you want and being yourself.

Now TRUTH itself is a bigger concept that I think relates to the way one experiences reality. And it speaks to your core values. What is true to me may be different than what is true to you. Here are couple of my truths: It’s true that kindness is the key the success. It’s true that I am often reminded of how far I can get in life by being nice. It’s true that I will never regret being the bigger person. It’s true that I can rise above my fears, I have done it before and I will do it again. It’s true that I have the power to be the best me I choose to be. And it’s true that that me, is good enough for me.

Learn more about Jason // jasonnaylorcreative.com and @jasonnaylor

Jason Naylor ART
Jason Naylor ART
Jason Naylor ART


Practicing For Life’s Different Stages

By: Jai Sugrim
Photos: Chas Kimbrell
Jai Sugrim is a Yoga Teacher, Athletic Trainer, Public Speaker, recognized Men’s Health Expert and creator of the Jai Sugrim Method

We are the first generation to be able to see what thirty years of a consistent, physically demanding yoga practice produces. Some folks look rested, bright, agile and positively energetic. Others look ragged, dry to the bone, exhausted and hobbling. Some of this boils down to genetic predisposition and lifestyle choices like rest, nutrition and sleep. We should definitely keep an eye on adapting our practice to each new decade of life. Wisdom is the trimming away of the un-essentials. 

Vinyasa yoga is a very attractive form of exercise that has numerous physical and psychological benefits. The practice hones our attention, and when done consistently, can be deeply revealing. In New York City, as in any large metropolis, it’s easy to pour the addictive side of our personalities into the practice and pursue poses like rungs on the career ladder. Most practitioners have gotten carried away with the physical side of the practice at some point. After injury, or total exhaustion, we may ask ourselves: “What is the right way to practice, for the current stage of my life?” At age 42, I’ve made every practice mistake in the book. After 18 years on the path, I have started to adapt the practice to a new goal: living a long, healthy, mindful life. I practice fewer asanas, vary my physical exercise movements, and sit in daily meditation. Here are my tips and what to consider for the evolution of your practice: 


For a decade I practiced 4 hours of asana, daily. Now, I’ve shifted my approach to reflect positive aging, with a focus on long-term bone health and muscle strength. I now practice 5 hours of vinyasa yoga, 2 hours of weight-training, 2 hours of martial arts, and one dance class, per week. This kind of periodization is a systematic planning of one’s physical training through the arch of a year. To avoid exhaustion, injury, and mental fatigue it involves zoning in on one part of the year devoted to peak performance. Different phases are divided with different goals. I intentionally allow the body to pack on 10 extra pounds of weight in the winter, while running 2-3 times per week in the summer to lower my body fat percentage to reflect peak fitness and extra self-discipline. Then I let it go. I’m no longer trying for personal records. My aim is to harmonize strength, endurance, flexibility, brain health, and physical balance, while respecting the body’s need for rest. 


Ride the physical peak, if you feel inclined to do so! From puberty to the mid 30’s most people go beast mode. Once adapted to training, the body recovers well from hard practices as well as injuries. When I worked with the New York Yankees, we called age 33 onwards the “back stretch of a guy’s professional career.” For most athletes, this is when their pitches slow down and agility declines. It’s important to recalibrate after age 40. Everyone after 40 should incorporate weight training, because it maintains bone health, tendon strength and muscle mass, which declines with time. The consequences of over-training or moving inappropriately are greater after 40. Youth forgives many training mistakes, but men and women over 40 carry less testosterone and the body does not heal as quickly as it once did. 


Initially, I’d advise approaching yoga practice with skepticism, become a tourist, and visit several schools. You will find a yoga style that moves your heart, and more importantly, fits your constitution. You may be drawn to the mantras, meditation and vegetarian diet associated with Jivamukti Yoga. Personally, I find Iyengar yoga too intellectual as a daily practice, but use it as a supplement to my Ashtanga practice. In order to dig the well very deep, and find water, it’s best to stick with one style. 


Additionally, look over your shoulder and explore where your ancestors lived. You are likely to perform best with the foods that match the region your genes spring from. Anyone hawking a one size fits all training or nutrition program is selling a false bill of goods. Constantly experiment, and listen to the body for feedback. It’s best to select locally grown/raised food, so as to adapt your immune system to the pathogens of your area. 


Some folks have jobs that require more physical energy, while others are sitting at a desk and using more mental energy. Our brains burn about 30 percent of all calories consumed, but our lower backs, biceps, quadriceps and core muscles are firing differently. If you work in an office all day, a 90 minute vigorous vinyasa class may reconnect your head to all four limbs and the axial skeleton. The key is to think of how to appropriate your energy. 


Asana practice is more or less linear, with lots of repetition. This allows us to deepen our flexibility and develop a personal relationship to each pose, with regard to our specific anatomical proportions. All good stuff, but it comes at a price. Once we master a specific set of movements, the brain undergoes “synaptic pruning,” a process by which extra neurons and synaptic connections are eliminated in order to increase the efficiency of neuronal transmissions. In order to engage and maintain neuro-plasticity (the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections throughout life), we should always be practicing some new form of movement that we have not mastered. Supplements to an asana practice could be, salsa dancing, basketball, martial arts or even juggling. When we are learning something new we engage the primary motor cortex of the brain, which is responsible for the preparation of movement, the sensory guidance of movement, the spatial guidance of reaching, and the control of trunk muscles in the body. So always study something new for long-term brain health and plasticity. 


Asana practice is preparation for sitting still. It makes us comfortable enough in our bodies so we can meditate. If you have been practicing asanas for over 10 years you should be able to sit still for 20 minutes twice per day. If you don’t want that, that’s fine my point is that there is no need to overemphasize the physical, or remain attached to hundreds of poses for a lifetime. When I turned 40 I gave myself permission to put on 15 pounds of muscle, and parted ways with some asana such as Marichyasana D, Pashasana, and Kapotasana. I’m content with Mari B, Ardha Matsyendrasana, and Urdvha Dhanurasana. The vigorous, high volume vinyasa practice of my 30’s had done its job. I now practice more meditation and fewer postures, which yields extra energy that can be applied towards my creative work. One of the biggest lessons I’ve scooped on the path is to be flexible and treat myself with respect. A wonderful meditation practice that pairs well with asanas is the Buddha’s technique, Vipassana. Like asana, it is sensation-oriented, and centered around what is happening in the body/mind system at the moment. 


Even the times where I got injured, tried too hard, thought I knew it all, or taught beyond my experience, are all worth it. I now accept the mystery of “not knowing” and the wisdom that comes from embracing all the parts of myself. I’ve learned to maintain healthy boundaries in my personal and professional life. So much of who I am today, is a result of all the blood, sweat and tears that were shed on my mat for two decades. I am more reverent than ever for the practice and am grateful that I have two arms and legs that allow me to continue the exploration. Practice creates an involution of energy and awareness. What you find there, in inner space is between You and infinity, your karma, and the capacity to interpret your experience. It is very personal. Be loving towards yourself, and allow long-term thinking to shape your approach to the practice.

Jai Sugrim is a Yoga Teacher, Athletic Trainer, Public Speaker, recognized Men’s Health Expert and creator of the Jai Sugrim Method. For more visit jaisugrim.com

Jai Sugrim is a Yoga Teacher, Athletic Trainer, Public Speaker, recognized Men’s Health Expert and creator of the Jai Sugrim Method
Jai Sugrim is a Yoga Teacher, Athletic Trainer, Public Speaker, recognized Men’s Health Expert and creator of the Jai Sugrim Method
Jai Sugrim is a Yoga Teacher, Athletic Trainer, Public Speaker, recognized Men’s Health Expert and creator of the Jai Sugrim Method
Science of Yoga – Interview With Author Ann Swanson

Science of Yoga – Interview With Author Ann Swanson

Science of Yoga

Interview With Author Ann Swanson

By: Frances Hunt
Art: Dorling Kindersley: Arran Lewis /Daz 3D

After completing my yoga teacher training, I wanted to dive deeper into anatomy but found most books too scientific and overwhelming. I immediately fell in love with the amazing visuals, relatable scientific concepts and explanations in Science of Yoga. I was beyond excited for the opportunity to interview Ann Swanson. Ann is a certified yoga therapist, speaker, and the author of Science of Yoga, which is being translated into over 10 languages. With a Master of Science in yoga therapy and roots studying yoga in India and Tai Chi/Qi Gong in China, Ann uniquely applies cutting-edge research to mind-body practices while maintaining the heart of the traditions. 

How did you discover yoga?

As a kid, I was always doing yoga, I just didn’t know it. I would spend hours thoughtfully moving and stretching alone in my room, pretending to teach my panda bear stuffed animals how to move with me. In retrospect, it was meditative for me. Then, during the crazy stress of college, I took a yoga class at the school gym. It helped me manage the stress. After college, I bought a one way ticket to China. Why China? Since I was little, I had always told my parents that I would move to China to see the pandas. So, I did. The pandas were super cool but China was tough for me. I felt isolated, depressed, and anxious. I did a lot of yoga and tai chi/qi gong to process this. That is when yoga became more than just a stress reliever. It was a life saver. I did my basic teacher training in China and the visiting teachers from India convinced me to go to India to continue my studies. My curiosity was sparked, I was hooked, and the journey began.

Your book, the Science of Yoga is filled with information on both human anatomy and asanas. How long did it take to research and write? 

The actual writing of the book took six intense months. However, it was a culmination of ten years of research and careful notes. I have always kept journals from as young as I could write. So, when I started seriously studying yoga in India with my teacher Yogi Sivadas of Kailash School a decade ago, I took tedious notes. From then on, I filled notebooks with insights from taking college courses in anatomy and biomechanics, assisting cadaver labs, workshops with master teachers, reading yoga research, and taking classes in yoga therapy grad school. I am so grateful that I took such tedious notes because when it was go time to write the book, it all came together quite quickly. 

You earned a graduate degree in yoga therapy? 

Yes, I was in the first cohort of the very first Master of Science graduate degree program in yoga therapy. It is at Maryland University of Integrative Health. It was a 2 year program that both gave me a M.S. and a C-IAYT (which means I am a certified yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists). The program was phenomenal for me.

Was it challenging to narrow down to the thirty key poses you selected? 

Originally, my publisher DK (part of Penguin Random House) had 30 poses in mind that they wanted to do. I looked at that list and really fought for adding simple, common poses like Cat/Cow and Child’s Pose, as well as adding accessible modifications of poses using props, like a chair. They wanted what they called “aspirational” poses since that is what sells. In fact, they actually had the acrobatic forearm balance Scorpion Pose as the original cover. I explained to them that poses like this are dangerous for most people and are not the types of poses that most people are doing for the profound health benefits of yoga in the scientific research. The research on yoga is not on how to get into a fancy “peak pose” or how to get tight abs. The most compelling research supporting yoga is for areas such as back pain, anxiety, trauma, depression, arthritis, and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease. Researchers are doing more simple poses like Cat/Cow rather than acrobatic poses like Scorpion. I explained, if they wanted this book to be about science, we needed to include common poses that are used for therapeutic benefits. There was a lot of compromise. For example, they really wanted King Pigeon Pose because it is so beautiful. I said yes, if we can we show and describe gentler variations also. I am glad we had these debates because we ended up with a great balance in the end. The book includes some beautiful, challenging poses and suggestions for beginners or folks with limitations.

I was required to read several anatomy books for my yoga teacher training and found them challenging to understand because they were filled with so much science. The illustrations and design of Science of Yoga is absolutely beautiful, making it simple and understandable. Was that your main goal? 

I think most yogis are visual and kinesthetic learners and this book appeals to both. To create the visuals, I worked with a world-class illustration and design team, which makes this book engaging and easy to learn from. Many people tell me that it is super fun and addicting to read because of the way your eye moves around on the page. I went to art school for undergrad before I ended up studying science and doing the pre-med course load. It was a dream to work with professional illustrators. Over the years of studying and teaching anatomy and physiology to yogis, massage therapists, and college students, I have scoured the internet for the best pictures and taught from many text books. I sent my illustrator and designer my favorite images asking to combine them to make the perfect image to illustrate a concept. Sometimes, I even sent a sketch I did on a napkin at a restaurant and then they made it happen!

The book appeals to the kinesthetic learner. Kinesthetic learners understand through movement and feeling it in their bodies. The illustrations of the poses showing the muscles engaging and stretching invite you as the reader to get into the pose and visualize and feel what is going on in your body. However, remember that the images I created are a guideline. Different muscles may be stretching or activated in your body, since we all have unique bodies and compensation patterns. Use the book as a guide to your own inner experiments.

How is Science of Yoga different from other yoga anatomy books currently available?

What I love most about Science of Yoga is that I got to talk about every system of the body and how yoga impacts each one. Most yoga anatomy books emphasize the musculoskeletal systems. According to the research, some of the most profound effects of yoga are on the nervous system (through teaching our bodies to more efficiently go into the relaxation response), immune system (by lowering inflammatory markers in our blood, reducing the risk of many chronic diseases), and the cardiovascular system (with a yogic lifestyle resulting in reversing heart disease; something no pill has been able to do). I outline the key benefits according to the actual scientific research for each system, as well as many major diseases and concerns everyday folks are dealing with.

Also, I love the last section of the book: the Q&A. In this section, I cover areas such as chronic pain, mental health, yoga in schools, and more. I discuss the research on some of the areas where yoga shows the most promise for turning our healthcare system upside down. The shift to preventive and integrative health must happen because what we are doing is not sustainable. More and more doctors are recommending yoga for chronic pain, for example, because the science shows it works. Amidst an opioid epidemic, yoga practices are starting to show up in hospitals. Soon the status quo must be meditation before morphine. I love educating on these topics like yoga for chronic pain and mental health. Yoga goes so far beyond the muscles and bones…so far beyond the physical poses mosts books focus on.

Finally, all the research is cited in the back of the book. I looked at hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific research studies to support the statements I made in the book on the benefits of yoga. Other books that do this are more academic and inaccessible. This book has the science behind it but is simple to understand and apply practically, even if you don’t have a biology degree. 

How do you feel Science of Yoga will impact a teacher versus a student? 

This book is really written for both yoga students and yoga teachers. Every section is written in multiple levels. For example, a pose like side plank starts with simply saying: “Side plank is a challenging arm balance that may get you sweating and your heart pounding…This pose strengthens your core, including your abdominals and back muscles. Your supporting arm and shoulder muscles are also engaging strongly to maintain balance.” That is probably enough information for most yogis. However, if you would like to go deeper, like if you are a teacher, you can read further and see exactly which muscles are likely engaging as they are pointed out on the figure. Most regular practitioners don’t care that their spinal extensors, sternocleidomastoid, and pronators are engaging. But if you do care, that info is there for you to dive deeper!

Many teachers learn cues from their mentors and/or teachers. In your book you mention wondering why certain cues and claims (about the health benefits of poses, etc) are mentioned in class, and you wanted to know why. What would you like teachers and students to take away from your book, with regards to cueing and claims? 

Be curious! Constantly ask, “why?” Don’t just believe what you hear. No, lying in savasana does not clear the lactic acid from your muscles. No, twisting does not wring out the toxins. No, turning upside down does not reverse your blood flow. No, doing inversions like headstand on your period does not seem to cause endometriosis. In fact, there is no known medical reason not to do inversions while menstruating. 

There are so many true benefits that are even more profound and impactful than the myths I listed above. There is so much that the ancient yogis gave us through intuition and practice that proves to be true. For example, elongating your exhales does put you deeper in the relaxation response by activating the vagus nerve to slow your heart and lower your blood pressure. This is a free, accessible tool everyone with high levels of stress and high blood pressure should know and use.

Keep learning and evolving. We all will realize at some point that something we have been hearing or saying is not correct. That is okay. We are human. Keep at it!

What would you say to someone who wants to know how to apply the information in Science of Yoga to their practice? 

Feel it in your own body. Your experiential evidence is worth more than just reading alone. Reading it will definitely help enhance your experience to make it richer and more thoughtful, but that is not enough. Don’t just take my word for it. 

Hey, do you want to know the secret to getting the most benefits from your yoga practice? You have to simply do it.

The theme of this issue of NY YOGA + LIFE is REST. How do you make time for self care and rest with your busy schedule? 

Actually, I have been thinking a lot about this lately because I am about to travel the world. Science of Yoga is being released in over 10 languages and I will be traveling to the countries it is being released in to teach from it. I am excited to go back to China with a new perspective, as well as going to Japan, Korea, France, Italy, UK, and more. I have been asking myself how in the world I will keep balanced while living out of a suitcase for a year!

I think really, it comes back to the magic of this practice. I know that even when I am stressed and have a ton of deadlines, there is an inner peace within me that is not tarnished. Even when I make mistakes, which I do often, I know there is a part of me that is pure and deeply connected to all others. The mindset shift yoga has provided helps me become more resilient amidst challenges. It isn’t a perfect process, and I am not perfect (in fact, I am a recovering perfectionist). However, the deep spiritual connection I feel from integrating the rich philosophy of yoga into my life provides the biggest benefits. Science and spirituality do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Practically, I love doing little “yoga breaks” throughout the day like a sun salutation at the wall in the airport, a breathing practice as I fall asleep, or a minute meditation before I have an important meeting. And that is what I teach my one-on-one yoga therapy clients because let’s face it, most of us are not going to wake up and do a full yoga practice every day. These practices can provide short rest periods throughout the day, which is actually more impactful to train your nervous system to facilitate that inner peace and sense of resilience.

Remember though, yoga is a process –an imperfect, fulfilling, worthwhile process. I daily remind myself: progress, not perfection.