20 Questions with Becky Farbstein

Becky Farbs

Becky Farbstein is a source of intelligent, raw, no holds barred yoga and inspirational writings taking her yoga off the mat.

We discovered Becky Farbs first through her writing…

it was an article on Yoga Teacher Training that caught our eye (coming soon to Gather!) and we’ve been huge fans ever since. From what she is up to in her adopted home of London; giving newly minted yoga teachers an opportunity for mentorship and space to hone their voices; to her free outdoor yoga classes, and collaborations with other London yogis on retreats and trainings. We are seriously digging her presence in the European yoga community and are excited to share her writings on the monthly with you!

Starting THIS month, Becky Farbs will be our newest voice in our Collective of teachers, and you can find her featured articles in the Grow section. Without further ado, let’s get to know the woman behind her written word… 20 Questions with Becky Farbs!

Hometown: Pasadena, CA

Adopted Home: London, UK

Home Studio/s: Yogarise PeckhamThe Power Yoga CompanyUnion Station YogaYotopia all in London, UK

gy: Why do you teach yoga?  

BF: I teach yoga because I love teaching and I love yoga. Put simply, practicing yoga is a joyful experience for me, and teaching (anything) has always been fulfilling and rewarding for me, so it was a natural decision to train to become a yoga teacher. I believe that if you love teaching, it doesn’t matter what you teach, the passion to teach will carry on to any subject to decide to share with others.

Becky Farbsgy: What first brought you to the mat?

BF: I started practicing yoga while I was completing my PhD in archaeology at University of Cambridge. There was a gym literally across the street from my apartment, and I could look in the window of the reception when I stood in my living room. One day, I joined the gym and I took my first yoga class that same week. I was so lucky to land in a class with a wonderful teacher, and although I had no background in movement or dance, I immediately loved the practice. It felt amazing for my brain to get a break from my academic research, and I loved getting a chance to move my body after spending so long hunched over my computer. I practiced about twice a week while I wrote my PhD, and once I moved from Cambridge to London my practice intensified. I got to a point when I realized I preferred practicing yoga to my archaeology research, and that’s when I knew it was time to train to teach yoga.

gy: What yoga teacher(s) has most influenced your practice and teaching?

BF: I am a proud yoga “mutt” and I feel lucky to have encountered so many wonderful yoga teachers. Stewart Gilchrist, who trained me to be a yoga teacher, has had a profound impact on the style that I teach. I credit him for really teaching me about the importance of breath and the synchronicity of breath and movement that makes vinyasa yoga so special. I was lucky to assist Stew for two years after I finished my YTT with him, and that continuing mentorship shaped who I am today. My ashtanga teacher, David Swenson, passed so much wisdom along to me and his teachings have given me a strong sense of grounding within the yoga tradition. Finally, I am lucky to now be beginning my studies with Jason Crandell, who I believe is a unique voice in contemporary vinyasa yoga. His humility and his calm, intelligent, and moderate approach to the practice inspire me every day.

Becky Farbs Yoga Teachergy: How would you describe your teaching style?

BF: Direct, no-nonsense, pragmatic, and grounding. All of my classes are rooted in yoga philosophy, which I believe is the starting point for everything we do both on and off the mat. The asana practice I teach is a strong vinyasa directly influenced by ashtanga, but with nods to the myriad styles of yoga I love, including Jivamukti, Dharma Mittra, and Iyengar yoga. I love arm balances and will always pepper them into classes. I believe in teaching challenging postures even to those newer to yoga; by introducing these postures from the very first class, we demystify them and train our minds to treat side crow the same way we treat Warrior II.

gy: What’s your go-to yoga pose when you only have a few minutes?

BF: My go-to-yoga pose when I only have a few minutes is not a pose, it’s Surya Namaskar A. If I have 5 minutes, I have time to do 5 sun salutations. Surya Namaskar A is like a mini-yoga practice in and of itself. A forward fold, a backbend, an inversion (downdog), and a whole lot of breath. It’s all I need.

gy: Where do you most tap into inspiration? Any resources you could share with us? 

BF: The world around me. There’s yoga everywhere, you just have to be open to it. I am constantly reading, not just yoga books but also fiction and non-fiction. Podcasts are a great source of inspiration these days; I love Jason Crandell and Andrea Ferretti’s “Yogaland” podcasts. And of course, I am always a student first, so I am always look for inspiring teachers from whom I can continue to learn.

gy: What would the soundtrack of your life sound like? 

BF: Immunity” by Jon Hopkins.

gy: Describe your life ten years from now . Where are you living? What are you doing?

BF: I’d like to think life ten years from now will be quite similar to life today, in all the ways that matter. I have a job that I love, and a husband that I love. We travel loads, and I hope to never stop travelling, but at the same time, we live in a city that I find endlessly fascinating. There’s not much more I could ask for.

pancakes with Becky Farbsgy: What is your favorite tradition or ritual?  

BF: Sunday morning pancakes and reading the New York Times with my husband. Maybe it doesn’t sound like yoga, but it is.

gy: You have a Sunday all to yourself. How do you spend it?  

BF: HA! See the question above! Sleep in. Pancakes. New York Times. Coffee. Long walk by the Thames with my husband. Probably more coffee. A long and lazy home practice. Making dinner at home. Early to sleep.

gy: What do you value most in your relationships?

BF: Honesty.

gy: Tell us about your first love. Five words or less.  

BF: Comfort and steadiness.

gy: What’s the picture on your phone’s background? Why did you choose it?

BF: My husband and me on the beach in Cape Town, South Africa, 10 years ago. It was taken the year before we were married. We look like kids, and I’ve always loved the photo because we are both halfway towards laughing and I feel like it encapsulates our true selves.

gy: When you’re gone, what do you hope people remember about you?

BF: My honesty, my intelligence, my snarky sense of humour, and my unflappability.

gy: Any particular yama, niyama or sutra that speaks to you right now? 

BF: Sutra 1.33: “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.” To me, this Sutra encapsulates how we should live our lives, and trying to put this into practice each and every day remains the biggest challenge for my yoga practice.

gy: In your parallel life, what are you doing? Any other callings that have taken the backseat to yoga that we should know about?  

Becky Farbs YogaBF: In my parallel life, I am still an archaeologist. Although my full-time employment is now as a yoga teacher, I still contribute within the field of archaeology, attending conferences and writing research papers. I will never stop being interested in prehistory, and Palaeolithic art, in particular, and I hope that I can continue to find a way to balance the two interests side-by-side.

gy: If neither time nor money were a concern, what would you do?

BF: Travel. Donate more money to charity. Adopt a few cats. ;-)

gy. What is your astrological sign. What do you most identify with about it?

BF: I’m a Taurus. And I am definitely stubborn like a bull.

gy: What is your spirit animal?

Becky Farbs Urban Cat

BF: A semi-outdoor urban cat. In some ways I’m a homebody, but I don’t want to feel caged in, and sometimes I really don’t want to be bothered by other people!

gy: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

BF: I know the typical answer to this is something like “Live your best life,” but the best advice I’ve received recently was to not bring my phone into my bedroom! Seriously, if I could give one piece of advice to everyone I know it would be to charge your phone in a different room every night. Put the phone in aeroplane mode, and leave it there until after you’ve had breakfast in the morning. You can thank me later.

Check out more of Becky Farbs in her GatherProfile. Practice with Becky on the mat in London at Yogarise Peckham, The Power Yoga Company, Union Station Yoga, Yotopia. Read more from Becky Farbs in her monthly articles (coming soon) in the Grow section of Gather.