down to earth yoga

Down to Earth Yoga | Eoin Finn

Welcome to the latest interview post from the True Nature Tribe. If you’re new here, head back and check out the earlier True Nature Tribe blog posts for some background on the project.

Throughout this project we photograph and interview yogis about yoga in nature. Today we get to share the story of a highly inspirational and quotable man, Eoin Finn. You’ll want to hear more from him so be sure to visit his website Blissology. We’ll start with his answer to the question, what is yoga?!

“Yoga is the art of getting out of your own way.”

In earlier years, Eoin dabbled in yoga in a more natural way than most. While many have their introduction after walking into a yoga studio, Eoin connected to the practice through spending time in nature. Being in places with a certain energy made him want to move a certain way. Beaches, forests, and mountains led Eoin to fuse what he felt in nature into the movements. Eoin learned surfing, yoga, thai chi, and meditation all in the same year while he was living in Maui. It’s clear that the ocean is his home or at least the ocean has a home in his heart. It’s become almost an addiction to him: “I surf any chance I get, I think about it all the time. It’s what fuels me.”

down to earth yoga

down to earth yoga

down to earth yoga

Despite his college education in philosophy and his ability to spout off technical terms and explain complicated concepts, Eoin is a pretty down to earth guy. While society often paints surfers as idlers and freeloaders, the reality is that they have a deep connection to the world that allows them to keep priorities in check. There’s something spiritual about just being near the ocean that is intensified when they head out there to watch the waves, learn from them, and try to catch them. “The waves are only half of the beauty, the addiction, it’s being out there. It’s not just the surf. It changes your consciousness being around such beauty.”

Eoin has spent the last 10-15 years shaping his life around surfing and the ocean in particular. I admire that he is intentionally building a life that allows him access to what he loves. Surfing, like yoga, is more than a sport. There is an entire lifestyle around surfing. We talk about yoga being a practice, a journey. We talk about using yoga to help guide us in other aspects of our life. My impression from talking to Eoin is that surfing can have a similar impact.

“I’m not just a surfer, I’m a ocean worshiper.”

down to earth yoga
Eoin considers himself a yogi, surfer, blissologist, and ocean worshiper. Eoin was drawn to yoga partially because he needed flexibility, “I was so damn stiff, the last thing I ever thought was ‘I’m going to teach this stuff one day.’” But more importantly he was searching for a way to live. “My whole life has been trying to answer one question. What exactly happens when we get quiet and present in the beauty of nature? Our deepest heart becomes clear. Yoga is a path to the mystical, when people are outside in nature and you really feel what’s there. It’s mind-blowing.”

Science explains it all so clearly, sort of. As Eoin says, Science teaches about serotonin, the chemical in the brain connected with mood; dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps with our emotional responses; and oxytocin, a hormone linked to connection and attachment. Easy enough, right? It’s still a little hard to visualize, so we look to more spiritual people who describe the body as an antenna connecting us to the earth. “Ultimately,” Eoin says, “it’s a mystery.” If anything, he likes the explanation that some Native American traditions give, that the Great Spirit is everywhere. Maybe we should stop thinking so much, get outside, and go experience it.

“Get out anywhere we haven’t paved over and you’ll feel it if you get quiet and tune in.”

Eventually, despite his initial stiffness, Eoin did become a yoga teacher. He referenced that old double negative that he knew I would relate to. It was something he couldn’t not do. He says, “There’s a calling inside of you.” Not only did Eoin feel called to teach but he eventually developed his own style of yoga. The premise is actually beautiful in it’s simplicity. “I followed my bliss.” He struggled initially with the question, “Do I have to call what I’m doing something different?” But he soon felt like a name was important since he couldn’t neatly fit it into a package of what everyone else was doing. So what type of yoga does he teach? “The type that makes you happy. Blissology.” Eoin’s describes his tribe as pure and authentic and his favorite thing to do is to interact with his students.

Something else that Eoin teaches is Hammock Enlightenment. He carries a hammock with him when he goes hiking, he sets it up in cities in between parting meters, and he sets it up in airports. “It’s harder to have hammock time when you have a four year old. With a four year old in your life, hammocks become play structures rather than relaxation devices.”

When I asked him about Hammock Enlightenment, he says that he is only partly joking when he says he got closest to enlightenment in a hammock in Costa Rica. “I felt very present with my breath, I felt very relaxed but engaged with the process of life unfolding, I felt like everything was a miracle.” At the time he had been studying a lot of yoga philosophy and meditation. Every afternoon he would sit in a hammock and experience everything the book described about enlightenment.

“And that’s what hammock enlightenment is all about. Take Buddha. He sat under a tree until he got it and hammock enlightenment brings it all back to that. Get quiet. Relax and breathe. Observe and receive what’s waiting for you when you’re out in that beauty.”
down to earth yogadown to earth yoga

down to earth yoga

Being around Eoin and listening to his perspectives, I see him as a teacher but also a lifelong student. I hear it in his words and see it in his actions. He is building a life around his passions, setting aside time to listen to his heart, and sharing with others the tools of accessing the connection to nature. He started to talk about how we use the phrase “pursuit of happiness” and decided that actually, “We don’t have to pursue happiness, we just have to slow down long enough for it to catch up.”

Eoin touts the importance of Savasana, “I definitely think the last 10 minutes of class is where it’s at. I love the gymnastics and the fun and the loose body that we develop but it’s really in the last 10 minutes that we get clear. We turn our bodies and hearts into this antenna and we pick up a signal. There’s something beautiful that happens when we slow down and tune into the frequency of peace at the end. It’s all about the end.” I was about to move on to another topic, another question, when Eoin felt like he needed to add on to his answer. “I used to have a really hard time saying the word prayer, now I’m cool with it. I definitely feel like at the end of the practice I just get to express my gratitude, my need for guidance out there into the universe.” He described the ability for gratitude and clear intention as a beautiful experience of being human. We talked for a little while about Savasana and the perspective of having an intention or prayer at the end of a yoga practice. We talked briefly about the fact that the word ‘prayer’ triggers some people but in the end, Eoin figures, “I don’t like the association, but I have to be honest.” Eoin describes meditation is a signal coming in and prayer as a signal going out.

“Nature… you just gotta do it (yoga) in nature. That’s where it comes from.”

We talked with Eoin about the state of mind he is trying to achieve through both yoga and being in nature. Eoin says that when we are in our ego-consciousness thinking about problems, stresses, preoccupations, or desires, those things define us. In contrast, when we’re in a yogic state of mind either through practicing yoga or spending time in nature we are a conduit for a greater force that he believes is love. “That’s what’s cool about nature,” Eoin says, “You, when you’re in nature feel so small. And that’s what the yogis want us to feel, is small. Because when you’re small you’re out of your ego-consciousness and then you’re open to some greater things.”

“Both being outside in nature and yoga are about getting out of your own way and being a conduit for some mysterious part of our consciousness that’s beautiful and connected.” Eoin recognized that this experience is not always easy to find. He describes his experience teaching yoga on the 25th floor of a beautiful building in Hong Kong to people wearing the most fashionable clothing and practicing the most challenging Asanas. He asked them about taking time to get quiet in nature and they responded, “Who has time for that?” When Eoin left the studio he walked past a new Crispy Crème donuts store where the line was around the block and the students answer to his question echoed in his head. “Who has time to sit under the stars? What has gone wrong?” Afterall, Eoin says, the ethnic religion of the people of Japan is Shinto, which is nature worshiping. “They taught us about this,” he says. “What do they mean who has time?”

Through the Blissology movement, Eoin is trying to:

“Bring spirituality back down to earth (literally).”

For Eoin, bringing spirituality back down to earth is an effort to simplify it. He blends a little Steve Jobs and Bob Marley. Steve Jobs says that we need to simplify more and Bob Marley says, “Who feels it knows it.” So we can know the Sanskrit and and know the philosophy behind it but at some point what happens is mystical and better understood through experience. Eoin teaches us to practice yoga, sit in a hammock, or spend time in nature.

“Get in touch with what’s out there (don’t forget about the trees for the tree poses.)”

Eoin encourages us to feel that our breath is coming from something beautiful, an interconnection with life. He says we can connect with nature whether we’re on the 25th floor of a skyscraper or a beach. After all, “Where do we end and where does nature begin?”


down to earth yoga

down to earth yoga down to earth yoga down to earth yoga

Thanks Eoinn! And thanks to the rest of you for tuning in! Be sure to visit our website for more information on what we are doing with the True Nature Tribe project about yoga in nature. You’ll see glimpses of the stories ahead and well as ways to get involved. We would be honored if you would support our project in whatever way you are able. Join our newsletter below. We’ve also created a Postcard Pack that is available for purchase. 100% of the profits will be donated to land conservation.

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