Community Member Profile: Jay Gertz

Why do you practice yoga?
Yoga marks an endpoint of a long search and a new beginning in my life. For far too many years, I was seeking an elusive something that would fill that nagging emptiness inside. Yoga has provided a spiritual contentment and a physical nourishing that really sustains me. This transformative power of yoga is nothing short of miraculous. I am stronger and more supple. In executing asanas, I have come to not only appreciate my strengths, but accept my limits, feeling a greater sense of peace and shedding self-consciousness. I guess this is what is meant by moving towards authenticity. Becoming comfortable with who I am and finding a true sense of belonging in this yoga community is so wonderful!

What is your favorite yoga pose?

I must admit that my favorite pose is savasana because this is when the cumulative effect of the practice blossoms into a radiant blissfulness. Side Crow is one that I am really hoping to learn some day.

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for over ten years. During a period when I had been fighting personal demons, a good friend, waxed eloquently about the curative power of yoga and told me about a wonderful teacher at AYC, Julia Taylor. I was very hesitant about making a commitment, but just then she walked into the UNCA library where we were talking! This moment of synchronicity was too powerful to ignore, so I gave yoga a try. I fell in love with the practice from the beginning and was a worker member to boot for several years!

Describe yourself in three words.
Just three? Cynical bohemian transforming. Or perhaps, work-in-progress.

What is your favorite/most inspiring quote?
“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”  Jack Kerouac from On the Road

What are you reading now or your favorite book?
Jack Kerouac has been on my reading menu for fifty years. His poetic prose still blows me away (and led me astray.) More recently, I stumbled across the Neapolitan novels of Elena Ferrante…four volumes I absolutely could not put down about two strong, independent women and the fascinating tale of them growing up and older in Naples, Italy.

What are some of your favorite songs on your playlist?
I never seem to tire of listening to Bat for Lashes, especially “Daniel.” “Resignation Superman” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters gets me dancing. “Sometime Around Midnight” by The Airborne Toxic Event is great. “Set Fire to the Rain,” by Adele, wow, what a voice! Gotta also mention “Waiting Game” by Banks, “L.E.S. Artistes” by Santigold, “Monster” by Meg Myers and “Levi Stubbs’ Tears by Billy Bragg. As a recent arrival to the digital age, I have discovered so many great songs!

What is the last movie watched or favorite movie?
My all time favorite movie is “Amelie’.” I’ve watched it seven or eight times! It inspired me to go to Paris! I’ve recently enjoyed “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Wild,” and “Looper.” An undiscovered little screen gem is “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

What inspires you?
The natural world is the source of much of my passion and wonder. I live on four acres of forested land that puts many parks to shame. My wife has encouraged native plants and created a botanical paradise. I am constantly filled with awe by the morning symphony of bird song. Springtime out here is beautiful beyond words. The Earth Mother is strong, resilient and powerful, but I often fear for Her health by the onslaught of human kind.

(Cynical, Bohemian, Transforming)