image of gavon

The quiet focus of the 26&2 helps Gavon harmonize the physical and mental demands of life as a graduate student and performer. Find out why this musician’s favorite class is… the one without music.

Name: Gavon Peck
BHYW regular since: 2017
Practice Schedule: 6:00 am, whenever possible.

Gavon says: “Remember to breathe, and focus on where you can do less.”

What brought you to the 26&2?

My viola professor had been doing this practice for several years. I was complaining about some back problems I was having while I played and she suggested going with a friend. I did, and I haven’t stopped!

How was your first class?

It was great! It was one of the evening classes, thankfully, because I was so exhausted afterwards, I went to bed at 9:00. I loved that it felt like a workout because of the sweating and the hot room, and because some of the postures were difficult – I wasn’t nearly as flexible then. But I loved it – I was immediately hooked. I had so much fun doing it, and I knew that I wanted to come back right away.

Has the practice helped with the back pain?

Yes, definitely. My posture feels much more comfortable. It’s easier for me to play viola for more hours before I become fatigued, which is very exciting.

Why 6:00 am classes?

It’s when I have the car! But also, my schedule as a musician is kind of wacky. I need to make sure that I wake up early so that I can start practicing [viola] because my evenings are usually very busy with performances and rehearsals. The 6:00 am works well with my schedule, and I feel great starting my day this way.

I especially try to do 26&2 on Mondays. They’re my busiest day – I’m busy until 10:00 pm, but if I start with [class] I feel much better and less sore as I play throughout the day.

And we only do standing separate leg head to knee one time. I do, admittedly, really like that! Least favorite posture? That’s the one!

What has been the biggest benefit of the practice for you?

I feel like I have much more control of my breath, which is so important. I was a swimmer for years, and I’ve always felt that breath control was difficult for me. I feel like finally I have some sense of control over my breath. This continues to improve, and it noticeably helps my playing. And, of course, the other main benefit is that my back pain has improved quite a bit, as well as the strength through my core.

How long was it before you started to notice changes?

Probably a couple of months, but I also remember that the day after my first class I was sore in muscles that I didn’t know existed! I immediately had new awareness.

How is the 26&2 different from other workouts you’ve done?

I love the consistency. I love that it’s the same each class, so that I can really track my progress. Even when the words spoken by the instructors are the same, I feel like I hear different things depending on where my body is at in each of the classes, which is really cool. Some days something will stick out to me that never has before.

One thing that I really love is that there is no music. As a musician, it’s liberating. I’m surrounded by music constantly. It’s fun to exercise to music, but [this practice] is just you and your thoughts and whatever the teacher is saying. Because it’s quiet, you have to find your own motivation and your own focus, and I think that’s so important.

It doesn’t matter how many other people are in the room – because of that silence and the stillness, it really feels like it’s just me working on myself. I love that.

Do you ever get bored with the practice?

No! A lot of times when I leave the hot room, I think to myself, “that was still not easy.” It stays challenging no matter what. Even as one posture becomes easier, I am aware that even though one aspect has become easier, I should now be focusing on another part of the posture so I can go a little bit deeper.

My focus has improved a lot. As I’ve learned to focus more on my body, I’m also hearing more.

Many people agree that improved focus is a benefit of this practice. How else has your focus improved?

When I first started coming to classes, and even sometimes now, I would do a posture and think “I need to do this thing later and send this email to this person.” And in the next posture I would think, “Later today I need to make sure I’m doing this.” Thoughts still enter my head, for sure, but the consistency of the practice and the fact that we go through the same postures every time has helped me to be able to lock in and focus.

I focus on what I’m doing, what I’m feeling. As I’ve started to do that more, it has started to feel more like a meditative practice and not just like a workout. As I come back to my breathing, usually I can start to control more of where my mind goes and focus on what I need to, which really carries into other areas of my life.

How has it carried into other parts of your life?

When I practice viola, the same thing happens: I play for ten minutes and then think, “I have to send this email to this person about this thing.” But I’m trying to treat that more like the yoga practice. I’m here with my viola, and just like in class, I don’t have my phone or anything else, I can just focus on what I’m doing. The practice really helps with this.

Favorite posture?

Camel or standing bow. Both of those are love/hate. I really like the balancing postures. I feel like those are where I’m able to notice the most where my body is at. Some days I come in and I feel like I can’t balance at all no matter what I do, so I’ll try to focus on something I haven’t before, like maybe my foot could be relaxed, I don’t need to clench my toes. And some days I come in, and oh yeah! I feel like I could stand on one leg for an hour!

With camel, when I first started, I remember the teacher saying you might feel dizzy, and I thought, “I feel great, this is awesome!” But as I went deeper and deeper into the posture, I started to feel off, and it got to the point that I would sit out one set. I didn’t like that. I thought, if I want to make this posture feel good, I need to make it my favorite posture. I need to tell myself that I love it until I do, and it worked!

I found ways to ease into the posture without immediately going to that dizzy place, and I have been able to find greater depth by going slowly. Plus, after the second set I always feel about ten degrees cooler, and like I can make it to the end!

If you could tell people one thing about the 26&2, what would it be?

Remember to breathe, and focus on where you can do less. Focus on what muscles you really need to get through each posture, and you can get through anything.