Transcript for The Yoga Podcast Episode 12
With Laruga Glaser
Claudia A. Altucher: Let me ask you something. It’s 4:00 PM in Stockholm, so I’m wondering: what did you do today?
Laruga Glaser: Oh, okay. Well –
Yeah, my usual schedule is – I’ll – first thing in the morning, I practice – I’ll do my practice, which is quite early.
Claudia A. Altucher: What is “quite early”?
Laruga Glaser: My alarm come – goes off at around 2:45 AM.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, my goodness.
Laruga Glaser: So – but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily get up right away. It depends on – sometimes I hit “snooze” a few times to be perfectly honest.
Claudia A. Altucher: Well, you’re very allowed. Anyone who puts the clock at 2:45 AM is allowed to “snooze it” in my world.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, sometimes I need a little bit of a buffer. Sometimes I do pop out of bed right away, but sometimes I’ll – you know, it’s a good way for me to kind of segue myself out of bed.
Claudia A. Altucher: So what time do you go to bed then?
Laruga Glaser: In a perfect world: 8:00 PM. That doesn’t always happen. Usually, I really start winding down between 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM, but the best time for me to be in bed is before 8:30 PM, really.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, you need that. For me, too, only I don’t wake up that early. That’s very impressive to me.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, yeah, that’s important.
Claudia A. Altucher: And then what did you do?
Laruga Glaser: Then – so I’ll do my practice, then it’s like I have to, very quickly, kind of shower and get ready to head to the studio to teach. So my commute isn’t too bad – it’s about, from door-to-door, it’s maybe about 20 minutes?
Claudia A. Altucher: Do you go by train, I guess? Or –
Laruga Glaser: Yeah. Twenty – twenty-five minutes, really, actually. So, yeah, I catch a train into the city center and make my way to Yogayama to teach. So I start around – a little after 6:30AM is when I start teaching. So my boyfriend leaves, actually, earlier to open the doors; he opens the doors at the studio at 6:00 AM. So some students like to arrive before I arrive to get started.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, right. Yeah.
Laruga Glaser: So he’s a really big help for me because then it allows me to have some breathing room to do my practice because I won’t – you know, it’s – I will not wake up at 2:00 AM or 1:00 AM to do my practice. [Laughs]
Claudia A. Altucher: No, that will be – yeah. That will be going Sharath – like, going a little – like, well, he has to ’cause he opens at 4:00 AM, but – yeah. So your boyfriend is very into Ashtanga yoga as well; in fact, you met him in Mysore, is that right?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I did. I met him in Mysore in 2009, and – yeah, so we both have this mutual passion or dedication for the practice, which is really nice. We – but, you know, yoga doesn’t necessarily consume our life and conversation day-to-day, but it really – we kind of just have this steady acknowledgment of that it’s something that we do daily. We support each other’s process, and also he supports my teaching, and I also support his practice and also his teaching. He teaches a little bit – not nearly as much because he has another full-time job. It’s a great thing to share together, so –
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, of course. And so you teach from 6:30 AM or so until what time?
Laruga Glaser: Until 10:00 AM.
Claudia A. Altucher: Ah, okay. Mysore – where you’re adjusting everybody depending on the level they’re at.
Laruga Glaser: Yes, yes. So –
Claudia A. Altucher: And what happens after 10:00 AM?
Laruga Glaser: So – oh, gosh. It could be so many things. You know, sometimes I have meetings and different things that have to do with teaching at Yogayama; other times, it’s a matter of me – you know, I’ll come back home, I’ll eat something ’cause, usually, after practice, I really don’t have time to eat, and, actually, don’t like to really eat too much before teaching – so it’s kind of really like my first meal after teaching. So I definitely try to have something to eat. And then I do need to rest and wind down after teaching.
Claudia A. Altucher: Of course, of course, and, you know, it’s interesting what you said right there, and I find this the more I practice. I’ve been practicing daily, non-stop, since 2007 – even though I started in ’05. Like, there’s always a transition between starting Ashtanga, but I find the more I practice, the less I want to eat until late in the day – seems to be – the practice seems to generate that.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I find it really interesting. But I have gone through different cycles with that where – you’re kind of in the practice in a way where it seems like the appetite drops where you want to eat later, but then I’ve also gone through some cycles, too, where it’s like – it seems like my body wants food earlier in the day or the metabolism or my appetite has increased. You know, sometimes it waxes and wanes, which I find kind of interesting as well.
Claudia A. Altucher: Well, maybe I’ll experience that when I get to higher levels. I am only in that primary – little bit of intermediate – series. Maybe when I get to the ultra-strong handstands and balances, poses that you have amazing photos of, maybe then my appetite will change.
Laruga Glaser: Well, I mean, that’s still high level. I think just daily practices and consistency and – that’s an advanced practice, too. I don’t know if it’s always – I don’t know if it’s always these other more advanced poses all the time, but –
Claudia A. Altucher: You talked recently – you said that you were – you had been experiencing, I think I heard this in an interview, a little bit of fatigue during a period of your practice, and –
Laruga Glaser: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I did. So, yeah – I just – it was a little bit like I kind of – just – I don’t know if the right term would be kind of “hitting a wall” a little bit – just – I think there are several factors going into it. One thing is, like, just adapting to living in Sweden. So when I first moved, it’s kind of like everything is new. And like, you know, the body and my – and everything is just kind of like calibrating to being in a new place, but
Claudia A. Altucher: Where were you living before Sweden?
Laruga Glaser: I was in the Midwest; I was in Columbus, Ohio.
Claudia A. Altucher: Where you were born?
Laruga Glaser: No, no, no. I actually was born in South Carolina.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, you were born in South Carolina? Oh.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I was born – but I didn’t stay there for long. So when my sister was born, she – we’re only 13 months apart –
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, so – yeah, that’s a quick turnover –
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, very quick.
Laruga Glaser: [Laughs] When she was born, then we moved away from South Carolina, and we moved to Illinois, where I grew up in a small town called Edwardsville that’s like in the southern part of the state – so, not close to Chicago. Like, every time I bring up the state Illinois, everyone thinks, “Oh, you were from Chicago” – which is actually where my dad is from originally. So I grew up there until about – yeah – the time that I graduated high school. And then I ended up in Columbus, Ohio, when I went to university there at Ohio State.
Claudia A. Altucher: What did you study in university?
Laruga Glaser: It’s really – so I changed my major, like, four or five times. But I actually – I graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in human ecology with a focus on fashion merchandising.
Claudia A. Altucher: Wow. And then from that to yoga teacher?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, yeah, so – yeah. I mean, it was – I think, too, because of the fact that I changed my major so many times, I was a little bit not – I was just a little bit confused on where to go. You know –
Claudia A. Altucher: But you started yoga really, really early, so you were practicing already by this time.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, and I wasn’t – you know – I can’t say that I was super, super serious, but I was really – so when I first discovered yoga, and actually before I even started practicing Asana, I was really interested in spirituality, philosophy – you know, I was even dabbling in New Age thought; I was reading about meditation; I was reading about Buddhism – anything I could get my hands on when it came to just spirituality, different views of thought – and through that investigation, I came across like – that’s when I came across Ashtanga yoga, like the eight limbs, before even understanding that there’s an Asana practice called Ashtanga yoga.
So it was just like I had all this information, and then yoga just really sparked my interest. I just loved this – I don’t know – it just seemed so holistic in a way where it’s like – it was about self-investigation and about practice and self-reflection and just being guided within and all these things. It really spoke to me versus kind of like more religious establishments, kind of telling you from the outside: follow these rules, “Do this, do that.” The whole path of yoga kind of just – there was something in it that I acknowledged, that I recognized, that kind of sparked something within me. And then to find Asana practice, which was actually the tool of using the body to further this investigation, just really excited me. I just thought joining the use of the body with the mind and the spirit – I just felt like that was so amazing.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, and I especially find that interesting particularly with Ashtanga yoga because it’s a type of – the Asana in the lineage of Pattabhi Jois is so challenging. They take the Asana part so seriously, and the breathing, that it really puts you in touch with the body right away. You start feeling that transformation in the body immediately, and so the questions begin to come because it’s so intense.
Laruga Glaser: Most definitely. Yeah, I mean – yeah, this gateway of using the breath and the body, so breathing consciously and just moving and – I just – I feel like in the Ashtanga yoga practice, yeah, there is an intensity, but it doesn’t necessarily always have to be intense. Sometimes, we can add on layers of intensity that don’t necessarily have to be there, but there’s something about this Asana practice where, you know, you’re kind of uniting breath and movement and you’re using the body as a tool where it’s just – you connect to all the sheaths of your body in a way where it’s not just physical. You feel the mental sheath, the subtle sheath, that all of these just kind of like – it’s like all of a sudden, you kind of connect to it.
And I remember, early on, when I was practicing, I didn’t really understand what that was – like, but then, later, when you kind of do something reading and you’re kind of like, “Oh, yeah. Okay. That’s kind of something that I was experiencing or connecting to.” But I will tell you, my first start with Asana practice – I was doing other forms, which I really enjoyed – like kind of softer forms, or a little bit more like Iyengar-type of inspired practices. But when I found Ashtanga yoga, it was like – I don’t know – it was just like the clouds parted, the angels sang –
I don’t know. Right away, I just had such a strong connection to it even though it was very challenging. It wasn’t like it just – everything just was so easy, but I just – there was something to it that just ran a little bit deeper inside that I hadn’t really experienced before.
Claudia A. Altucher: And so you’re in Columbus, and you’re in college, and you’re practicing and – how do you go from there – what happened that takes you to Stockholm?
Laruga Glaser: Well, that – what had – there was many years between that till now – till I – when I moved. You know, I – after I graduated from college, I was working in various different – I had various different jobs, kind of figuring out where to take my career, which was kind of like an illusion that I bought into. And –
Claudia A. Altucher: That is so true – what you’re saying there – because we all buy into that: we have to have a career, and all along the yoga was like pulling you in more and more.
Laruga Glaser: Yes, most definitely. And I think what – ’cause I was maintaining a daily practice through all this time of kind of trying to investigate, you know, where am I going to take my career and all this stuff, but I really feel like the yoga’s what kept me really sane. What probably allowed me to do it longer than I had, in a way – I don’t know, it just kept me rooted within something. But also – you know, I think, too, when you kind of go down a certain path, or you go down the path of yoga, it’s like – there’s a point, too, where you just can’t be inauthentic anymore. It kind of kills you, so –
Claudia A. Altucher: “It kills you – ” what do you mean, “It kills you”? ‘Cause, I mean, you just said – dropped on me a couple of like – and you even said once, “I had a new – some new life-changing moments that made me question things, and I felt my whole foundation was shaken a bit.” I wonder if that was, perhaps, at this time that you were feeling that?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, but you know – I think my foundation was really shaken much earlier, to be honest with you. So, you know, in my younger life, I really had a few – there are a few events in my life that really made me question a lot of things. I think that is why I started to investigate spirituality at a young age, so – ’cause I actually kind of started in high school.
Claudia A. Altucher: Can you share with us any of these things that happened, or –
Laruga Glaser: Well, yeah – it’s kind of a touchy subject for me. You know, I did – so I did experience an abusive period in my life.
Claudia A. Altucher: Abusive, you said?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, yeah.
Claudia A. Altucher: Okay, okay.
Laruga Glaser: So – and it really had a way of – I don’t know – it was almost like there was a “Laruga” before and there was a “Laruga” after. It really shook up a lot of things within me, and even to this day, it’s something that I think still has an effect, but I think – you know, these defining moments happen for a reason, and I can kind of see the divine [laughs] intelligence behind all of that. So I can’t really stand here and say, “Oh, I’m so bitter about it.” That’s not really – you know, I can see how there was a reason for why everything unfolded in the way that it did.
I know some kids or young people, they act out in another ways: like, maybe they experiment with drugs or find other ways of escape, which I think that – you know, I’m not even saying that’s a bad way – sometimes people have to go that route to find themselves. I don’t really judge that at all. But, for me, for whatever reason, I was looking in another direction. I kind of was asking these deeper questions, and so that’s kind of what sparked my interest just in spirituality or just higher states of consciousness – even though – maybe I wasn’t even ready for all of that stuff – but I kind of investigated that as well.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, but you used the word, “It kills you,” which to me means a deep transformation. So something happened, and it’s very common among women to – I have experienced it myself, so it’s a common theme as the world awakens to the power of women, I think. And it transformed you – because you chose this way, as you said, there was a “before Laruga” and now an “after Laruga” – what do you think is the biggest difference between the “before” and the “after”?
Laruga Glaser: Well, if I’m talking about this certain period of my life – I will say something kind of died that I kind of have been trying to awaken again. That is – and, you know, and I’m not saying, “Oh, it’s not totally gone,” but I think that was – when something happens in your young life, it really can just –
Claudia A. Altucher: Shut you down?
Laruga Glaser: Oh, yeah. Most definitely.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, I know it’s like you go numb, or you think nothing is – no one cares –
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, it’s really – I don’t even – it’s a hard thing to explain; it’s a very painful thing to wrap my head around at times, but – yeah – that – I really felt there was a part of me that died that I’ve been trying to reawaken, and – I know many people have gone through this. Many people have – you know, this is not something that’s unique to me. And so that – and, again, that’s been part of my journey again, to – because what I will say, too, is this type of thing really put a lot of doubt within me – so selfish doubt within myself on a deep level. Even though I can also feel my power at times, you know, it’s almost like you kind of find that like, “Ooh, you know, it’s like you can really manifest things, you can really move things through in your life.” But then also there’s this deep sense of doubt that kind of – that has really been the big thing that kind of took the place of this part that kind of died within me. So, you know, the yoga practice has kind of helped to cultivate me to kind of work with this doubt within myself. I can’t say that it’s totally gone – it’s not; I mean, it’s something you kind of dance with.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, I was gonna say because for me, too, even though after having certain horrible situations happen, I’m giving up on the world; and then trying to reclaim that inner power – that there is a positive and negative that comes with it: one is the reclaiming it, and the other one is the underlying doubt that keeps – seems to keep surfacing and trying to attack me and tell me I’m not good. And like you said, it becomes a dance: “Oh, I see. This is coming again. Okay. Let me feel it; let me experience it for what it is without reacting.” It’s like a cultivation of getting to trust that, yes, I am capable; yes, I can do this and trust myself.
Laruga Glaser: Totally. [Laughs] Totally. Yeah, I mean it’s – yeah, again, it’s not something that will – that you 100 percent cure, you know? And learning to acknowledge that it’s there – not ignore that it’s there, but acknowledge that it’s there and to work with it and to keep moving forward anyway.
Claudia A. Altucher: But wouldn’t you say, on the positive side for what I see for me at least, is that I have a tremendously enormous BS detector? A big –
Laruga Glaser: Oh, my god, that’s – yeah.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right? Because after going through one of those life experiences that throw you off like that, then you tend to – like the doubt is also comes into the good moments where you question, “Wait a minute. What’s happening here? What’s really happening here?” And I think that’s key to yoga; it’s even in the Yoga Sutras, that power of discerning what is real to what is not real.
Laruga Glaser: So true. I mean, that’s so funny you bring that up because – yeah, I definitely have a BS detector that – yeah, it can really set off an alarm in the times that I – yeah, had several – just with reading or interactions with other people, what not, yeah –
Claudia A. Altucher: Especially in a world we live now, I wrote, recently, a post, “The Guru is Dead” – you know, there have been so many reports of men in charge of yoga that become cold and do sexual things for students or things like that. I think it’s so important to remain so grounded when you start a yoga practice, and not give your power away because it’s such a vulnerable position to put – if you start putting, say, a teacher on a pedestal or – and not realizing we’re all the same: we’re all here to learn and someone may have more experience than others, but that doesn’t make them human gods or things like that.
Laruga Glaser: Oh, yeah. I totally agree with this. Yeah, staying grounded is highly important, I think, for yoga teachers, for yoga practitioners. That is one thing that I really take seriously is – you know, a role is – having a role as a teacher, you should never take advantage of the vulnerability of students. That is something that I find very important. And even, you know, stories you hear – or even experiences that I have had – I really don’t have any tolerance for it.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right. You were kicked out of a $200.00 yoga teacher training in the United States?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I was.
Claudia A. Altucher: What happened? I’m dying to know.
Laruga Glaser: Oh, my god. You’re really opening up a can of worms _____.
Claudia A. Altucher: [Laughs] It’s just – it made me curious ’cause you’re – I know you’re a grounded, serious practitioner, so something funny must have happened.
Laruga Glaser: Well, okay. What’s interesting about this situation is ’cause – you know, one reason why I went into teaching was – I didn’t have any huge ambitions with teaching. I loved being a student; I just loved being a practitioner. That was – and even if I were to stop teaching tomorrow, you know, I would still be continuing on this practice. And so – you know, in the community that I was in, I was practicing at home; I would also take classes, too; and I was actually asked to start teaching just for my own – just – people kind of saw that, “Oh, this girl’s quite serious. Da, da, da, da.”
And at this particular studio, they actually offered me a job first before I even did their training. So I was already teaching there, and so I did their training, and I wasn’t so into it, to be honest with you, from the beginning because I noticed that they accepted just anyone. Like, I was like, “What’s this?” Like, “Oh, I’ve practiced for six months, and now I’m doing a training to be a teacher?” And I was like, “That’s strange.” To me, I always felt like, “Oh, there should be a body of years of teaching before embarking on even thinking about being a teacher.”
Claudia A. Altucher: Like with anything. Like you wouldn’t think of start teaching how to play the piano after practicing for a month.
Laruga Glaser: Exactly. That’s such a great example because – so I was a little bit skeptical going into it, but then I was like, “Okay, I’m part of this organization. Let me just, you know, play my part and try to get something out of it.” And – but what we were – and also I was kind of a – they had two different arms: they had a Hatha arm, and they had also a Ashtanga arm. So I was obviously in the Ashtanga – and so what we were being trained, essentially, to do is to teach all of primary series to students within ten weeks or something – but once a week. Like it was –
Claudia A. Altucher: Once a week? Like no matter what age, no matter what –
Laruga Glaser: Yeah. And I was – and I actually started to question this; I was like, “This is crazy.”
Claudia A. Altucher: Right. It really is crazy. That’s a – I mean, there are postures there in the primary series that once-a-week in a couple of weeks – not going to cut it. I know it didn’t for me.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah. And I just didn’t like this approach. I didn’t feel that it was right for students. And what I noticed at this particular place is that they would do this ten-week course, and it got really people excited about the practice, and it kind of hooked people: “Oh, I’m really learning. I’m learning this hard practice and learning this – the whole sequence.” And then they would finish the course, and then they would finish the course, and they would kind of do the practice for another month or two, and then they would just poop out.
Claudia A. Altucher: Of course.
Laruga Glaser: And then you’d see that they wouldn’t follow through. And then I noticed they would do another course, and a new crop of people would come in, and they were super excited. And I was just kind of making a point, like, “This is not sustainable. It’s not teaching people the foundation to have a sustainable practice.” And where I kind of went wrong – maybe I should have been more tactful to the designer of the program – because it was almost like I was calling her baby ugly because she really loved this way of doing this course. And so pretty much she kind of cut me off, and just was like, “You’re being negative. You don’t – you’re not in line with what we’re – what our vision is, and blah, blah, blah, blah.” So she actually, you know, had me exit the program; but not only that, she took away my teaching job, too.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, which is silly. And it’s unfortunate, but I think this is a perfect example of you having a tremendous BS detector. Like, you knew throughout your years of practice – this is not sustainable. It was just that simple. And I commend your ability to question because many times people come to yoga and they think they’re not allowed to question things, or – because, you know, in the Indian tradition, maybe Indians never question teachers, but that’s not the case with us in the U.S. – and as we grow up as a species, I think, of course we need to question everything. How – but we can’t follow blind advice. So that was very interesting that that happened to you.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, and it was funny because I kind of stood alone in that, too. ‘Cause I had another community of practitioners around me, and they were just – they – I was a little bit kind of strucken out of that group for a little bit. Now some of those individuals, you know, we’ve come back around to be friends, but it was really interesting to kind of stand your ground on something, but then also, to kind of lose some backing from people who you kind of felt like were your friends. But, you know, they felt like, “Oh, I don’t wanna make waves. I don’t wanna – ” So, you know, I think for all of us, there’s times where we have to really, like, speak out for what we feel is right. There’s a – maybe I could have been more tactful, I don’t know. Maybe I could have – [laughs]
Claudia A. Altucher: Well, you know, you can’t change the past, and you were going with your heart, and clearly – I mean, I agree with you. I think it’s even dangerous to try to do once-a-week primary series in a couple of weeks. So when you know in your bones that what you’re saying is true, then I think this is part of the “new Laruga” and I would say the part of the “new me,” too. I only want to interview the teachers that I know have the – go with the truth – that “use the force,” for example. So it’s kind of growing up as teachers, too, realizing what works and what just doesn’t because you had the experience.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah. I agree.
Claudia A. Altucher: And so then, when – or how did this – I’m curious – how do you get to Stockholm? Why – did you meet your boyfriend within this time, or – what happened?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, so – yeah, I met my boyfriend in 2009.
Claudia A. Altucher: Ah, me too
Laruga Glaser: Oh, you did?
Claudia A. Altucher: [Laughs] Yes.
Laruga Glaser: Like a magical year – and, actually, I met him really early in the 2009.
Claudia A. Altucher: Me, too.
Laruga Glaser: Oh, wow.
Claudia A. Altucher: In April. What month did you meet him?
Laruga Glaser: In January.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, that’s even earlier. [Laughs]
Laruga Glaser: Yeah. So, you know, it’s – so I did go through – previous to meeting David, I had some other turmoil happening just in my life because also, I’d noticed, when it came to choosing boyfriends, partners, or whatever, I wasn’t choosing the right people.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, really? That’s the story of my life. [Laughs]
Laruga Glaser: I mean – and even I can see it in my past. I even had – I don’t even know if I should even go into all this, but like where I’ve been propositioned by guys that were really good, do you know? [Inaudible due to crosstalk] And for some reason, I was like, “Uh-uh.” You know? When I look back, I was like, “Wow, you were blind.” But anyway – you know, I don’t know how – yeah, you live and learn. No big deal.
But so when I met David, it was really – it was like a – it was consciously kind of – I felt myself getting caught up in a certain energy, and I consciously kind of told myself – I was like, “You know, I really just want to choose different. I want to open my eyes.” And it was like – and I even kind of told myself this: “Laruga, open your eyes to something broader, something bigger, some – a different energy.” And actually – when I went to Mysore that year, I was really kind of, in my mind, thinking, “I really want to just lay low. I don’t want to socialize too much. I’m not here to look for anything.” So, actually, the fact that I met David during that time was kind of a surprise.
Claudia A. Altucher: I find it very interesting because in – at that time, for me, too, I was so into having my own fun and loving myself, and I think it’s that moment when you – when it clicks – when you’re the “Laruga” that was after or the “me” that was after – dealing with my insecurities but happy with myself – that you finally attract someone who is in the same place, someone who is solid, rounded, interesting, and real.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, well, I mean – that’s the thing about – I will have to say about meeting David is that he is 100 percent real. [Laughs] There was like – I – you know, he’s one of the few people I’ve met that when he’s angry, he’s really angry. And he doesn’t shy away from that emotion. And he – when he loves, then he really loves. He just – he doesn’t shy away from it. He’s not insecure about sharing that – a part of him. When he’s sad, he’s really sad. It’s like – there – I haven’t met so many people who are so free with the emotions that they feel, and so real about it; and that’s something that I really respect about him. And at the same time, there’s a really big heart behind all of that. So that’s the thing that I really appreciated about him, and still do – that I really respect – and kind of allows me, also, to be more free with my emotions, especially having a background where I felt a little bit – I had to suppress a lot of things that I truly felt. So that’s been so healing for me to have a space with someone where, you know, I can feel all of these things, and express the things that I feel, and feel safe.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, absolutely. Yeah, that’s so important. It gives you the sort of the space to become more and more of yourself. I think that’s the mark of a true relationship – and you probably give him, also, the space to be more of what he is and respect what he is and – that sounds beautiful – sounds really, really beautiful. Now is David from Stockholm?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, he was born in Stockholm. And then there was a part of his young life – he was raised in Dalarna, which is an area north of Stockholm – so further north than Sweden. And then – yeah, he has an interesting true story. So at the age of 15, he moved away from home, and he went back to Stockholm. And he was living on his own ever since the age of 15. And he entered the ballet academy, and he was – you know, so he was here dancing at a very young age. And even when I tell some people the story who are adults, and they have children, they’re like, “Uh-uh, my fifteen-year-old isn’t going anywhere.”
Claudia A. Altucher: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s impressive that he knew what he wanted, that he knew expressing through the body was his thing.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, yeah. So – yeah, there was many reasons why he left, too. I mean, he had some challenges in his young life as well. And at that point in his life, dance was a great outlet for him. So – yeah, that’s what he explored at the age of 15 and living on his own.
Claudia A. Altucher: That’s very impressive. I’m very impressed with people who are, like, below high school – finishing high school – that choose themselves, kind of so to speak – that just sort of take life on their own terms. It always impresses me.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, it impressed me, too, ’cause I don’t think I could have done that, either.
Claudia A. Altucher: And so you moved, I guess, with him and into teaching here in Sweden.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, so I – you know, we met in 2009, and I was – yeah, so we were in Mysore, and actually, I was there for three months. And he was there for two, and so there was a time when – and what’s interesting is like, when you meet people in Mysore, it’s like, you really get to know people super well because it’s like you don’t have the day-to-day life.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, there’s nothing to do, and you’re exhausted after that enormous practice you do in the morning.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, so – I mean, there’s so much time to have long conversations to know people, that you really kind of indulge in that – maybe more of a time crunch of day-to-day life at home. And so we really got to know each other well, and we – when it was time for him to leave, we were like, “Okay, let’s really explore where this relationship can go.” And so he left, and we stayed in touch while I was here for a month – in Mysore, India, for a month – and then we decided that after the end of my stay in Mysore that I would go to Stockholm because what was important for David, and also what became important for me, was that we wanted to know each other outside that bubble, so – because it’s different.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, yes, absolutely. Completely different world once you leave Mysore – then the real world hits.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, so I – we planned on me going to Stockholm for about a month, and it ended – I ended up staying for three months. It went – it went really well. The one thing that was kind of funny is that – ’cause I arrived in April, and actually, Stockholm had the best weather ever that whole spring. So that kind of hooked me because that’s not really the case here all – [laughs]
Claudia A. Altucher: [Laughs] Yeah, it must be horrible then when it’s all – is it dark all winter long?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, it’s quite dark in the winter, so at the peak, the sun probably goes down around 3:00 PM? But, you know, during the thick of winter, the sun never goes high on the horizon; it’s always kind of low. Yeah, so it’s – it’s an adjustment; it’s definitely an adjustment. But then you have the opposite in the spring and summer where it’s very bright, there’s a lot of light, and the sun is up later – much later – in the evening. So – but, yeah, when I came to Stockholm, we – you know, everything flowed really well, and then at the end of my stay – cause I stayed for the end of how much I was allowed to stay – you know, you get an entry visa for three months, and so – we decided, “Okay, let’s explore me moving to Stockholm.” So we did all the steps and the things that were required for me to move here – and so I had to leave Stockholm; I went back to the U.S.; and we started the process of the application because I had to do it outside of Sweden. And everything flowed really well. And then I ended up moving; November of 2009, I moved.
Claudia A. Altucher: Ah, for the winter.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I know. Right in – actually, Swedes will say that November is one of the worst months ever in Sweden. So – yeah –
Claudia A. Altucher: But you had love to compensate at least. [Laughs]
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, that made a huge difference ’cause I was kind of – in my own, like I was in a different reality space, so I wasn’t thinking about the weather so much. So – yeah.
Claudia A. Altucher: And you’ve been there ever since, so you have adjusted to it.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, I – so I’ve been here for about five-and-a-half years now, and I – the first – I would say, the first year-and-a-half, two years, everything was really new. Then, it was like I really had to settle into it, and that was an adjustment because the darkness does have an effect on me.
Claudia A. Altucher: On everyone, I think.
Laruga Glaser: Oh, yeah. Climate, too, is – really had an effect on me. So, it’s still – I’ve had to find a new balancing point for myself here, which has been a challenge, and that goes back to some of the things I was telling you about of suffering from exhaustion, because one thing I had to keep in mind with is my vitamin D levels – because, you know, I have darker skin; that’s one reason why you can – why Swedes are fair is because they have to be –
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, they have to absorb – they have to absorb vitamin D as much as possible?
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, so I had to really find a new balancing point, and when – and one thing that’s interesting, coming here, is like, if you’ve studied Ayurveda – which I’m sure you have – my Vata really increased, living in this climate.
Claudia A. Altucher: So that means you were, like, trying to run around a lot, sort of aimlessly, and –
Laruga Glaser: Well, not really that, but I had to – with my diet and so many things, I had to find ways to stay really grounded. I get really cold; I have to stay really warm. I’ve found with the Vata increase, like, more – feeling more spacey ___ ____, where I didn’t – even though in Columbus, Ohio, where I was living previously, we have winter every year and all those things – it’s – the thing, too, there, there’s more humidity. In Stockholm, even though there’s water everywhere, it’s very dry. So the dry and cold is like death to someone who has Vata in them.
Claudia A. Altucher: Oh, I don’t think I could survive in there. And I am definitely Vata-oriented. [Laughs]
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, so this was something that was a challenge, and I still am trying to tweak things to really find a balance with thriving in this climate.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right, so you know, Laruga, it’s interesting to me that we’ve been talking for probably about 50 minutes, and there hasn’t been one mention of an Asana or a posture, and how much of yoga really has to do with the internal process – is what impresses me in talking to you. All of the internal shifts, finding the places where you’ve been hurt, dealing with the doubts, finding your center, finding a relationship through that, adjusting to new places, and how much of yoga is outside of the mat?
Laruga Glaser: Oh, my god. It’s all internal. I mean, all of it. You know, that’s all that it is.
Claudia A. Altucher: Because there’s so much emphasis on yoga, I find, being about doing the pretty postures which – please go to www.larugayoga.com if you want to be absolutely impressed by this woman – I mean, your photographs are beautiful; the postures that you get in are beautiful; but, really, this is what it comes down to is, “How do we deal with daily life with help from the practice, and how it turns us within?”
Laruga Glaser: Oh, yeah, and I – you know, the thing that’s interesting with Ashtanga yoga practice is, I mean –that I can attest to is it just keeps things so real. Like, if you’re willing to really look at yourself, it keeps you so honest with yourself. I think – I definitely know what my weak spots are, and sometimes, yeah, I will dig my head into the sand. But then, when you keep doing this practice, it’s like, “What are you doing, Laruga?” You know, it’s all like – either it constantly forces me to get real, get real. And –
Claudia A. Altucher: That’s the slogan of yoga podcast, by the way; it’s “keeping it real.”
Laruga Glaser: I didn’t realize that.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yes, and I think it’s true because the thing is: you have no out. The practice happens six times a week, no Saturdays, no Mondays. That’s it. And so it puts this mirror in front of you, like, “Why didn’t you?” Or “What happened today?” Or “What are you doing?” It gets you really real.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, yeah, and I – there’s – yeah, and there’s something about showing up daily. There’s something about how the practice really pushes our dark spots to the surface for us to really look at, and in that way, it’s quite an edgy practice because you can’t ignore that mental aspect; you can’t ignore that internal aspect in this practice. I mean, I guess you could, but I find that that part is what’s so interesting, and that part is what makes it so challenging. And I’ve definitely had my highs and lows in the practice – like, mentally, physically, emotionally – so many things happening. I always feel like I’m in some type of process.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yes, that’s true. And there’s always something hurting somewhere. [Laughs]
Laruga Glaser: Oh, yeah.
Claudia A. Altucher: I thought what you said there’s so true. I had – in practicing dropping back – I don’t drop back all the way to the floor, but I use the wall, and coming back up. A teacher once pointed out to me that as I was coming up, I was doing this dramatic sort of like – [long inhale] – sort of thing, and he said to me, “You know, that’s just drama. You can come up on an inhale.” And it was a mental thing; it’s as if I was preprogrammed to come out as if I had been drowning or something. And it goes to your point that it challenges – from the body, it begins to challenge the mind. What’s that about?
Laruga Glaser: Yes. Yes. I mean, that’s – you know, bringing the unconscious conscious.
Claudia A. Altucher: Right. Exactly.
Laruga Glaser: And I find that this practice has a way of really doing that. And, you know, it just brings up all these things, and our mind is so complex – the ego is so complex. And I feel with this – the daily steadiness of the practice, just the nature of the way we’re kind of guided through the practice – it just – it really kind of forces us to look at all these things, and – you know, and sometimes in the process, you feel like, “Oh, my gosh. Is it getting better or worse?” You know, all these things arise within you, and then you feel the cycles within the cycles. I mean, there’s been times I – you know, I feel like I had healed a lot, but then all of a sudden, there’s a cycle of just really feeling a lot of grief for whatever reason and letting that just wash over me, letting that just be, letting that release. You know, and then I’ve also had these periods of grace, where it’s like I feel like every time I come to my mat, it just feels so joyful.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, those are nice.
Laruga Glaser: Those are nice, and then it’s like, you can’t be really – you can’t be too attached to that, either.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, it does go away. I know what you mean.
Laruga Glaser: You enjoy it and you’re so thankful for it, and you’re like, “Wow, this is amazing.” And then you enter a cycle where it’s like, “Some deep work has to be done.” So – there’s something about this practice, too, that just makes me feel alive. I mean, you feel this rise and fall of all these things that are working in the psyche, and it’s like – and we’re leaning into it. We’re not trying to numb ourselves. We’re not trying to ignore it; we’re actually leaning into it. And it’s not always easy, but gosh, it really – it really brings a sense of aliveness within is, which I think is beautiful. And I see it in the yogis that I meet, or even practitioners who’ve been doing it for much longer than I have, and other practitioners and teachers that I know in the community – it’s a beautiful thing: it’s this sense of aliveness.
Claudia A. Altucher: Yeah, so I would like to ask you a question that’s a bit deep – so I’m gonna go deep on you. Throughout all these years of practicing, teaching, writing – cause you’re a writer as well – what would you say is one thing that took you a long time to understand? There may be many, but if you can point to one that you would like to share.
Laruga Glaser: Took me a long time to understand – as far as just the philosophical aspects, or –
Claudia A. Altucher: It could be philosophical; it could be about Asana; it could be about anything that pops into your mind that you say, “Oh, gee. Yeah, I – it was hard to really see these or to understand that.”
Laruga Glaser: Oh my gosh. That’s a hard one to pinpoint. Yeah, because – yeah, that’s a hard one to pinpoint for me because, I mean, I definitely feel this sense that I – there’s still so much to learn. So I don’t know if I can even claim that I understand much now.
I don’t know if I can even claim that.
Claudia A. Altucher: That’s a very honest answer ’cause I would have to say I’m in the same boat: I realize every day how little I know. I mean, I know nothing about everything. [Laughs]
Laruga Glaser: I would have to agree. I mean, the thing – what’s interesting, because, you know, I am – I feel blessed to be asked to travel and teach, too, and I – every time I – before I teach, there’s almost a sense of terror – almost like – and there’s that doubt, too, like, “What do I know? What can I really give these people? What can I – ” and then it’s like, I kind of have this moment where I have to let go and just share the experience that I’ve held and to just open myself up and allow whatever guidance that can pass through me – to allow that to pass through.
And that’s really the standpoint of how I teach. And, granted, I still continue to study and read and reflect, but – you know, there’s just been times where I really – I’m like, “What am I gonna say? How am I gonna approach this?” And then it’s like, I just open myself up for this higher wisdom to take place. And that part, to me, is so mysterious. I don’t even – I can’t even – you know, it’s like a mystery to me. But at the same time, it’s something that just humbles my heart. And this part of like feeling this connection to my heart, feeling this higher sense of power, wisdom, that’s beyond me, that’s bigger than me – that’s something that I continue to – or that I desire to explore. And –
Claudia A. Altucher: I love how you put that. I – you know, in doing this podcast, I get terrified, too. I mean, I’ve seen you in Mysore probably three, four times, and we’ve said “Hello,” but we’ve never talked. So when I interview a teacher like you, I am also petrified; and it’s new, this thing about, “Okay, I’m gonna trust that the right words will come,” and the same in teaching, as you were saying: that moment of opening and trusting a higher source is so exciting and great at the same time, and curious and – I love how you put that.
Laruga Glaser: I just can’t think of anything greater. I think – and the thing that I’ve realized is I can collect so much knowledge in my head, but if I don’t feel that connection in my heart, then what does it really mean and what is it really for? And I – that’s what I continue to want to explore and to feel this sense of realness and authenticity in every moment, especially when I connect with other people – with students. And that – you know, I know that I don’t always get it right, and there might be times where I might be distracted, but this is something that’s really important for me: this really taking things into my heart to – ’cause there’s a part of us that recognizes this higher wisdom; we already – it’s already within us, and so – this is where, again, I think for both of us is that trust – having that sense of doubt at times, but then also trusting. But when I give it up to this higher power, it just seems like it just never fails, so –
Claudia A. Altucher: I think this interview is proof of it. I’m so grateful we had this conversation, Laruga. Do you have any book projects coming up, or CDs, or DVDs, or anything like that?
Laruga Glaser: Oh, gosh. So – yeah, I have a proposition to do – to write something, but it took me a while to really find what my vision of – what my vision was with this. So it’s something that I’ll be working on. Other than that, I’m going to be exploring – doing some online classes teaching, so, you know, DVDs are a little bit not – ’cause technology is just – everything’s changing so quickly, so it’s kind of like I’m exploring a project with a friend of mine to do something that will be offered online. So this is something that’s very much in the beginning stages, and all this stuff is really new to me, so – and also scary – so, yeah, these are things that I’m excited to be working on in the next few months. So, definitely things on the horizon.
Claudia A. Altucher: That’s wonderful. So I hope that we can have you back when you have something like that – perhaps we can talk about that, but in the meantime, if you wanna find Laruga, it’s L-A-R-U-G-A-yoga.com, for her international workshops or her regular classes. And I hope we get to talk very soon again. I’m very grateful, Laruga, that you came in.
Laruga Glaser: Yeah, this was so wonderful, Claudia. I definitely hope we can do it again. I really enjoyed our talk, so thank you so much.
Claudia A. Altucher: Great. Thank you very much. Talk to you soon, Laruga.
Laruga Glaser: Bye.
Claudia A. Altucher: Bye.