Jason King is a man on a mission. He wants to demystify and destigmatize yoga for those who don’t especially fit the ‘traditional yoga mold’. His goal is to create a lifestyle brand that provides an alternative to the mainstream offerings available in the marketplace. He is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to launch a clothing line that is accessible for everyone, especially those who would not typically practice yoga. He also intends to host events and organize retreats that cater to this audience.
We invite you to watch the following video to learn more about the Aioga brand and then read our interview below with Jason King in which he shares his yoga journey and what he aims to accomplish with Aioga in the year ahead.
SYN: Who is Jason King?
JK: Who is Jason King….? I guess that’s the whole journey, right…? We spend our lives perpetually attempting to answer this question, and of course, the answer always changes. Today, though, and most days, I’m just a regular guy. A transplant to Ballard from the Midwest, I’ve been in here going on 13 years, and while I definitely miss my family back in St. Louis on the daily (particularly as a first-time uncle to potentially the coolest little 9-month old little dude ever), Seattle is undoubtedly my home. I love it here. As time goes on and I find myself in the midst of my mid-thirties, I’m realizing that this really is my reality… daily attempting to strike a finer balance between daily contentment and the desire to contribute, accomplish, and grow. As a younger person, I always anticipated a point at which everything would click and become easier… that I’d figure it out and be able to coast on auto-pilot… that Life would all of a sudden make sense and simply fall into place. That might be true for a lot of people, but that hasn’t been the case for me. My journey hasn’t lent itself to a ton of consistency. My path has been a particularly long and winding one, and I imagine that it will continue to be. And I’m actually okay with that. By now, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I sincerely prefer the rockier, more arduous path of my heart rather than a straighter, smoother, yet uninspired path of my head.
SYN: How did you discover yoga & what role does it play in your life?
JK: I actually dabbled with a few Bikram classes a little more than a decade ago, but I burnt out on it pretty quickly and jumped to the conclusion (as so many unfortunately do) that “I guess yoga just isn’t for me.” It wasn’t until my world had pretty much completely fallen apart several years later that I found my way back to yoga. I was in my late 20’s and had made a pretty decent mess of my life. I was waiting tables for a living, drinking too much, and didn’t seem capable of maintaining a healthy relationship with myself, let alone friends, or romantic partners. Things got so bad that I made a rather rash decision to move out to a cabin in the middle of nowhere out near the Hood Canal. I knew going into it that this was either going to end in disaster or it was going to be everything I needed. Thankfully, it turned out to be the latter. I didn’t have TV out there, and of course, it rained all winter long, so after I taught myself to quilt and after I had exhausted every song I could play on the piano, I needed something to kill the time. I started doing some yoga online and really enjoyed it, but I grew tired of the videos after a few weeks, and found myself one day just shutting down the computer, lighting some candles, and letting my body lead the way. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I realized later that this was the first time I’d ever practiced yoga without somebody telling me what to do. In fact, after a little while, I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing, but rather, just letting my body lead the way from one pose to the next.
It was there, in the candlelit solace of my tiny A-frame cabin in the middle of nowhere that I discovered what is meant be a “home practice” and it was then that I really fell in love with yoga.
While I finished out my lease through November, I spent 5 weeks staying with some friends in Fremont while I completed my 200-hour instructor certification at 8 Limbs, then moved back to Seattle (Georgetown this time) a few months later.
Today, yoga is foundational in everything I do. Well beyond just asana, I am daily leaning on my practice to help stay grounded and present. My commitment to conscious awakening has opened up my life in ways I never could have imagined before. I have the tools not only to keep my anxiety and depression at bay, but to find poise and balance well beyond my normal comfort zone. I live every day in a perpetual state of awareness, trying to find and maintain my edge through my work, my relationships, and my self-study/realization.
SYN: What is Aioga & what inspired you to launch this new brand?
JK: I realized during my teacher training that, while I will likely teach someday, that just isn’t my path right now. As I’m one of very few in my amazing community of artist and musician-types who practices yoga, I found myself having the same conversation over and over with a lot of different people. It became clear to me that there are many, many people out there who love the idea of what yoga represents… they want and need the benefits that yoga provides, but they don’t feel like yoga is accessible to them… that they aren’t ‘yoga-type people’. So this has become my mission: to demystify and destigmatize yoga in an effort to make it more accessible and digestible for people who don’t fit the ‘traditional yoga mold’.
Out of this mission was born Aioga, a yoga-inspired brand committed to bringing the practice (beyond just asana) to everyday people living everyday lives.
SYN: What makes Aioga different from other apparel companies?
JK: Pronounced as a statement, Aioga (“I yoga”) is not only a brand name, but the embodiment of a refutation of all the stereotypes and stigmas that surround the practice. We are committed to creating highly-engaging, information rich content intended to bring yoga to an entirely new demographic by repackaging the core ideas of the practice specifically for people who don’t fit the traditional mold. Additionally, yoga will always be at the foundation of everything we do, and because we recognize that yoga is not an activity but a lifestyle, we’re in the process of creating events, workshops, parties, and retreats that help to integrate yoga, not just asana, into people’s everyday lives. With this idea of yoga as a lifestyle as opposed to an activity, we’re also creating apparel for both in the studio and out. Every piece of clothing we design has the activewear functionality that will serve you in the studio, but also the style and appeal of casualwear, so you’ll feel equally as comfortable in the studio as you do running errands, doing handstands in the park, taking a hike in the woods, or grabbing happy hour with your crew after work.
SYN: What are your objectives for Aioga over the next 12 months?
JK: We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, to say the least. While we’re super excited to get to work on our first actual collection of Aioga apparel, we’re honored and excited that people are already digging our basic t-shirts, tanks, hats, and swag from our crowdfunding campaign. Beyond clothes, though, we’re currently in the process of shifting our attention toward creating a real local presence. It’s a pretty vast landscape of yoga brands out there, but 98% of them have a real So-Cal vibe to them. We have an incredible yoga community up here in the Pacific Northwest, and we couldn’t be more proud or excited to be representing the PNW. This place lives and breathes yoga in a way that is totally unique, and at Aioga, we want to do all we can to help this community create an identity of our own. We’re so fortunate to have such a thriving community here in Seattle, with incredible studios, instructors, and of course, students (all of us)… and we’ve got some events in the works that we hope will take all these various pockets of our yoga community and bring them all together every once in a while. Oh! And we’ve also got some really cool and unique retreats that we’re organizing – something a little different than the typical retreats to Mexico or some other tropical paradise. Instead, we’re putting together some adventure/yoga retreats – everything from whitewater rafting to a pack trip (horseback riding) to fly fishing and beyond.
SYN: What message do you have for the Seattle Yoga community?
JK: There is such an over-abundance of things to be grateful for here in the PNW and in Seattle specifically. This is home to an incredibly vibrant, active, and passionate yoga community. At Aioga, we believe that yoga has the power to change lives. We believe that It has the power to change communities, landscapes, and even the world at large. Starting locally here at home, we are 100% committed to spreading this message, to uniting and growing our community, and defining and discovering what’s possible when people come together on a mass scale with yoga as their foundation. Of course, we are under no delusions that we have all the answers. This is a perpetual discussion and conversation, and as such, every voice is as important as the next. We want to hear your ideas. We want to know what is working and what’s not. This is going to be a collaborative journey. Yoga doesn’t start and stop on the mat. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a state of being. We believe that we’re in a particular place and time when the world is starting to gravitate toward a collective awakening. This is a movement and we’re excited by nothing more than the prospect of bringing people together through yoga. We hope you’ll join us.
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Published on Jun 25, 2015