An "Authorized" Interview with Faith Scimecca
By Michael Peter Carter
Faith Scimecca was Authorized last fall, and kindly offered to share a little about herself, her practice, and where she hopes to go in the future.
LM: So Faith, where are your roots?
FS: I was born and raised in Fairfax, VA, a suburb of Washington, D.C. My grandfather was a Christian Pastor and my first spiritual teacher. He passed away in 2001--the same year I met my Guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. It was also the year my sister had her first child. I like to think that my Grandfather still takes care of us. He made sure we both had someone new in our life that year that would help us to further know God.
LM: What do you enjoy besides practice?
FS: I’ve always loved to dance. For Guruji’s 91st birthday, I performed a Bollywood dance choreographed by the very talented Vincent Gomez. Authorized teacher and artist, Mary Flinn, taught me to paint still-life and landscapes of India. I am eternally grateful for that gift.
LM: How did you find Yoga?
FS: My mom took me to a yoga class in high school that was more a yoga stretch-type class for middle aged women. I liked it instantly, but I was 15 and yoga wasn’t considered cool then. I didn’t tell anyone about it and I didn’t do it again until college. For that second experience, I was lucky enough to walk into a class that was closer to Ashtanga. I actually had my mother start doing Ashtanga as well and she is my most loyal student.
LM: That's cool! When did you get into Ashtanga?
FS: David Ingalls was the first person to teach Ashtanga Yoga in DC. He taught me the primary series and ignited the spark that led me to Guruji.
LM: Are there any other teachers who have had a major impact on you and your practice:
FS: Annie Pace has always been a strong female role model. You can really tell how much time she has spent with Guruji. She’s got the whole strict loving thing down. The best compliment I ever received from Sharath was when he told me I reminded him of Annie 10 years before.
LM: Tell us about the first time you met Guruji:
FS: I first met Guruji in 2001 when he was on tour in New York. On the last day of the workshop I thanked him and paid my respects. He told me “You go to India.”
LM: What was it like to go to Mysore for the first time?
FS: I’ve made four trips to Mysore, each for three months. My first trip was in May when The Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute first opened in the neighborhood of Gokulam. There were only about 30 of us that first year, but by my fourth trip, there were a few hundred. I hope to return every year to continue my studies.
LM: Have you been teaching since you were Authorized?
FS: My most recent trip to Mysore, Guruji and his grandson Sharath asked me to open a yoga school in DC and then formally authorized me to teach. I was honored and terrified. I never had any doubts about the teachings, just my ability to transmit them. Sharath dismissed my reservations about opening a school. He helped me to realize that teaching is a transfer of energy from within. I trust that realization, and I trust his choice of me as a teacher.
During that same trip, Guruji had been very sick. He had to spend 21 days in the ICU and his condition was very serious. It was depressing to see him like that but his grandson and daughter kept the yoga school open and as weeks went by practicing with them became a great experience. The day after Sharath told me to open my own school, Guruji returned to lead the opening chant. He was looking so much better and surprised every one by teaching the whole class. I thought if he can be that sick at 92 and still teach, then I can open the studio. I needed that inspiration and it really hit it home for me
LM: Have you opened a Shala? Where?
FS: I have opened a school in DC called Woodley Park Yoga. For the first time, I am teaching daily mysore style classes. I have an amazing group of students, and every day I learn just as much from them as they learn from me.
LM: Any plans for workshops, your shala... teaching around the world?
FS: I’m still focused on my own students and studio. Of course, I am open to teaching around the world if anyone reading this wants to invite me...
LM: What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
FS: As of now, I hope to continue to teach at my studio and hopefully return to India soon. Unless Sharath tells me to do something else, I will continue on this path.
LM: Anything else you want to say?
FS: Ashtanga yoga has done so much for me. It is a great honor for me to be able to bring back the practices from India and teach them to others here in Washington, DC.
Michael Peter Carter is the co-founder of Livingmysore.com and practices with Paul and Rachelle Gold in Toronto, Canada.