RUNNING AND YOGA, SPEED AND STILLNESS. THE FOUNDING PRINCIPLE OF THE DISTRICT VISION BRAND IS THE MEDITATIVE STATE THAT WE GET THROUGH MOVING. THE DISTRICT VISION FOUNDERS EXPAND ON THEIR CONCEPT TO CONNECT THE MOVER WITH STILLNESS.
Interviewer: James Shaw
Portrait : Chris Baker. Action shots: Chadwick Tyler for District Vision
WM How did you get into running and yoga respectively? Do they cross over in your practice?
TD I have always been into running but I got much deeper into it after coming out of a long relationship 3 years ago. Through a friend I was introduced to the Black Roses
NYC team. The running community of downtown New York now and then was something I hadn’t experienced before. People from very different backgrounds – on a mission together. There is a real sense of kinship.
MV My yoga journey actually started through transcendental meditation (TM). I was going through a rough time at my last job and initially was looking for something just to calm me down. The next step was Urban Zen (UZ), a restorative form of yoga, and then I took on a more active, Iyengar-based practice. Although running and yoga are inherently different they can cross over on a physical, mental and spiritual level. Most obviously, asana is often used to open up the body after a run. What we’re interested in is more the point at which running transcends the purpose of a ‘workout’ and enters a form of self-exploration – eventually it can become meditation, in a similar way that asana has been applied over the last 100 years or so.
WM Were these your gateway into meditation?
MV Yes and no. I think I needed the experience of TM to give me a glimpse of what meditation is about. I don’t think most people can experience that going to the occasional yoga class or a quick 3-mile run, for example. Both Tom and I played with a variety of seated meditations (From TM to Zazen, to Deepak Chopra recordings) to get deeper into the physical practice.
WM Who or what was the inspiration behind the kinetic meditation concept? Did it evolve from a still meditation practice? I’m half way through a book OSHO and it talks about creating stillness from movement.
TD Funnily enough we went to the OSHO center in Pune, India because we had read about his work in the field. OSHO was influential in teaching meditation through movement, loosening people up from the moment they arrive through music and very dynamic, eccentric dance. It was a scary experience. Unfortunately, we felt like we were stuck in time, in some antiquated cult that has lost its leader and failed to reinterpret itself in a new world.
WM Is the movement practice itself the meditation?
MV It can be. Asana in yoga traditionally was used to teach people how to sit, essentially working towards lotus posture so that the body becomes a non-issue in seated meditation. A lot has happened in the last hundred years. BKS Iyengar pioneered asana as a form of meditation itself through hundreds of poses and techniques he invented. Thich Nhat Hanh taught the world to walk ‘mindfully’ and Murakami famously wrote about running as a highly immersive inner dialogue between mind, body and spirit.
WM How has meditation and movement informed your reality of District Vision?
TD We believe in running as a vehicle for self-discovery. We think about the intersection of movement and meditation as “runner’s high’, a well documented concept. Combining these practices is at the core of District Vision because we believe it makes you a better runner. Whether for you that means running faster, longer or more mindfully is entirely up to you.
WM What is the future for District Vision?
TD I think we have become increasingly comfortable with the reality of not knowing what the future holds. We will continue to do what feels right, contribute where we can. We’re working on more tools for the running community to be released this year and next but we can’t plan too far ahead because things change
WM An arising theme in our contributors is how competition reduces the progression of development in a sport/industry inducing an “all mine” approach. How do you see the concept of competition?
MV We feel like competition is often necessary to get into any new activity. You want to run a faster mile, you want to get into the craziest yoga poses, and you keep going like that for a while. But then you reach a point where you realize you’re not getting anywhere; it’s a vicious circle. That realization is when it gets interesting.
TD Ultimately we see a widening gap between organized sports, commercially driven and consumed for entertainment; and personal sports, which is inherently about self development, on some level. In the world of brands, it was mostly outdoor players like Patagonia and North Face that were built around personal sports in the past. Now there are new opportunities as our general level of consciousness has shifted quite dramatically.
WM And to complete. Is it a race?
TD Sometimes a race is necessary to get up and running but ultimately the journey is more holistic than that.