Episode 12: Brian James

It’s time to get the bandha back together.

A Guide On The Medecine Path

*In the show we mention a workshop Brian and his partner Debbie were giving. That date has passed but no worries! If you are interested in taking a workshop with Brian, check out this link.


I’ve said this many times on the podcast but I’ll say it again: It’s a HUGE privilege to get to sit down with the guests who join us in the studio. Brian James was no exception and, as Scott pinned, was DanHines-ian in the level of depth he brought to the table.

All Kinds of Adventures

Brian is a yogi, a musician, an author, a graphic designer, an integral coach, and lets stop there because I could probably go on a bit. His path is rich with interesting stories, ranging from moments of deep self-doubt to insightful revelation.

Among some of the highlights of the show are Brian’s tale of climbing the corporate ladder as a graphic designer, making it quite high on the rungs, and feeling disconnected by the life it created. He tells us about the time he googled “Shamanic Therapist Toronto,” and how this turned out to be a pivotal moment in his life. Brian shares what he learned from apprenticing with Mark Whitwell, and talks about how being a part of the Krishnamacharya/Desikachar lineage has influenced his own approach to practising and teaching yoga.

“Literally and metaphorically at the top of the heap. I was making more money than I had ever made in my life, and I was probably the least creatively fulfilled I had ever been in my life. I was completely stressed out.”

What I love most about Brian is that his depth of knowledge of integrative practices does not obstruct his naturally fun and curious personality. He’s someone who is as comfortable going deep into philosophy and psychology as he is bantering about MMA and being a meat-eating yogi.

Authentic And Community-Driven

I’ll end by saying that I think Brian is prototypical of the kind of yoga teacher the Western Yoga scene needs more of. The yoga industry is booming more than ever today. This continuous growth has a momentum that sometimes drowns out the work of some inspiring yogis who aren’t as social media savvy as your favourite handstand guru on Instagram.

While Brian is no slouch when it comes to social media, and he recognizes the necessity of it in today’s culture, it is clear that he is in service of a vision that aspires to create authentic connections and relationships, and build stronger communities. Communities that can welcome people of all types who want to pursue their own spiritual curiosities, dive deep into the practice, or just have some fun. The yoga world is great because of people like him.

We hope you enjoy this show as much as we did!

You can learn more about what Brian is up to on his website or Instagram.

Show Notes

One of the destinations of the medicine path is looking cool in photographs.

[2:39:23] “You cannot keep eagle in cage.”

Time Markers

  • [4:53] Brian talks about what it’s like to be on the other side of the podcasting equation.
  • [8:23] On the motivating factors behind his podcast.
  • [15:53] Brian speaks about his interview with Bhagavan Das.
  • [25:08] His advice to seekers looking to establish a healthy relationship with a spiritual teacher.
  • [26:38] Brian talks about Mark Whitwell, one of the most important teachers on his yoga path.
  • [31:23] He walks us through his first yoga class.
  • [33:23] At fourteen years old, Brian happened upon the book “The Dao of Sex.”
  • [36:23] Brian’s career in Graphic Design: “Literally and metaphorically at the top of the heap. I was making more money than I had ever made in my life, and I was probably the least creatively fulfilled I had ever been in my life. I was completely stressed out.”
  • [39:53] About going through a mid-life crisis in his mid-thirties.
  • [43:23] “I replaced my smoking habit with a breathing habit!.”
  • [50:23] In the throes of mid-life crisis, on googling “Shamanic Therapist Toronto” and getting a hit.
  • [55:53] On how the relationship with his wife Debbie has been a cornerstone in his life. He talks about the challenge of when couples sometimes evolve at a different pace.
  • [64:13] What Brian’s daily practice looks like.
  • [1:05:43] Brian talks about “jumping into the void,” the moment at which he knew he had to make big changes in life and how it was a product of a therapeutic experience with psilocybin mushrooms.
  • [1:10:23] Brian’s first experience with Ayahuasca
  • [1:12:53] On working with Gabor Mate.
  • [1:16:23] Exploring different modalities to complement his yoga training, such as psychotherapy.
  • [1:32:23] On doing men-specific work. “Where do we need to grow ourselves up?”
  • [1:39:43] “If they told people how impossible it was to make a living as a yoga teacher before the teacher training, there would be nobody at the teacher training. Because that’s part of the dream they are selling to people.”
  • [1:44:23] “The student has to direct the teaching.”
  • [1:46:23] “What is the motivation to teach?”
  • [1:55:23] What is real yoga?
  • [1:58:53] “Savasana is an opportunity for us to just be.”
  • [2:06:23] Brian talks about how he approaches the diverse set of projects he undertakes, from writing a book to producing a podcast to creating videos for online practice.
  • [2:20:13] How Brian’s teaching style is a continuation of his lineage, namely lessons he has learned through Mark Whitwell and T.K.V. Desikachar.
  • [2:32:23] En-Lightning Round
  • [2:39:23] “You cannot keep eagle in cage.”

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