Beyond The Mat: 5 Questions for Baird Calicutt

1. Are you a Memphis native and if not where are you from?

I am a native Memphian, but lived in exile for 45 years before returning in 2015.  I'm back to sweet home Memphis now and have never been happier.

2. One thing you really love about downtown Memphis.

Downtown Yoga is high on my list.  Bluff City Coffee is up there too.  I feel like I have concentric circles of neighbors and friends, starting with my Riverbluff Place neighbors, then the Bluff City Coffee baristas and my beloved yoga teachers (who so kindly accommodate my limitations).  I feel the soul-soaked city streets all around me and occasionally feel the ghosts from my childhood benignly haunting the downtown parks.

3. What made you decide to practice yoga and what was your first experience like?

Now: I was looking for a more graceful alternative to gym workouts and I have a keen need for an aesthetic environment to be found in as many places as possible—and distinctly absent in the YMCA.  Downtown Yoga is a beautiful space.  It epitomizes Buddhist Sunyata, Emptiness—or, in the words of a Kyoto-School philosopher, the topos of mu.  Then it becomes a space transformed, filled with beautiful words, beautiful movement, beautiful thoughts.  1970s, first experience: I did not understand what breathing was all about, but I nailed headstands in a NY minute.  Back to now: Blake is a great breath teacher; and LaurieJean (plus the wall) has given me the courage to recover my headstand mojo. 

4. 3 things you never leave home without.

Keys, wallet, cell phone.  Pretty pedestrian, I admit.  I would like to say "my yoga mat," but that would not be Right Speech.

5. What makes you laugh out loud?

First and foremost the antics of animals, including (especially) my fellow human animals.