Do What You Love, Love What You Do: An Interview With Greg Frew

Greg Frew is such a joy to have as a student. He is consistent, hard working, and has a great sense of humor. He is a serious yoga practitioner, but he’s also quick to laugh. Greg is also a naturally gifted teacher – articulate and nurturing.

When and how did you first come to yoga?

I live in a building right next door to mang’Oh. About five years ago i was working out in the building gym and struck up a conversation with a woman who went to mang’Oh. She raved. I was intrigued but was not sure that yoga was what I was looking for.

Two weight lifting sessions later, after icing my shoulders and taking my ibuprofen, I was convinced that I needed something different. I signed up for the introductory week of unlimited classes. I went every day that week. That was the  start of my journey.

You also teach gymnastics…how does yoga influence your teaching and vice versa?

I have coached gymnastics for 37 plus years. At the club level, the college level and currently at a large sports camp in PA. The coach-athlete relationship varies a great deal depending on the age and ability of the athlete. Young athletes and their parents look to coaches to inspire, lead, encourage and tease out achievement beyond the imagination or reach of the athlete… as athletes age and become members of high aspiring teams they require a coach to lead, teach, inspire and set goals.

Yoga could not be more different from my life as a gymnastics coach. I remember being so confused when my yoga teacher offered up a ‘child’s pose’ as an alternative to any other pose…. where was the call to achievement? The challenge to exceed expectations?

Yoga has helped me to include athletes in the process of setting goals, taking responsibility for achievement or lack there of and, more than anything else observing the results without judgement or prejudice…. helping athletes to see that success or failure does not define us… it educates and informs us.

When and why did you decide to do the mang’Oh Teacher Training?

I had been taking classes daily for more than a year. I had found an intriguing exercise alternative but it was increasing obvious to me that there was a deeper meaning and purpose to yoga than what I was doing. I could hear it in the Dharma talk that begins each class and feel it in the savasana experience. I didn’t know that I wanted to be a yoga teacher, but I knew that I wanted to know more about this activity that was consuming 4 or 5 evenings a week of my life. I approached Erica and asked first if she thought being part of the teacher training program would be appropriate for someone who had only taken classes for a short while and, since I was the only male who was interested that session, if that would be okay….

She assured me that it would be a very rewarding experience for me and that my gender was of no consequence…..I think she was giggling a little bit but…those were the things I was worried about.

Describe your Teacher Training experience at mang’Oh.

More challenging, more intriguing, more informative and more rewarding than I thought it could be. I wanted to know more about yoga. I was not sure that I was teacher material but I have a history of having weird itches and then scratching them…. I learned the history, the meaning, the leaders, the higher purpose, the daily purpose…. I was allowed to question but not to stray too far.

I was intrigued by the other members of the Teacher Training group and the variety of teachers involved. More than anything else the program did a great job of taking me from a passive participant in the yoga class to being an effective designer and implementer of a yoga class. More than anything else, being better educated brought much more meaning to my daily experience. I think the other members of the class would agree with me that the greatest challenge was developing the yoga “voice”. The voice that was instructive, informative, encouraging, supportive and knowledgable….

Tell us about your journey post-mang’Oh Teacher Training:

I would like to tell you that I was now following a higher calling, but the truth is that my life is pretty much as it was before my mang’Oh TT. It has been subtly enhanced by my TT skills….. I find that I can sit more comfortably, that I can meditate with a  purpose, that the contemplation of my breathing and the therapeutic value of breath make my days fuller and richer.

Who has influenced you, both in and out of the yoga world?

Inside yoga, I must credit Erica… my first teacher, the most genuine of people; Chintamani who was my mentor during TT and a philosophical and practical sounding board; and all the other teachers at mang’Oh.

Outside mang’Oh, I would have to credit my wife Jill who has never failed to support me in all my random and varied interests. I would have to say that I have enjoyed the same support from my parents and friends.

When you are not working or doing yoga, where can we find you and what are you doing?

When I am not at work or yoga, Jill and i are typically trying to get to our place in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I am a pilot and own a small airplane that lives at West Chester airport. Every Friday, weather permitting, we fly down to the beach for our  “date weekend” and come back on on Sunday afternoon. If we can’t get away we try and take advantage or 1/2 price Broadway shows and catch up on the latest movies.

I know it is not “yogic” but since you asked…. you can also find me enjoying a fine cigar at the Davidoff shops in the city and I greatly enjoy an occasional fine bourbon cocktail at a place called the “Brandy Library” in Tribeca.  Last but not least…. Bryant Park…. best people watching in the city.

Describe your perfect day in NYC.  

Saturday Brunch with Jill and the NYT’s at either the Comfort Diner, Blue Belle Cafe or Friend of a Farmer in Gramercy. Run to the TKTS booth to buy tickets to plays we know nothing about (surprise me). Jill gets her nails done while have a cigar and attack the cross word puzzle at Davidoffs….the show and or a movie…. perfect ending is either the bar at Wolfgangs on Park and 33rd for dinner and drinks with our favorite bartender “Jack” ( although we haven’t seen Jack for some time) or a  casual dinner and drinks at the bar at The Benjamin Restaurant and Bar on 2nd Ave near us.

What is something that has surprised you in the last year?

In the last several years my father passed away and my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. For most of my my life I have lived in blissful ignorance of the mortality that is the inevitable consequence of life.

The lesson? Do what you love. Love what you do. Don’t waste time. Don’t look back. Look forward. Move forward.

What advice would you give to someone looking to do what he or she loves?

Be curious, seek variety and bring love to whatever you do.

What are you most grateful for today?

Mom, Dad, Jill……being in love and being well loved.

Find out more about the Summer Camp that Greg works at here.