Last month, LISA WATERS of Oak Cliff broke the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous stream of yoga. Waters, who is known as JAYA, is an independent consultant in leadership and life coaching, and a full-time nanny to her nephew, Alek Sandr. She’s been practicing Iyengar Yoga for more than 25 years. She was a gymnast, and has run marathons. But this was her first world record. She began her yoga stream at the start of the TEDx event at the Wyly Theater downtown on Friday, Oct. 15. She finished 33 hours, 44 minutes later. We interviewed her before and during the record-breaking event.
Why are you going for this world record?
I lived in India for 12 years, and I traveled around and taught all over the place … children, adults, everyone. It’s kind of weird — a white woman teaching yoga and meditation in India. But my friend Christian [Chernock] met Tanya [Pinto] at a TEDx event last year, and he learned about her [Dallas-based] charity, Baal Dan. After meeting her, I was definitely impressed.
So you’re doing it to raise awareness for Baal Dan. What is that?
Baal Dan is a charity that raises money for needy children in India. But it’s different from most other charities that send money to India. If you give $100 for tsunami relief, let’s say, by the time it gets down to the person whose home was blown away, they get about a dollar because it goes through so many channels. With Baal Dan, 100 percent goes to the kids for clothes, for school, whatever they need.
How did you get into yoga?
It was about 27 years ago that I started practicing yoga. And from the very first class, there was something about it. From the first pose, I knew I liked it. But at the end, I was in the savasana pose, the corpse pose, and it sounds odd, but I kind of heard this voice that wasn’t my own normal chatter voice. I’ve had a bond with yoga, and it’s become an addiction. It’s a healthy addiction.
Where did you get your yoga training?
I am very fortunate that I studied 12 years under B.K.S. Iyengar, who developed this style of yoga, which is known as Iyengar yoga. I went to several of his conferences, and then I went to India and got to spend time with him. He’s very old, so he’s going to die eventually, and the idea is that Iyengar will break off into these factions. It’s kind of egoistic, but in my mind, I thought, “I don’t want to be under one of those factions. I want to be leading one.” So I went to study in India and developed a relationship with him. That’s why my love for yoga is so strong, because I spent so much time observing Mr. Iyengar.
What are you doing to train?
Well, the years I’ve been doing yoga is really my training. I practice yoga between two and five hours a day, and I chase my 19-month-old nephew around for 10 hours a day. I’m hula hooping because it’s a good core workout. I do the Dancing with the Stars dance video. And sometimes, I go over to Lake Cliff Park.
Are you nervous at all?
No. I practiced by doing 20 hours last Saturday, and I felt great. I thought, “I could do the 33 hours right now.” We hold poses a long time in Iyengar, and we use props to bolster ourselves. So the idea is to use smart sequencing. I’ve done marathons, century bike races. I have an endurance that’s outrageous. I can go and go and go.
(We checked in on Waters just past the 29-hour mark on Oct. 16.) Was it harder than you thought?
Yes. And that’s because it’s an exhibition. I was doing some very challenging poses early on. And then a little girl came in and asked if I could put my leg over my head, so I did it for her, and it just killed my back. But I feel fine.
Is it like running a marathon?
No. It’s harder than that. I’ve run a marathon before. This would be like running 100 miles.
What are you going to do to recuperate?
After this, I’m going to take a shower, get dressed, have some dinner, and go to the TEDx Bollywood closing party and dance.
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