Jeff Scios’ voice is undeniably tender, yet firm and coaxing. His words glide through the thick air at Club H Fitness as his yoga students flow seamlessly from pose to pose.
Then Led Zeppelin kicks in. And the class doesn’t miss a beat.
“Music is his love, but yoga is his passion.” – Lorna Scios
Attracting a crowd
Scios teaches in Hoboken at the YMCA, Club H, Surya Yoga, and the Hudson Athletic Club, as well as heading classes outside of the city.
Lori Turoff, a Hoboken real estate agent and a student of Scios for eight years, said his personality, sense of humor, and general encouragement increase the crowds that come to see him – almost religiously, according to Scios’ wife. She’s run into people on Washington Street and within minutes they are raving about her husband.
“ ‘He’s a god,’ ” Lorna recalled hearing. “ ‘He transformed my life.’ ”
Scios accepts his fate as a dharma diva and keeps trying to improve his skill to challenge the class.
When he started, there were no certifications, but now Scios has completed 350 hours of advanced teacher training. The only time he ever missed teaching one of his classes was for his month-long intense certification training; he doesn’t even vacation with the family, his wife said.
Leaving music behind (not really)
“I loved [playing music] but I wasn’t really taking care of myself,” he said. His wife was less obtuse: “There is only so much alcohol [you can take] before you pass out and die.”
The transition from chord progressions to cobra postures was less a leap of faith more of a ying-to-yang.
“I can improvise [in front of the class] the same way I improvise when I play music,” he said.
But as much as yoga became his calling, he didn’t give up on music. He recently released a solo album on iTunes.
He also artfully blends both worlds for his students. When he first started teaching, he said it just seemed natural to put on some tracks.
“I started busting out Siouxsie and the Banshees,” he said, adding that he pushes the envelope musically. He’s even heard a complaint or two about his song choices over the years.
One in particular was “Like Suicide” by Soundgarden: “I tried to explain to [the woman who complained] that it was about falling in love, but she didn’t want to hear it,.”
Turoff said she loves the music he plays during class. Scios concocts up different setlists that stray from the natural sounds that usually accompany the peaceful discipline of yoga; he scatters in Guns ‘N’ Roses, Coldplay, and M.I.A. alongside the usual Middle Eastern chants-based hymns and his own songs.
Bridging the gap
For Scios, yoga isn’t just a class; it’s a lifestyle, as is evidenced by the yoga style he proffers. It is called Jivamukti, which translated from Sanskrit “liberation while living,” and the style came about in New York City.
“Take it from the mat to your daily life” is his motto, according to his wife, a special education teacher at Hoboken High School. “People find in this yoga that they need to ‘do’ more than just ‘be.’ ”
“They become aware of the change they can be in the world,” Scios accords. Otherwise, he said, they can fall prey to the “disease of disconnection.”
He and his wife are animal rights advocates and abide by the “do unto others…” mantra, but don’t mistake them for some sort of weak-willed pushovers.
“Yoga was invented by warriors who realized the battle was on the inside, not on the outside,” Scios said.
To take a class with Scios or hear his music, check out his website, www.jeffscios.com.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.