Gina Caputo, “Yogini on the Loose,” Live From The Hanuman Festival
By Ashley Shires
Some of the most fun I've ever had in yoga has been in Gina Caputo's classes at the Hanuman Festival in Boulder, Colorado; she is a down-to-earth teacher with a fantastic sense of humor and a rocking playlist. I was thrilled to catch up with her again at the festival this year, to talk about her journey in the yoga world, her passions, and her favorite parts of teaching at Hanuman.
It is so wonderful having you here at the Hanuman Festival. Can you share with us your favorite part of the festival?
My favorite part is getting to share this community that I love so dearly with people who don’t live in this community. It gives me a chance to see Boulder and Colorado again through fresh eyes. One of my favorite things in Boulder is the Boulder Creek and the creek path, which are right next to the Hanuman Festival grounds! It gives me joy to see other people experience them, either for the first time or for their annual visit. In years past, I’ve led hikes for Hanuman and brought people up to our Flatirons mountains, a landscape that embodies that Colorado spirit of fortitude, named by pioneer women who came through the area, who named the rock formations after the old-timey irons they carried with them.
I live in Boulder and I didn’t know that!
Well, that’s how much I love Colorado! (Laughing). I know that some people coming to the festival are coming from some of the surrounding areas that may be, let’s see… less geographically stunning so it’s fun to share this geographically stunning place with them. That’s my favorite part.
My second favorite part is getting to reconnect with other teachers like Govind Das and Saul David Raye, people I’ve known since my very beginnings as a teacher. Each time we see how we’ve all grown and changed and found our voices.
Can you tell us about your beginnings as a teacher?
I started teaching yoga in Kansas, City, Missouri purely by accident. The gist of the story is that I was taking classes at a gym – I was a website developer, back in the 1990’s, and I was going to class on my lunch break. The fitness instructors who also taught yoga classes had a big continuing education weekend, and no one was left to teach yoga – they were all out of town, and they asked me to teach. I put the headset on and basically did what they did (laughing). When they got back, they got positive feedback from the students, and they asked me to continue. And here I am, to this day.
Max Strong was my teacher at the time, and he was about to open Sacred Movement Center for Yoga & Healing in Venice Beach. He reached out to me because he knew I had business experience. I loved yoga, could teach, and had entrepreneur experience and he wanted someone he could partner with. He asked me to come and help him build this magnificent studio. I became one of the owners, and that’s where I met Govind Das and Saul David Raye, as well as Shiva Rea and Erich Schiffmann and so many other extraordinary teachers.
How did your journey lead you from California to Colorado?
I agreed to live in Los Angeles for six months as a consultant, and I stayed for two years, until Los Angeles ate me up and spit me out (laughing). My husband, Jeff, and I went back to Kansas City because I have a much younger brother, and I wanted to be a part of his life. When he went to college, we knew that we were ready to move. My husband quit his job and I sold my studio in Kansas City and we took a year to be “On The Loose.”
I was teaching around the country, trying to feel for what felt like home. I kept passing through Colorado, and I taught there many times over the course of the year. At the end of our year On The Loose, we celebrated Christmas snowboarding in Vail and one night we looked at each other and said at the same time, “This is it.” We went back to KC, put our house on the market, and by February we were here in Colorado and never looked back. I love it so much.
Your school is even called the Colorado School of Yoga...
I was Yogini on the Loose, and now I’m Captain Colorado (laughing). I love it here and feel no compulsion to leave but I’m still I’m teaching all over. The tagline for the Colorado School of Yoga is “Elevating Yoga Education.” We focus on creating an alternative path for folks that are seeking a yoga education that goes beyond asana, fitness and public speaking. We feel that the philosophy behind the teachings is what gives it its juice. We emphasize the importance of meditation and Ayurveda and really connecting our offerings to both the philosophy and the modern practitioner. Since we are not a studio offering 15 classes a day, we get to focus on education. It’s not just a part of our business, it IS our business.
Can you tell us about your offerings at the Hanuman Festival this year?
The style of yoga I teach is called Integrated Vinyasa™. What I’d like to share about the classes I’m teaching is that I believe Integrated Vinyasa™ represents sustainability in asana practice. We’re seeing people now who have taught yoga for 20 years that are having hip replacements! My classes don’t glorify end range like many of us did in the past. All three of my classes at Hanuman are rooted in balance and sustainability. We care about alignment AND intuition, we speak to both form AND flow. For me the bigger picture of alignment is that it’s an opportunity to focus, to cultivate dharana, concentration, to be intentional in your placement instead of non-stop flow that precludes you from noticing any of the nuance, subtleties and transitions.
You can apply these techniques to any style – I want to show people a practice they can do the rest of their lives. For the masses, this is an answer to how we can keep practicing asana without hurting ourselves.
Can you talk a little more about end range?
Sure! As a yoga culture, we have glorified end range. We relish this idea of going deeper, using phrases like “full expression” instead of “balanced expression” and “integrated expression.” And I think social media has exacerbated the focus on end range. When you take a picture of something that balances strength and length – it doesn’t usually look as glorious as full depth but it’s more sustainable and integrated and has Nature on it’s side!
You always rock it with music – can you tell us about music in your classes or in your life?
I can tell you about all the shows I’m going to this summer if you’d like! (laughing). In classes, my music choices are never arbitrary – they speak to the bhava or vibe of the class. I spend a lot of time making playlists that support the bhava and try not to detract from the internal experience but instead, invite you inward to an experience of your energetic self.