In Conversation With: Alex Dickinson
We had the great pleasure to have a conversation with long-time yogi, dedicated runner, teacher, writer and content strategist from New York; Alex Dickinson.
Alex will be joining our team, not only as a fellow runner, but also as the yoga and meditation guide during our upcoming Oaxaca & Sierra Norte retreat in November (17th - 25th). Visit this link to sign up for this experience and join Alex and the Aire Libre team in a life-changing experience.
How do you feel that your practice has evolved throughout the years? What has changed in your practice and how has this affected your life?
– Just about everything! It’s funny—I can’t point to stages in my yogi life just like I can point to stages in my regular life. I’m always learning—thanks to many great teachers—and I still have a lot to learn.
Sometimes, the practice becomes really intense and physical, just because that’s what I need at the time, and then sometimes it’s just the opposite. Mindfulness has always played a role but in different ways. Lately, it’s been especially important as I learn more and more about how stillness affects me, especially in a place like New York City.
How do yoga and mindfulness relate to running, and what are the core benefits of these practices?
– Yoga and running have been less distinct for me than for most people, I think. Because I started doing them at the same time and for the same reasons, I’ve always looked at running and yoga in the same light.
They’re both associated with focusing on breath and what’s going on around me, learning to be okay with physical suffering, and feeling healthy. They’re both very therapeutic.
That said, I don’t equate the two. I know that running is not yoga. The teachings of yoga can be applied to running, but I think we have to respect that practice as something sacred and special.
We know you're a very passionate and devoted runner. What's the role of running in your life?
– Like yoga, I can point to many distinct phases in my running life. It’s always meant something a little different to me. I’m just so grateful I found it. Running has given me time to myself, friends, the sensation of pure movement, the sensation of feeling really good in my body, equanimity, competition, good days and bad days, and it’s taught me a million lessons along the way. It’s become a really important part of my identity, and I really, really love it that way.
From your perspective, how does travel, discovery and running relate to each other?
– Running in a new place is incredibly special. It can be super liberating to lace up your shoes and confidently get lost. That will change your perspective on what you can do with your life, for sure.
I think every day you go out for a run is a little bit of a risk. You have to be confident in yourself to make it back to where you started, or to where you need to go. Travel, I think is the same way. Who knows what you’ll find when you’re out there, but getting out there can give you so much confidence in yourself. So much freedom.
In this day and age, how can people make travel more meaningful?
– This is a good one. I think people are coming around to the idea that our culture may not have everything figured out more and more. So, one of the most important things we can do is to respect and pay attention to others.
Travel in itself can be a mindful exercise. You can imagine yourself as a living wall, and take things in actively. That can help people grow so much. If you focus on observing and learning rather than taking you can have really profound shifts in your perspective, like the one I had when I was sixteen.
How do you relate to Aire Libre? What is it that drew you to being a part of this project?
– I feel super lucky to have been put in touch with Aire Libre. The people I’ve met from this brand are incredible, with such great life stories and spirits and characters.
The intersections that we have in common are sort of uncanny—the value of movement, both yoga and running, of traditional food and medicine, meditation and shamanism. And these people celebrate and promote these things with such a respectful attitude and spirit. I feel like I have so much to learn from the people at Aire Libre and from the experiences we’ll have together.
Can you give our audience some advice on how to incorporate wellness into their daily routines?
On a practical level, I think focusing on creating new habits rather than changing old ones is a great place to start. That can help make big changes really easy.
Then, it’s the little things. Make your life simpler so that you have time to take care of yourself and think about what’s really important. I know that can be tough with jobs and friends and things like that, but most people can find a little extra fluff when they go looking for it.
Next, make it fun! People are always thinking about a run or a yoga class as something separate from their day. “I’ve got to get my run done and then I can…” I say make it part of your day. Enjoy it rather than crossing it off your list. Associate it with other things. Try running somewhere new and taking a train home. Pack a bag full of snacks and jog to a great spot for a picnic. Bring a friend you need to catch up with running or to a yoga class. A lot of these things can be done for free or at least on the cheap!