Growing up in a house surrounded by dance and yoga it would be easy to think that Youngblood started practicing Ashtanga from an early age. “My parents definitely got us involved in an active lifestyle. We did karate, gymnastics, football, volleyball, I even played tennis for my high-school for a season. But they never forced us to do any one sport. Even though they were dancers and yogis themselves, my parents always encouraged us to do the things we loved. And since I didn’t know what I really loved yet, I just kept looking.”
After graduating with degrees in both Advertising and Anthropology, Youngblood moved from Adelaide back to the States where he worked as a copywriter at an advertising agency in Washington, DC. “That was a big point of change for me in my life. I knew I was looking for something, but I still hadn’t found it. I was a gym-nut by this stage - working out several hours a day every day of the week, putting on mass and watching my body morph almost beyond recognition. I put on 25 kg over 24 months and when I came home for the holidays one year my parents took one look at me and said, “what have you done to yourself?”
It was right then Youngblood made the choice to try yoga seriously for the first time. “I got on my mat and tried to haul all 90 kg of myself through a Suryanamaskara A. I could barely reach past my knees in forward bend and my upward dog was atrocious.”
Somehow though, Youngblood knew this is what his body needed. “I had bulked up so much I could barely move. I had migraines almost daily from the muscle strain and my diet was six full meals a day of whatever I could get my hands on.”
Overnight, Youngblood dropped his gym workouts and dedicated himself to the traditional six-day-a-week demands of an Ashtanga lifestyle. “I knew what I was doing at the gym was wrecking my body, but I didn’t know what else to do. Now here was something that I could progress in that would heal rather than harm me.”
Within a year Youngblood had quit his job at the ad agency and moved to New York to go back to school for his Masters degree. “Everything just kind of changed at once. I had been looking outside myself for so long, it was finally time to start looking within.”
Youngblood’s daily Ashtanga practice kept him centered and full of energy as he spent the next two years finishing his Masters degree. Between his first and second year he took his first trip to Mysore, South India to study directly with his guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
“That trip was a real eye-opener for me. All the leading Ashtangis from around the world were piled into the same room, breathing, sweating and doing things with their bodies I’d never even seen before.”
Youngblood returned home to New York with a goal firmly set in his sights – to work his way as far as he could through the six series of Ashtanga yoga.
“I knew I wanted to take it as far as I could. What I didn’t understand at the time was how far it was going to take me.”
After graduating school and living and working as an actor in New York for six years, Youngblood finally returned home to Adelaide to help his parents with their shala while they went away for their annual pilgrimage to Mysore. What started as a two-month visit became another huge life-change for Youngblood.
“Although I’d been living and working in NYC for so long as an actor, in my heart I knew I was a yogi. Auditions became less and less important to me and I wasn’t reading scripts nearly as much as I was pouring over yogic texts.”
Finally, home once again with his family, Youngblood had found his love. “I have yoga. That is all I know.”
No matter what his other interests, Ashtanga yoga is the base for everything Youngblood does in his life. “It’s how I breathe, how I eat, how I learn, how I engage with those around me.”
Being taken on as an ambassador for lululemon has been a wonderful opportunity for Youngblood. He recognizes the core values of the lululemon family and feels at one with them. “It’s like finding out you have a long lost sibling somewhere and then when you meet it’s like, oh sure, yep, I know you - of course we’re related.”
Youngblood continues to set goals for himself almost daily. “I have short, medium and long-term goals. My longest-term goal is my practice. As Guruji always said – it takes many lifetimes to master Ashtanga yoga. In the short term I want to do the best I can at Uni this year - yes, I’m back at school again ;) There’s a prize for the top student in my year level and I am going after it.”
Youngblood’s goals include growing Adelaide’s awareness of the benefits of Ashtanga yoga as well as working his way through Advanced A series of the Ashtanga practice. “The further I go in my own practice, the more I have to offer my students.”
Youngblood continues to return each year to the source of Ashtanga yoga in Mysore, India where he studies with his guru’s grandson, R. Sharath Jois.
“This next trip, I hope to be working alongside Sharath. Now that would be amazing!”
Take a class with Youngblood at his studio, the schedule is available at AdelaideAshtangaYoga.com.