I go to Eddie Ellner’s Yoga Soup on a daily basis. Over the last few years, studios have popped up in every corner of Santa Barbara, but I still argue that there is nothing like “The Soup.” Ellner describes it best, calling his studio “a vibrant, serious, and lighthearted space for self-observation and transformation.” Personally speaking, I visit to exercise, to relax, and to see my friends. But there’s also the community of the place; Ellner’s yoga nest has comfy couches and music and something to nosh on. And there’s always laughter reverberating throughout the building.
Ellner’s classes are also extraordinary. There is a lot of self-reflection and physical workout, but there’s also so much mirth. I’ve never met anyone quite like Ellner — a man so self-deprecating and enlightened at the same time. He’s part Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and part Groucho Marx.
Here, Ellner takes the Proust Questionnaire.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’ll try something new on for size, an idea, a different way of looking at things, and if it works, I’ll go with it. I don’t do that well with sacred cows.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Krishnamurthi. The day he inherited the spiritual organization he had been groomed to run, he dissolved it, reminding everyone that truth is something we must discover for ourselves. Ebenezer Scrooge, too. It’s never too late to allow love in.
What do you like most about your job?
I meet people at all ages and stages of life and hear and share stories of challenge and transformation. I get to express the classic teachings in creative ways, through movement, language, humor, silence, dance, music, reflection, silliness, sobriety.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being in nature. Not feeling rushed. Enjoying whatever it is I’m doing.
Hearing the right song at the perfect time.
What is your greatest fear?
Being exposed as an expert. Not loving well enough.
Who do you most admire?
My friend Anthony Carroccio who started the Organic Soup Kitchen is unflappable in the face of adversity. Whatever needs doing he gets it done, without much hemming or hawing. And, generally speaking, people who’ve endured mind-boggling difficulties and not let it steal their life.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Resistance stretching in the sauna.
What is your current state of mind?
I’m feeling okay, and I’ve come to realize that okay is a very high state.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Curiosity about themselves, and the capacity to show up even if they’re not doing that well.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
What do you most value in friends?
Vulnerability, honesty, how they participate in their lives.
Which talent would you most like to have?
A musical skill. God bless musicians.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d have better teeth, and I’d be more of a team player. (Sorry, that’s two.)
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Where would you most like to live?
The house I’m in. I’m speaking to you, Universe!
What is your most treasured possession?
What makes you laugh the most?
A video of fainting goats gets me every time. A Rabbi walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder. The bartender says, “Where did you find him?” The parrot says, “Brooklyn. There are hundreds of them there.” (Rodney Dangerfield)
What is your motto?
Stake life upon truth. You’re not dead yet is a good back-up.
On what occasion do you lie?
When I get scared. My second greatest accomplishment is I don’t get that scared anymore.