Yoga Instructor and Spiritualist Maintains Zen During Summer Grind

Summer Is Busy for All Locals, But a Yogi Has to Work to Keep It All Together.
By JON COEN | Aug 09, 2017
Photo by: Francis Lill/Courtesy Aperion Yoga Mat Crystal Froberg

There are plenty of different LBI summer traditions, but for locals, there is one in particular that everyone has practiced for generations. It’s called the summer hustle.

The summer hustle is a blurred 10 weeks of running around, working a primary job and one or more side gigs in order to bank as much money as possible during our short summer. Business drops off significantly after Labor Day and is all but dead through the winter. Hence, you’ll see locals working long hours, making things to sell, turning over rental homes, giving surf lessons, picking up bartending shifts and generally tap dancing in the general vicinity of anyone who might drop some coin in the hat.

That means that by August, tempers tend to run short – hot nights working the grill, unappreciative tourists, and people who don’t know what the turning lane is when you’re late to your second job. The growth of yoga and other spiritual practices has meant more work for locals who specialize in those areas. But while everyone in the service industry has to keep smiling in the public eye, these folks have to maintain an even higher level of zen.

“You have to constantly be creating and crafting more work for yourself to make it,” said Crystal Froberg, 35, of Long Beach Township, who is a yoga teacher, baker and masseuse on the Island. “It’s work that has so much depth, meaning, lots of care, and always from the heart. As a yoga teacher you have to show up for your ‘job,’ leave all that is unpleasant at the door, and step into a loving place to be of service for your students. We all have to be super friendly, kind and very mindful of others. It’s an intimate job; it’s very personal. The level of healing that can occur in one simple yoga class is quite profound, so we have to be incredibly present.”

In one week, she will teach up to 15 classes, bake specialty vegan and gluten-free goods, and mentor other yoga teachers.

“There’s beach yoga, studio classes, yoga at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, private sessions, and retreats. I lead classes and bake for our retreats and a few clients. I’ve stepped back on the massage, but I still set up appointments for my clients with other local massage gals,” she explained. “I have a more pointed focus on yoga this season with classes, our teacher training, global and local retreats, women’s workshops and private sessions. But the summer is still pretty intense. It’s so much energy, effort, time, care and planning. It really is an honor to share the teachings of yoga with the LBI region.”

She has a pixie-like aura. Wrapped in hand-dyed clothes and crystals, to many she is a beacon of health and spirituality. By the end of the summer, she will have had a role in training 30 new yoga instructors.

Froberg grew up in Forked River. Her family were members of a spirited Baptist church where her father was the lead singer in the church band.

“It was really beautiful. That’s where I saw my parents really come together and love each other. When they were in tune with their spirituality, they were in tune with one another’s hearts,” she remembered.

As a teenager, she became interested in the environment and was 18 when she took her first yoga class, at a gym.

“It was candlelit. There was native American flute music. This woman had the sweetest voice. It was really awesome,” she recalled.

Froberg’s father passed away suddenly when she was 19, and she felt herself losing faith.

“I was questioning spirituality because it happened so tragically. The first ‘real’ yoga studio I started going to was in Toms River. I remember the teacher’s name was Mirabai. She was chanting Sanskrit mantras, and she stole my heart. I thought, ‘This is really yoga.’ I started practicing regularly, and it really helped me with my grief and connection back to spirit.”

She traveled. She practiced all over the world and fell in love with Laughing Lotus Yoga in San Francisco, where she lived for six months training in a bhakti style of yoga that incorporated Krishna Devotion, ancient teachings, and a vibrant vinyasa style class.

Missing LBI, Froberg always returned home. Before yoga was so frequently practiced, she made a good part of her living doing massage, spending five years, as she puts it, “running up the stairs, with an awkwardly large massage table, in all of the biggest houses on the Island.”

Today she is primarily teaching out of Yoga Bohemia, working closely with owner Katie Risbam. As lead trainer of the Radiant Heart Yoga School, Froberg has the humbling opportunity to guide students into a deep study of yoga and help them blossom into incredible teachers. And this year, she and Risbam ran their first summer retreat on the Island, called Summer Spark.

“It was truly amazing. It was a stellar group of beautiful people who wanted to connect on a heartfelt level and simply enjoy the company of like-minded people.”

As a yoga teacher, she feels she has to maintain a soulful commitment and integrity in her own life.

“I ask this question to myself and always offer this to our trainees: ‘Are you showing up in a light-filled, loving way for your students and co-workers? And do you have that same tone with yourself? Your family and friends? Are you truly living your yoga out into the world?’ Yoga extends far beyond the magic of the poses. It trains your mind to extend love in all directions, it awakens the wisdom of your heart, and it can help to re-pattern your brain and habits so you can live a full, easy, happy life.”

Additionally, Froberg is an ambassador for Beautycounter, an eco-friendly skin and haircare company devoted to getting chemical-free products into the hands of everyone, not just folks on the environmental fringe. On a weekly basis, she’s telling students to remember to slow down and make the time to take really good care of themselves and each other. Yet for her and others in her position, it’s not always the easiest thing, especially in the past when a workday meant teaching three yoga classes in a row, giving two or more massages and then baking until 2 a.m., with people looking to her day in and day out as a radiant healer.

“It’s essential that I have my own spiritual practice setting the energy for my day. It can be hard because there are so many distractions, but there are no excuses. Meditation and movement are essential to my well-being, and essential to how I show up in this world. Eating mindfully is just as important. Food affects your mind, mood and way of being. I make a delicious, protein-full smoothie in the morning, make sure I get lots of protein and veggies throughout the day and choosing foods that support, nourish and replenish my energy.”

As for every other business on the Island, from the biggest restaurants to the smallest side gig, the summer is short.

“You have to always plan ahead and keep up the summer pace on a schedule of 10 weeks, knowing it’s just going to change again once September hits,” Froberg explained.

But at the same time, she loves the summer. Even if it’s transient, she enjoys the Island’s yoga community. And she’s excited to see a growing number of locals – waitresses, shop owners, lifeguards, and other busy folks – incorporating yoga into their summer routine to stay healthier during the summer grind.

“There needs to be a balance, especially in the ‘go’ time.”

And every once in a while she has a morning where she doesn’t have to be up first thing for an early class.

“That’s the morning that you sit on your meditation pillow for a bit longer, give thanks for the beauty around you, savor a cup of tea on the deck, jump into the sea, and glance around in awe of this beautiful, wild life.”

You can find her full weekly schedule as well as retreats at Crystaldawnyoga.com.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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