Ross Rayburn | Turning Inward

From homegrown Texas boy, to working actor in Los Angeles, to travelling the world teaching yoga, to marrying one of the world’s premier dancer/choreographers, to being featured on Peleton, Ross Rayburn has lived quite a life!

Despite his extraordinary story, Ross is one of the kindest, most humble people I know, and one of my all-time favourite colleagues.  I loved having the chance to catch up with him, and to celebrate  his new book “Turning Inward.”


Instagram: @rossrayburnyoga
Facebook: @RossRayburnYoga
Turning Inward: Pre-Order Here

To add the heart of yoga and other tools for life, I’m Julie smarten. Welcome. I am so happy to be home.

The last six weeks or so I’ve been travelling a lot. I spent a couple of weeks in Chicago, where I’m from, got to teach a retreat there for a weekend, seeing lots of old and very dear friends and students. And then I had a couple of weeks with my family, including a family wedding, which was always was just beautiful.

And then I was back for a short time. And then I left again and I went down to Byron Bay to join Alana Robertson on her reset, you retreat through her organisation found her Dotco she works with female business owners and executives, just helping them to find a more balanced way of doing work in life. And she’s she’s really talented. This is the second year I have taught yoga on her retreat, and just connected with some really, really incredible women.

One of whom will be a guest on this podcast. But I’ll leave that as a surprise. But in any event, I’m really glad to be home and back to teaching my classes regularly and sliding into the holidays, which I cannot even fathom.

And I hope you you’re going well, too. I just feel like I’ve been away for so long.

But I’m excited to bring you this chat I had with Ross Rayburn. So Ross is a longtime friends.

Long I can’t even put a year on it, I don’t think. But he’s a yoga teacher who I really respect and kind of just vibe with in general. He and I have very similar philosophies about teaching. And I think it’s probably not an exaggeration to say about life in general. And it’s always really uplifting and encouraging actually, when I speak to him, and you’ll you’ll hear why when you when you listen. But Ross has had an incredible journey he has gone from being an actor, and on some TV shows that you might might recognise maybe more if you’re in the US than in Australia. But

to being an international travelling teacher to now,

a one a peloton is Maine yoga teachers. So he’s had a really exciting journey. And it’s really, you’ll really enjoy hearing from him.

But before we get to that, just a couple of things on my end here as we get ready for 2024. And again, I can’t believe I’m actually saying that, I just wanted to let you know that I am going to be running my resolve to evolve New Year’s Eve class on New Year’s Eve morning.

It’s just this is the I think eighth or ninth year, I need to double check and find out exactly how long this has been going on. Because if it’s getting close to the 10th We should celebrate that. But I don’t think it’s been 10 yet I think we’re it’s eight or nine. This year haitch is going to be joining me haitch if you’re from the Brisbane area, you may have heard of him, he’s a super talented musician who’s going to be playing and doing a sound bath during Shavasana. So it’s gonna be extra special this year.

And then I also am going to offer my teacher tune up again. So this is something I offered in Brisbane back in 2019. And I’ve taught it in Melbourne as well. And I think I feel like there’s someplace else I’ve had it too. I can’t think of it offhand. But anyway, it’s three days of just connecting with other teachers, skill building, just sharing stories. It’s a wonderful weekend. And I just got an email from somebody actually who read about it in my newsletter and said they can’t come. But she mentioned how important connection to other teachers is in our continued evolution and growth and I couldn’t agree more. I think a lot of us go into teaching yoga thinking oh, we’re going to be supported by this amazing community and what we end up feeling like a lot of us is an island you know as we hop from studio to studio to studio so getting together to do this is really therapeutic and and

I think you’ll find it really supportive. So that’s March 1 through third. All the information is on my website.

And I think that is all I got to share with you for the moment because I really want to get to this chat that I had with Ross. So I will bid you farewell until the next one and I hope you enjoy this conversation that I had with Ross Rayburn.

There it is. I always like to start these by pretending that we haven’t been talking for

Hey Julie, what’s up? It’s so good to see. I Ross, thank you for being here.

I’m so it’s so nice to see your face and I’m really looking forward to this. Me too. Yeah, it’s gonna be good. So usually, you know, the way I start is just tell us about your yoga journey, you know, how you how you started? And you know if there’s any other history to you, you want us to know about?

Yeah, well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. It’s such an honour. I mean,

we’ve known each other for a long time. And you know, you’re one of the people that I count in the really small category of yoga yoga friend or yoga colleagues and close friends. So, you know, it’s so yeah, I was gonna start with a joke, but I was gonna say like, Well, my yoga journey started when I met Julie’s married.

Yeah, so the I’ll try to do the short version. I always say the Reader’s Digest version, but I feel like that dates me now. Yeah, it kind of does. Yeah. For anyone listening. Reader’s Digest was, what was it? Was it like? It was like a little magazine, right? Yeah. Yeah, just a compilation of little articles. But it was like short story short version. So yeah. So let’s, anyway, let’s pretend like I didn’t make that joke.

Although, as you probably will find out or it’s probably you will remember, you know, my definition of joke is not everyone else’s definition. A joke. Dad jokes. Yeah. Usually jokes mean people laugh at the end of them.

Not so much with mine. So the short version is I injured my knee. In 1997.

On a bike on a marathon bike ride, it was a charity ride from it’s called the AIDS ride. It was back when AIDS was

pre pre cocktail, pre pre prep.

And there were all these charity rides. And this was from San Francisco to Los Angeles. And I’d raised $10,000. So I was like, I didn’t I didn’t want to stop. And so I knew the pain. I was also 26 at the time.


really, I tore the meniscus in my knee and someone said, you know, you want to think about doing yoga to rehabilitate your knee.

And now I’d never never even crossed my mind. I thought yoga was only for women. All right, um, you know, I was raised in Texas, and like, it was all the all the bad stereotypes were in my head. Yeah. Loved it. Like went full on two classes a day. That was in Los Angeles, right. Were you in Los Angeles, it was in LA and at the time in the late 90s. You know, it was just, it was really, um, it almost felt like the centre of Austin a yoga and not full yoga

was the full definition but in in terms of what a lot of people think of as the poses, you know, I Brian Cass Martinez Rottie. Eric, Eric Schiffman, Sean corn.

You my first my first primary teacher like Anthony Benenati, and Su elk. And and it was it was like, you know, yoga heaven. Yeah.

And then I started teaching probably too early around 1999. I was. I was, I was a charismatic teacher. So I had popular classes, but I didn’t know what I was doing. Yeah. I mean, I should not have been teaching.

But I loved it. And it’s a way for me to support my acting career. And not wait tables. Right? Which I did for 10 years.

Yeah. And then I so then I actually started, I started to injure people. And that broke my heart. Yeah. So then I started to focus on well, how do you get how do you learn what you know? Learn the biomechanics, so you don’t hurt people? Right. And then at the same time, I met John friend who had just launched on SR Yoga I love that because it kind of it was the spirituality that I loved in church growing up

and mixed with like, really smart. biomechanics. Yep. And also joyful. Like one of the great things about the way John taught particularly like at the when it was first starting was just so much joy. Yes, and and I just needed that in my life at that point.

did pretty well and Ansara opened my own studio, which I went from 50 people in my class every day to two

first thing I learned when you when you move a mile in Los Angeles is no one follows

So I had to wrap up sorry, I was gonna say, I think is that we’re everywhere because it’s, they, it’s convenient. It has to be convenient. So if you move even a mile outside their, you know, radar or whatever their, their their habitual day they they don’t they don’t follow. Yeah, totally. And it’s a blessing because it taught me, you know, a how to teach when there’s one or two people in the room.

It’s a very different, you know, not been and be like, I mean, and I just, I don’t remember who who said this to me first but

you know, teach to the people in the room. Yeah. Don’t teach to the people who aren’t there

in such a simple teaching, but just simple teaching. Yeah, that’s what is in your head as a yoga teacher, like, if no one’s thinking, What did I do wrong? Right? What did I do wrong, that they didn’t come back. And

it’s ego, of course, but it’s so human and so real. And so learning how to overcome that was was cool. And then I started doing little therapeutic trainings to make money because I was making no money at the studio. Yeah. And realise after three years, the studio did well got it got better. I realised why am I why am I killing myself at a studio, even though it was wonderful to be a part of the community, right? When I can just travel and teach.

And so I sold the studio and went on the road and happened to be right when a sorrow was really taking off. So I kind of, not kind of I’ve majorly benefited from John and Deseret, and Amy oppotunity. And no mo Ze, like, other teachers that were already kind of travelling and following John’s wake, see on the Sherman? Yes.

And I did the same sort of thing. And yeah, you know, I would I, we’ve talked about this before, I think but I went to your first ever out of town workshop. It was in Chicago. That’s right. Yeah.

I’ve forgotten that I have. And you called me, sweetheart. And then you said, I have to stop doing that.

Yeah, I remember because I was raised in Texas. And like, clearly, I love I love where I’m from. But clearly Texas has some issues. Yeah. And one of them is, you know, that kind of old boy patriarchal lexicon. Yeah. And, gosh, I’ve learned so much since then about, you know, how words actually make a difference. And even though sweetheart came from a good place? Yes, totally. You know, when I was in my 20s, I didn’t understand that that was diminutive to people. Yeah, it was, it was kind and so like, learning that kind of sensitivity. Actually, especially now when, you know, around gender issues, and like, you know, it’s like, that was actually kind of a really good sort of progression into becoming more and more sensitive. Yeah, to especially now that I teach to a really large like, scale. Right? Um, you know, you have to be mindful. Yeah, absolutely, as you should about what you say. But that’s, that’s pretty much it. i The Yoga journey, sort of the Travelling went on for 11 years.

I was hosted by some incredible people around the world. I went International, a couple years in, and

one of my favourite places was always to come to Brisbane,

we had so much fun. We had so much fun and like, You are always like me, because we’re friends and be just You’re such an incredible host and your community. I mean, I would say I went to a lot of great communities, but your community was just, you know, it was like family extry And so I always loved being there. And you always supported my especially when I was focusing on therapeutic trainings. I always knew would support that journey and because I love them. Yeah, me too. And I knew that about you and we like we get we would geek out for you know for I remember how

we can’t go to dinner. We can’t have a glass of wine tonight. As we need to get some rest and we know. Yeah, exactly.

The workshops over Yeah, so then the the, the journey sort of went to its stage where it is now when peloton which is also in Australia, but I’m running a yoga platform, yoga and meditation. They called and said, you know, Hey, would you be interested in joining and then eventually I started leading the team. And

it’s just you know, it’s been life changing, and that’s kind of doing now. Well, I want to put a pin in peloton because we’ll definitely go back to that and the book that we’re going to talk about too, but I want to go back to your acting career. So this is a little known fun fact about you. Remember to it delivered. I think I told you at one stage. Mallory texted me one night and goes Ross Kramer and ever What was it 77 And I’m like, probably


that’s that’s actually the show that that made me stop. Really? I didn’t know that. Yeah, so I, I was a really, really, really bad actor.

I don’t believe it. Oh, trust me. And there’s proof like I shouldn’t say this publicly, but you can actually find it. And whenever someone watches they’re like, oh, yeah, good decision.

Good decision. Okay. Um, I mean, but again, it was like, you know, I’m I the camera skills and all the those things were a great lesson for what I do now. Yeah. Oh, yeah. But I just, I don’t know, I just, I wasn’t able to

pretend I guess like, I was always up in my head. And I just didn’t, I wasn’t a great actor. And I could see it too. Like I saw, I worked a lot because I had a great agent, a great manager, actually.

And so but I never got big parts. So I only saw I just saw in class in acting class. You know, I can tell what good acting is. And so I wasn’t doing and especially in comparison to people that were. And that’s frustrating, because then you’re like, you’re like, you don’t no one wants to really do something if you’re bad at it. Yeah. I know, a lot of people have to do jobs and they don’t necessarily love the things that you and I are most fortunate in life about. We love

you, but I I didn’t love it. I was kind of doing it to be famous. Okay, I was originally doing it because I love theatre. I wasn’t doing theatre. I was doing, you know, small parts. And seven was I grew up signing because my mom was a sign language interpreter in our church. Okay, so I had on my resume, sign language. Yeah. As your skill skill set, right? And they cast me and I was very open. I was like, Hey, I’m not an interpreter, like I know, a decent amount of sign. And they had a seven definitely had a deaf character. So that a very solid deaf audience. Yes. And so I get there, and I’m playing the role of an interpreter. And not only was that beyond my skill set, but I also had to be signing.

Like I would say, my line. I couldn’t they wouldn’t let me sign it before I said it. Because the deaf community would notice that’s, that’s not what you do. Oh, right. Okay, but I have to be finishing my sign after I was speaking. Or actually, what was harder was I’d have to finish the sign of someone else. While I started speaking something else. Oh, geez. And I couldn’t do it. So like, you know, there’s 50 people on set. And I constantly it was an Aaron Spelling show with a single camera, doing your doing the shot over and over again from different vantage points. And in the day, I turned to a two hour scene into like a seven hour day

out and I went home and I was like, I told my manager. I’m like, I’m done. I’m just like, I’m done. And I was already teaching yoga. Yeah, like, you know what, it’s time to take the plunge and do this full time. Yeah. Wow. I love teaching yoga. I never heard that story.

I was I was saving until we did a podcast.

Oh, so All right. So

not not everybody knows about your husband.

That everybody my audience anyway. So how did you first meet Chris? Oh, well, Chris is

I mean, he’s first of all, he’s one of the most kind, yogic he does yoga now. But he didn’t do yoga before he met me and like he’s Yeah, he’s displayed in his career. I like I say, like, you do more yoga than I’ve ever done. Yeah, his ability to be steady in the storm. Is

is magnificent. Yeah. And he’s a very talented, very

kind of cutting edge in a way. Director, choreographer, he was a ballet dancer as a in till he was 26 and started choreographing ballet did kind of I think I consider him like one of the reasons why story ballets, like Swan Lake Nutcracker, narrative ballets, as opposed to abstract ballets. And they really fell out of fashion for a long period of time. Like, don’t quote me on this, but like, a decade or more, yeah, with Alice in Wonderland in 2011. At the Royal Ballet, he kind of brought them back in a way and now he’s done multiple and other other ballet choreographers as well. And again, forgive me if I’m getting that wrong, because I know people probably did it in that time. But you know, I like to, I like to. I centre him in my in the universe. Yes, absolutely as you should. And then he did his first one.

Musical American in Paris.

And because they wanted a director that was also the choreographer, and that did really well. And then he just did. Then he kind of went in a totally different. Yeah. Did he want? Which one did he want to Tony for? Um

I’m doing a little. For listeners. What do you call that? Little cutesy smirk? He won for both actually. Did he?

Yeah. We

and again, we’ll get to peloton but you know, at the beginning of us, we say I have two blocks in the blank. And if you don’t have blocks, you can use books. Yeah.

So I want to do a video that said, you know that like a tic toc that says, you know, and if you don’t have blocks you can use to Tony’s

is the perfect height.

And he won he won choreography for American parents and then he just did well it’s been a couple years now. The Michael Jackson musical NJ the musical. Yeah. And and that was a very different journey for a number of reasons. But he was so proud of the way he and Lynn Nottage and the whole team, Lynn Nottage as the writer, they really, you know, found a way to tell an extremely complex story. Yeah. With balance and kind of a mythological perspective like, asking, asking profound questions, but also making

entertainment. Yeah, I think for my Australian listeners, because we don’t we it’s not come over there yet. MJ the musical is a story of Michael Jackson. Just right. Yeah, sorry. But yeah, and and so um, yeah. And that’s and now he does a little bit of both. He’s in Jays have multiple companies now. So he’s in Munich right now with with the ballet company. So now he’s doing both. And so you asked me recently, oh, we met in the bar.

Were here or in the Fire Island, which is a it’s like a, an island just outside of New York City where everyone goes into summer. Yeah. So bonfire Island, and the rest is history. Yeah. Literally, I walked over to say hi to a friend of mine that he was talking to and that he knew. And

Carlos walked off. And it took about 30 seconds before we had like, being met. And yeah, and like we’ve been together ever since. So. No, we it’s been 12 years. But we had our 10 year anniversary a couple weeks ago. Our wedding anniversary wedding anniversary. Gosh, has it been 10 years? Isn’t that? Isn’t that wild?

That’s wild. That is really well.

All right. So you, you very Chris, you’ve been travelling. And then at the I remember, it is just getting a cryptic message from you on Instagram. I want can we set up a time to talk on Zoom? Like, sure.

Just figuring you know, you were headed to Australia and you wanted to come out and you know, have a visit. But that wasn’t it. So how did that all come about? Yeah, well, so just again, to kind of contextualise, so I went on the road in 2007 and 11 years later, so almost 12 essentially 2018 I got a call from Christina McGee happened to be home, you know, and who answers their phone? Right, you know, half an answer my phone. And Kristen had was the first teacher hired for peloton, which was originally a cycling company that boutique classes online. And they expanded to the point to where they they started a tread and a strength programming. They were starting a yoga and meditation programme. She was the first teacher that was hired in like the summer of 2018. And I was the fourth teacher. They hired first guy, first male teacher, and she said, Hey, I know you’ve been on the road and I know you’re doing really well. But would you ever consider Oh, she actually had to be cryptic At first she had to say like, I have an opportunity that I can’t really tell you about but like, Would you would you consider coming in for an interview and

and actually, you know, I She eventually said like, you know, we weren’t sure if you wanted to come off the road. Yeah. And I was honestly like, it had been 11 years and even though like I had the best life because I had friends like you all over the world I met I get to be a part of like, tonnes of incredible communities. Yeah, different but all similar hearts and I’m

getting on an aeroplane. I mean, I travelled 3.3 million miles in 11 years. Wow. I calculate

They did it just to know. Yeah. And estimated, obviously. And so that part of it, you know, to, I don’t know if the listeners can’t see, but there’s a little

up in the corner. Yes, I saw it. No, I haven’t. I love dogs as you know. Yeah. Cuz I felt like I was I’m sure everybody felt this with your dog but like, I always felt like we had a very special relationship.

Yeah, she was huge. She was such a love. And so like, I knew that I couldn’t wait to have a dog. And it was those type of things that by going off the road, I could finally do again and, you know, have a more traditional, you know, go to dinner with my friend go to a birthday party on a Saturday night, right? And so it’s like, I like everything in life. There were there are always things that are, you know, benefits of your choices and their downsides.

The benefit now is I get to stay home and I do love my job. Still. The doubt the downside is I don’t miss the travel. But I miss I miss all my friends. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so the deal with peloton is you’re, you’re in New York, like you’re they’re not going anywhere. And yeah, I mean, it’s really great in the sense that it’s kind of you know, it’s the first time I’ve gotten a paycheck and 20 years. Right, as opposed to, you know,

try, you know, basically going contract work essentially, right, essentially, yeah. First time health insurance in my life, which is wow. And also first time working on a team really, and I guess yoga studio was the first time being a part of a company. Yeah. And especially because I have an administrative position as well with peloton and so

sorry, it’s just buzzing and I first turned off my phone.

I, you know, I’m getting into work.


You know, getting along with other people skills. Yeah. A corporate skills that I didn’t ever have or no, you know, oh, this is what people do. Yeah.

What was it? What was that transition like for you, though, just, you know, for being a solo business owner, entrepreneur, contract contractor, basically, to having to, you know, having it Well, number one, being home all the time. And then number two, you know, working that way.

Honestly, I mean, I it was great.

I, I don’t know what I don’t know how I got this blessing, but


you know, someone when I was at when I was like, 13

I remember the cover, I remember who it was actually, and I’m not gonna say their name, but like, someone called me a dilettante.

And I was like, I didn’t know what it meant. Yeah. And but, you know, it’s, it’s someone who basically doesn’t know how to stick with one thing. No, and,

and of course, I was insulted. But I realised like, there’s actually some truth in that, like, there is a I have a kind of childlike quality of

you know, I don’t know if I would have ever been diagnosis add, like, if that would have been more of a thing. But yeah, I definitely like have a bit of a, let’s call it well, they’re in I’ll put it in yoga terms. I’ve got a bit of vata with my Pinto. Yeah, and you know, mood go with the wind. And the opposite. The good side to that is, I usually kind of dive into what I’m doing. And if things change, I’ve never I don’t I’ve been very blessed with what I think of as a blessing is kind of not looking back. And just being like, Okay, this is my this is my thing now. Yeah. And how do I how do I make it great? Yeah, yeah, so so it actually wasn’t that hard. It the only thing again that was hard was like missing it was just missing the people. Yeah, that I that I saw for 11 years like you is your especially places that went back pretty much every year. Yeah, yeah, that was tough. Yeah, yeah.

All right. So you wrote a book? Ah,

I did. Do you want to do you want because I feel like I’m talking so much. Do you want to tell them the my three veils? Because I actually wrote my first

product because of you.

The therapy manual? That’s because of me. Yeah. Did I did I remember this? I don’t.


Yeah, so I, cuz I’ve, again, you really supported my my journey into focusing on well, I’ll just give the

full context. Okay, so I love therapy. I love yoga therapeutics. I love helping injuries, I also injured myself a lot. So, and I don’t know, I was wondering when you get your chart read if it’s self fulfilling prophecy or if it was actually prophecy. But I was told one time when I got a reading like Monroe when I was 819.

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