Action Hiro: A Conversation with Hiro Landazuri

Hiro Landazuri’s free-flowing philosophy allows him to mix and match disciplines.

Photo: Ty Milford

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Hiro Landazuri exists in an elastic space. He has found unlikely common ground in both science’s rigidity and yoga’s fluidity. This is the place from which he develops and teaches his unique style of yoga called Body Smart.

Landazuri found yoga early, almost by accident, as a 17-year-old seeking respite from running-induced shin splints and plantar fasciitis. “I peeked my head [into a class] and I saw a lot of people lying down with blankets on top of them,” he says. “I thought, ‘This can help me? Sure, why not?’ ”

Yoga quickly became a diversion, a place to heal and explore the bounds of his body while he studied the sciences. Over time, however, what was once a hobby became a pursuit.

While working on dual masters programs in medical pharmacology and cardio pulmonary surgery at California State University–Los Angeles, Landazuri was asked to teach his first yoga class. The connection was instant and its influence radiated beyond the mat. “I started using my yoga teachings to practice speaking in front of people,” he explains. “I have terrible social anxiety. The progress was slow, but it mirrored my yoga practice.”

Landazuri ultimately shelved academia in the name of yoga, although he still strongly draws on the connections between anatomy, physiology and emotional intelligence. The truth is, you can take the scientist out of the lab, but you can’t take the lab out of the scientist. “I’m a diehard scientist in my soul,” he laughs, explaining that everything has the opportunity to be an experiment.

Take cooking, for example. Landazuri will make the same recipes again and again for a month, each time altering one variable to see what happens. He does the same thing with his coffee (think drip coffee vs. an espresso machine vs. an electric kettle that heats water to the nth degree). And again with social media, where he posts yoga poses and videos for his nearly 300,000 followers. “This is why I enjoy social – you’ll know right away if something doesn’t take,” he says. “I’ll post the same videos over a span of time and change the language just slightly or the title and see what takes.”

One element that doesn’t change: prioritizing the outdoors. “There’s data and science around exercising outside—especially around trees and in wooded areas,” Landazuri says. Whenever he’s home in LA (Landazuri teaches yoga across the world, at one point teaching in 40 countries in a mere 10 months), he takes his practice to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overpass, a quiet, secluded area with a view of the city. “It’s not exactly woodsy, but it’s about as close as you can get in LA without driving far,” he says.

Landazuri is a big proponent of teaching yoga for every ability. He does not subscribe to the usual prompts: “Do this posture, make this shape, etc.” Instead, he cues sensation and what a pose is supposed to feel like when it’s executed properly. He also incorporates other modalities. “Essentially, the yoga practice itself is not complete – there’s no pulling, only pushing, there isn’t supposed to be an elevated heart rate, there are no fast-twitch muscle movements,” he explains. “As long as I can provide a viable reason to add something, I’ll do it.”

In his own quiet way, Landazuri subscribes to the Outside+ lifestyle: He actively blends disciplines, seeks information from multiple sources and turns to the healing power of the great outdoors as often as possible.

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