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Death of a Yogi

Yesterday I heard that Jules Paxton died. My jaw dropped in shock; something inside me wasn’t surprised, but horrified at the same time that this was how his life would end.

I knew Jules for a period of time while he was living in London in 2008. He used to come to my classes at the Jivamukti London Studio, then became a massage client, and later, I designed and built his website.

My first encounter with him in my class was a little unusual. He wore his sunglasses at the front of the room and was pretty verbal and loud, making excuses for not being able to properly align or hold certain postures. Later that day when I found out he was a yoga teacher, I passed my own judgements based on his practice and demeanor, which in retrospect I realize were based on my limited understanding of him and my subjective opinion. Who was I to judge?

When Jules found out that I was a thai yoga masseuse he asked for a treatment, and this became a twice weekly event. Over this time I got to know the real Jules – sweet, gracious, emotional, at the same time broken, arrogant and insecure. He offered me a session with him and told me it would be the ‘best experience of my life’.

When it was time for our session, I met Jules in his living room, all dressed in white, for the first time in the role of the therapist, not the client. The beginning portion of the experience was a little bit over the top for me in terms of trying to get in touch with my emotions. I didn’t feel prepared to be so introspective.  It was when the actual touching began that the wonder unfolded. Melding non-traditional massage methods and acro-yoga, I experienced Jules’ gift through his self-entitled ‘trust yoga’. It wasn’t being flipped upside down that got me (I’d done all that with thai massage and acro-yoga) but his ability to go deep into the visceral body to free up places of blocked energy in a swift, graceful and intuitive way. I got to see Jules at his best, and I feel so lucky to have experienced this.

Jules had an interesting and authentic life and path of yoga. He trained as a bodybuilder, had a vision of his guru at a young age, and was blessed to find him in Swami Muktananda. He spoke frequently of his guru and his five children whom he adored. He struggled with the work that he did, the pressure it was on his body and the demands of his wealthy clients that seemed to own him. His internal demons entangled with his extraordinary amount of passion, energy and drive could rub people the wrong way and was often seen as arrogant and demanding when he wasn’t treated with the respect he felt he deserved or given the answer he wanted to hear.

Whatever Jules was struggling with and however the world percieved him, his intuitive gift for touch and healing will be missed by his many clients. He’ll be missed as a friend, and most certainly missed as a father.

Blessings to Jules and his family.

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