Yoga practice at the Gabriel household in Burbank (Guy and Michelle and their children, Seychelle and Dylan) has become a family affair, particularly for Guy and Seychelle.
Guy’s enthusiasm for the practice is infectious—and had taken hold before he even completed his first class, when Center for Yoga on Larchmont was simply the Center for Yoga. His contagious excitement meant that when daughter Seychelle was only ten years old, she accompanied Guy to his first class as a student. Newly minted teacher Scott Lewicki was instructing the Introduction to Yoga series when the father-daughter duo dropped in. In that moment, a trajectory was set in motion.
For Guy, who had been a long-time student of martial arts and at the time increasingly interested in the meditative aspects of the Eastern practices, the next steps involved pursuing yoga teacher training (first with Diane Beardsley at Center for Yoga) and studying Ayurveda at the California College of Ayurveda. “I started reading about it and it felt so truthful, so real.” An actor and precision car driver at the time, Guy still acts and drives while also teaching at Yoga at the Village in Glendale, TheraYoga in Montrose, for private students, and in corporate wellness settings including Universal, Amgen, and Disney under the banner of Plus One Health Management.
For Seychelle, that journey continued with attending a kids’ class. She says it helped her learn to focus and center herself, skills that have continued to serve her working life.
Seychelle caught the acting bug from her family—as a kid, she began doing commercial and extra work, participated in theater and choir in high school, and now has a burgeoning career as a working actor. Her resume includes guest stints on Revenge and Weeds, a starring role in The Last Airbender, and a regular gig on the Steven Spielberg-produced TNT production Falling Skies. While dad Guy clocked decades in front of the camera, her mother Michelle is involved in behind-the-scenes extras casting. Seychelle describes her extended family as, “extras royalty;” they appeared in films such as Grease and Lady Sings the Blues. An uncle is a stuntman, and Guy references a French great-grandfather who was a trapeze and circus artist.
Her yoga practice is integrated into her acting craft. Seychelle warms up by flowing through sun salutations in her trailer and extolls the benefits of warming up the body in this rhythmic way. Meditation also serves her on set; she enters the zone to get into character. “I’d love to see more actors realize that regular yoga practice makes a difference.”
Conversations with her parents reinforce her commitment to practice. “I talk to my parents a lot,” Seychelle says, “And they always remind me that whenever I arrive in a new place, to find a grocery store and a yoga studio. Yoga allows me to settle into my routine and not feel so uprooted.” She describes the studio as a refuge reminding her of home. When in LA, she attends Guy’s classes (even though he has a tendency to call Seychelle out by name), where lessons about the philosophy are heard in context—and where he often brings out his guitar to serenade the students at the close of the practice.
Music is also a shared passion, in and out of the yoga studio. On road trips, when Guy or Michelle accompany Seychelle to and from location in Vancouver, a guitar, a harmonica, and a veritable songbook of tunes are traveling companions. Guy and Seychelle strummed together at Jimmy Hendrix’s grave on a recent trip, and the family’s Burbank home is frequently filled with the sounds of Guy’s gentle guitar picking. “I wouldn’t know how to play guitar if it weren’t for my dad.” Seychelle’s love of music spills over into her enjoyment of a yoga teacher’s personalized class playlist; the combined vibrations of music and yoga, Seychelle feels, create synergy.
The synergy is part of what Guy describes as the real practice of yoga: Connecting with nature. It’s why he loves what he calls “playing yoga” with Seychelle and Dylan, a ritual that’s been part of life since family camping trips. This includes informal sessions like practicing tree pose by a river or beneath the mountains, or side plank by a lake. On the road, the natural world nourishes the practice.
This idea of nurturing through practice infuses all of Guy’s teaching, as well as stocking of his Prius with simple Ayurvedic remedies to offer his students tools for the practice that are replenishing and rejuvenating. His hope—that people can find a sense of balance in their lives.
When Guy reflects on the path of yoga that he and Seychelle have taken, he expresses his fatherly pride as well as his satisfaction in seeing how the power of the practices have helped her to take care of herself and to be more present, on and off camera.
Felicia Tomasko is the editor in chief at the Bliss Network. She first met Guy Gabriel when she was teaching yoga on the deck of the Queen Mary for the 2004 National Ayurvedic Medical Association Conference.