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Passions: Jeffrey Sweeney, Yogi

Ramona Roasales


Every morning, Jeffrey Sweeney spends two hours putting his legs behind his head. And standing on his hands, and bending backward to grab his ankles. If he doesn't always succeed -- well, that's part of the process. "The focus in yoga is on intentions," says Sweeney, 53, who has led U.S. Capital, a financial services firm in San Francisco, since he bought it in 1998. "You realize you can't necessarily achieve perfection."

Years practicing yoga: About 20

Number of asanas, or poses, he can perform: More than 140

A long journey: Sweeney had been practicing yoga for three years before he could put one leg behind his head. Adding the other leg took two more years.

Yoga in the U.S.: About 6.9 percent of American adults practice yoga at least occasionally, according to a 2008 survey by Harris Interactive and Yoga Journal.

The name game: Each asana has a name. Here, Sweeney is in Durvasasana, named after the sage Durvasa.

His second home: Sweeney spends up to two months a year in Vrindavan, India, where he practices yoga and sponsors education for local students.

Best of the best: There are six "series," or levels, of Ashtanga yoga, the type Sweeney practices. Few people ever get beyond the first or second; Sweeney has reached the fourth.

Doing his own thing: "I don't practice in the studio much anymore," he says. "When I do, it's like I'm a rock star, because a lot of people haven't seen third- or fourth-series practice."

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