- 1. How did you get into yoga? Why do you devote your life to this practice, and how has it changed you?
This story begins from my desire to "save the world" that I had in college. I was (and still am) very passionate about the environment and wanted to work with policy to help bring change. I went through a phase where I was deeply troubled by the events in the world; from war, to industrialised agriculture, pharmaceutical healthcare, centralised finance and a general disregard for our Earth. Some deep soul searching brought me to the conclusion that the root cause of all of this is lack of connection; to others and to the Self. A deep sense of lack pervades the human collective leading to a culture of greed and accumulation. At the time, I realized that I also felt an emptiness that something in my life was lacking. I decided that I had to work on myself before I could point fingers at others. So began my journey into yoga through meditation. A couple of years later I began practicing Asana regularly as well.
I don't believe the practice has changed me. It has put me in touch with a part of myself that is beyond change. It has made me associate less with my beliefs, habits, roles, which are ever changing. What is changing or can be changed is not me. I'm devoted to this practice as a lifelong path because I understand it's potential to stimulate individual awakening, which in turn creates a possibility for collective healing. We need yoga teachers to pass on this practice, but we also need yogis that are changemakers, politicians, enviromentalists, etc.
- 2. What is your main practice?
In terms of Asana, I am drawn to Ashtanga because I find it deeply meditative. Once learned, it is a self-practice. My focus is not directed at a teacher but at myself. The combination of the breath, Bandha and drishti, along with the count of the vinyasa makes the body a vehicle through which one can experience the inconsistencies of the mind. I'm also drawn to the athleticism required by the practice, having done lots of running, sports and mountaineering during my childhood. I also enjoy running, climbing and hiking and I do make it a point to have variety in my routine, to avoid the downfalls of repetition. I also pursue stillness deeply and consider my daily meditation practice to be the backbone of all my other practices.
- 3. Who are your mentors?
My Ashtanga teacher is Ajay Kumar from Sthalam8, Mysore. He is an incredible teacher who taught me that the only way out of suffering is through it. To quote him, he would always say, "you have to go through that one". I also keep a running knowledge of great saints and enlightened beings (past & present), which I look to for guidance and inspiration. Another great mentor is the Ayahuasca spirit, who has shown me compassion and selflessness, which is a prime reason why I wish to be of service to the Earth.
- 4. What characteristic do you believe makes a great yoga teacher?
Practice. Practice what you preach. Whatever aspect of yoga one is teaching one must be practicing regularly. Past practice is important but doesn't qualify if it is not continued into the present. Practice for long periods of time, without breaks (Tapas). If a river stopped flowing, would it still be a river?
- 5. What’s your relationship to your own body? How has this changed over time?
I see my body as a temple. It is a space where I have the opportunity to realize the soul. It's an amazing tool for the soul to manifest it's vision in physical, 3rd dimensional reality. The human body is at the cutting-edge of universal technology. There was a time when I loaded my body with junk and mistreated my body, but it was more from a space of ignorance than purposeful action. I find that people's relationship to the body is a reflection of their relationship to the Earth. I'm learning more about my body with every passing day and am in awe of all that it is capable of.
- 6. Is the practice of yoga asanas enough? Or does one need to study different scriptures on yoga - like Patanjali's yoga sutras - to get a complete experience?
The field of yoga is like an ocean. Some people come and sit on the shore, enjoying the cool breeze. Some wet their feet. Some swim and surf. Yet others dive deep and get the pearls. It is up to you to decide how much and what you want to do. With the help of an experienced teacher, you can explore the full potential of your life through yoga.
- 7. I can't practice Yoga; My body is not flexible; I don't have the time.
In asana practice we use physical postures as a means of pushing our boundaries (physical + mental) in healthy ways. When we master one set of asanas, we progress to more advanced asanas, again to push ourselves outside our comfort zone. I often see people discouraged from practicing because they don't believe they have the right kind of body. Yoga is for all bodies. You don't adapt to yoga, the yoga is meant to adapt to your body. Any and evey action produces an effect. Yoga as a method produces certain effects regardless of body type. The journey to reach those effects will vary. But if done regularly, the effects are certain. As I often say to my students it is never the body that is unprepared, it is the mind that is unwilling. And when people speak of lack of time, it's more to do with priorities. Do you prioritize your own well being first? I know yogis that practice daily, have a full day at work and bring up children all at once.
- 8. "Real yoga" is not a physical practice.
I partially agree that the essence of yoga is spiritual. However asana being a physical practice doesn't take away from yoga's spiritual dimension. The only possession we (the soul) bring to this life is our physical body. We must first become masters of the physical body to then become a master of the mind.
- 9. What’s your favourite asana?
- 10. What advice would you give a well-practiced yogi to take their practice to the next level?
1. Don't ever stop practicing
2. Don't ever think that you understand the practice fully. Stay humble.
3. Be willing to hear and integrate opposing viewpoints.
4. Meditate. In my experience this is what will make your Asana practice loads more enjoyable and deeper.
- 11. What is the goal of yoga as you see it? Beyond the walls we often construct, how are we all truly connected in this practice?
The goal of yoga is self-realisation. Yoga as a spiritual tradition is infused with immense power from many immortal masters. When we practice with integrity, devotion and correct intention, we can tap into this power as well. Through yoga, and other spiritual traditions as well, we connect to the essence of divinity within us. Just by practicing, we are participating in a global transformation, becoming servants of light.