Romi: When did you start practicing yoga?
What was your life like before yoga? Was there something or someone that led you to make this change?
Scooba diving? I can see the connection between yoga and seeking a self guidance tool-set for teens but how did scooba fit in?
Where did yoga take you first?
I’ve heard you repeat the phrase “found myself” quite often, did you also “find yourself” teaching yoga?
This is not as tricky a question as you think. I believe that we as people have the ability to choose for ourselves. I believe that there are no wrong choices because every decision leads us to experiencing yet another aspect of our being. Though within these choices lies the option to decide to elevate ourselves – to carry us forward, or to make us feel stuck. It is when we permit our nature to be our guide, that we allow great things to happen to us. When we first experience this, it can feel like a surprise, but the reality is that it’s just our first taste of the fruit of sincerity.
So yes, I did, as you said, find myself teaching yoga. But I didn’t intend on doing so at all. At the time, it happened that a friend of mine was working in a gym that was looking for yoga teachers, she told them that I was a great teacher, I think she forgot to mention that at that point in my life I had never instructed yoga before. I was hired that same day, and before I knew it, I had a few hundred people coming to my classes each month.
What inspired you to open your own yoga center?
By that point, having unintentionally amassed this following, the students began requesting that I open a place that focused more on yoga, that offered more yoga classes and more yoga oriented activities.
Emotionally I was going through a rough patch in my life. I was teaching yoga and travelling back and forth to the ashram in India. I didn’t have a full-time job or a house of my own. Then having returned from my latest trip it became clear to me. I figured the right thing to do was to get a place where I could rest my head, to sleep at night, and at the same time I could use that place to conduct yoga sessions during the day.
So what you’re saying is you made yourself a home and invited people to come in and share the yoga experience with you? Do you think it made their experience better? More authentic?
You ask one thing but allow me to answer something a bit different. Home is something a person carries with them. Some can feel it only at their own house, some can feel it everywhere, and some cannot feel it at all. I gave what I could, my home and my heart is what yoga is about for me. I offered that to my students, but how they felt is something that you would be better off asking them”.
[AtmaSanyam had that smile again. I understood that even though he was not going to say how other people feel around him when they practice yoga, we both know that by coming here they feel a little closer to being at home.]
Can you tell me a little about what kind of yoga you chose to teach and practice?
I teach and practice Satyananda yoga and consider myself one of Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s disciples. It’s a kind of yoga that I learned to practice in a closed environment – in an ashram, and as you can probably tell, I don’t live in an ashram. I found ways to combine my life experiences with this kind of yoga, to develop tools that I find helpful in our day-to-day lives. I also believe in yoga practice that tends to be a bit slower than the norm, so that we can take the time to observe and breathe in the pose; and then to feel the difference between when we are in the pose and once we have left it. I think that this way my students can feel a difference in their sense of “being” after a relatively short period of time.
What does it take to be a Yogi? What does being a Yogi mean to you?
If I want to be a yogi and dedicate my life to Yoga, do I have to give up my life as I see it now?
If I want to know more about yoga, what should I do first?
You can read books, attend lectures and search online. There are many ways to expand your knowledge of yoga, but if you truly want to grow as a person and be able to attain more strength and balance, there’s only one thing you should be focusing on at this point, and that’s simply – practice.
AtmaSanyam, maybe just one more question, if that’s OK with you. Do you have any plans for the future?
[AtmaSanyam looked very sincere and focused, it seemed like a fresh breath of air brought joy to every part of his body]
All I know for sure is that I can’t wait to see where I’ll find myself next.