There is a grace and purity that flows in the practice of astanga. A never-changing series of postures combining pranayama and bandha throughout, astanga is strong, fluid and powerful. It encourages those qualities not just in the body, but also in the mind.
Astanga is the path of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India. When you practice yoga with Wellington Yoga teacher Mike Berghan of Te Aro Astanga, you are practicing with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Sr K. Pattabhi Jois learned from Sri T. Krishnamacharya, who in turned learned from his Guru, Rama Mohan Brahmachari in a cave in Tibet for eight years. This direct transmission of shakti from one guru to the next is the power of yoga lineage. Nothing is lost, nothing is weakened, or diluted, or corrupted. There is only the practice, consistent and un-changing. From Tibet, through India to Wellington, New Zealand.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I teach traditional Astanga Vinyasa Yoga at our school, Te Aro Astanga Yoga, Level 1, 234, The Left Bank, Te Aro.
2. How did you come to yoga?
Like many people, I found yoga at a time of transition in my life. I wanted to move on in life and had no idea how big a part Yoga was going to play in that.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
There were 2 moments when the yoga bug really got me. One was very shortly after I started practicing. I always enjoyed my first yoga classes but when my teacher (Peter Sanson) did a demonstration, I was hooked by the physical grace of the practice. Then, on my first trip to Mysore, India, in 1994 I had a moment midway through the 2 months when Sri K Pattabhi Jois looked me directly in the eye and I felt a transfer of shakti and a realisation of the power of his love and compassion, that made him my guru and yoga my path.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
My life now is unrecognisable from my life before yoga as my personal circumstances are so different. My biggest lessons have been humility, patience and compassion, and awareness.
5. What is your home practice like?
Before the birth of my 2 daughters I practised the Mysore method at home. That is; Intermediate series on Sunday morning, Advaced A series on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Primary Series on Friday morning. No practice on Saturday or New and Full Moons. Since the birth of my daughters, my home practice has become less consistent and more gentle. Having said that, I believe my yoga practice is better now than it ever has been and I understand why Guruji is always telling his students to marry and have children. They add to my practice, not detract from it. Yoga is now a part of my life rather than the main object of my life.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
This is easy, because Patanjili gave us the answer in his Sutras. In Sutra 2 he wrote “yogas citta vrtti nirodhah”, which loosely translates as; Yoga happens when there is stilling of the movement of thought”. The question is not what is yoga, but rather, how does one achieve yoga?
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
Students can expect to be taught the traditional Astanga Vinyasa method as taught to me by my Guru, Sri K Pattabhi Jois. They will be encouraged and challenged and guided along the path of Yoga on a one-to-one basis in a friendly and safe environment.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
I love making a positive difference in peoples lives. I especially love watching Yoga work its magic on people over the course of years of consistent practice.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
I wish that everyone could understand the health, grace, peace and compassion that regular Yoga practice can bring to their lives and that it can offer this to everyone, regardless of religion, difference of temperament, age or fitness.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
I believe that Yoga is part of the evolution of humankind to a state of Peace, Compassion, and Awareness.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
Do your practice, and all is coming – Sri K Pattabhi Jois.
12. And finally, how do people find you?
Visit www.astanga.co.nz. Telephone (04) 565 4060. Visit us at Level 1, 234, The Left Bank, (off Cuba Mall), Central Wellington.
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