I had the pleasure of attending Twee Merrigan’s yoga teacher training and Taisuke Tanimura was one of the other teachers there. It’s impossible not be be wowed by the grace and openness of his backbends. He moves into postures with such ease and joy.
Taisuke was also one of the yogis who spent a perfect Sunday afternoon taking yoga photos for this website. He was up for anything – included climbing around a spikey metal enclosure to take the perfect shot of garudanasa (see sidebar photo). Taisuke’s energy and enthusiasm for yoga, and life in general is infectious.
He’s definitely a Wellington yoga teacher bringing yoga to the people!
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
this is a question i get asked a lot, and one that i always find difficult to answer. my yogic journey has taken me through a variety of styles – anusara, bikram, iyengar and a little bit of astanga. while there are differences in emphasis between the schools, they are actually like windows looking into the same house. each school might have a different vantage point, but every one is providing access to the same thing – clarity and peace of mind. so i like to think of myself as a non-denominational yogi 🙂
my partner brenda introduced me to yoga about five years ago. my body was really stiff from spending long hours in front of a computer and she suggested i try yoga to loosen up. i had many misconceptions about yoga (e.g. its a bit “girly”), but was willing to give it a shot since my body was in pretty bad shape.
my first classes were with an amazing teacher called elizabeth rainey who continues to inspire me today. her classes are always challenging, fun, and uplifting. although i was there purely for the physical exercise, in hindsight i can see that what kept me coming back was a sense of well-being that stayed in me after every class. nothing i had tried at the gym had made me feel the same way that yoga did!
i can’t really think of a defining moment when i knew i was hooked. yoga worked its way into my life very organically. two classes a week turned into three, then four, and so on until i was practicing almost every day. while my asana practice was ramping up i also started reading a lot of yoga literature, trying to understand the history and philosophy behind it all. after about four years of this the next logical step was to train as a teacher to deepen my own knowledge and to start sharing the joy with everyone else.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
apart from the physical benefits, yoga has instilled in me an awareness of how interconnected everything is. i know it sounds cliche to say this but i can’t really think of another way to describe it. i choose to call it an “awareness”, which is different than just “knowing”. you feel it with your whole body instead of just your mind. this awareness now informs many of the choices i make in life – what i eat, organisations i support, how i spend my free time, books i read etc etc. cultivating this awareness has been a slow process, but yoga also taught me another thing – to enjoy the journey!
5. What is your home practice like?
i just finished reading a yoga journal article by aadil palkhivala who wrote “our personal asana practice should not be balanced but should balance us”. i’m quoting it here because it sums up my approach to my home practice better than i ever could.
i always start by taking five minutes to just sit and observe how i feel. based on that i’ll decide what the best practice is for that day. usually i’ll go with vinyasas on days that i need an energy boost (or need to work off excess energy). sometimes certain areas of my body need a little extra attention so i will do static asanas to get deeper into them. and other times a mixture of vinyasa and static asanas are needed. it all just depends, really. at the end i finish up with some pranayama and meditation.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
yoga is the process of reconnecting with who we truly are.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
people can expect to be challenged intelligently within a supportive environment. although the primary focus of the class is on asanas, i always take time for pranayama and meditation.
my favourite part is seeing students become regular practitioners!
there are two things that i wish were common knowledge:
the first is that yoga is not a religion – it actually pre-dates most religions! its a philosophy, an ancient practice which shows you how to know yourself intimately and connect with the world around you. religion and yoga are not mutually exclusive. if you are religiously inclined, then yoga and faith can come together and form a very symbiotic relationship. it makes me sad to hear about schools scrapping their yoga programs, or religious institutions banning yoga. there are big misunderstandings about what yoga really is.
the second is that you don’t need to be a human pretzel to start! i want to bust the preconception that you already have to be athletic in order to do yoga. we’re so often bombarded every day with images of yogis in perfect postures that people think that if they can’t touch their toes they aren’t ready for yoga. EVERYONE is ready, and EVERYONE can benefit.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?yoga can be enjoyed on so many levels, and all of them have benefits. whether you’re looking to get fit, deal with stress, or grapple with something more existential, yoga has something to offer all of us. you don’t have to become a devoted yogi to practice yoga… so in that sense i see yoga playing whatever role that people need it to.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
my friend jamie and i were discussing our mutual love for david lynch the other day and he mentioned that he was reading one his books called “catching the big fish“. lynch is a long time practitioner of transcendental meditation, and this book talks about the connection between his meditation practice and his ideas for his films.
since we had that conversation jamie started photocopying snippets of the book and leaving them on my desk in the morning. its a wonderful way to read the book as it gives me time to savour every sentence. anyway, this week i found a quotation that i really like:
the world is as you are
its a bit of a long winded way to get there, but i thought i would share it with you
12. And finally, how do people find you?
you can contact me at somewhatslanted(at)gmail.com
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