I love dancing. I had started dancing in late 1990s, Hip Hop and Breakdance being my preferred genre. These styles are known for their remarkable discipline and culture that has been accepted worldwide. I was happy to immerse myself completely in the dance culture. It continues to be a language to express my feelings to the world, and allows dreamers like me to transcend circumstances and move into a better space.
“Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” Samuel Beckett
However, I soon realised that the better space or that moment of appreciation and achievement that made me feel complete was temporary. It disappeared and reappeared and this cycle made me feel like I was lacking something, that something was missing in my life. Perhaps the spiritual connection?
I had come across a few magazines that highlighted how a deeper connection with yourself through mind, body and breath awareness can help you feel complete. The topic inspired me but I wasn’t sure how it was different from dance and why. Yes…these were Yoga magazines and I did not hesitate to become a regular reader in the quest of the missing link.
In the process, I came across a few articles that threw light on our disruptive lifestyle and addictions, and that the root cause of most of our problems is our dependency on sodas and candies. Those days I was drinking a lot of soda and indulging in sweet treats. The articles made sense and I realised I wasn’t eating right. This was my first realisation about the importance of awareness in our daily life. And I didn’t want to stop here.
The next beautiful aspect of Yoga that drew me to the practice was the practice in motion, the transition of one asana to the other – a fine balance of movement and stillness. I had come across a yoga ad in which Yogi Richard Freeman was seen holding a few yoga asanas. The art instantly captured my imagination. I was inspired to test my body’s flexibility and strength and in my mind, I had already set asana goals.
I went ahead and attended my first yoga class – a Hot Yoga class! After my first class …I felt profound! I am not kidding when I say that I had never felt like that before! I instantly felt something deep within – a sense of spirituality or connection with mind, body and breath; whichever way you want me to put that across…I had found the missing link and the feeling did not disappear after the class.
“Yoga is when every cell of the body sings the song of the soul.” B.K.S.Iyengar
All that was written in the magazines and all that I had experienced during the practice was all falling in place. So I kept buying yoga magazines and DVDs and I continued to attend Yoga classes. The practice of asana or as I like to call it, the body contorted into sculpture in a way that connects you with your spiritual core, gave a deeper meaning to my regular mundane routine.
Steady Effort and Practice
A lot of people find it hard to believe when I tell them that I wasn’t I always this flexible. I guess a lot of Yoga teachers may find themselves in the same spot…convincing their students that one does not have to be flexible to be good at yoga and that they are a living example! In fact I feel that most of us start yoga because we want to see ourselves doing that asana.
“The expert in anything was once a beginner.”
Initially, even my focus was mainly on ‘how to replicate these poses in my dance.’ But it does not happen overnight. It takes many hours and years of practice to get that flexibility – so I dedicated more hours to my practice. My creativity had really helped me in my dance career and I wanted to do something similar with Yoga. I wanted to create my own concept of asanas.
It has been almost 13 years since I had started my Yoga practice. At that time there was no popular medium or network to broadcast your talent on social media. Facebook or instagram followers or the concept of online posts going viral was very rare. But my practice gave me the confidence to put myself out there and share what I had learned.
1st Insta post
That’s when I had posted my first Instagram post. Well…it went viral 🙂 The first pose that I had shared with the IG Yoga community is what I call the ‘Super Soldier pose’ and ‘Cyberpigeon pose’.
A lot of yoga practitioners and teachers got back to me with positive comments about how amazing it was. I felt grateful and reassured about this new concept I had been visualizing. I continued to post more posts and videos.
Putting Things in Perspective
The lack of diversity in Yoga studios and magazines, perhaps more evident 10 years ago, could probably have been the cause of some hurtful messages and comments I had started to receive online. Some started criticising me for calling it Yoga and some went to the extent of saying that black people don’t do Yoga.
I see such discrimination and judgement as frivolous remarks…coming from those who oppose all that Yoga stands for. All it takes is a few months of dedicated practice to realise that asana is just a part of Yoga and not the goal in itself. The appearance of Yoga asana does have the ability to trick you into the practice 🙂 but the real magic takes place deep within.
Self-awareness being one of the most important lessons of Yoga, it is an experience – a feeling that continues to uplift you and stay with you even after your practice. At first, I was taken aback by the racist comments and felt disappointed and hurt with the negativity. My personal life was also throwing unpleasant surprises my way and my ex-wife and I had decided to part ways.
This distressing phase had lasted for almost a year and I had let it affect me physically and mentally. I was not putting in any effort into my dance practice and I had gone back to not eating or sleeping right. But whenever I found a little motivation and reason to do Yoga, I did. And this got me back on track. I realised that the practice of Yoga has always been there for me, with me.
“The first step towards success is taken when you refuse to be captive of the environment you first find yourself in.” Mark Caine
I was back on my mat, moving, breathing and becoming aware of my reality. I accepted the past and indulged in the present. I started CYBER Yoga. The inspiration comes from concepts of evolution, technology and contemporary dance. All of these reflect movement, expression and growth – a transition to newer possibilities.
Yoga has always been my foundation and I have these other elements that I have created around it. I teach CYBER Yoga, which is focussed on dance movements and inversions.
I would like to call it Yoga Fusion – or a fusion based practice disciplined with yoga as foundation. It is designed to astound the doers and seers, and at the same time give you a taste of both fitness and meditation.
Dive In and Keep Learning
I love where my Yoga is taking me. I had completed my Yoga TTC in Hatha Vinyasa with Karen Russell. She is someone who continues to inspire me for her integrity. From my past experience and from what I see around, I don’t think that everyone who practices yoga necessarily immerses in the essence of Yoga.
My wife, who is currently undergoing her teacher training course in Kundalini Yoga, is also a believer of Yoga with awareness, which means our actions are in sync with what we teach and preach. A Yoga certification course not only qualifies you but also makes you realise that it is a life-long practice and does not stop with mastering asanas alone. It is important that one understands the roots of Yoga and accepts it as a whole – not in bits and pieces of what seems convenient to follow.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
It has been 4 years since I have been teaching Yoga. I would definitely recommend a TTC to anyone who wants to teach Yoga. Yoga lifestyle is not just a fad – although you may come across conflicting expressions, especially with the booming industry, social media and number of studios. But it is your journey inward! So dive in – keep learning – and always practice what you preach.
Artist | Dancer | Choreographer | Founder & Creator of CYBERYOGA