Lembrei-me de começar um ciclo de entrevistas com os professores que passaram ou que vão passar pelo nosso Ashtanga Cascais e que as suas respostas servissem como directrizes para a construção de um perfil de Professor. Não podia deixar de iniciar este projecto, com a entrevista ao meu querido amigo e professor Tim Feldmann.
Para os que tiveram o privilégio de o conhecer, com toda a certeza que recordarão os dias do workshop de Cascais, neste Setembro passado, das suas palavras e do seu jeito simples e tão especial de partilhar as suas perspectivas sobre o Yoga. E para aqueles que ainda não o conhecem, encontrarão inspiração para a continuidade neste processo, caminho e viagem interna e externa que é praticar este Ashtanga Yoga.
How Ashtanga Yoga appear in your life, and when did you decide that this Yoga system would be your daily practice?
In 1992 I had an accident where I broke my knees, feet, elbow, nose and had a a bunch of soft tissue damage. I was a young dancer at the time and I spend 2 years rehabilitating, learning to walk prober and move again. I was lucky and stubborn enough to pick up my dream again of living and dancing in new york city. It was where I was introduced to yoga by a friend and dance teacher and soon I began studying yoga at Jivamukti. It brought me in daily contact with a sub-layer of myself which I could only touch occassionally through dance, a psyco-emotional kinda spiritual layer that felt like coming home. I had practiced the Jivamukti style for 4-5 years when I met Lino Miele (senior Ashtanga Yoga teacher) in a weekend workshop in Copenhagen/Denmark, my city of birth, and it was an instant fit. I have practiced Ashtanga Yoga since.
What was or is the biggest obstacle to your practice?
As I mentioned I have had some serious physical ailments to heal and care for and still to this day I need to check in with certain places in my body on a daily basis to see how available they are to me. It defines my practice as well as my state of mind. I have had to become very very aware and seek a lot of information to be able to sustain my practice. But opening a yoga shala (Miami Life Center) in 2006 took an momentary toll on progressing in my practice as there was always too much work to do and not always enough mental capacity nor hours in the day. The shala is now established and doesn't take the same amount of care as it did the first years. I now find time for more satisfying sadhana again.
What was or is the biggest inspiration to your practice?
At first, Lino and his practice and all the yogic information he carried with him was like a whole new world cracked open for me. He set me on fire! And again later when I met Guruji some of that information began to settle into me in a truly healing and wonderful way. There has been a few other magnificent individuals like that over the time of my studies .. My wife, my close friend Greg Nardi, Tim Miller and a few others.
And of course my physical injuries have been as much a blessing as an obstacle. I have learned more from the periods where I could hardly move than in most other situations in my life. Dealing with injuries has not been an easy path for me but a true teacher on all levels. Just as the Yoga Sutras talk about life as essentially a state of suffering from which we can derive the sufficient self-knowledge to find a way out, so has my body helped me towards a deeper understanding of the practice, of teaching, of myself, of this life and my relationships with other people. It's been huge. But, it is one of these gems that you're not sure if you want for any other people!
With your experience as an Ashtanga Yoga teacher, and by teaching so many Ashtanga practitioners from different parts of world, do you see any common difficulty that they find in the practice?
Steadiness (of mind) seems to be a universally common one, but of course that is no surprise as we already know that from pretty much any significant text on yoga! Dealing with pain, fear, doubt and finding how to submit oneself to oneself beyond the thin crust of the ego-artistical grip is another one that is at the forefront when we teach this method. That again is (yoga) textbook stuff and it shows its face in so many ways on the practice floor. How do we deal with dropping back for the first time? How do we get the mind moving again when it locks down on a particular situation (read fear) such as a knee pain? How do we surpass our patterns and emotional attachments towards what we eat, when we sleep, who we share with, how we share with other people and so forth .. In the face of realizing that something particular that we do/feel/like/think might feel natural and somewhat fulfilling while obvious negative repercussions are surfacing in front of our eyes? How do we deal with that when our practice begins to slowly remove the veil and make us see clearer and think slightly different? How do we deal with the duality and confusion we suddenly experience? That is the kind of issues I believe I see almost everywhere I go and which inspires me to seek more information. And of course there are physical issues too, like padmasana, marichyasana D and so forth, which is difficult for most western bodies and minds to succumb to.
If you had to advice practitioners about the best way to keep a strong, consistent, long term Ashtanga practice, what you would say?
Listen to Guruji. Listen to the Patanjali. Practice frequently, practice mindfully, practice not for the maximum you can squeeze out of your body today but for how to make your practice tomorrow more wholesome.Find the good teacher and stick to one method. Allow ups and downs in your practice; allow boredom, inspiration, juicyness, fatique and any other emotion/sensation/state of mind yet maintain your relationship with your yoga mat - without it you loose your sight and your parameter.
And when you think about your own practice, which is the first word that appear in your mind?
I am in my mid 40s and my body is in a huge change. It feels very different from 10 years ago. I am learning to move in a whole new body these days. It is fun, weird, frustrating and surprising - it teaches me sooo much. I think we are better friends than we ever were. I used to order it around telling it what to do and when to do it. Now I have to listen, ask nicely and sometimes send in request forms before I can commence with something I want it to do! I think that is ultimately much more healthy for both of us.