Yoga as a job: instructors about their own practice and the way to themselves

Nikita Demidov, Ashtanga yoga instructor, musician, multi-instrumentalist

– From early childhood, I had an inquisitive and attentive mind, which vigilantly peered into what was happening, comprehending it. I watched myself, the world, and it seemed to me that the world was going a little wrong. As I grew older, I increasingly felt dissonance with what really interested me and what was offered to me in the form of “correct” values. And I almost never lost this feeling, feeling the call from within. Something real and alive tried to get out and in every possible way informed the mind about it. At some point, I realized that it was impossible to pull any more and trusted what was happening. And then it began: awareness and insight began to constantly visit me, answers to questions began to come, for example, what is the meaning of life, why am I here? These answers and insights revealed to me my own illusion, the stupidity of the life that I led, satisfying only my selfish needs. 

And in the end, I had an awakening from a dream. Yogis call this state of samadhi, which involves the complete dissolution of the ego in the highest aspect of the Creator. Of course, at that time I did not know what this condition was called. I saw very clearly all the illusory nature of my perception, my ridiculous goals, priorities, mostly based on stupid desires. As a result, all aspects of life began to transform. For example, the physical aspect has changed – the realization has come that the body needs to be treated properly, you need to take care of it: feed it properly, stop tormenting it with bad habits. And all this happened very quickly. The same thing happened with idle communication, parties with a thousand empty words – a modern vanity fair. At some stage, nutrition began to transform, and then the practice of yoga in the form of asanas entered my life.

It began with the fact that during a recumbent meditation I explored the sensations from head to toe – and suddenly the body itself began to take some postures, I did not resist: from a prone position it went into a shoulder stand, for example, it was surprising that I’ve never done it this way before. I carefully observed myself and remembered this amazing phenomenon. Soon people came into my life who were already experienced yoga instructors. With their help, I began to master asanas, then rebuilt my personal practice. At the next stage, the world, apparently, demanded retribution, in 2010 I was invited to conduct classes, and my teaching career began. 

It can be said that the response to that inner call led me to the state of Awakening. Like it or not, the topic of enlightenment is not very popular for an ordinary, let’s say, average person. But I trusted and stepped into the void, into the unknown, which blossomed with billions of colors, meanings, views, words. I felt life for real.

The practitioner needs to know that yoga is not only about asanas! Yoga is a holistic, serious technology that allows the practitioner to realize their true nature and take full responsibility for all aspects of their own Life. Yoga, in essence, is a state of total mindfulness or awareness, as they say now. For me, this state is the basis, the realization of a human being in its true nature. If there is no spiritual realization, then life, in my opinion, passes colorless and painfully, which is also absolutely normal. 

Asanas, in turn, are a kind of yoga tool for deep cleansing of the body and subtle structures, which allows you to keep the body in order: it does not get sick and is comfortable and good in it. Yoga as enlightenment, connection with the highest aspect (God) is the path of every living being, whether he is aware of it or not. I know, wherever a person goes, sooner and later he will still come to God, but as they say: “God has no latecomers.” Someone does it quickly, in one lifetime, someone in a thousand. Don’t be afraid to get to know yourself! Life is a wonderful teacher for attentive students. Be conscious, attentive to what is happening, to what you do, say and think. 

Karina Kodak, Vajra yoga instructor

– My path to yoga began with an indirect acquaintance. I remember that at first I came across a book by the Dalai Lama on how to be happy. I then spent the summer in America, and my life, outwardly looking the best it could be, was internally filled with inexplicable anxiety. With this amazing phenomenon, I then tried to figure it out. What is happiness? Why is it so difficult for a modern person to maintain a sense of peace and clarity with all the apparent well-being? The book gave simple answers to rather complex questions. Then there was a casual conversation with a taxi driver who, during the trip, told how the meditation experience had changed his life. He enthusiastically shared that he began to feel truly happy, and he inspired me a lot! Upon returning to Russia, I saw that one of the yoga studios in my city was offering a free class for beginners, and I signed up for it.

Now I can say that yoga is not some separate aspect of my life, but a way of perception. This is attention to one’s attention, presence in sensations and observation of everything without an attempt to identify with it, to define oneself through it. In fact, this is true freedom! And a deep state of naturalness. If we talk about the load in yoga, then, in my opinion, everyone chooses for himself the level of involvement and the degree of complexity of the practice. However, having studied the issue of biomechanics and body structure well, I can say with confidence: if yoga is correct for the spine, then almost any load will be adequate, and if not, then even the simplest practice will incur injuries. Correct yoga is yoga without twists, side bends and deep backbends. And it suits everyone without exception.

To everyone who is just discovering the practice, I wish sincere inspiration, childish curiosity on the path of self-knowledge. This will be the best fuel for moving along the path of evolution and will definitely lead you to the truth!

Ildar Enakaev, Kundalini yoga instructor

– A friend brought me to my first Kundalini yoga class. Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita said: “Those who are in trouble, who are in need, who are curious and who seek absolute truth come to me.” So I came for the first reason – there were certain problems. But then everything was transformed: after the first lesson, I got a certain state, a result, and decided that I would continue to study.

Yoga for me is something more than can be said or described in words. It gives all the opportunities and tools, sets the highest goals!

I wish people to be disciplined both so that the practice of yoga gives results, and so that they simply be happy!

Irina Klimakova, yoga instructor

– A few years ago I had problems with my back, with the intestines, I felt constant nervous tension. At that time I worked as an administrator in a fitness club. There I attended my first class.

Yoga for me is health, mental and physical. This is knowledge, improvement of oneself and the capabilities of one’s body. 

I think that yoga is about regularity. If you want to achieve some results, practice every day. Start with 10 minutes to make it a habit, buy a beautiful rug, comfortable clothes. Turn it into a ritual. Then you will inevitably begin to achieve success not only on the mat, but also in life!

Katya Lobanova, Hatha Vinyasa yoga instructor

– The first steps in yoga for me are a test of the pen. 10 years ago, after a session at the institute, I gave myself a trial week of yoga. I went around the n-th number of yoga centers in Moscow and tried different directions. The desire to dig into the unconscious and at the same time find an alternative to choreography prompted me to take the first step. Yoga has linked these two intentions together. For 10 years there have been many transformations: in me, in my practice and in relation to yoga in general.

Now yoga for me is, first of all and without illusions, work with the body and through it. As a result – certain states. If they turn into qualities of character, then this means a change in the quality of life itself.

The load in yoga comes in all colors of the rainbow. There are also an incredible number of yoga areas now, and if a person who wants to do yoga (bodily) has health questions, it is worth starting to practice individually and deal with the possibilities and limitations. If there are no questions, then the doors are open to everyone: in the classroom, correct teachers give different levels of asanas.

The concept of yoga today, of course, is “stretched”. In addition to asanas, they bring under it: meditation, vegetarianism, awareness, and in each direction there is its own number of steps: yama-niyama-asana-pranayama and so on. Since we are already diving into philosophy, the concept of precision does not exist here. But if a person chooses bodily yoga, it is at least important for him to be aware of the “do no harm” rule.

My wishes on Yoga Day are simple: fall in love, be healthy, do not forget about honesty towards yourself and the world, realize all your intentions, and let yoga become a tool and helper for you on this path!

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