This week we want to introduce you Andrei Ram-Om, a fantastic Dharma Yogi who travels the world giving courses and classes in yoga and self-realization. Andrei regularly visits Barcelona as well and we are lucky enough to know him in person. The other day we had a skype interview with him and now we want to share it with all of you. Enjoy!
- Tell us about yourself?
I was born in the states, MA but as a kid I moved to Colombia. Since I was going back and forth between these two different countries and cultures I never got a feeling I would belong to one single place and it gave me a specific perspective about life since the early age. So I'm used to be everywhere and nowhere, and this has formed my world vision, which is that we all belong to the same place.
- What does Yoga mean to you?
For me yoga is a process of self-realization where you reconnect trough your body and remove the illusion of what to think reality is. It´s a science that resolves the gap between you and nature, and you and your real nature, to find the reality behind the illusion of civilization. That’s why yoga is also so popular. Many people are living in cities these days and yoga is their way to find the connection with nature.
- What was your first Yoga experience?
When I was 17 years old I used to work in a nightclub for 2 years, but the urban lifestyle was not creating happiness for me, so I began to spend some time in nature, in the mountain, searching for an inner perspective. I spent a couple of years there, doing meditation and stretching poses before I even know what Yoga was. Already then I was very much into physical exercise and when I started dancing contemporary dance I met this teacher who integrated yoga poses into her classes. I really liked it and started doing research on yoga, meditation and awareness of breath. I got very deeply into it and as a result this lead to 5-7 years of self-practice, when I was often practicing yoga 5-6 hours per day. Then I felt I needed someone to guide me for the next step. Following the flow I ended up to NY and Dharma Mittra’s studio. The first time when I met Dharma was casually on the street, and I feel it was kind of destiny, meant to happen.
- What made you keep exploring the path of Yoga?
It was very clear for me that yoga is my path. Previous experiences as a kid and magical things that happened reaffirmed that I was on the right path. Magic belongs to the spirit and you have to create magic. It’s the law of cause and effect – “whatever you create will come back”.
- Was it difficult to find the discipline in the beginning?
The discipline to practice came really natural to me as I found the practice very pleasant., so I never really struggled with discipline.
- What is the most important in your personal practice?
It’s important to follow your spirit and to keep the harmony you create in the yoga room in your daily life. It does not make sense to practice all these methods unless you bring the awareness outside and share it with the people around you.
- How would you describe your Yoga practice?
Yoga exists in every moment and you practice asanas all the time. Even if you are eating you can improve your digestive system depending on the pose. The Yoga practice is something that can be used whenever you need it. Asanas are important, but it’s not only asanas. It’s very western mentality to learn yoga as if learning academic principals, do your homework, read more etc. It’s an extremely academic vision. But the truth is that the process of yoga is PRACTICE and purification.
There are many new yoga styles, which are good and efficient for quickly achieving crazy asanas, but problems will occur after years. People are practicing yoga against nature. Your practice goes through different states and I am now in the state of integration. When you really know how to do an asana you don’t have to practice for several hours. Sometimes I practice 2-3 poses during 20 minutes in full awareness and the benefits are as great.
In my personal practice I allow my spirit to lead my life. My challenges are to maintain peace which I have achieved and keep up harmony. Instead of following my mind I follow my heart in yoga, and I don’t quite mean emotional heart, but my heart is rather my spirit. Every day I practice pranayama, meditation and kriyas to keep the balance, and the rest is what my body needs.
- Tell us about your relationship with your Guru, Sri Dharma Mittra, and how your paths meet?
When I met Dharma, I just knew that this is me and this is where I belong. Some magical things happened before we met and magic belongs to the spirit.
I meet Dharma outside his studio in Manhattan when I moved to New York for the dance and I did not know he was the Yoga teacher. Before I met him I had received a book about yoga written by him and it was when I came home and open the book that I realized that it was the same man. I know our paths were meant to cross and I always feel connected to him. He has the gift of giving you everything at once if you are ready to receive it. The beauty is that we also meet outside the yoga room and share other aspects in life. We also have a special way of sending each other greeting which are trough hugs from common students. I can be in Asia and a student comes up and gives me a hug from Dharma.
- Have you had any injuries in the past?
Physical part is only 1/5 of the whole yoga practice. People don’t realize it and that’s why they get injured. They practice against the natural rhythm. In the beginning it’s fascinating to learn new asanas, but then you forget to listen to your body. You can practice so much that you become over-flexible, it has happened to me with knees and hips. In this case you lose your natural structure of the body. Your knees and hips are supposed to support the body, but if they are too flexible they can’t carry on with this duty. When that happens it’s time to change and modify the practice.
- Why do you think Yoga has become so popular these days
I think there are two aspects. One that people are seeking awareness and that there is time for an awakening of the spirit, and another is that yoga has become a business like many other things.
- What do you think is the difference between yoga in the east and in the west?
I think that the polarity influences the difference. In generally, emphasis in the west is in the body and in the east it´s in the spirit, the science of the inner world. You can look at the position and the fact that it’s opposite from each other. In the east the projection goes inwards while in the west the focus are more outwards. While the east they have many great philosophies on how to privately find yourself, whilst in the west we seek more public acknowledgement. If you look at the way we see the asanas in the west when we say “back bends” in the west they refer to “stretching your front” and “forward bends” are actually “stretching your back”.
- What is your advice to any Yoga practicer?
The aspect of self-realization is the main purpose of yoga. Remove your academic mind away and allow the postures to teach you, because in the end yoga is more experience, not a learning process. Be faithful to your intuition and find a teacher who you have a special connection with and whose goal in yoga is the self-realization, regardless of what style of yoga it is that you practice.
- Please tell us about the One Family Fund and your thoughts behind this project.
I have seen an unbalanced world and want to give something back. In the west we trough away so much food and other things that could be used for a better cause. Since I was raised up in two different countries with two opposite systems and economies I early noticed that there are so many people who have too much and so many who have nothing. There is so much poverty in the world and people don´t have the culture to share. The One Family Fund is an easy way for people to donate to a direct cause without having the doubt of where the money will actually end up. The project started about 5 years ago and we have already collected about 8000 USD, which has been used to help 2 families to buy their land and build houses, 1 woman to have an eye operation and another man to finally get his teethes fixed. And the people who have helped with the donation can go to bed with an inner bliss knowing that they helped.
- What do you think Yoga teachers and practicers can do to give back to the community?
Karma Yoga – give back! Looks at the first two steps YAMAS and NIYAMAS. There is lack of knowledge of karma yoga in the western countries, so we should talk about it more and make things happen. Yogis should share more, because we can make a difference.
Om Tat Sat
Read more about Andrei and his amazing life on his website
You can also follow Andrei on Twitter: all_is_within