INTERVIEW WITH SATTVA
Tell us about yourself?
(Laughter) I don't really know where to start. This is the type of question that makes me ask, “Who am I?”. I originally come from Venezuela and I moved to Europe when I was 19 years old. I had lived for many years in Vienna where I studied sound engineering before moving to Barcelona. I’ve been living and teaching yoga here for 8 years.
What does Yoga mean to you?
Yoga means everything to me. It mainly started as a regular practice but became a way of life. I was looking for a way to reconnect with myself but found a connection with everything.
I'm still not able to put my feet behind my neck but I’m not focusing on that. Instead, I'm trying to be at one with my feelings and with others. Being responsible for my life and the impact it has on this planet, on other’s lives, on nature, on society and on culture. That’s what Yoga means to me; integrity, love and compassion.
What was your first Yoga experience?
I had my very first Yoga experience when I was about 8 years old. I had a very esoteric aunt who was constantly seeking new healers and health techniques…
We often went to a studio where she took Yoga classes in Caracas that had an Indian Ayurvedic doctor. She took me there but they wouldn’t allow me to practice. This seems funny when I think about it today but I used to sit quietly and observe everybody practicing yoga.
What made you keep exploring the path of Yoga?
I have a strong feeling in my heart that this technique is healing me and it has helped me go through moments of fear, anger, sadness and even joy. Yoga has helped me to understand that all emotions pass by and that I am something else beneath what my ego thinks I am.
Was it difficult to find the discipline in the beginning?
Sometimes because we live in a crazy society that constantly demands us to be more, be better, be something other than we are. With Yoga it's very easy to fall into the same pattern. What from outside looks like a discipline is nothing more than one more "task" in our agenda. It took me a long time to figure that out and to understand that I have to enjoy the practice. This was very important for me in keeping my discipline alive.
What is the most important in your personal practice?
The most important thing for me is to enjoy, to accept where I am in the moment and to enter into my body and rest within my entire being.
How would you describe your Yoga practice?
Very gentle, AHIMSA, the first code of conduct from Patanjali teachings. Commonly known as non-violence. I don’t go over my limits. My practice is a way of living and I try to apply this on and off the mat. On the mat, I seek a feeling of freedom in the pose in which I can breath. I don’t seek the posture itself.
Off the mat I seek the same; a feeling of freedom in which I can breath in any situation without hurting anyone or getting hurt in turn.
Why do you think Yoga has become so popular these days?
There are many reasons for this but two are key.
One: We have reached a time in which we are so disconnected from our bodies. The moment you have a minute to connect with the body, with the breath and with sensations, you feel alive and people are seeking this awareness and reconnection. This is why people come back again and again. I have seen students who walk into the Yoga class with strong resistance and, after some months, they come and ask me how they can practice more or where they can read about Yoga for a better understanding of the practice.
Yoga meets you where you are and it has a way all of its own. Not even the Yoga teachers are in control of the healing power of Yoga.
Two: The other reason, which I think is a bit of a trap, is that we live in a very impersonal society. People are seeking community and identification since there are many people who are alone out there. This creates a market for the Yoga business. I think it's human nature that we need each other and we are meant to be in a community. The problem arises when it becomes superficial, an outfit, a good-looking body, a very flexible practice or style of yoga etc. This is how Yoga is packaged in the consumer market and it's an easy way to make something become popular.
What is your advise to any Yoga practicer?
Practice AHIMSA (non-violence), know your limits and respect them. Don’t look for the posture but that sense of feeling good, happy and being able to breath in the pose. Alignment is very important in keeping your body healthy and it doesn’t matter if you can’t do a headstand! Honor your path and keep a beginners mind. Try to learn from every teacher you meet in your journey and be open!
What do you think Yoga teachers and practicers can do to give back to the community?
Solidarity and mutual support but not through giving money to any non-profit organization. I mean solidarity and mutual support more in the sense of practicing compassion and unconditional love, giving what you would want to receive and helping others. The world needs people who are connected and think of others too. When I say ‘others’ I mean the neighbours, people on the street, your friends and your family. It is easier to give to people you do not know by buying a lot of organic food or fair-trade clothes than it is to get involved and help those close to you. The whole idea of service and giving back is great when we apply it to our everyday lives. All else, if not practiced with compassion and true intention, is just an ego trip that makes you feel good.
Read more about Sattva and check out her Yoga events on her website or social media!
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