Mein erstes Interview. Immer öfter werde ich gefragt, bei welchen Lehrern ich schon geübt habe und welche ich faszinierend finde. Um das greifbarer zu machen, versuche ich nun langsam Interviews von Lehrern zu sammeln, die mich in der Vergangenheit begleitet und ich mit YOGATONIC kennenlernt habe. Ein persönliches Gespräch und ein paar Fragen bieten mir einen ganz anderen Einblick.
Mein erstes Interview und das gleich mit einem männlichen Yoga Lehrer : Stephen Thomas.
Wenn mich männliche Yoga-Lehrer faszinieren, dann aber richtig. Sie sind meist nicht die Art von Mann, die dem weit verbreiteten Klischee entsprechen, nur "Mann mit Trackingsandale" wagt sich auf die Matte, der Rest sei nicht beweglich gut.
Aber welcher Mann treibt schon Yoga - diese Schublade wird immer grösser.
Warum ein Interview mit Stephen Thomas: die Stimme.
Nein - Oberflächlichkeit bei Seite, in meiner ersten Stunde bei ihm im Air Yoga Studio in Zürich, hatte ich, wie eigentlich bei jeder meiner Yoga-Asana Stunden nach dem Schulterstand Schmerzen im unteren Rücken. Gründe gibt es dafür anscheinend viele, nur Lösungen habe ich noch keine gefunden.
Doch ein lockernder Griff von Stephen, und der Schmerz war weg. Das hat mich nachhaltig beeindruckt und ich bin immer wieder in seine Stunden gegangen. Diese Stunden sind besonders von der Asana- Abfolge und er korrigiert extrem nachhaltig. Mein Eindruck ist, dass er besonders viel Wert auf eine genaue Ausrichtung legt. Ich hatte den ein oder andere Aha Effekt in seinen Stunden, die mich bis heute begleiten.
Stephen Thomas ist als gebürtiger Kanadier in der Schweiz gelandet. Er unterrichtet Hatha Yoga basierte Klassen bei Air Yoga Zürich. Von diesem Ausgangspunkt strömt er weltweit zu Workshops und Retreats aus, um seine lange Erfahrung aus Asien von modernem und traditionellem Hatha Yoga, Pranayama und Meditation weiterzugeben.
Ich traf Stephen in einem kleinen Café in Zürich.
Die Fragen stammen von meiner liebsten Yoga Freundin. Sie hat mich zu meiner ersten Yoga Stunde gebracht und gab mir jetzt die richtige Denkanstösse für mein erstes Interview. Selbst kann ich nur den richtigen Ton in meiner Muttersprache treffen, daher wollte ich auch Stephens Worte in seiner Muttersprache belassen.
How would you describe yoga to someone who has never done, nor heard about it before?
It is a practice, which is designed to heal the body and the mind. So, on a relative level it’s something that could be done just to create vitality and health. It happens first in the physical body, then in the energetic body and eventually in the mind (although they are in reality all interconnected). For many people, I would say that is a starting point. Then yoga has a certain quality, which is missing a bit in our culture. It has a wonderful ritualistic aspect. It’s a chance to create awareness and mindfulness and to come to a place that feels sacred and timeless. I might not describe that to people but rather let them find out for themselves. Ultimately, Yoga is a pathway to discover the self, to find the roots to the self.
Usually when people start doing yoga on a relative level, it wakes up something. They get curious and then without needing to explain it, they are already on the inward journey,… like traveling anywhere. You start a journey and then you start to realize, “hmmmmm, there is more to this”.
What does yoga mean to you?
On a relative level, I can adjust my own energy and find vitality, health and sacred space. I just get a lot of joy out of it. The practice means to me; asana, pranyama and meditation. And then it becomes a practice also of watching myself off the mat. How do I feel off the mat? That’s a lot more important to me. How are my relationships, how do I engage with people? How do I feel in situation where I do feel uncomfortable, where my buttons get pushed? What can I do in my community? And because of that process it becomes a spiritual practice for me. But, that is very personal and I think people need to find it in their own personal way. The practice on the mat just basically gives you the technique to take the steps. And then it becomes very personal.
How are you combining the two lives the "normal life" and the "yoga life"?
Well, for most people, it starts at the beginning to feel dualistic. Like there are two things. That was my feeling as well. Many get the feeling, either I live in "here" or in "there". But anyone who has the courage to stay with it long enough (especially if they get taught well), notices that the duality eventually changes and you don't really see the separation anymore. Life comes into the mat and the mat comes into the Life. It sounds cliché but it really does. There is of course that interesting phase where you suffer a bit, ...relationships to people and things and the diet might change or you might go through a big phase of cleaning and reorganizing. But when you get through that, then its easier to come back into an integrated phase. Life just starts to makes sense for you and you end up enjoying life more fully with less guilt and stress. All those things that I did before Yoga they just have a new texture to them, but they are all still there.
Do you have any un-yogish habit?
Well that goes back to your previous questions, I do not think of separation anymore. For me its really simple: Is the activity or habit taking me towards my centre where I feel myself calm, powerful and clear, or is it taking me away from that place?
Therefore, some habits in the beginning of the yoga life, you may need to cut them. For example, “coffee”, I was really addicted to coffee. So in the beginning I had to cut it completely in order to break the mental addictions. Later, I could come back and have free choice that served me. Now I enjoy it, but it doesn’t rule me (laughs… although some days I wonder?!!). Look, for some drinking wine or beer is a slippery path that leads very fast away from their centre and so they maybe have to cut that completely. For others, the glass of wine is not an issue at all. So, it’s individual and it also depends on the stage of the practice. It is very much according to the karma of the student. Yoga should enable freedom and clarity. You get out of the addictive mind and you go into a place where your mind serves you rather then being the master.
What lets you continue doing yoga every day?
Just the passion for it. I love it. I love it because it just feels so clear in my heart that is what I want to be. As my work, I feel very blessed that I can work with people at this level. I had a mentor in the early days who said: drop the whole lifestyle, drop the whole money issue, just what do you really want to do. Then you work from the heart, and if you become a worker from the heart you cannot loose. I don't have to fight it to keep going.
How did your intense engagement with yoga change yourself?
Mostly in my relationships. First, it changes the relationship to myself and then it allows me to see something in other people,... to see who they are in their essence, which is a really nice way to see life. You still see the chaos but you also see what is behind the chaos. It developed a lot more compassion and tolerance in me. Simple things are giving me much more joy and it puts a bit light onto the shadows of life, which is hard in one sense because then you have to confront yourself but I would rather be working to confront myself than hiding in a closet. It feels more awake to live that way. It’s real. It is not only a practice about getting blissed out, it’s really a practice of seeing what is there, which is both the dark and the light. And in the end, finding an appreciation how to live with that reality.