Live your yoga: an exclusive interview with Aadil Palkhivala.
Aadil Palkhivala's teaching of yoga does just that. In a most delightful way he touches both the depth of spirituality and the needs of the body. His teaching is very much a reflection of an inner search for truth, as well as a life-long study of holistic healing that was initiated well before his birth. Aadil's mother studied with BKS Iyengar during her pregnancy. By age three, Aadil had begun observing Iyengar's classes and by age seven, he had begun formal study of asana and pranayama. Aadil was awarded the Iyengar Advanced Yoga Teacher's Certificate at age twenty-two.
Acknowledged as a "Teacher of Teachers", Aadil is the founding director of Yoga Centers in Bellevue, Washington, which is attended by teachers and students from around the world. Aadil also teaches in Japan, Mexico, Europe, Canada and the United States. He holds degrees in law, physics, and mathematics. He is a certified Shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist and a certified Naturopath and Ayurvedic Health Science Practitioner. Aadil has been a keynote speaker at the Body, Mind, Spirit Symposium every year since 1998. He currently writes for Yoga Journal and speaks nationally in support of continuing education for medical doctors In alternative/complementary medicines.
In a recent interview for New Life Journal, Aadil spoke of his inspirations, understanding and approach to the practice and teaching of yoga.
Q: Who are some of the most significant influences on your spiritual life and practice of yoga? How did their influence shape who you are today?
A: The spiritual mastery of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of Pondicherry, India; my wife, Mirra's intuition, insights and spirituality;, the asana mastery of B.K.S. Iyengar; and a relentless pursuit of a higher and higher level of truth have been the greatest influences that have shaped me. It was subtly imprinted upon my consciousness at even the age of three, while watching B.K.S. Iyengar teach my parents, that the asana and pranayama was an important tool for cultivating the body fully. It was years later that the purpose for this physical cultivation became understood when I read that Sri Aurobindo's work included bringing the higher levels of consciousness down into the physical body, and eventually into matter itself. The integration of Iyengar's mastery over the form of the body and Sri Aurobindo's explanation of its function--to hold the spiritual force--is what has led my continued efforts at a more wholesome synthesis of mind, body, and spirit. I have found that I feel most fulfilled when every day is an education and a chance to exceed yesterday. Thus, one of my most significant influences continues to be regular conversations with my wife on the deeper and more profound aspects of yoga. It is a blessing to have a spiritual guide in-house! Because of her insights, she is able to observe the subtler nuances of my mind and emotions. Her daily feedback on the inner workings of my consciousness, which to me sometimes are not as obvious, is a constant reminder for me to progress on the path of yoga. The foundations of even Mirra's work lie in the unfathomed magnificence that continues to be Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
Q: Descriptive imagery and stories seem to permeate your teaching, articles on yoga and asana, and guided visualizations on tape. What can you say about the use of images and stories in the study and teaching of yoga?
A: There is a saying, "The universe it not made up of atoms, but of stories." We remember best and feel the most deeply when our education comes to us in parables, in images, in ways that allow us to feel rather than simply think. Thus, in yoga, as in all education, I suggest teaching using juicy metaphors and allegories rather than dry fact.
Q: With the current popularity of yoga, many classes focus just on movement and asana. How would you guide students and teachers to bring the whole of yoga into their practice and the whole of their yoga practice into their lives?
A: Having practiced asana and pranayama personally with B.K.S. Iyengar, and having studied with him for over three decades, I was additionally blessed with my family's strong spiritual connections with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Thus, it has always been my aim to teach not just asana and movement, but the whole of yoga, bringing yoga into all aspects of life. Using Sri Aurobindo's phrase, I call the yoga I teach Purna Yoga. At Yoga Centers College of Yoga in Bellevue, Washington, we are working intensely to teach teachers how to incorporate all of yoga into their practice and live yoga in their lives. Teachers will, for example, learn how yoga postures affect the emotions and which postures are best done at which time of the day to maintain a balanced mind. This is the first such school anywhere, and our hopes are that those who come to the Yoga Centers College of Yoga will learn the methodologies and imbue their lives with the aroma, the fulfilling flavor that is yoga.
Q: How would you guide people to avoid injuries in yoga classes?
A: During the practice of asana and while helping students when I teach, I have injured most of my body parts from my toes to my neck. After hundreds of injuries, including some that were debilitating and put me out of commission for months at a time, I have realized that there are two sides to this question. One is this: certain injuries may be necessary to promote self-growth, so it is inappropriate to say that all injuries are bad. Indeed, many of my major lessons in practice have come from learning how to deal with my body when it has been injured. Additionally, it has made me a far superior teacher in two ways: one, I have compassion for people with injuries, and two, I now know how to treat people who have injuries very effectively.
The second part of this answer lies in the avoidance of injury, for not all injuries are learning experiences; some are just a result of inattention. I realize that practically all my injuries resulted from my not being present, not being acutely aware of what I was doing at the time of the injury. Thus, my suggestion to students is not to do a rote routine, a mindless practice in the hopes that if they get through the practice, something will happen. I tell my students, "Be present in the moment and make every action come from a force of intention and will, knowing where you are going to go before you begin. This is the secret of avoiding injury--total vigilance and awareness."
Aadil Palkhivala will offer a 5-day yoga intensive seminar at Lighten Up Yoga March 24-28, 2004. For more information and to register see www.lightenupyoga.com and call 828-254-7756.
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|Publication:||New Life Journal|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2004|
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