As a fresh-out-of-yoga-teacher-training graduate, I was hungry for anything to do with yoga; I wanted to learn more, to practice as many styles of yoga as possible and by doing so – find my own style. I spent countless hours in yoga studios, from the very posh to the quite unknown ones, in search for my inspiration. I went as far as going to many countries and practicing anything that had the word yoga attached to it (in most cases I ended up being disappointed and annoyed that I still wasn’t not getting anywhere close to my goal).
Ironically, I was once back home in Bulgaria and went to a class that changed my perception of yoga for good. The pages from the Alchemist – “All you are looking for is just where you left it.” – were echoing in my mind so clearly that it made me laugh out loud LOL. Surely I was not wasting all my precious time and energy (and by energy I mean money) before this class- it all happens for a reason.
On many occasions when I was home, I wanted to go and see the local yoga teacher Hristo Iliev but something always came up and prevented me from doing so.
Finally, I made it to the one of his classes with my newest yoga mat in hand and I entered a world that was utterly different from what I was used to.
The class was 3 hours long, on a late afternoon and held in an old public library floor, the better days of which were long gone. There was no waiting list or gorgeous receptionist/host trying to sell you coconut water or a towel for 50 EUR. There were no deals or special registration – you enter, find a spot and then leave a donation so that the room could be paid for. There was no special routine to be done (like a couple of down dogs on your own)- there was no one to impress, or to compare yourself with. You enter and you immediately feel connected to the group, no separation or nervous small talks about nothing in particular.
The people going there could not have been more different from the ones I would normally encounter at the usual yoga studios of The Hague or Amsterdam. They went to the practice because they knew yoga works – they would say ‘this is the best part of my week”. Clearly yoga to them was much more than a fashionable activity they could add to their already full agenda.
Hristo’s simple approach to yoga left me speechless – he didn’t do a fancy flow as featured in pretentious yoga magazines, but rather conducted the class in a real yogi way. Ahimsa is a big thing in yoga – meaning non-violence (it all starts with not hurting yourself) and he was going through the practice with such ease that everyone around him got the same relaxed look on their faces too.
The calmness of his voice, the simple explanation of various assanas the extensive insight into how and why certain practices had evolved – taught me more about yoga in 3 hours, than the 4 months in school trying to remember poses names in Sanskrit or the 10 most effective ways to correct them. I realised that before this class I was practicing yoga from a different place – one that provoked me to prove I can do this, rather than allowing myself to truly experience the positions and actually enjoy them.
The day after the class felt as if moving in slow motion, everything seemed so clear and vivid, down to the smallest details.
I knew then that my yoga practice would never be the same. It took one class (not counting the 6 years prior) to understand that yoga is something within you. You shouldn’t change a bend or do anything that doesn’t feel like it comes from you. I am extremely grateful for this present and I look forward to sharing the philosophy that you can enter a room with bare feet and open mind, and simply enjoy the experience. Showing you that you are sufficient and that you can do more on your own than you think. You should start where you are and do what you can, without stressing your body needlessly.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Get ready to do YorYoga differently.
Enjoy your very personal journey in yoga – it is the best one you will ever take.