Featured Teacher: Bo
Both passionate and compassionate, Bo hails from The Big Apple (New York) and is a 'jack of all trades'. Though his love of yoga is rooted in deep spirituality, he never forgets the lighter side of life and maintains a fabulous sense of humour.
Where are you originally from?
My mama. Then, New York, USA
How long have you been teaching?
Who was your very first yoga teacher and what was he/she like?
If you mean hatha yoga, it was Rudrani Farbman. She was one of those great souls whose entire life has been an offering to her Guru, Muktananda. If you've ever read Daughter of Fire, by Tweedie, you'll know what I mean. You can tell a lot of the dross has been burnt away in the fire of that devotion to the master. She teaches from that place. I feel really blessed...she taught us yoga from the inside out.
How long have you been practising?
Originally, what attracted you to yoga?
Basically, I wanted answers to life's big questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? What am I supposed to do with myself? How does the world work? What is the best way for me to be in the world? How can I be happy?
What motivates you to practise today?
The longing to be free and to help others do the same - free from physical, mental and metaphysical suffering.
How would you describe your personal practice?
Before practice, I'll pause and turn inside in some way to open to my inner teacher. I like to practise asana mid-morning around 10 am. Depending on the day, it may be a strong practice for 2 or more hours (usually 2-3 times a week). At other times, I'll just open to the breath and make it a moving pranayama. I generally build up to strong poses, countering along the way up, and then cooling down with more introspective poses. I often begin by moving the body with just enough alignment to open the channels for the breath to move and then if I go deep, I pulse with the Anusara principles. I usually finish with pranayama, meditation and savasana.
Before you became a yoga teacher, what did you do?
I've tried everything...I've worked in radio, advertising, human resources, graphic design. I co-ran a freelance graphics agency with a friend from university. I did software training for the investment banking industry. I was Personnel Director at one of Gurumayi's Ashrams. I waited tables in an Indian Restaurant.
What do you love about teaching?
There's no paperwork! Or very little. Kidding...but I do like that part. Well, I feel like I've finally found a job (see above) that truly fits. It's as if all of my past jobs and experiences as well as my interests have each found their way into an expression of my first love and interest - to truly know myself.
What do you find challenging about teaching?
Office politics; competitive, gossiping students; disrespectful, arrogant people who feel entitled just because they paid their membership fees - as if a yoga teacher's job is to cater to the ego's whims.
Describe your ideal class (as a teacher).
There would be a deep, shared respect between students and teacher. The atmosphere would scintillate with the longing to feel the joy of connecting to the heart, to one another, to the bigger energy that dances through us. The students would all have the intention to learn one particular style and take it really deep - not this buffet-style yoga of hopping from one class to another and then getting confused about what instructions to listen to in what pose. The goal would be to turn inward, to heal and to grow - not just to lose weight or look good in the mirror. If the teacher asks a question or opens a dialogue or explains something, there is an eagerness to participate, to learn, to observe, to come close and see what's being explained. There would be focus and there would be lightheartedness and laughter. Above all, we would develop a relationship, a friendship of trust and mutual respect that allows us all to go deeper into the practice. We would invoke the great beings, sages and yogis and invite their presence into the practice to guide us.
Describe a class that you would find challenging or difficult (as a teacher).
The exact opposite of above.
What teacher has had the biggest impact on your practice?
I am grateful to anyone who has ever taught me anything.
What is your most embarrassing moment in the studio (as a teacher or student)?
There are so many...Once, I went surfing with a friend before class and as I bent over to demo uttanasana, all this seawater dribbled out of my nose and on to the floor. Another time someone let loose right before savasana and a few of the younger students could barely contain themselves. I had to give the whole class a few minutes to let out their pent-up laughter. Another time, I let loose as I demo'd a twist in the front of the room. Recently, after 3 classes - 2 back to back - I lost my voice during the Anusara invocation and sheepishly asked someone else to continue. No one did because they were new people...awkward lah...
Where is the strangest place you've practised yoga?
In prison.........as a volunteer teacher.
Aside from yoga, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
I like to shop for crystals, decorate my apartment, learn to surf, take walks in Fort Canning or Botanical Gardens, invent coffee drinks, paint, read, travel, snorkel, drink a good Belgian beer, discover the freshest sashimi in town, write in the blog, rummage through Saturday street vendors' wares in Chinatown and in front of Far East Plaza, zone out on Orchard Road between classes and watch the world go by.
Describe your most profound yoga experience.
This is from my blog entry, ECSTASY, at: http://www.pure-yoga.com/en/hongkong/blogs/blog.php?weblog_id=4
The first time I chanted ONB Muktanandaya, I was in a meditation intensive with Gurumayi deep in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. It was Baba Muktananda's Maha Samadhi Intensive, a weekend retreat where Siddha Yoga students honour his Great Samadhi, the day he left his physical body and merged back into the Light.
As the chant neared its climax, people began to throw their hands up in the air wildly. Some people stood up dancing like gypsies around a fire; others simply sat there, serene and still Buddha statues. While I'm usually a gypsy, this time I was still. Earlier on, I had also gyrated and flailed my arms wildly. Later though, something began to pull me inside. I felt very much like I was sinking into the bottom of the ocean. I sank below the noise of the people around me; I sank below the forms that tossed about like frothy waves on a stormy sea. I sank below the waves of my own mind and entered a watery, womb-like stillness. Yet, in this place, I was not removed from the experience. I still chanted. I still observed what was going on around me. I was still conscious in the middle of all the frenzy.
After the chant, I went out for a snack in the café. As I walked out of the meditation hall, it was as if I were watching myself walk out of the room, aware that my body, the room and people around me, were connected in this thick viscous condensation of light. Since I was still deep at the bottom of the ocean, the waves didn't really touch me. It's more like I was the ocean and the idea of waves touching me was just an idea, a concept to describe water in a different, fleeting shape.
People bumped me, I'm sure of it, but I kept floating along. If anything, wonder, was my overwhelming experience. I bought a cookie and a chai. When the server handed me the cookie, I watched her hand over the baked good in each ecstatic detail. Every gesture of the hands, every curve of every chocolate chip, and every canyon in the golden brown soft and chewy cookie was perfect! It sent ripples of joy through me.
If you weren't a yoga teacher, what would you be?
I'd be that uncle who twirls long wooden beads around his neck, waist and shoulders in front of Takashimaya. If not that, I'd be an irreverent, mystical folk singer like Stuart Davis.