Do gurus pretend to be meditating? How to master advanced asanas? Why should you practice forcing yourself? Should you repeat mantras?
Yoga instructors and lots of enthusiastic learners often look like they are not of this world. They are supposed to wear dreadlocks or polish plaits, dirty clothes and rags. They also often have a strange vacant stare. Such an image can certainly scare away from the ancient practice and make you go to the gym or simply lie on a couch. Luckily, there are such teachers as Karina. If she is in good humor, she can wear some mad colorful leggings, but she usually wears leather jackets and high heels after classes, breaking the stereotype. Karina quotes yoga teacher Manorama, “I am not my body and I am not my thoughts, but I have a body and I have thoughts.” She adds, “I like to look beautiful and I’m glad to inspire others.”
Karina Hluhovs’ka, 29
From Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Lives in NY, USA
Jivamukti Yoga teacher
- There was a time when I practiced two times a day. But that was exhausting. Now I take a day of rest.
- Sometimes I don’t want to practice at all. I find thousands of excuses not to work. Then I try to find the reasons of this unwillingness. If it is laziness, I force myself. If I am tired or weak, I do not practice as it may be harmful. When I have a desire to redirect my energies, I relax by dancing or painting. Any serene and peaceful activity can be some kind of yoga.
- For all beginners, I’d like to quote one of the greatest yoga masters Pattabhi Jois, “Do your practice and all is coming”. Brief and to the point.
- Don’t have a hang-up about results in yoga! Before classes, we set our personal intentions, for example, an intention to dedicate this particular practice to someone. If you didn’t succeed physically, it doesn’t matter at all.
- My favorite asana is a baddha konasana, because it is the most difficult one. I have always wondered how people can perform it easily without any problems. You just sit with your hips opened; legs are bent at the knees and dropped out to the sides. You bend down, touching your heels with the navel and touching the floor with your forehead. It was really hard for me and I could barely move. I have mastered this posture lately. I used to worry about the performance of the baddha konasana, but now I am always excited about it.
- The teacher Manorama said once, “The best-kept secret in Yoga is that no one likes meditation.” Some people think it is easy just not to think of anything. But it is not, it is a mind training, an observation of your thoughts. You also should not identify yourself with your thoughts. It is really, really hard, even for me.
- I meditate every day. I usually do it after classes or after practice. The initial aim of asana practice is considered to be the preparation for meditation. As anybody else I have thoughts like, “What would I eat now?” But I have moments of silence when my thoughts are calm and I can control them, letting them pass like moving pictures.
About good habits
- I am a “lark”. I get up early in the morning even on weekends. I set an alarm clock for 5 minutes before waking up as I like to spend some time in a bed, putting myself in a positive mood. I get up and drink a glass of room temperature water with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Then I take a contrast shower.
- I have a flexible schedule, but my usual working day includes holding some classes in different studios and one-to-one practice. I always take a book with me wherever I go to spend some free time productively. I get to bed by eleven o’clock so that I have enough sleep to regain strength after hard day.
- I have been a vegetarian for many years. After I had given up eating meat, my taste preference changed and now I am really into healthy food. That doesn’t mean that I eat only lettuce. I like Indian and Italian cuisines but within reasonable limits. However, I have a sweet tooth. I love chocolate and I have it every morning with a cup of coffee.
About Jivamukti Yoga
- One of the concepts of this yoga style is the use of sound. My teacher Tamir Samir is famous for the perfect music selection. I like her idea and I try to follow it. She said that a soundtrack should inspire to practice and help to focus. “If the track has lyrics, they have to correspond to the class atmosphere.” I mainly play instrumental music.
- Religion is one of the approaches to God. Yoga is a spiritual practice which helps open up yourself and can get you closer to God. I was attracted with Jivamukti Yoga. Although main mantras we repeat in Sanskrit, there are also Christian, Buddhistic and Muslim texts.
About the serenity
- There is a stereotype that yogis never get angry; they just sit in a comfortable posture and enjoy their life like everything is okay. Practice doesn’t solve all the problems, but it rather gives the keys, methods to develop your self-awareness. It doesn’t make you calm, but it helps to realize why anxiety arises.
• Of course, I lose my temper when somebody does wrong to me or other people. Then I cannot but fight for justice. But yoga teachers say, “We do the best we can with what we have”. Maybe, that’s what we should remind ourselves more often.