The essence of yoga
1. There are many types of yoga. What is the right one?
According to Patanjali, yoga is hatha yoga or ashtanga yoga and it is composed of eight levels or limbs. These are:
YAMA AND NIYAMA-the pillars of yoga such as non-violence, non-injury by word, thought or deed, purity and cleanliness, vegetarian diet and others.
ASANAS-these are not just physical postures if they are done in a specific way (not like gymnastics)-staying in a pose for at least half a minute in combination with pranayama, concentration, visualization, mudras and bandas.SHIVA gave 84 basic asana postures in his dance where the basics of shaolin karate can also be seen. This is how yoga and all its variants developed and later on gymnastics, physical education, physical therapy for spine and skeletal system, aerobics, Pilates and others. Other martial arts like tai chi developed out of shaolin, the spiritual karate.
PRANAYAMA-breathing control with breathing techniques (I’ll talk about it later because it is the essence of yoga, especially kumbhaka-breath retention)
PRATYAHARA-withdrawal of the senses inward
Besides these, there are other techniques like mudras, bandas, shatkarma, healing of chakras and channel energy, kundalini kriyas, relaxation, different types of meditation with or without mantra. This is all part of yoga.
2. So far, I have practiced with at least ten yoga teachers. I didn’t stay long because classes were always the same and it was all about the physical exercises. As a reporter, I don’t understand why you also say that you give hatha yoga classes when in your case it is completely different and I must say that even a little yoga that I did, I did it the wrong way?
It means you are a bad student. In the world and also in our country, only a part of hatha yoga is done, and these are asanas –physical exercises with the goal to make yoga popular and that is completely ok.You have to start from the beginning and every type of yoga is good except for new yoga trends that come from the West and their only goal is to gain profit. Since those are group classes, from 10 to 20 students, it is normal that a yoga instructor cannot give advanced techniques and those classes exist so that people get acquainted with the basics of yoga. If they want to take yoga seriously, to dedicate themselves completely, they should go to individual classes at a teacher who teaches only what he himself experienced. I must emphasize that my teacher, Jovanka Kavaja, who also has group classes, has a different approach. Her each class is completely different and lasts two and a half hours. Before I start my class, I remember her words:
”KNOWLEDGE OF A YOGA TEACHER IS SHOWED IN CLASSES”
Theoretical knowledge is just a matter of your memory.
3. What is yoga really and what are the goals of yoga?
You can find those answers on the Internet on different sites, but it is literal translation and philosophical explanation. Basically, yoga is a science of mind, that is, Pranayama-breathing control and kumbhaka, breath retention and mind control. Yoga is here and now, the total awareness. That is one of the spiritual paths, and its goal is enlightenment. Every type of yoga is basically the kundalini yoga and that means healing of energy channels, chakras healing and enlightenment that can be explained as the highest level of awareness and the greatest wisdom, when you simply see things the way they are, when you go beyond dualism and completely understand oneness.
4. You have decided for individual classes. Why?
JAt the beginning, and it means 24 years ago (I have trained regularly for 38 years), I held group classes, but I realized that it wasn’t the way to teach students yoga. I simply couldn’t see them all and I couldn’t correct them if they did something wrong, and it was impossible because I had 20 students in my group. If you do asanas the wrong way, especially pranayamas, mudras, bandas, kriyas, and other yoga techniques, they can be harmful and can cause some disease.That is why I have decided to work with two or three students, and I divided the groups into six levels: beginner group 1 and 2, intermediate group 1 and 2, and advanced group 1 and 2.The classes last from two and a half hours to three and a half hours depending on the group level and the class conception. Many people think that my classes are too long because they think wrong that hatha yoga consists only of asana practice, and if it was the case, my classes would really be too long. However, yoga includes all seven levels and other techniques that I mentioned and described on the site (I also put innovations that I introduced, music meditation, sound therapy at three levels and music psychotherapy).In order to teach my students all of this I have to correct them all the time and control so that they can practice correctly .They have to be here and now all the time, aware of their body and breathing, synchronization of body movement and breathing. They have to turn each movement into meditation and every asana into meditation on breathing. Among all things, my classes are longer because I didn’t decide to give lectures and courses since one cannot benefit from them (in a few days one forgets all about it because there are too much information). I do it practically through my classes and that is the way how I teach my students.
5. Why is your yoga called the Integral yoga?
I named it that way because I don’t belong to any yoga system. Every system has its advantages and disadvantages. I do all systems but I have my own system which I mastered learning from Jovanka Kavaja, whom I consider to be an excellent teacher at the highest level. It takes at least six years to master this programme.
I am sorry for interrupting, but does it mean that people study yoga in your classes?
It can be put that way, I even have the postgraduate degree….. (Laughter)
6. Describe me your class.
At the beginning of a class is the relaxation with pranayama and visualization that lasts about three minutes. Then the warming-up comes. It lasts 20 minutes for the beginner group, 40 minutes for the intermediate group and 60 minutes for the advanced group. Warming-up is extremely important; we have to be prepared in order to do the more complex asanas.It is followed by standing meditation before the Sun salutation and meditation before the Moon salutation. Then the music psychotherapy and the second part of the class come. Before the relaxation, which lasts about 20 minutes, we do some techniques that I described on the site, and in the end we do the meditation. Before complex and difficult asanas, we do the preparation for that set which is different for every class. During the class we do combinations of asanas with pranayama, mudras, bandas and visualization. Breathing is the essence of yoga, because we direct prana into certain parts of body through specific energy channels and chakras. We do the more complex asanas that act on several levels; each chakra has its own mantra and colour and we heal it during the class. Spiritual music intensifies the effect of asanas and it differs depending on the programme we do. Since each group consists of maximum three students, I dedicate myself to each and every one so they can learn how to do the exercises correctly. Yoga begins when they don’t have to think how to do the exercises. We practice with our eyes shut, we are deep inside, here and now, we synchronize breathing with body movements and we turn each movement and asana into meditation. When asanas are learnt, we turn the entire class into meditation, asana flows into another asana. The goal of yoga is enlightenment, and meditation is the seventh level before enlightenment. I made some innovations and I adjusted them to our environment because we don’t live in India but in Serbia. My students learn through yoga how to transform negative into positive energy, prano –therapy. They learn how to cure themselves and their closest family and friends. They also learn practical things, for example how to use the breathing technique to solve the problem with cold feet or if they feel cold how to warm themselves to sweat without moving their body (just with pranayama) or they can also cool themselves when it’s too hot using the breathing technique etc.That is why I integrate all systems into my system. I integrate physical, mental and astral into one so that mind turns inward and so that we become aware of the emptiness, the silence where everything exists.
7. Why are your exercises so difficult and complex compared to the others? The first time I had come to see you, I couldn’t recover for three days and after a month I quit.
You wanted to go to the intermediate group although I considered that you should go to the beginner group .That is why it was difficult although you had practiced before that for three years. You did the same exercises for years, simple and without staying in the same position, so you have developed and strengthened only a particular group of muscles without doing the warming-up at the beginning of the class. Each class is different and in my system I teach my students at least 300 postures, not to mention the combinations of asana, pranayama with visualization, mudras, bandas….I cannot hold the same class all over again, each class is a challenge and a new experience. The class is influenced by group’s condition.
8. I don’t understand how do you profit from your classes when you charge individual classes like they were group classes? (The price of individual classes is from 20 to 50 euros per class)
A student of mine came yesterday and she was so nervous like she was out of her mind. After the class she was happy and blissful. That’s what makes me happy and what gives me the strength to proceed.
9. There are many yoga instructors. How can I know who is the right one and is degree a sufficient reason?
Degree is just the basis, then there’s a lot of work, experience, and the most significant is gift (it is called the knowledge from the previous life).Based on my experience with many teachers, a teacher has to be modest, funny, unselfish, has to share the knowledge and apply it without speculation. I recommend asking for the plan and programme of classes, because only in classes one can meet a teacher through practice and performance.
10. When I did standing relaxation in your class, I saw students swing, they hear different sounds from inside in meditation and relaxation, they have weird sensations, they have difficulties coming back from meditation and I personally saw how you looked at a student during the meditation that he fell on his back immediately like he had been hit. You do some weird things on your students and patients; I’d say rituals, with holy water and dust, prano-therapy, medicine. As a free reporter, I’m asking you who gave you the right to do that? We have made a deal that I can ask whatever I want and that everything will be published. I’m not doing the classic interview where you write questions and then I ask you those questions you wrote.
I only do things for which I’ve got the blessing from my teachers based on my abilities and knowledge. Things that you may find odd are normal and every day things for lamas and brahmans (I personally assured myself and I attended it) While I spent six days and nights in the dark in the retreat in a Tibetan monastery, I have experienced incredible things for us, and lama gave me blessing to do some things although I didn’t spend three years, three months and three days in the retreat. If you read the pilgrimage through Indonesia, then it should be clear.Suhu, a Hindu priest and shaman, has given me some knowledge and the right to do it. Besides that, I don’t charge my therapies.
11. Many of your teachers were the Tibetan lamas, like Dalai Lama,Karmapa,hindu guru Swami Satyananda,hindu priest and shaman in Bali. You spent a year in the Tibetan monastery in retreat for six days and nights in total darkness. How does it all fit into yoga?
I don’t make any difference between religions and spiritual paths. All paths are the same; they all lead to the same goal, they just have a different approach. When they asked Buddha whether God exists, he answered that when we reach enlightened everything will become clear. Things I experienced and learnt from my teachers, I apply in my life and through yoga. Yoga is just one of many spiritual paths. The most important thing is that teacher purifies his student, awakes and moves his sleeping energy and awakes the unconscious. Energy can be moved with some techniques and it can be dangerous because only a teacher can do that (raise a level of awareness) with rituals, mantra, movement, touch, and above all, with unselfish love. Things I learnt from my teachers I apply in order to help my students on their spiritual paths. I never emphasize one religion or a spiritual path, they decide for themselves. Basically, there are only two paths-spiritual and material. On the material path we constantly do the same things, we cannot be happy and thirst cannot be slaked with salty water. While on the spiritual path we achieve inner peace, there’s only one wish, enlightenment or becoming the one with the absolute. When we achieve inner peace we feel happy and relaxed. Wishes, wealth, power, glory are just obstacles on that path.
12. How do you prepare your classes?
I always improvise depending on a group, and my classes are energetic. Some asanas seem to be simple but in combination with different asanas they move the energy. On Sundays I train and I test on myself the effect of a class and then I apply it. Since my students are extremely sensitive, I consult with them and I have learnt a lot from them. One spends whole life learning.
13. I have heard from your students that you discovered a secret of anti-aging with yoga techniques and special anti-aging classes?
I consider that effect to be secondary. Come in three years’ time and see for yourself.
14. I don’t understand what do you do at the end of your class after Om singing that is longer than Iyengar on You Tube?
I send the blessings that I got from my teachers and I purify my students at three levels.
15. It is said that there is one year waiting list for your classes and that you teach only exquisite people. It is also said that a person can attend one of your classes and then later on you say whether he or she passed that test or whether they can practice in your classes. Aren’t you over exaggerating a bit?
Everyone can try my system. Firstly, people should decide whether this is convenient for them and secondly whether they can fit into the group. Each group is different and it is composed based on physical, astral and mental level. A new member has to fit energetically into that group so that class can be successful. Only if someone isn’t capable of coming, I take a new student who can fit into that same group. Since I don’t work every day due to many obligations, and my groups have two or three students, that is the reason why there’s a long waiting list.