Special Interview with coconuts bangkok
; http://www.coconutsbangkok.com/ on 26.07.2012
Yoga by the Sea: Master yogi speaks of upcoming workshop, rewards of Ashtanga yoga
Master yogi Sushavadee “Sasha” Chalermwongsavej is leading her second Yoga by the Sea two-day retreat at the Regent Chalet Beach Cha Am this August 17-19 in conjunction with Yoga Journal Thailand. Coconuts Bangkok’s Yvonne Liang had a chat with Sasha about the wonders of Ashtanga yoga and more.
What does yoga mean to you?
According to the sage Patanjali who compiled the Yoga Sutra, “yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” And that is what yoga means to me as well.
How long have you been practicing/teaching yoga?
Ten years of practice, and almost eight years of teaching.
What do you find rewarding about being a yoga instructor?
It’s just naturally so rewarding to share something this great to other people and see how it transforms their lives! I have a few students who no longer need any medication for migraine only by practicing yoga regularly. Another cured himself from a liver disease at a stage when it could have developed into a cancer and even his doctor was completely surprised by the result. Or a teenage girl who finally came to love herself just the way she was through the practice of yoga. Another gentleman who is a management of a big multinational company also told me that his day would be filled only with happiness if he does yoga that morning.
When and how did you develop your teaching style of yoga?
This traditional yoga that I practice and teach is called Ashtanga yoga. It is a knowledge that is passed in succession from teacher to student. Being a student and a teacher of this tradition is like entering a river that has been flowing for thousands of years, a river that age-old masters have followed into an ocean of knowledge.
Over the years I have developed my teaching to make Ashtanga yoga possible for everyone. And I like to teach with some modifications to allow each student to express him or herself and at the same time still keep the core principles of the practice.
A few common criticisms of Ashtanga are that it is too difficult or it is only a physical exercise or it is meant only for young and fit men. The truth is that the practice provides a combination of strength and flexibility that can support both men and women equally. Therefore it could be a wonderful tool for us to learn how to completely love and respect our bodies.
How would you characterize your style of yoga?
Ashtanga yoga, which literally means “Eight-Limbed yoga”, is a traditional system taught at Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in South India. The Ashtanga method emphasizes “vinyasa,” a Sanskrit word meaning “breath linking movement.” Each asana, or posture, is linked to another through breath and movement, creating a flowing sequence. The practice naturally generates intense heat in the body, facilitating the removal of toxins and the purification of the internal organs. Excess characteristics, such as extra weight or physical tension, are gradually diminished. The result is improved health, strength, and flexibility.
Sweat is an important by product of vinyasa, because it is through sweat that toxin leaves the body and purification occurs. After the body is purified, it is possible to purify the nervous system, and then the sense organs. When this is accomplished, mind control comes automatically. And vinyasa creates the foundation for this to occur.
And why do you think it’s become so popular?
Because it just works. Just by following this sequence with correct breathing, almost everyone would feel the benefits right after their first class.
What are some of the benefits of yoga?
Yoga has a number of benefits, physically and mentally. The primary series of Ashtanga is called “Yoga Chikitsa” and it literally means “yoga therapy.” One becomes stronger and more flexible. Spine is re-aligned, circulation and immune systems work better. The practice also creates internal heat that assists the body to release toxins through sweat. Besides, the mind becomes calmer and quieter. This peace that many people find in yoga practice feels a lot like homecoming.
In addition, the practice of yoga has taught me so much about clarity and balance. Through various stages of life, our role shifts or expands and we are surrounded by different responsibilities and priorities. Our yoga practice can enable us to embrace these changes along with our redirected energies. The years of practice therefore become a framework for how we show up and live our lives each and every single day.
What can we expect at Yoga By the Sea in Hua Hin this August?
Sand, sea and sun plus traditional yoga filled with lots of fun and vibrant energy. Last year I taught the first season all by myself to the group of more than 40 students. It was great to see how people really enjoyed their time on and off the mat. And this year, my friend Kranti who has long been leading a successful Ashtanga program in Tokyo will be teaching together with me. Not only he is a very dedicated practitioner for a long time, he is just so much fun to be around.
Where do you normally teach yoga?
I used to teach at a few studios, and even had my own school before. These days if I am around, I’d teach a few private yoga classes a week and a few yoga workshops a year. And soon I’ll be teaching yoga through my new “Be Well” application. I am very excited to share not only a number of yoga tips but also various thoughts on well being to many more people through a mobile device. It should be ready for download from Apple App Store by mid-September.
What’s the best piece of advice that you can give our readers?
Many times I was told the reason why one does not practice yoga is that he/she is too stiff. Just as we would never think we are too dirty to take a shower, none of us needs to be flexible before stepping on a yoga mat because that is what you will gain from the practice.
My teacher Pattabhi Jois said in his book “Yoga Mala” that “It is impossible to try to describe the sweetness of sugar. Only by tasting sugar can the experience of sweetness be had. So too will people experience the asana by practicing it.”
For more information about Yoga by the Sea, contact:
+66 2635 5185 ext 15, 19, 24, 26