Michel Besnard: Ashtanga & Iyengar
Expert Interview Series with trainer Michel Besnard

WATCH to learn how Michel combines Ashtanga Vinyasa energetic practices with mindful alignment of Iyengar. Michel Besnard is the director of the annual Vinyasa Flow Teacher Training as well as the 500-Hour Advance Teacher Training Course.

Lucas:

Hello, Lucas Rockwood here with Absolute Yoga. Welcome to The Art of Teaching Yoga, a collection of interviews with some of today’s leading teacher trainers. Today I’m joined by my friend and colleague, Michel Besnard. Michel, are you there?

Michel:

Yes, I’m here, hello.

Lucas:

Hello. That’s so much for joining us. So before I jump into some questions, let me just give you a little background. Michel is one of the most experienced teachers I’ve ever known personally, and he’s been practicing and teaching for over 30 years and he’s been a direct student of both BKS Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in India.

Michel’s current teachings are based on Ashtanga yoga, but his classes are always informed by the mindful alignment of Iyengar yoga as well. It’s a unique blend that is really a perfect combination.

Michel is originally from France, but he was one of the pioneers of yoga in Hong Kong and in Asia for that matter, where he opened his beautiful yoga studio, Yogasana, that continues to run to this day. So Michel is truly a teacher’s teacher, so I always enjoy gaining his insight, since he’s experienced so much more of this yoga world than me and than most people I know.

So if you’re in front of a computer right now and you’d like to learn more about Michel, you can visit his website which is www.Yogasana.com.hk. His teacher training website is www.TeachVinyasaYoga.com.

So Michel, I have a list of questions for you here, and if it’s okay with you maybe we can just jump right in?

Michel:

Yes.

Lucas:

Okay, great. Well this is kind of a loaded question, kind of a complicated question, but it’s something I’m always thinking about, so here it goes. The question is, if you had to pick just one thing that is the most important goal for a yoga teacher when he or she comes into a classroom, what would be the most important goal, if you can narrow it down to one thing? I’m not sure.

Michel:

You will start with your own practice. A teacher needs to practice, and you practice what he is teaching or she’s teaching, from what he knows or what she knows. It’s a delicate experience, passing his own teacher, passing to the students, and I think this is important. And that will also bring confidence and it brings also lot of things such as, for example, how to set up a class. Particularly if we talk about Vinyasa, and therefore a led class in Vinyasa, and I find from my own experience through my own practice, it’s easier to make a led class, which ones will be appropriate for that class.

And as a result of that, it will bring confidence to the teacher, because without any confidence you can’t stand in front of the students. My philosophy is confidence comes from learning and comes from discipline, so the discipline for your own practice.

Lucas:

It makes perfect sense. We have a lot of teachers out there who kind of jump from workshop to workshop to workshop, without actually taking the time to digest what they’ve learned on their own mat. Like you’re saying, your own practice is often your best teacher, so I think that’s really powerfully simple advice that not enough people take seriously.

Michel:

Yeah. To follow that, you see the problem is a lot of people, as you said, a lot of students go to workshop to workshop, and what they do, I found through the years, they pass what they learned in that workshop, without any experience. And here’s a danger to that, because if teaching a workshop from his own or her own experience, it may not be applicable to everybody. And therefore, the students who go through that workshop needs to assimilate what he has practiced during that workshop and make that workshop, that learning, part of his own and become his own. There will be some nuances and slight differentiation, but we need to integrate what we learn first, before we pass it on to the other students.

Lucas:

Yeah, it’s almost like if you haven’t felt it or experienced it yourself there’s no point in teaching it, even if it’s the most amazing teaching. If it hasn’t been felt in your own body, how can you share that with someone else?

I know you started out as an Iyengar yoga student and eventually settled on Ashtanga yoga as kind of the basis, but I also know you still adhere to many of the fundamental teachings of Iyengar yoga, such as alignment and precise body awareness. Many Ashtanga yoga students, like me for example, we’re not that in tune with in-depth alignment, and I know there’s a lot of negative things that come out of that. So many you could share with us a little bit about your approach and why you feel it’s so powerful to combine the sequence and flow and structure of Ashtanga, with the precision and awareness of an Iyengar-style approach.

Michel:

Well, I think no system is perfect, and Iyengar is not perfect and Ashtanga is not perfect. And what happened is … we talk about Ashtanga, I think the people with a few years of experience can experience energy in their body. So they are not really interested in the alignment; they are more interested in energy and that comes from … because …wasn’t really interested in alignment as such. If you look at his posture he used to do, but he was very much into Pranayama discipline and energy. And there’s a danger there because in yoga it takes a few years, well I think, a few years to experience your own energy in your body. Coming from a Western background, there’s certain alignment we don’t necessarily understand … as such. It takes years.

And another thing is I feel Ashtanga, because I studied Ashtanga quite late, you have to be careful. You’ve got to respect the body when you are over 35 and 40 years of age. The body is not the same as when you are 20 or 30 or 35. Maybe because I started with the alignment, it gave me a greater scope to understand work without any risk of energy, as such, particularly if you are 35, over 45 and you’ve never done much yoga before, have a sedentary job sitting at a desk or whatever and suddenly you decide to jump in the Ashtanga. It could be a risk factor there.

And so I like the alignment part of it, because it does a lot of things. First of all, people understand anatomy much more than energy. And secondly, as a teacher point of view, what it did to me, it make me understood the body of the student who were coming in my class, by observation. And then it led to another thing. It led to adjustment. And if you understand the body, because everybody has their own body, right? Everybody needs a different adjustment. Even in Iyengar point of view, we even need a different alignment almost, if we were to go deep into detail with that.

And so therefore, practicing the alignment, you feel the people will understand their body more and it’s safer for them to practice. And if you combine the Ashtanga breath, because the unfortunate part of it in the Iyengar, we don’t talk about breath. However, having said that, if you work the way it is instructed, you finish up … So it’s a different way of practicing. You understand that I’m saying? And therefore, if you combine the two together it gives you a very powerful form and safe form of practicing yoga. On the other hand, the Iyengar said it’s not Iyengar, and Ashtanga says it’s not Ashtanga. What we need to realize is injury and having the right alignment without forcing, accepting the body we’ve got, it’s a great tool for people.

Lucas:

Well, I think no system is perfect, and Iyengar is not perfect and Ashtanga is not perfect. And what happened is … we talk about Ashtanga, I think the people with a few years of experience can experience energy in their body. So they are not really interested in the alignment; they are more interested in energy and that comes from … because …wasn’t really interested in alignment as such. If you look at his posture he used to do, but he was very much into Pranayama discipline and energy. And there’s a danger there because in yoga it takes a few years, well I think, a few years to experience your own energy in your body. Coming from a Western background, there’s certain alignment we don’t necessarily understand … as such. It takes years.

And another thing is I feel Ashtanga, because I studied Ashtanga quite late, you have to be careful. You’ve got to respect the body when you are over 35 and 40 years of age. The body is not the same as when you are 20 or 30 or 35. Maybe because I started with the alignment, it gave me a greater scope to understand work without any risk of energy, as such, particularly if you are 35, over 45 and you’ve never done much yoga before, have a sedentary job sitting at a desk or whatever and suddenly you decide to jump in the Ashtanga. It could be a risk factor there.

And so I like the alignment part of it, because it does a lot of things. First of all, people understand anatomy much more than energy. And secondly, as a teacher point of view, what it did to me, it make me understood the body of the student who were coming in my class, by observation. And then it led to another thing. It led to adjustment. And if you understand the body, because everybody has their own body, right? Everybody needs a different adjustment. Even in Iyengar point of view, we even need a different alignment almost, if we were to go deep into detail with that.

And so therefore, practicing the alignment, you feel the people will understand their body more and it’s safer for them to practice. And if you combine the Ashtanga breath, because the unfortunate part of it in the Iyengar, we don’t talk about breath. However, having said that, if you work the way it is instructed, you finish up … So it’s a different way of practicing. You understand that I’m saying? And therefore, if you combine the two together it gives you a very powerful form and safe form of practicing yoga. On the other hand, the Iyengar said it’s not Iyengar, and Ashtanga says it’s not Ashtanga. What we need to realize is injury and having the right alignment without forcing, accepting the body we’ve got, it’s a great tool for people.

Michel:

Oh, you don’t want to hear the worst part. My experience with Iyengar, the last time was in 1993 so it’s quite a long time ago, and I feel that speaking to some of my colleagues it has changed. And actually I’m thinking to go back and spend some time there again. The best experience is for any teacher, I feel that it’s important to have an understanding of Iyengar, and for me I’m very grateful that I studied in a way, but it was meant to be that I studied that way with Iyengar. He made us understand the alignment, but more than anything else he’s a very hard task master.

For example, the first week, the first month we were there we were doing standing posture. All we were doing, literally standing for two hours, and you have to stay in the posture. So you have to really — he was pushing your button to the edge, completely to the edge. And so some will like it, some don’t like it. So some of us, anger would arise or whatever. He had the ability to make you in a way — that’s one thing that I promised never to do in my teaching. You were never, ever good enough. You are never good enough. I know that my way of — we can always better ourselves, but you were not good enough, never good enough. And he was the only one who was good.

It was circus also when I was there, but by the same token, you learn a lot. You learn a lot because we spend a lot of time in standing posture, we spend a lot of time in headstands, for example, 10, 15 minutes in headstand, up to 45 minutes in shoulder stand with a variation. A lot of backbend. You were not doing one backbend. You go beyond what you could do, and it was amazing that the third week we would be doing backbend, you would do 20, 30, 40 backbends, whatever. In that respect, I enjoyed that. But the same token, that was reinforcing our own ego, and that’s the part I didn’t like.

The other thing, I find it really amazing is Westerners, we were not good. We didn’t understand yoga. We were not good enough. Western people were not good enough. There was kind of humiliation there. I was fortunate because I don’t know why, because when I met him in 1993 we became friends. And so although I was a friend, this is an interesting thing, with friend he used to give you a hard time in class. I don’t know why. Outside the class he was very nice. He was talking, and if we go to the library in the afternoon he would talk to me and everything, even about personal things. But in a class he would always humiliate me or try to put me down. That’s why I felt anyway. This is what friends are for, I guess.

The last time, I felt when I went there, I had enough of everything and I didn’t feel like my practice was getting any further. Maybe that was me, I was impatient and everything, so I studied Ashtanga. The difference between, at that time I don’t know when you went in 2006, but at that time it was very friendly. Everybody was supporting, because the Ashtanga practice, it’s a very strong practice. But I was stretching next to an Eastern or this guy and they were very kind, very supporting and very encouraging. That was the difference between Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, where Pattabhi Jois, he almost a fatherly experience. He had a fatherly — what do you call it? He was like a father to us in those days. It was very kind and everything. But the thing which I didn’t like, it was his adjustment. For me it was okay, but I’ve seen quite a few injuries while my time there. Maybe some people didn’t experience that, but I did experience that. At the end of it, the last time I went there, we had to move fast and I would do the primary series in 45 minutes, for example, because there were some people waiting and so on and so forth.

Two different characters. Iyengar was a task master, demanding, absolutely to the utmost of his students. Pattabhi Jois had a kind, fatherly image towards us. The drawback for me was his adjustment. Adjustment was really, for me, horrible.

Lucas:

For me, I think that Ashtanga yoga is such a wonderful base for a new teacher to have, no matter what style of yoga they go on to teach. Everyone kind of ends up on a different path and maybe they end up teaching the primary series or maybe they end up teaching yoga in a local community for people recovering from accidents. There are so many different ways to use yoga. I know you feel the same way about Ashtanga yoga as a base.

And since a lot of our listeners today are students who are considering becoming teachers, perhaps you can share with us why you feel Ashtanga yoga system in particular is a really good foundation from which to start a teaching career or teaching practice.

Michel:

Absolutely. And I’ll tell you what the reason. The reason is you’ve got a set practice. You’ve got primary series, second series, third series, whatever. And for beginners, what I find with Iyengar, if you were following his book like we were doing it, it would take six, seven hours to do. The people are confused, because what they are doing, one morning you get up and say, oh I’m going to do headstand, oh I’m going to do this. Honestly, Lucas, I don’t know what is going on now, that’s why I want to go back to him, because I don’t know what’s going on. But in 1993 that was happening.

While Ashtanga, it’s first of all for beginners, it has a set practice and it doesn’t matter if you do the primary series, half primary series or a quarter of the primary series, because it’s all repetition and through discipline you are going to discover how your body is reacting to all these postures, how the awareness of your body through such-and-such posture. Whether you complete that posture or not, I don’t think it’s an important thing, but you have a program. You know what I mean?

It’s like you’re going to take a plane and the pilot said, well good morning, we are going to go to Barcelona or to Paris, but I don’t know which way I’m going to go but we’ll get there. With Ashtanga you’ve got it. If you follow that practice it’s a wonderful practice, and if you are very cautious about it, you don’t push, you become aware of your body, the body will open much quicker. That’s my experience. Much quicker than any other practice of yoga. For example, I had a knee problem when I was doing Iyengar. People said Ashtanga break your knee, but it’s the opposite. When I started doing Ashtanga, within three months my knee problem disappears. I think that it’s the heat and because you do the repetition.

If we look at what Patanjali says, if we look at the yoga sutras of Patanjali, what does it say? Sit at the same time, do your meditation and it’s the same thing with. Ashtanga, with Ashtanga practice. We need to get up in the morning and we need to do the practice. When we have a set of practice we know what we are going to do. We don’t have to look or search or feel the mood we are, how to practice.

Another thing is, the Ashtanga, the primary series, if a person could practice even the primary series into the rest of his life or her life, this would be wonderful. You’ve got everything. You’ve got the standing posture, you’ve got the forward bend, you’ve got the twist. As you’re aware, you’ve got the backbend, you’ve got inverted posture. It opens the body totally, because I believe that in your yoga practice you cannot do only standing posture one day and the next day something else. It has to work. The body has to be working completely. So you have the primary series. And of course one thing we must not forget, also the second series, because the second series sometimes we forget it. It balances out with the first series.

So you have a complete practice here. It brings you discipline, it brings you awareness of your body. It’s a very powerful tool for a future teacher to practice.

Lucas:

Yeah, I think that’s so true. It’s like you said, if you have this complete practice as a base for your teaching, you can always simplify, you can always teach less, but at least you have a full understanding of the full potential of a practice. So in that way it really becomes a solid base for teaching.

Michel:

If I may add, you were talking about the people who go to workshop early on and teaching without experiencing it. Now, I believe that you take a style, whatever the style is, and you go as far as you can within your own ability, your own conviction, as car as you can with that style. That will lay the foundation for anything you want to do in the future, and then you can move from one direction to another.

But if you move from one style to another, like digging a hole looking for water and you dig a hole and stop after one meter and dig another hole and dig another hole, you won’t get the water, and you will never get the experience. And so for me, Ashtanga, that’s what it does, in a way. It provides me an opportunity to experience my body, to lay the foundation, to lay the grounds for whatever I want to do in the future.

Lucas:

Well great. This is a little bit of a different subject, but an Ashtanga friend of mine, his name is Alex Arnold, he’s been a student of Ramesh for a long time, and I know that you are, too. Not many yoga students today know of Ramesh, and I just know a little bit from some of the books that my friend Alex has showed me. Since I know these past years you’ve been going to visit Ramesh, maybe you can tell us a little bit more about this teacher and perhaps give students a little bit of an idea of the world beyond yoga asana.

Because of course we all start with asana and for most of us it still is a huge part of our practice, but it’s a bigger world. So maybe you can give us an idea about your experience with Ramesh and just with other yoga teachings as well.

Michel:

Yeah. Well, one sad thing is Ramesh passed away three weeks ago, Sunday three weeks ago. He left his body three weeks ago. And so I feel very fortunate that in July I went to see him for the last time. Having said that, Ramesh, his philosophy is very … Therefore, all consciousness, that’s all it is, there’s nothing else, only consciousness. Having said that, he was a student of Nisargadatta Maharaj, who wrote the book “I Am That.” He died in 1953. Ramesh’ philosophy wasn’t what he did to me, that’s the only thing I could say. In a way, it brought me attention and make me — what’s the word — using yoga in my everyday life.

When I talk about yoga, I’m talking about not asana. I’m talking about following the yoga tradition, whether it’s … or the Tantra. More or less, he combined all these philosophies and turned it into a dualism. It was simple, his philosophy was simple, but by the same token, it was quite difficult to understand. That’s why the people, I’m sure your friend Alex, must go back several times to try to assimilate and to contemplate what Ramesh was trying to say.

However, he was saying it in a very simple language and really much for Westerners, which is much easier for us to understand. What he explained to us is we are all searching for happiness. However, life is dualistic and you cannot live your life without pain and pleasure. It’s a fact. Somebody close to us may die or a child may have an accident and everything. That brings us pain. On the other side of the coin, we have pleasure.

What he was saying more or less, is the pain and pleasure only happens in the body/mind organism, which the body/mind organism includes that … conditioning on …, and the soul is the body. So in a way, it’s very much like … We are …, we are connected to the universal consciousness. And so because life is in duality and because we cannot escape pain or pleasure, what we need to do is in a way, total acceptance of what it is, because whatever has happened, we cannot change it and where we are now, wherever we are now, had to happen in order to be where we are now.

In order to explain the present moment, … complex, and they call it the working mind and the thinking mind, because he’s saying in everyday life we need to work, we need to function in society. And therefore we have a mind which we need to remember the past, the present and the future. Otherwise, we don’t get anywhere. If I couldn’t remember what appointment, what class I’m teaching and so on and so forth, we wouldn’t function. And so therefore, that mind needs to be functional, in a way. So it’s a functional mind.

The other side of the coin is what he called the thinking mind, the non-functional mind, the mind which when we have something happen to us we think it over and we think that we are doing it. And then we say something very simple, such as I shouldn’t have done that, and I’m sure we all have experienced that. I shouldn’t have done that. What he says, when you say that, it brings guilt. That guilt transforms into misery. More or less, that’s what he’s saying, in simple words. That’s my interpretation of it.

So forget about that guilt, forget about that. It’s okay to feel anger. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel hurt. But don’t associate with that, don’t activate that mind and think about what you could have done, what you should have done or what you will be doing in the future. Because for him, my understanding of that is that is living in the present moment. So when that happens, feel the happening and move on. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be any reaction in your body/mind organism. You may cry, you feel sad, but there’s no attachment to it. That’s more or less his philosophy.

Lucas:

Yeah, I love the simplicity of it. So many spiritual teachings and yoga teachings, they get so complicated to the point where you need a PhD to understand what’s going on, so I love the simple approach.

Michel:

Yeah. In the yoga tradition it is very complex. Some of yoga tradition is very complex. But Nisargadatta Maharaj was able to bring it to a very simple level to the students. And his teacher, by the way, Nisargadatta Maharaj, didn’t know how to write or read and he was just living in the slum of Mumbai. He was just a little shop keeper who was … all day. Interesting.

Lucas:

Yeah. My question is, this yoga world is just getting bigger and bigger every year and the movement is spreading to, it seems like every country in the world now is getting yoga. Wherever the seed of yoga starts it seems to really, really grow. For me I think it’s wonderful, and I just wonder what advice you give to perspective teachers getting started, and serious students who are now considering the next step, when there’s so many different options and there’s such a vast array of yoga.

Michel:

That’s a loaded question, too, isn’t it? Once you are practicing yoga, whatever style you have, if you are attracted to it, following it, pursue it to the very depth of it. It comes back to, I think I agree with you, some people say oh there’s so much yoga, it’s becoming commercial, it’s becoming this, it’s becoming that and everything, but you know, this is the evolution of yoga. We are doing yoga in the 21st century, not 2,000 years ago, and therefore we have to follow with the trend and the flow. What it has done, it has brought yoga to the … When I started 30 years ago, we were a branch of kind of hippy type of thing, and more or less that’s what we were. And now you see bankers, lawyers, every part of the society are involved in yoga.

And so to come back to your question about the teacher, considering the next step, well the next step is first of all, as I said before, they need to practice. There are so many yoga teacher trainings now, so you have diversity to choose from. And so what you need to do is make some investigation within yourself, whether you want to be a teacher. By the way, if you don’t want to be a teacher doing a teacher training will enhance your practice anyway. And so it’s worth considering that. The advantage it will get them is to investigate and look and feel in tune with one program and be open-minded, empty your mind and immerse yourself as much as you can.

Lucas:

Yeah, no it’s great. We have so many potential teacher trainees who come through our programs each year, and one of the common things is that people sometimes feel like they’re not “good enough,” or they feel like they’re not ready to teach. It’s kind of this thing about insecurity in terms of whether they, because maybe physically they’re not at a place where they feel they could be on the cover of Yoga Journal and they’re concerned that maybe they’re not at a place where they’re ready. I know I have my own thoughts on this, but I’d love to hear your input on this insecurity that comes up and how people should deal with it.

Michel:

The insecurity, I could bring that to Ramesh in a way, because we should, you see, we should be something else from what we are. A yoga teacher or potential yoga teacher, one of the first things she or he needs to accept, in a way, is accepting the body, and work from their own body. Not to compare with somebody else, as you said, from the Yoga Journal. If we accept the body and work with our own body and accepting your own body, that will give you our own security. I think I said that before. If we are practicing, it doesn’t matter what we’re practicing, when we are practicing confidence comes, and confidence brings security.

I remember in 1984, when I was with Iyengar, I spent six months with him then, and at the end of it I said — in those days we didn’t call him … we used to call him Mr. Iyengar. And I said to Mr. Iyengar, I said, Mr. Iyengar, I want to continue practicing. What shall I do? His eyes came out of his head and looked right through me and said, teach. Teach what you practice and teach what you know. I was already middle aged when I started yoga. And he said that. It’s true. One of the best teachers in Iyengar is a guy who has a lot of problems, he got an extra … body and he’s a great teacher. Everywhere you go in the world, everybody says how great he is.

And so it’s not what you can do; it’s what you practice. It’s not what you can do; it’s what you practice. And so practice is where confidence and knowing will come from, and then that insecurity will move away. Say for example if you can do only Sun Salutation and standing posture, teach that. Teach it. Teach your friend. Start with a friend and your community and everything, and they will realize that people will come to you and say, wow I enjoy your class.

Another thing is, to me, flexibility has got nothing to do with yoga. Awareness is yoga.

Lucas:

It’s interesting that you say come back to your practice, because it’s just so true. A lot of times the insecurity just comes from lack of experience. People who are practicing consistently have a lot less troubles with insecurity, in terms of their teaching, regardless of how their postures look. The obsession with perfect posture goes away pretty quickly, when you become focused on the personal path of growth.

Michel:

Yeah, and I want to add something. If you look at Pattabhi Jois, he didn’t have a teacher training. He just practiced. He says, practice, practice, practice. 99 percent practice, 1 percent theory. When a teacher reached a certain standard, he would authorize them to teach.

Lucas:

What if you had to start all over again, and starting before you ever came into yoga and you’re starting as a new student? Is there anything that you would have done differently or any mistakes that you would avoid or any teachers you would seek out? If somebody’s just kind of discovering yoga now, with all your experience — we’ve touched on a lot of this stuff already, but is there anything that you would, looking back with hindsight, is there anything you would say to people who are just getting started?

Michel:

I wouldn’t seek any other teachers, because I think I was very fortunate to have the teachers I’ve had. Whether that was Iyengar, Ashtanga, my Pranayama teacher or even some friends I was in contact with in the West. So I wouldn’t change anything.

The only mistake I’ve made, and I think that’s for everyone, maybe not you, Lucas, but for me it was a big mistake, wanting to do too quickly, too early, too much. Pushing my body to the utmost. This is why Ashtanga is a beautiful practice. If you accept your body, you do your own practice, you don’t do more. You do your practice every day and that is finished. But pushing your body beyond the body can take. And I’m going to say my ego, because when I started yoga my ego was as big as Hong Kong and maybe bigger, and I hurt myself.

In one way it’s good because then your injury becomes your teacher, but later on in life you pay the price for it, I can assure you. So if it’s one mistake I’ve done and I wouldn’t repeat it, and when I’m teaching I’m trying to enforce that notion, is don’t be in a hurry. Enjoy your practice. Do the best ability you know how, not the ability of the person next to you, and enjoy the ride. Enjoy the journey.

Lucas:

Well great. We’re nearly out of time here, but I just had one more question that maybe we could talk about. I know you’re originally from France, but like me you spent a bunch of time in Asia and I know you spent a lot of time in Australia and you’re traveling and teaching all the time. At your courses, there’s always students from at least a dozen countries, sometimes more.

So I wonder your thoughts on the international yoga community and this idea of is yoga different in different countries or is it all the same? And how are all these people brought together by this one practice?

Michel:

I don’t think there’s much difference. Our mindset may be different, but I don’t think there is much difference between one country to the other. Maybe our … will be different, because growing up in say Asia, for example, particularly in China or Hong Kong or Japan, it’s different. Of course it is different. For example, I just came back from Japan, and in a way it’s wonderful to teach Japanese, Asian people, because they do whatever you are telling you to do. They are not questioning the teacher. But at the same token, I like also the interaction with the West because they’re challenging you. They are not scared to challenge you, to ask questions. Why are we doing the posture that way? Why teach that way? And so on and so forth.

So there is little different, but I would say there’s such a subtleties but no major differences. Yoga is, right now, since what the last 10 years, bringing the world community and it’s just quite amazing to meet people even from now Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia. They are practicing yoga, China, everywhere in the world. And so it’s not the last maybe 20 years it was India and Australia, New Zealand, England, USA and a bit in Europe, but now it’s all over the world. So it’s magic, in a way, because it brings a strong community together, and maybe the world may change coming out of that. Who knows?

Lucas:

It’s almost like it’s a cross-cultural practice that just kind of strikes a universal nerve that people connect with, regardless of their background, regardless of their ethnicity, regardless of their religious beliefs, it just seems to — yoga seems to work. It seems to be powerful and effective in changing peoples’ lives, whether it’s in Argentina or in Hong Kong or in Paris. It’s pretty interesting to see where this will go.

Michel:

I think this is what people realize. It’s much deeper than just exercise. It goes much deeper, and as a result, human beings are getting more aware of himself or herself and better human being. Like you said, whether it’s Brazil or Australia or New Zealand or Cambodia, we are searching for the same thing. Really, we are striving for the same thing, and it seems to be that yoga brings that about into each one of us, if we practice long enough. That’s why it’s wonderful.

Lucas:

Well great. I just want to thank you so much for joining us today, Michel, and sharing your insights and all your experiences. For me it’s really been fun, informative and I know our students are going to love this, too.

So again, if you’re listening today and you want to learn more about Michel, you can visit his website which is www.Yogasana.com.hk. Or else his teaching training site, which is www.TeachVinyasaYoga.com. Again, this is Lucas Rockwood with Absolute Yoga, and this has been one of our featured interviews in The Art of Teaching Yoga Series.

Thanks for joining us, Michel, and goodbye for now.