Kevin Sahaj: An Exploration of Yoga, Meditation, and Martial Arts [Interview]
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One of the best things about our job at BookYogaRetreats.com is that we get to meet and chat with plenty of likeminded minds. And on special occasions, we get the opportunity to discuss thought-provoking topics with truly impressive people. This time around, this happens to be Kevin Sahaj. His extensive experience as a yogi, his deep knowledge of various forms of Buddhism as well as the impact he’s had on an extensive community of yogis made him a highly sought-out teacher in the Netherlands and abroad.
Before we get down to the outcome of our interview where discussed his search of truth and meaning (among other topics), I’d like to start by sharing a bit more information about his background.
You may find it interesting that though he is now quite well known in the world of yoga, Kevin Sahaj was actually a martial artist before he became a yogi. Through his training, he was seeking the mind-body balance through the path of combat styles.
But somewhere along the way, he had a spontaneous awakening moment. At this point, he felt the urgency of finding more truth into his life in a more direct way. This is when he began to learn about the practice of meditation under the tutelage of SN Goenka, a renowned teacher of Vipassana Meditation.
Since then, a number of teachers across the globe continued to shape him and influence his life – in Nepal, in Thailand, in Japan, and many other locations. Kevin also spent 8 years in India studying with a master of yoga, K. Pattabhi Jois, who fellow yoga teacher, Eddie Stern, also studied with.
He, of course, changed as he gained more experience and knowledge but over the course of 30 years, one thing is for sure – He never stopped learning or pursuing new ways to further his inner growth. He is also passionate about sharing the lessons he learned and is among the teachers who will be featured on the upcoming Inner Peace Conference happening this month in Amsterdam.
Image credit: Thehouseofyoga.com
Without further ado, here are the results of our discussion on yoga and beyond. Hope you’ll find it as insightful as we do!
Since you started out in martial arts before you began your yoga practice, how does your background as a martial artist help you in your yoga and meditation practice as well as in your career?
My martial arts background prepared me at a young age for physical, mental and spiritual discipline. When I started practicing yoga, all that training really helped understand the dynamics of energy and movement. This is especially true for the inner martial arts of Tai Chi.
It helped me connect with the subtle inner flows of prana while practicing asana. My teaching now incorporates many aspects of martial arts in what I call ‘Sahaja Healing Yoga’.
As a yoga teacher yourself, what do you believe to be the traits that a good yoga teacher should always have?
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A teacher should try to help a student according to the students’ needs and circumstances, and a teacher should only teach what they have practiced and integrated into their own life.
How do you find the right yoga method for each individual? Would you say that each and every individual has different needs and aspirations, or were you able to identify a few common denominators?
The best way we can find the ‘right’ yoga for each student is through our own intensive practice and study as well as many years of practical teaching.
A broad integrated knowledge of all aspects of yoga is necessary to suit the various needs of each student. What is common to all is the desire for freedom and happiness but this takes on different forms according to the individual. Therefore, there are actually many types of yoga (not just asana) to suit everyone's needs, desires and inclinations.
It is believed that consistent yoga (asanas) practice can help us to tune into the energy of prana and be more in harmony. Can you share tips on other ways one can effectively do so?
Image credit: Thehouseofyoga.com
The best way to tune into our authentic energy (prana) is our connection to the breath, and our ability to be present and mentally undistracted as much as possible. So, a very easy way to harmonize prana is call "vase breathing" it involves letting your breath settle effortlessly into the lower belly and this is like filling a vase with energy that increases the energy and balances prana.
Like all yoga techniques, you must learn this from a good teacher to make sure it is working correctly. I always teach this technique to my students, it comes from the Tibetan yoga tradition.
Thank you for sharing your insights. One last question before you go...Since you will be amongst the teachers who will be speaking at The Inner Peace Conference, could you shed a light on why do you think it is so important for us to find inner peace – especially in modern society?
If we don't have inner peace there can be no outer peace in the world. We live in very difficult times and yoga seems to be helping people come back to some inner peace.
Want to follow in Kevin’s footpath and learn how to attain inner peace? A yoga and meditation retreat may be the perfect choice to start!