Aum Gaur Goa, India

If you ever need a good dose of happiness in the morning, jump on your scooter and go to one of Aum’s morning yoga classes (if you happen to be in Goa, that is). This is exactly why Aum teaches, and he delivers. Aum began teaching yoga because he felt so much benefit from it that he wanted to share the health and happiness he was experiencing. He also wanted to share the value of more than just asana practice because as Aum says, “a flexible body is a flexible mind… you have to stay calm if you are doing good yoga poses, and stay calm even if you are not able to do any yoga poses, no aggression or regression. This gives you stability and strength in your body and mind. It’s a large journey to see beyond stretching and become happy living in the present time”. Bringing back this balance is what Aum enjoys about teaching Hatha yoga, the fine balance of masculine and feminine. He also teaches such a nice Iyengar class following the Hatha practice in the mornings.

Aum is such a generous beaming person with true dignity and self-respect. His self-respect is evident in his genuine kindness, his respect for, and openness to others. He was so touched one day when one of his students said to him, “Aum you never give up on us”…the reason this moved him is because of his ability to see the potential in everyone; and he believes that if there is faith and devotion to the practice, it helps the student and the teacher both to grow…this leading to happiness. He believes we can all come back to the flexibility of a child.

I asked Aum if he ever struggles with the practice and he said “yes, but it’s a healthy struggle. It’s always there to improve the self and the student”. Even choosing yoga as a profession in India was a struggle for him because ”yoga in India is a part of life, it’s not a profession”. In India, the yoga practice is by the heart, so Aum has faced challenge in teaching those foreigners who come with a logical approach to yoga…students resisting the letting go of logic and having faith in the heart. He has in the past seen this as a struggle, but has since learned from it and adjusted to teach in a new way “so this struggle has been good”.

Aum himself became a student of yoga because at that time it was a tool to find his happiness, a way to bring him into the present moment. Things also became physically easier because of the asana practice, and he was more relaxed…in being with himself, and in his relationships with others.

Aum’s experience at a Vipassana Meditation retreat in 1998 was the real turning point for him in his relationship to himself and to life. It was after this that he could be seen riding his bicycle all over town, talking to everyone, gathering as much information and learning as much as he possibly could…this is how yoga unfolded for Aum, and his practice has brought him happiness ever since.

I asked him too about Aksha, the Sanskrit word for our true, unwavering Being that is unchanging regardless of life circumstance. Here is his thought provoking explanation: “Our true self is who we see in the mirror and it can disturb you a lot. It can be a bitter truth because we often wear one mask in society. But real life keeps showing itself and most people keep ignoring it, not realizing real beauty underneath it all. So they focus on the material which leads to unkindness. Because if we’re avoiding the self how can we accept anything else? If we truly see in the mirror, we’re all beautiful and complete like our real pure soul. Like ripples in a pond, yoga helps settle those ripples so we can see the reflection of the moon again. Practicing with the real information helps you realize who you are.”

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