Maggie Levien MALAGA, SPAIN
In a most palpable quality of grace which surrounds Maggie, she attributes the popularity of her yoga programs to those who have come before: “It works well for me, I feel, because I am treading in the footsteps of the lineage of yoga Gurus…so students are receiving their guidance and good wishes all the way along. People like our Ashram and YTTCs because they are authentic.
” Maggie is genuinely passionate about upholding authenticity, capturing the traditional Indian practice of yoga both in her teachings and in her personal practice, “The yogic lifestyle and the path of Bhakti yoga are very close to my heart, so these are the two paths I teach at our Ashram.” She is the Director of Yoga Alliance International for Spain, her trainings have her travelling between her home there, and India each year. Spirit of Yoga is her gorgeous training center in Malaga, Spain (in the small scenic village of Iznate in Andalucia)…while in winter months, she is in India leading trainings at the ashram in Rishikesh.
As a student, Maggie didn’t make a conscious decision around which particular lineage she wanted to learn and teach, “I can say the style chose me! I teach Classical Yoga (the traditional yoga of India)…….to be more specific it is the style of yoga explained by the Sage Patanjali Muni, in the Yoga Sutras, and is in fact the eightfold system of Astanga-yoga.” Maggie also offers trainings in Yoga Therapy because “At our Ashram we teach with a therapeutic influence as this means the asanas can be adapted and modified to meet the needs of most people.” This very physical healing nature of yoga is such evidence of its scientific nature enfolded within its teeming philosophy.
The depth to which she practices is fulfilling in her teachings because “I have the blessed opportunity to share with others that which I love most. My Spiritual Master once told me……If you are going to teach yoga then teach Bhakti as well!” Only a person with such a refined sensitivity toward the spirit of yoga can translate this to her students as well as Maggie does.
“I had a call from my heart to teach yoga, and since childhood I have loved to teach and share that which I am passionate about.” This, to me, is the reason anyone should enter into teaching the practice of yoga. She has always known she had the call…it seems to come from such a soulful place in her. It is the quality of this refinement and clarity of purpose, that is strengthened in yoga’s continual practice, the “simple living and high thinking” which brings our Being into alignment and strengthens us. And she hopes to inspire her students “By sharing the ancient tradition of classical yoga……..by sharing the spiritual knowledge which is the basis of that tradition. I trained at Kaivalyadham Yoga Institute, in Lonavla, India. This is an institute with a lineage of yoga masters, which emphasizes following the ancient tradition of yoga as set out in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Because I trained at this noteworthy institute I feel I have a sound grounding which can be shared with my students. All my yoga teachers have taught me so much; so when I teach, I am sharing something of the knowledge that I gained from my own teachers.” The essence of these words is actually the way that yoga is taught within India.
As my own heart is in India, I understand its draw for her but I was still curious how she came to offer her trainings in two locations…“I have had a passion for the spiritual life since my early teens and this has taken me on a voyage of discovery, through many countries and meeting with many Saints and spiritual teachers. India has played a large part in my life…it IS my life, really! Consequently this quest brought me to yoga, and following the dictates of my soul. I trained first as a yoga teacher, and then later developed the YTTCs at our Ashram in Spain, with the guidance and encouragement of my Rishikesh yoga teacher, my Bhakti yoga Spiritual Master, and Swami Vidyanand of the YAI. Mostly I travel to India as the culture of India embraces the yogic lifestyle, and I have many friends and mentors in this wonderful country who are yoga teachers and ayurveda practitioners, who all support and guide me!”
When we have such a deep commitment to yoga we’re confronted with those things that we struggle and wrestle with most in life, which can be most challenging at times. Maggie offers such a graceful expression for those times in her life: “Yoga is a way of life for me…so everything that comes along…both the beautiful and the struggles, I see as part of that path.”…this is so realistic because it’s true. Really committed practitioners of yoga know this apart from those who carry the assumption that yoga is all smiles and superficial bliss.
But always what follows any kind of struggle or wrestling that may come with the yogic practice, always remember there will be that moment that happens…that unanticipated moment of precision that only union with life can bring together when allowed to flow. And Maggie’s way of acknowledging this in her students actually left my heart beaming, as it’s a deep insight and respect toward her students and the process: “When a student suddenly has an Ah-ha moment…when something suddenly becomes clear for a student and you see happiness and light on their face!” To me, this is a statement and an observation from such a generous heart.