Yoga Teachers Of Colorado (YTOC) recently featured an article on Ketna Shah, who is co-founder and co-editor of MyLifeYoga. Here are some excerpts:
How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get into teaching?
I was born and bought up in India. I was introduced to yoga when young but I did not pursue it seriously then. I came to the west in my 30s and found life quite stressful, as a mom, wife, and a working executive. I took up yoga once again to relieve my stress. When my husband relocated to a different state I used this as an opportunity to make a change in my career and take up full time teaching of yoga. I have been teaching yoga for more than 10 years.
What did you do prior to teaching yoga and/or what do you do in addition to teaching yoga?
Prior to teaching yoga I had my own business. I also worked as a financial controller in a small software company. Besides teaching yoga, I am a yoga therapist and certified Ayurvedic nutritionist. I love cooking and I conduct cooking classes that demonstrate how easy it is to cook healthy and delicious vegan and vegetarian meals. I love hiking in the mountains and traveling.
What type(s) of yoga do you teach?
I have learnt yoga in India from one of the most authentic teachers of Yoga. My teachers are A. G. Mohan and Indra Mohan. They both are among the few direct disciples of the legendary T. Krishnamacharya who is the father of modern yoga, as we know it. My yoga style is gentle breath yoga and is suitable for people of all fitness levels and all ages.
How would you describe your yoga teaching philosophy/style?
Yoga is a medium to find your inner stillness. Yoga is a transformative force that touches every aspect of your life. Yoga has to be practiced regularly, at least 5 times a week, for its full potential to manifest. It must be practiced with proper breathing and should be followed by breathing exercise called Pranayama. Even better is if you can do at least 20 minutes of meditation in addition to your yoga practice.
What do you feel is the greatest benefit people gain from yoga?
The key benefit of yoga is the elongation of breath and reduction of stress. This brings balance to life and allows us to get out of our egocentric obsessions. Yoga is great to deal with weight issues, back problems, depression and anxiety, and many chronic conditions.
How have you evolved because of what you do?
Yoga has transformed my life from the inside out, yet I feel that my journey is just only beginning. For me yoga is a journey out of the ego. For those who have undertaken this journey can attest to the tremendous love, joy, and freedom outside the ego.
Do you have a favorite quote or story?
My favorite quote is from T. Krishnamacharya as it shows the importance of breath in our yoga practice:
“Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.”
Do you have a favorite asana and/or vinyasa? Please describe why this is your favorite.
Picking a favorite asana is like asking a mother who is her favorite child! More important than the asana itself is the control of the breath with which you do the asana and the fact that you completely concentrate on your practice without allowing your thoughts to waver. Asanas are not to be viewed in isolation; instead asanas are to be strung together in a sequence so that each Asana leads into the next by preparing the mind-body for it. When properly done a sequence of asanas is like a symphony that calms down your mind body system and completely centers and relaxes it.
What do you think is your biggest challenge as a yoga teacher?
Yoga is a force for healing, it is a force for relaxing and getting in touch with your inner core, it is a force to reinvigorate and reignite the creative spark. It is a way to restore balance in life and allows one to see our interconnection and love. As a teacher my biggest challenge is to bring all this to my students in a practice of less than 90 minutes on the mat.
What is the best compliment or insight you have ever received from a student?
The love and respect that I get from my students is something that I treasure. The biggest compliment I get from my students is that most have stayed with me over so many years.
What is the biggest benefit of being a yoga teacher?
Yoga is something that you are lifelong student in. The benefit of being a yoga teacher is that it allows you to have partners who walk with you on your journey into yoga. We all are able to learn from one another and discuss our experiences.
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