Thursday, December 27, 2018

Interview with Kushal Ram, Ashtanga Yoga Teacher in Mysore

Kushal Ram Yoga | Ashtanga Yoga Teacher in Mysore

Kushal Ram is one of the newest and youngest ashtanga yoga teachers in Mysore, India. He started teaching ashtanga yoga in Mysore just four years ago, but in such a short time he has already attracted many loyal and regular students. They praise his teaching skills, and his popularity keeps growing day by day.

I have not practiced ashtanga yoga with Kushal but many of my friends have. When I've asked them about their experience they all have only very positive comments to share.

I take their feedback seriously. Most of them are yoga teachers and advanced practitioners.

I met Kushal several years ago in Mysore. We have many mutual friends. He is such a nice and friendly guy. The first time I met him I think he had just started to teach ashtanga yoga.

One of the qualities that I admire the most about Kushal is his devotion and respect towards his teacher. His teacher is not an Indian yogi. He is actually Federico, from Argentina, one of my friends who I've met in Mysore before.

I used to tease Kushal, in a friendly way, because of his devotion towards Federico, knowing that they are both my friends.

But to be honest his devotion and respect has served him well. He has learned and progressed so much in the yogic path, and in a very short time.

His popularity is growing by the second, and today he is teaching in his own yoga shala in Lakshmipuram. This was actually the same yoga shala where Masterji used to teach.

Of course, Kushal is also very dedicated.

After learning the ashtanga yoga primary series with Federico, he went on to do a teacher training course with the senior local teachers: BNS Iyengar, Masterji and Ganesh Kumar.

Kushal with BNS Iyengar in Mysore
Kushal with BNS Iyengar

Kushal with Masterji and Ganesh Kumar
Kushal with Ganesh Kumar (left) and Masterji (right)

In September, before I visited Rishikesh for a month, I had a small conversation with him about yoga. I was impressed by his clarity and depth.

He is very knowledgeable, and he is very aware that asanas are just a means to an end, and a preparation.

At the moment I thought, "I should interview this guy!" So I said to him, "Hey Kushal, when I come back from Rishikesh I will interview you for my blog!"

He laughed, but I was very serious. The very first thing I did when I came back to Mysore this November was to meet with Kushal.

I know, that was a while ago. It has taken me a long time but, on my defense, I was also working on the interviews with Surinder Singh and with Siddhartha Krishna.

During the interview with Kushal I also realized that he is a good talker.

I wanted to ask him several questions but just on my first question he went on and on for almost fifteen minutes! He almost answered all my questions without me asking.

At the end I decided to ask him only four questions cause the interview was already quite long. I'm sure he is also going to be a great philosophy teacher.

Kushal is now 27 years old. That is almost the same age my teacher, Vijay Kumar, had when I interviewed him back in 2014.

I thought that was just an interesting fact to share with you.

Interview with Kushal Ram, Yoga Teacher in Mysore

The video includes subtitles. You need to activate them by clicking/tapping on the "cc" on your YouTube video player. Below you can find the video transcript.

01:52 How did you start your yoga journey?
11:32 Why do you teach yoga?
19:34 What is yoga?
22:16 What message would you like to transmit to your students?

1. How did you start your yoga journey?

In the school I've went to one class, for yoga class. Then the teacher asked me money. then I asked my parents and my parents said, “Okay, you stop practicing,” because they said before it’s a free class.

So I come back and there was always something happening inside to go and learn. It was in the seed form in the childhood.

When I grew up and I finished my school, then I enter the higher school, like after tenth grade.

I found some article in the newspaper. There was a kind of workshop for like 10 days or 15 days yoga workshop. So I just went. I got kind of basic yoga practice

So then I started to practice at home, and then I started to follow videos.

And then again I finished the school and I started to go work. Again I couldn't concentrate on my practice.

After a few years of work I was not happy in my career. Always something is telling, “okay this is not your place, this is not your place.” I was not happy at all in my job

Then I completely get down. I was kind of a depressed. Maybe upset. I don't know it is upset or depressed. And also my health is going down, down, down

Then I said, “What to choose? Choose the drugs or choose the practice?”

Finding inspiration from his mother

Then I felt my mother helped me to give me fire, because she worked all day. She was not taking rest.

I was wondering because I couldn't do like that, because she's woman and even I'm a boy and men, but even my father is not like that. He’s very kind of lazy but my mother is
very active.

Then I raised the question, "Why you're like this?"

I even brought washing machine but she's not washing the clothes in the washing machine, she used to wash by hand, plenty of clothes.

When I asked her, "Why you're doing like this?" she said:

"I have a very bad past. So if I sit doing nothing my mind starts to think. It remembers the past memories. So I go crazy, I cannot keep myself calm and happy.

I work, I do my physical activities through many work, from morning till evening so I cannot concentrate, my mind doesn't concentrate on the past. So it stays in the present.

After finishing the work my physical body is tired. So again my mind doesn't want to think because it needs rest, my body wants rest. Then I eat food, I go and sleep.

I stay healthy so I become more normal."

Then I took myself back to my school days. I still could remember all the yoga practice. Then I started slowly. I started with 10, minutes 15 minutes half an hour. And I started to engage myself into all the work.

When I started to practice pranayama and asana my body and mind started to become coordinated with each other well and my darkness started to remove, the lightness started to enter. Because it just, the darkness disappeared.

So slowly, slowly I felt more healthy. I felt kind of there is new energy inside

Meeting his teacher

I was just practicing by myself but later I unexpectedly met my teacher, in a gym. His name is Federico.

I didn't know ashtanga before, ashtanga vinyasa but when he showed me the ashtanga
vinyasa practice, I was just in wonder and I just loved it.

In the beginning I was just confused, "Is that yoga?"

Then he said, "I will teach you"

But I took a long time. I said "I don't have money" but my teacher said, "You don't need to give money you can just practice. I will teach you."

I took a few weeks and then, I went one day directly to his house on Sunday when he was in his day off.

I knocked his door, he came and he he taught me the Sun Salutation and the prayer.

I loved it very much. I just felt in love with ashtanga vinyasa practice. Then I said okay I'm coming from tomorrow regularly.

So then I started my journey with ashtanga practice.

My teacher taught me. Then he went back to his country. His country is Argentina

Then I started to practice by myself, alone. So everyday regularly I practiced.

Whenever I had a doubt I used to ask my teacher and he used to give me his guidance, online.

Becoming a teacher

After I’d learned the ashtanga primary series some people asked me to teach.

I was just worried because still I was learning but later I asked my teacher and he said, “Okay I will help you. You can try. You have that capacity."

He just gave me a strong motivating word to start teaching.

I just tried because whenever I was taking class with my teacher I used to feel myself coming out and looking at myself. Like observing my own body, and the adjustments, and how the body moves.

I just transferred what my teacher gave me, I just gave it to my students. They liked it very much. Then I felt, "okay then, go forward, go forward."

Then I started to want to do a teacher training with the Indian teachers, because my teacher is a western teacher. I want to go more, understand more deeper, with our senior Indian teachers.

Then I took a teacher training with BNS Iyengar, Masterji, people called him Masterji his name is Viswanath, and Ganesh Kumar.

So I took teacher training from them and then I understood more traditional practice, and the science behind yoga, and yoga philosophy.

Then I just keep teaching as well as learning so whenever I get the chance to learn from the other senior teachers I used to go and learn.

Still I go every month. We have a philosophy class in our own language, sometimes in Sanskrit.

I go to the ashrams and I learn philosophies to deepen my knowledge and to understand. I also went to learn some basic astrology and Ayurveda because all these things were in a single system before, to treat the person if he is ill mentally or physically

Because we cannot give the same medicine to everyone. Everyone’s body is different. Everyone's mind is different. Everyone is unique

So I started to find a unique method of teaching for individuals because I met many people who are suffering different problems. Sometimes the same way of practicing doesn't helps.

Sometimes, if the person is normal the practice is okay but if the person is having different issues, health issues we need to go and very technically to solve.

This motivates me to go and learn.

I'm happy, but there are many challenges that come every time. I’m happy because it's coming to me, then I think I'm ready to face this challenge because whenever the problem comes it means we are ready, that's why it's coming.

When the yoga started to come it means that I already have eligibility to practice yoga.

I feel I'm blessed in this life because finally I've come to the yogic path in this life, so I feel I'm very close to my destiny, close to the liberation.

And also I'm thankful to my masters and the divine powers which have given me the energy to also take many of my students with me towards the liberation or the yogic path.

I'm very happy

2. Why do you teach yoga?

It's a funny thing because when I was practicing my teacher raised kind of the same question

"Kushal why you are practicing yoga?"

I gave a funny answer to him just because. It was not so serious, I just wanted to make fun and I said, "I am very short so I need that yoga can help me to grow taller."

So my teacher said, even though I was funny but my teacher became serious and he said, "Kushal, first be happy with what you have. Don't expect. Have no expectations and practice.”

Even in the yoga sutras Patanjal tells

Abhyāsavairāgyābhyāṃ tannirodhaḥ

One has to practice with detachment. Cause whenever we have expectations we always suffer.

So then some light comes up in my mind. “Yes my hands are good. My legs are good. There are no disabilities in me.”

My mind just turned inside and looked at others, where people are disabled, when they couldn't walk properly when they couldn't stand properly. They are suffering everyday to get up and to do their stuff, and they’re depending everything on others.

I think this was the first time I felt I need to help others because when my teacher started to help me then the same thing is transferred into me without taking the guidance from others or how to start teaching. So the seed just started to sprout.

After a few months of practice my teacher said, "Oh you have a good practice, you can teach later."

So then I started to believe in my teacher's words but I was not thinking to become a yoga teacher, because I started yoga to heal myself, my mental illness and my physical issues, because I used to get acute diseases.

Whenever the weather changed I always had a gift, from the weather. I used to get cold and fever. It was showing me that my physical health is very weak. It cannot resist the changes in the weather.

And it was used to stay for a long time. If the cough comes it was used to stay for a long time. If the cold comes it used to stay for a long time.

Every time I used to suffer like, "Why it's happening? Why my body cannot resist?"

So then I understood that yoga would help to duplicate my energy, and it would help me to resist all kind of diseases. I can improve my health as well as I can improve my spiritual health.

After one year my health was completely changed. My body was completely changed. I was not getting sick even if I would get a cold, after for 2 or 3 days it would go off. It's not staying for a long time. So I felt nice

So then why [teach yoga]? Because whenever we have a good thing we need to share, otherwise it just goes with me.

Because many people are suffering outside so if it is any helpful so I think maybe it's good to
share because if my teacher didn't share to me, I couldn't feel, I couldn't have
this life, I couldn't have this good health.

So it's my responsibility to transfer, to help who is in need.

Fortunately I got the platform, I got the place to teach.

I got a few students in the beginning. I started with two students. I was just wondering, I didn't know people like it or not.

When people started to come, more and more, then I said, "Ok, if the people are liking it, if the students wants me to teach, then why not? Start and develop."

There is no other better job I think.

If I get job like this in which I can help people, not cheat people, because I used to work in kind of call centers and hotels. I always found many work and I always got frustrated because my work is harming others. It's not helping others.

But when I started to teach then I felt, ”Oh here, this is my place, this is my platform.” Here my mind becomes happy. My mind is happy and my work is happy, so I can enjoy my work.

Because when we don't enjoy our work we are not happy in our life. Then I decided, “Ok, if it is my place, if it is my job in this life, make it wonderful. Do as much as possible. Learn as much as possible. Help as much as possible."

I don't know how much I can do, but I try. There is no limit, but I try my best to help

This is how my teaching career started, through my teacher. Whatever I do now it all started with one word from my teacher. It changed my mind. It changed my way of thinking of life, and I stopped thinking on myself and started to think on others.

So now I'm happy because I don't think of myself so I don't suffer.

Because he's a teacher and he said, "Kushal, be happy with what you have, first.” Then when I'm happy it's my responsibility to tell the same word to others. Because many people suffer everyday

"I don't have this. I don't have health. I don't have a hand. I don't have this. I don't have money."

The whole society always suffer. The people suffer because they always think they don't have. They don't look at what they have.

They always suffer because we look everyday, we look the world around everyday, there is always something new.

People always get attracted, always think they don't have that and every time, if you take a vehicle, every year there is a new vehicle, every month there is a new vehicle. So if I don't have, if I'm not happy with what I have, then everyday I'd suffer by looking at the new things.

So when I started to become happy then I stopped expecting and I stopped suffering

This is what Buddha said, "The sorrow starts when we expect. The giving hand is always full. The receiving end is always empty."

Whenever I wanted to receive, my hand was always empty. When I started to give my hand was always full. I don't feel I'm empty. I feel everything is in me. So I have everything.

There is nothing to receive. Then I feel I'm rich. I’m rich inside.

Even if people have money but if they cannot give it from their hand to others, they are very very poor.

3. What is yoga?

Yoga is a science.

Through the science of yoga one can live a better life, because it explains theoretically and it shows practically, how one will live better compared to who doesn't practice yoga.

Yoga itself, in the scriptures, in the yoga philosophy, yoga itself is a Samādhi, means one get the evenness of the mind.

"Sama" means "even." "Dhi" means, "mind or buddhi."

Once yoga is achieved the mind is completely in the equilibrium state. One doesn’t get fluctuated inside. He stays stable. He cries, he loves but he comes back to his center.

He doesn't get lost. He always comes back. He enjoys everything with more awareness.

He doesn't becomes attached to this world, because according to yogic philosophy this world is not so permanent. It's permanent and is impermanent. It's both.

One should understand this illusion. To understand this illusion one has to understand yoga. One has to learn.

So yoga helps to look clearly this world. Then he doesn't becomes afflicted by anything even with his family, even with his body. Whenever he wants to leave he just leaves, peacefully, with bliss.

We get attached always with the materialistic world, which is not permanent. So when the person practices yoga, he becomes conscious.

That’s what we call yogic consciousness. You are always aware of this impermanent world and the materials.

When he knows he's just changing his dress he just happily goes. When he doesn't know he's getting the new dress, he always cries and suffers to keep the old dress, old things

Once we know, once we have the clarity that we are having the new life, the wonderful thing next, we don't become attached with the old things. We just leave, we just go.

It's like a new vehicle

When I know I'm getting the new vehicle, I don't bother about the old vehicle. So is the same thing, but to understand that one has to start practicing yoga.

4. What message would you like to transmit to your students?

For my students, and all the people in this world, start, as much as possible try to find a way to enter to the yoga practice.

There are different ways of practicing yoga. I’m not saying you don't follow Buddhism, you don't follow Jainism, but the essence of yoga is covered with all.

To understand the innermost core of the soul one has to go through his physical body, because if the physical body is not fit one cannot think about his mind and the soul.

Mind is always disturbed when the physical body is in the hell, it’s in the disease, full of disease. We cannot go inside

So in yoga we start to practice through asana. Asana practice helps to understand my physical body first, and understand my pain so that I can understand the pain of others.

So the mind starts to cultivate. It understands to help others, understands to be aware of other's pains.

When the mind is cultivated nicely then the violence become less. When I understand the pain, I stop giving pain to others.

This is how the society becomes healthy, and the families become healthy.

This is the one part

Once the people are happy with the body and mind then only one can understand his soul, because we always have a Sun and Moon, body and mind.

The body represent the Sun. The mind represents the Moon.

We need day and night. If only day, if you are only exhausting you cannot relax. If we only sleep we cannot be active. We need both to balance.

Once the day and night, once the body and mind are balanced we understand, we can see the new force inside.

Then the talent starts. Then the art comes outside. Then the world starts to become beautiful, when everybody goes more eco-friendly.

People start to understand themselves, understand the world, so they become in balance with the nature. Because now we are just destroying the nature and we are getting problems.

By practicing yoga the man understands the nature and he starts to be in balance. Then naturally one can feel his soul.

So if there is no physical health, definitely he cannot get the mental health first.

This is what the yogi scriptures say.

śarīramādyaṃ khalu dharmasādhanam

Means, without the physical body one cannot reach anything. If I want to eat, I want to enjoy the food, I want to enjoy the taste, I have to go through my physical body, I have to go
through my senses to reach the bliss/

We do many things, not only yoga, we do many things. We go to the movies. We go for entertainment to stay happy. I think I'll be happy when I see the movies, when I eat food that I like.

But it is very short. I lose it. Again I try to go and have it again. Once I see this movie then I
try something different that can stimulate me.

But by practicing yoga one can feel the complete bliss and it's long lasting, but it takes time.

So one has to work, practice with patience, by taking the guidance of the teachers

I suggest not to go and try just by yourself. It's not bad but it leads to confusion on your practice. There are chances you maybe stop or you get fear of practicing if pain comes.

So it's not good to practice by yourself, in the beginning. Try to take the guidance of a teacher first.

Later once you master all the asanas you can do by yourself. You can make your own practice

So stay with yoga, it heals the soul.

Thank you
Om Namah Shivaya

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Contact details

Kushal Ram teaches ashtanga vinyasa yoga in Mysore in his yoga shala in Lakshmipuram.

Yogatantra Anushtana
Red rooftop house, street behind post office, Lakshmipuram, Mysore, Karnataka 570004.
Google maps location

You can reach him via his website or via his Facebook page yogatantraanushtana

I hope you've enjoyed this interview. Please don't hesitate to share it with your friends and with whomever you think might be looking for an ashtanga yoga teacher in Mysore. Thanks for your support!

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