"Keep close to Nature's heart and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."
~ John Muir
I stumbled upon Yoga in the late 90's and recall what sparked my fascination . I attended a class taught by Steve Ilg at the Power House gym in Chatsworth, California. While I considered myself to be fairly "athletic", playing soccer and basketball regularly, and dabbling in a bit of weight lifting, I was just another scrawny kid trying to put on a few pounds of muscle.
Steve's Yoga class was challenging for me, but watching him, I was mesmerized by his grace in movement, awe-inspired by his flexibility and strength in holding the poses, and so I continued to attend his classes and embraced his guidance for some time.
Throughout my college and post-college years, I trained in various martial arts (primarily Brazilian Jiu-jitsu), and practiced Hatha Yoga (physical practice of Yoga) at different studios and health clubs throughout Los Angeles and Orange County, partaking in a variety of styles, such as Power Yoga, Hot Yoga (Bikram sequence), and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, as well as leading my own personal practice by studying and implementing various books by Rodney Yee, a well known American teacher who had studied under the renowned Indian guru, B.K.S. Iyengar.
Over the course of these same years, I was curious and fascinated by eastern philosophies such as Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and so I studied and pondered about the connection and relations between Ashtanga Yoga (referring to the eight-limbed Yogic system as outlined in the Yoga Sūtras by the ancient Hindu sage Maharishi Patañjali, not to be confused with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga which is a particular sequence of asanas created by K. Pattabhi Jois), and these other ancient modes of thought and spirituality. Perhaps there are some parallels and ultimately the individuals on the spiritual path may be seeking a similar destination, or one may argue that they're on a similar journey. Either way, I found it fascinating and later would come back to reflect further on these topics during my Yoga teacher training.
Growing up in the suburbs of northern Los Angeles, I had an attraction for the sciences and was fairly good at math since childhood, which later led me to seek a degree in Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduating from UCLA there was initially some struggle to find work, but I eventually ended up in the engineering sector doing various types of application-engineering work, primarily in the industry of oil/gas refining and control systems. Life wasn't turning out as I had hoped and visualized it to be, and the void inside kept growing.
I was longing for more, desiring to learn more, and so after about 7-8 years of work I decided to pursue clinical medicine. I had gotten laid off in 2009, post crash of the US economy that began in 2008, thus the timing was ideal. Having this leisure time and a little piggy bank stashed away, I decided to travel a bit, visiting Hawaii, Canada, NYC, and Argentina - somewhat of a random itinerary, but these were perhaps some of the more memorable times in my life, filled with new experiences, joy, and adventure.
During my travels, the soul-searching process organically began, pressing the rewind button and taking a hard look at my past, and how I had made it this far ... I pondered about becoming a physician - it was after all a childhood dream of mine, and deep down, that sense of life-purpose was still missing. When I got back home (was staying with my grandmother, may her Soul rest in peace), I decided to return to a local junior college and began my preparation for medical school. I completed two years of prerequisites successfully, and ended up on the island of Dominica in the Fall of 2013, attending Ross University School of Medicine in the city of Portsmouth. By the end of my first term, even though I had done fairly well, I realized this particular path was not for me to take, and wondered if there was another way, where I can still have a positive impact on the lives of others and ultimately fulfill my purpose.
Returning from Dominica (with a pleasant detour through Germany to visit family during Winter break) I had to find work and make a living again, and fortunately enough landed an engineering position in Orange County southern California in the Summer of 2014. But once again, I was back at a desk, working the "9 to 5 ..."
Having gravitated towards Yoga in the past, I figured l'd take it more seriously the second time around, and committed myself to having a regular practice. By May of 2018, I had completed my 200-hour teacher training, top of my class at an authentic local Yoga studio in OC, under two veteran knowledgable teachers from the East Coast. I went on to quit my corporate job, began to "officially" teach Yoga, and have not looked back since (prior to moving back to OC, I had private clients for Yoga, general fitness training, and some martial arts).
During the course of my YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) I was fortunate enough to study and implement "The Heart of Yoga" by T.K.V. Desikachar as well as "Yoga Sequencing" and "Yoga Adjustments" by Mark Stephens. These fantastic and informative works of literature on Yoga, as well as "The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali" (translation and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda) continue to illuminate on the true nature of Yoga (outside the physical realm), and to this day I remain a humble student of these gurus, and the knowledge and wisdom which they have shared and bestowed upon our world. The 'state of Yoga' for me represents the ultimate union of body, mind, and breath, which can be achieved over time with consistent practice and dedication ... But it can extend beyond the physical practice on the mat as Patañjali's Sūtras teach us with regards to all aspects of life ... Thus, Yoga is a way of life and so I embrace its nurturing arms as I continue to work towards balance in my daily life, both physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I look forward to carrying on with these precious gifts as a teacher, and pass down what I have learned and grown to love to my students.
May your true nature and light guide you
May you find the Guru within
Aum Varunam Namah