Starting to practice
I attended my first Yoga class in 1987 in Bogotá, Colombia. At the time, I enjoyed the class and went to a few more classes. Although I really liked the classes, it wasn’t until 1996 when I decided to practice Yoga again. I had experienced low back pain problems and decided to practice Yoga as a way to prevent future complications. I bought a small book, Richard Hittleman’s Introduction to Yoga and started practicing. Soon I realized how inflexible my body was! I also noticed that practicing had a calming and relaxing effect that lasted throughout the day. It was astonishing to see how quickly my body started feeling different and becoming more flexible. Overall, practicing Yoga made me feel centered and healthier. That feeling was enough motivation, still is, to practice consistently. In addition, as a person who loves learning, the continuous learning that happens through Yoga practice has been a constant reward.
Learning from injuries
Over the following years, I continued practicing daily. I started exploring different sources to learn more about Yoga including The Sivananda Companion to Yoga and, of course, Iyengar’s Light on Yoga. Slowly, I tried to make sense and to apply into my practice every bit of information I got. Most of the time practicing made me feel relaxed and energized. And even with moving around and traveling, Yoga became a constant presence. Nevertheless, once in a while I would be so eager to do more or to achieve a certain pose that I would not pay attention to the signals my body gave me to indicate that I was going beyond my ability. I was lucky enough not to injure myself seriously. However, not listening to my body caused me to suffer a number of injuries. These injuries, besides teaching me about honoring my limitations, also taught me about the importance of being detached from my expectations and being open to receive whatever benefits the practice brings. As a result, I have come to understand that Yoga practice is an ongoing live process that requires attentiveness and sensitivity to the feedback we receive so the practice is appropriate for our level, condition, circumstances and needs.
Learning by leading
At different times, family and friends started asking me to lead Yoga sessions for them. Other friends came to practice with me. Even though I loved the silence of my home practice, I was excited to practice with friends and family. In some cases the practice was part of a friendly social event, like a Yoga brunch, where we practiced and then shared a meal prepared collectively. In other cases, the sessions were composed of only two people. For instance, one of my friends practiced with me 3 times a week for a year. Sharing my love for Yoga with other people was a tremendous learning experience for me. Preparing the sessions, thinking about concise and useful instructions, finding relevant poses for different people made me reflect on my own practice and made me think about limitations in my knowledge and in my own practice. I am grateful to those friends and to my family for giving me opportunities to keep learning and growing.
Even though I had been practicing Yoga for a few years, I had not set foot in a Yoga class since I had lived in Bogotá. While living in Flagstaff, Arizona, I decided to expand my knowledge and enrich my practice by attending classes. Flagstaff has a strong Yoga community. I was fortunate to find excellent teachers from a wide range of Yoga traditions. Some of those caring and very supportive teachers include Lisa Connor and Julia Olguin. In addition to widening my perspective on the meaning of Yoga and on various approaches to the practice, taking classes helped me learn about teaching styles.
During my time in Flagstaff I also started observing silence and meditating daily. Observing silence on a daily basis helped me witness the seemingly endless restlessness of my mind. My meditation practice opened a glimpse into mindfulness. Partly as a result of practicing silence and meditation, but also as a result of reading Joel Kramer’s seminal article Yoga as Self-Transformation, I started to understand Yoga as an internal practice, i.e. a practice that unfolds from within.
Leading Yoga sessions prompted me to think about devoting more time to teaching Yoga. Moving to Tampa provided a perfect transition to dedicate more time to learning how to teach. Although teaching was part of the motivation to enroll in a teacher training program, my strongest motivation was the desire to continue deepening my practice.
I feel very fortunate and very grateful to my wife for her patience and support during my time of study. In my teacher training program over 18+ months, in addition to my daily practice, I spent countless hours completing self-study assignments that required study, practice and reflection and numerous weekends attending workshops (including excellent workshops with Navtej Johar, David Keil, Dharma Mittra, Ganesh Mohan, Christina Sell, Monica Voss andMark Whitwell). I also attended a 10 day, life-changing teacher training with Erich Schiffmann in Venice, California. As a result of investing time and energy to further my knowledge, my practice and my teaching have grown significantly. In 2011 I completed the Yogi Teacher Training 500 hour program at St Petersburg Yoga where I continued to grow and learn and where I appreciated the opportunities to learn from Chris Acosta and to expand my understanding and application of yoga for Therapeutic purposes and for living a complete and balanced life.
A constant in my life is the interest in deepening my practice and my understanding of yoga in order to clarify my instruction for the benefit of my students. I have continued learning about Yoga from a wide range of sources. For instance, in 2012 I attended an intensive workshop on yoga therapy through the Life in Yoga Institute and in 2013 I successfully completed a course on the Yoga Sutras, an intensive line-by-line study also with Rajan Narayanan from the Life in Yoga Institute. Yoga for me remains fresh and exciting. I am grateful every day to notice how my expression of Yoga, on and off the mat, continues to unfold.
I started teaching formally at TreeHouse Yoga in Tampa in September of 2005. I currently teach in a few studios in the Tampa Bay area. I enjoy teaching immensely. I feel that teaching Yoga, besides being a dream come true, is an honor and a responsibility that requires attention, knowledge, caring, preparation and flexibility. More than a teacher, I see myself as a dedicated student who loves to practice, learn and share. Everyday I am excited to explore, research, practice, and share Yoga with others. Following the example of teachers I admire, in every class I do my best to help students discover their own way of practicing Yoga.