Monday, November 23, 2009

Up Close and Personal with Azmi Samdjaga

Those of you who have been following my blog, would know that Azmi Samdjaga is one of my two favourite yoga teachers and I have written some posts about my practice with him.

Azmi often shares the grace of his practice with his students in his classes.

Recently, I had a chat with Azmi and managed to get him to talk about his favourite subject; Yoga (what else!) as well as provide some advice to yoga beginners.

How long have you been practicing yoga and what made you take up yoga and become a yoga teacher?

This is my 12th year into my practice. Yoga came to me by accident. I had missed an aerobics class at the gym and having traveled all the way from home, I just wanted a workout and a Yoga class was the only thing that was available. And I thought I had never sweated as profusely ever before. I hated the class because it was too hard. But when I came back 4 months later with no expectations, I felt a sense of uplift, totally invigorated and felt so light! Since then, I got addicted and I kept going because it had just kept me on my toes, feeling healthy and refresh every time after each class. It has since taught me how to be more tolerant, embrace kindness and accept things the way they are. More than anything, I learned how to be detached of negativities and letting things go the positive way and also it has taught me how to be still and calm in a challenging situation. And the only way I can share this beauty is to teach. In my 8th year of practicing, I decided to get formal training and became a teacher.

Very often in class, you would say that it takes more for a practitioner to come to a resting pose with the class still going on then someone going into a difficult pose, can you elaborate more on this?

The common thing about a human trait is, wanting to excel, wanting to be good at everything we do and getting intimidated by people who do. So more often than not, we push ourselves hard and force ourselves to do things that we don’t normally do. In the end we hurt ourselves physically and emotionally. It's so easy and common to do that but it takes great humility to actually accept and understand yourself to step back and observe than to try and look like everybody else, afraid of being seen less able and weak. To have the humility to show weakness in front of everyone is very humble.

What advice would you give to a yoga beginner and how should they progress in their practice?

My advice would be for practitioners to try as many different classes as possible and from as many teachers until you find one that you can connect with. Meaning, one you can relate the instructions to, one you feel comfortable with and most importantly, how the class had made you feel after practicing. Find one that made you feel great after the practice. Stay consistent and practice regularly to achieve that change in energy. Also being consistent is the only way for you to see progress in your practice. Once you find that you do not feel the change or satisfied after a class, that is when you should decide on taking your practice to the next level. You will soon notice that with each practice you find new length, new destination and new joy.

You can read more about Azmi from Interview with Azmi at

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