Interview with Gus Wira
Who is Gus Wira? You may have already joined his Yoga classes in Udara Bali Detox and Spa, or maybe you follow him on Facebook, but we wanted to know more – about who he is as a Yoga teacher and about his relationship to Yoga and our Udara Cacao & Kirtan Ceremony. We reached out to Gus with a few questions, and now we’re sharing his answers with you to get inspired!
How did you come to Yoga, do you still remember the first Yoga class that you’ve taken?
“My father introduced me to Yoga in 2009. He is a Yogi as well, and my grandfather was a Pranayama master of “pencak silat” (Indonesian martial arts). So I was always surrounded by a family that was experimenting and experiencing the energy forces that drive us.
What happened then several years before, was that I got really sick due to stressful working situations in a company I worked for. I didn’t listen to the signs my body gave me. At the same time, this was my turning point in the sense of Yoga healed my understanding of how body, mind and soul are connected. And that we have the power to control our mind and therefore our lives. The first Yoga class that I have been taking was in a small local place on Bali close to Canggu that has meanwhile moved away.”
Why did you decide to become a Yoga teacher?
“After talking to my father and facing my health situation earlier, I decided to become a Yoga teacher and got registered with Yoga Bali International where I did my 200 hours class in Healing Yoga. You know, I am also an Acupuncture practitioner, so I was always interested in the alignment of our human body and sharing with others, how we can heal ourselves.”
What does Yoga mean to you? What do you like your students to know about Yoga?
“For me, Yoga is everything. It has transformed and completely changed my perspective and life. Yoga is energy. Based on the Yoga Sutras, we learn that the meaning of Yoga is union. So the aim of a Yoga practice is becoming united. Through the Asanas we first open our body, then get access to our mind to connect with ourselves and others. Through this, we ultimately connect with the universe to all become one. So that is what I want to know my students especially. It’s not only to do a perfect Asana, but how you do your ‘Asanas’ when you are off the mat in your daily life. How we treat and respect others because this is the way you treat yourself. Yoga is our life!”
What do you like most about teaching Yoga?
“My passion in Yoga is to create something new. Because a lot of people from my point of view need something new, learning from this and to get inspired and open up for new ways. That’s why I have also created Happy Healing Yoga, it’s a simple sequence but needs a lot of focus on breathing. Always coming back to your own breathing allows you to connect with yourself. It stops worrying or being anxious. You can control your mind by practicing awareness of breathing. The breath is the first movement of your body when you become alive, and the last moment when we leave this planet.”
Do you practice on your own or are you also taking classes by other teachers?
“Yes of course, the study of Yoga is a lifelong approach and the learning never stops. I always want explore new ideas and methods in Yoga. My master teacher is Dicky Sulistio, Guru Made Sumantra, Slamet Riyanto. He is a monk currently living in Jakarta. Our lives are closely connected since many years.”
What self-care rituals do you have to keep your batteries charged?
“Ok, I will share my health secret with you, which is breathing. My most important practice is Kapalabhati, also called breath of fire. It is an important a yogic purification. I practice Kapalabhati daily in the morning for up to one hour and started to do this 5 years ago. It is intended mainly for cleaning the cranial sinuses but has many other effects clearing all the blockages in your body to let prana (life force) flow freely again and get nourished with positive energy on all planes. You need to be committed to do Pranayama and stay self-disciplined with it. It changed my health completely when I was ill. I couldn’t imagine my day without this purification technique.”
What keeps you inspired to teach Yoga since so many years? How has your teaching evolved?
“I am very inspired by Seva, which means selfless service. An inside out approach to life. My father gave me the Bhagavad Gita in which Seva is explained: ‘Service which is given without consideration of anything in return, at the right place and time to one that is qualified, with the feeling that it is one’s duty, is regarded as the nature of goodness.’ (Bhagavad Gita 17.20)”
Who was your greatest inspiration on your own yoga path?
“My biggest inspiration is Shiva. In the Bhagavad Gita it is said, that the poses and Asanas in Yoga come from the ‘Shiva dance’. One day, Shiva danced with seven servants a dance. One of the servants was Patanjali, who later wrote the Yoga Sutra. Shiva is in you; Shiva is in me. We are all one and Shiva is teaching this to us.
In your classes we hear a lot of laughter. How does Yoga and laughing go together?
“As we shared, Yoga is life. Yoga is joy and happiness It is how you face your daily challenges when you are off the mat. And quite often when you are facing a difficult situation on the Yoga mat or in your daily life, the simplest solution is to release yourself from tension and just laugh out loud! Laughter about yourself and situations – that makes them already solved and takes away pressure on all levels. I am happy that Yoga becomes so integrated on Bali in our daily lives in an easy and practical way. Am also happy to see that my family is following the path of Yoga, especially my kids since they like to play with the poses and enjoy to experiment with different Asana challenges.”
How can Yoga help us to have a healthy mind and body? How can we keep our energies balanced?
“Practicing Yoga balances the heating energy of the sun and the cooling energy of the moon. These are the universal energy forces in our life. The yoga teachings describe the physical, subtle and causal bodies (shariras) and five sheaths (koshas) bound together by wheels of energy (chakras).
Developing and adapting a personal yoga practice takes into account age, health issues, injuries, gender, vitality, emotional state and mobility. Other considerations include the time of day and season of the year. As we deepen our practice, our self-awareness increases. We begin to understand why our practice varies from day-to-day and throughout our life. We may follow a vigorous regime in our youth, while a gentle practice may prove beneficial later in life.
Many of us are drawn to that which is not necessarily good for us. To achieve balance, treat with opposites. To counteract light headed-ness, increase grounding, nourishing foods and follow a yoga practice focused on relaxing poses with slow transitions.
Adapt your yoga practice to the time of day and season of the year. For example, a morning practice should be energetic while an afternoon yoga class should be soothing, relaxing and grounding. And a warmer, more energizing practice on a cold winter morning helps balance the prevalent Kapha energy.”
„You are one of the most popular teachers at Udara Yoga Detox and Spa, what is so special about that place?”
„It’s my pleasure to teach at Udara among many other Yoga teachers that are all great, and give support with a heart wide open. It’s the teacher that makes you realize your potential or who believes in your potential, whether through Asana or just life in general, who makes you come back for more.
I have a special relationship with Udara, it’s like family to me. As a guest you will also become a part of this family. Of course, what is beautiful that the Yoga classes at Udara are so close by the beach, with a lot of prana in the air! I love that Udara is very connected to the local community and offers free events like the big Udara Sunday. I am actually leading some of the free Sunday morning classes where so many Yogis come to practice together. And since I am a strong believer in Happy Healing, we also laugh a lot during this class.
My big joy in Udara next to teaching Yoga, is playing guitar and singing in the ‘chocolate band’ at the Udara Cacao & Kirtan Ceremony twice a month. These evenings are like magic. You should definitely come and experience lots of heart-opening good vibes at the Udara events!”
Thank you so much Gus for this interview and sharing!
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