Passionate People – Interview with Yoga Teacher Nithya Priyan

Posted On: June 30, 2015

I interviewed Nithya Priyan who is a yoga teacher. What exactly does he do, and how can he help the man-on-the-street?

1) What you do?

I’m a yoga instructor conducting Hatha, Yin and flow classes for people of all walks, ages and levels of fitness.

2) Why do you do what you do?

I picked up a regular practice in yoga and meditation from my travels to India in 2008. The benefits to my physical and mental wellbeing have been revolutionary, as have been the direction my life has taken. Practicing regularly has since become my life’s purpose and passion.

Priyan-Profile-Pic2It was only recently that I opened myself up to the possibility that others could benefit from what I could teach them, after persistent requests from friends to share what I’ve learnt. I’ve only ever been aware of the fact that I myself am a student in the practice, not having enough knowledge or experience to be in a position to guide others.

The truth is it is perfectly alright to be both a student and a teacher, as long as you teach authentically from only what you know, understand and experience, and you don’t try to be someone you are not.

Being a yoga instructor intensifies and focuses my own self practice as it makes the fruits of whatever I’ve accomplished and learnt on my path open and available to all who attend my classes or read my blog posts.

It forces my ego to step aside, putting away all feelings of shyness and inadequacy. In class I am often in strange surrendered state where at times I feel I am watching myself teach, as if the words I am speaking are coming from another source, and I am infused with a strange sense of peace and detachment.

Why I do what I do? I do it because I spend so many more hours per day engaged in what I am passionate about – I get paid for doing what I enjoy, and I share what I know to others with a similar passion and interest. What more can anyone ask for?

3) What are the most common problems you come across and what solutions do you have?
It’s a common situation for the participants in my class to bring an over achieving attitude to the practice. It stems from a deep dissatisfaction or dislike with the person’s own body or capability, traced to a compulsive comparison with unreasonable standards of flexibility, strength and physical beauty. This is an inherently self destructive attitude that leads to the participant pushing his or herself beyond their limits, more often than not leading to injury or strain.

The practice of yoga, however, requires a wholly different mindset, beginning with the premise that the physical body is already a perfectly engineered, divine vehicle from which you experience this reality, and needs to be treated as such. The practice of yoga is a celebration of this perfection, it is a loving process of spring cleaning and maintenance to remove any dust or cobwebs that might be obscuring this perfect expression. It is not a practice of self torture where you willfully force yourself into someone else’s distorted and unreasonable standards and punish yourself when you don’t fit in.

To aid in a gentler centered practice, I remind participants constantly that the practice of yoga is a balance of inner and outer performance. The external expression of the poses needs to be done in harmony with the inner practice of enjoyment of the present moment. I liken it to moving from the head to the heart, moving from obsessive and repetitive thinking to just feeling and sensing the body from the inside. Thoughts then shift from what should be or what could have happened, to what is happening right now from moment to moment.

In the present moment self judgement or criticism cannot exist as it requires you to project your thoughts to the future. Maintaining this balance between inner and outer performance, the practice begins to resemble meditation more and more and the participant is afforded first glimpses into the true transformative power of the practice.

4) What are your future plans?

Priyan-Profile-Pic3In 2008 I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to travel in India, backpacking from ashram to temple to holy site, learning as much as I could in wide eyed fascination. It catalysed a revolutionary transformation in my outlook and experience of life and contributed greatly to who I am today. My future plans definitely include returning to this sacred country and deepening my understanding and experience of yoga and meditation. There is so much ground to cover and I’m sure I will spend my life learning and absorbing, but I will not forget to share what I’ve received, perhaps returning to start a yoga studio here in Singapore.

5) What advice do you have for us?

There are a million reasons to lead a life whose parameters are defined by the agenda of others, and all of them are valid, sensible and sane. None of them, however, will be enough to awaken the burning passion and wonderment inherent in a person listening to their own life purpose. Awakening to it is your birthright and expressing it in your daily life will be your contribution to the world, more precious and transformative to the people around you than anything you have ever experienced. What are you waiting for? Let’s begin!

Visit the below links to find out more about Priyan:

Note: I have not vested interest or benefit from interviewing Priyan. I am doing so in the pure intention to educate and help more people.

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