Ari Yoga > Yoga  > Yoga, evolution and the seasons of change: part 1

Yoga, evolution and the seasons of change: part 1

I woke this morning inspired to write a bit about my story of how I got where I am today, as people often ask me about my life and how I got into yoga.

As I sit in my apartment in Sydney and stare out at the sea, I reflect on how my life was once very different from how it is now.

Quite some time ago I didn’t have a home, didn’t have any money and wasn’t sure of the direction my life would lead. I felt a bit lost I guess. My relationship with my family was non existent and after my other relationships had fallen apart, I decided at the toss of a coin one day to pack up my life in the city and jump on a train to the north coast of NSW. After the trip of about 14 hours or so, the train finally pulled into Byron Bay station.

It was evening and loaded with just a backpack of my coolest t-shirts, books, beach towel and several pairs of shorts, I stepped barefoot and broke onto the platform and the land of northern NSW.  With no idea of where I was going to sleep, and with no contacts or friends that I knew of in the area, I decided to walk to the beach and proclaim to the moon and sea that I had arrived. It was the calling that I was always destined to answer.  I fell asleep there under the stars and woke up a few hours later to the rain, so then I had to find a sheltered place to sleep.

To cut a long but entertaining story short for now, I lived in a tent in some bushland around the area of Byron Bay at the age of about 21 with nothing but a few interesting books, clothes and candles. I used to hitch-hike into town barefoot, wander around and soon enough had hooked up with the local witches and performer types. One of my now long time companions Ly, decided to take me under her wing and train me at the local “spit and sawdust” gym that just reeked of character. We could do it barefoot back in those days as their wasn’t really so much of a thing as occupational health and safety, not in the old Byron gym anyway.

I got into doing stretch classes with my buddy that were based a lot on martial arts and movement, as martial arts was something I had done a lot of as a kid, it was right up my street. I had also started doing the Yoga classes at the gym which were run by an amazing teacher who went by the name of Kat. I always remember how graceful and strong she looked as a women in her late 40s or 50s riding her pushbike to teach class, she carried with her an air of calm and respect. I learned so much from her in those days, as before then, Yoga for me was pretty much solitary and I only practiced the traditional sun salutes as a way to try to touch my toes. You see, I had struggled to get anywhere near my toes as a 17 year old, and when my school mate told me he also wanted to be able to touch the floor we got onto researching and practicing the sun salutation. Challenge was accepted and my 17 year old self one day wanted to put my hands flat to the ground, no matter how long the journey took. (Now that challenge has evolved into pressing up to handstand.)

The yoga journey has continued through ebb and flow, over land and sea, and my yoga practice still returns to namaskar as a way of life. Ive practiced various forms with many teachers over the past 20 years or so. The goals shift, the seasons change and the physical journey has evolved into a deepening which is much akin to a good wine that just gets better with age.

So, if you have been feeling like you’re a bit stuck in a rut, or just need a bit of motivation and change, then get moving! Or guys if you think that Yoga is just for girls then you’re wrong, there are loads of guys from all different shapes, and sport backgrounds in my classes that are sweating it out and returning week after week.

Get the blood flowing, get the breath sorted and find a community that you can be inspired by. We all come to the mat for different reasons, but what matters is that we are there. Doing the best in the moment, and creating change one breath at a time.

Ari Levanael

With a long history of yoga practice spanning almost 30 years, Ari is a passionate and dedicated student of the yoga tradition. Currently, Ari holds over 1,700 hours of accredited yoga teacher-training in various styles, merging the traditional with a knowledge of gymnastics, martial arts and aerial acrobatics.

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