Steve Fazzari (Shankara Deva)
My practices of Yoga started much before I knew anything about or seen any examples of Yoga poses. As a young teen, I was interested in gaining Knowledge and clarity of mind, searching for teachings and insight in a way that I could understand. I began studying Eastern philosophy at a young age – 13 or 14 – in the form of Buddhist texts and teachings. Something deep about the Truth I saw beyond the text spoke to me, but it wouldn’t be for a number of years where that would resurface for me and take on new form. There was something that spoke to me about the Buddhist teachings, but there were aspects that I had difficulty with; perhaps it was because I was a child, but I believe that just wasn’t the perspective that worked best for me. In the following years I explored other ways of being – and they were a wild few years, but something had been awakened within me. When the teachings of Yoga started to come into my life, I was drawn back to my early years reading Buddhist scriptures. I saw the same essence in the teachings of Yoga as I did in the Buddhist teachings, but this time they were presented in a way that made more sense to me. I continued my journey into Yoga, but everything changed when I met my teacher, Dharma Mittra.
Dharma has this wonderful way of boiling down complex ideas to a simple, direct teaching. He will often say one sentence that immediately makes you think “yes, this is exactly how I feel, how could I never have formulated these ideas so clearly on my own?” I think in some way, we are all seeking clarity in our lives to make sense of who we truly are. When you meet someone who can help give you insight into your own journey, you are inspired by them; be it a Yoga teacher, an author, a painter, a musician, even children! Yoga, according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is clarity of mind. All of the techniques and tricks we do in the Yoga studio, or while serving our loved ones, or by the meditation of being out snowboarding in the backcountry with your best friends (which I obviously relate heavily to), can help you on your path in life. When you have clarity of mind, your truest power and fullest potential can be realized and expressed. Your intentions can be directed and potent. If you can do this work in a way that contributes to physical health, such as the Yoga asanas, this can serve as a way to bring further balance into your life. If all of this work then is able to allow you to bring benefits to the world around you, your actions can become much more powerful.
The Yoga poses have been instrumental in my life. They have helped heal my body, time and time again from injury (mostly snowboard related). They have helped bring strength to my mind, at one time much more active and restless and easily distracted. The focus and determination that was required to learn the poses kept moving me in a state of Active Meditation. At one time, unable to do the most basic of poses – I have a friend who can attest to a time in my life where I could barely touch my knees in a forward bend – to a place where I could do a majority of the poses of Dharma Mittra’s 908 poses poster (you will see it every time coming into the studio), I learned a great deal, and one thing I can tell you is that being able to do a bunch of crazy poses didn’t make my life better. The determination, dedication, and focus that was involved in working towards those poses did help me, however. The Dharma Yoga practice is designed in this way; all levels in every sense of the word. If you are a brand new student and extremely stiff, there are options for you to try. If you are an experienced student that wants to be challenged in the poses, you will find something to work on in my classes. But most importantly, you will find an inclusive space where it won’t matter if you’re stiff or flexible, because judging yourself by those standards is not a real judge of anything really (other than how stiff or flexible you are). I have always had a busy mind, so working towards advanced poses kept me engaged in my practices. Those with clearer minds may have an easier time, and may never need the advanced poses! Ultimately, this practice is about YOU! What can you offer yourself in this moment that will bring some benefit to your life, be it physical, mental, emotional benefit? A couple decades in and I’m just scratching the surface – but if you come to my class, we can do some of this work together, and hopefully that work can be of benefit to us and the world around us.