To many people, Max Strom needs no introduction, but to those unfamiliar with the American teacher and author of books including ‘There is no app for happiness’, I will simply say he is one of the world’s leading authorities on yoga; its movement, its philosophy, the breath, its evolution from origin to modern day. After more than 25 years of teaching, he remains a gentle, humble man in whose presence you feel a powerful energy and wisdom.
So after his first of several workshops in Dubai at Life ‘n One in Jumeirah, I have a raft of notes, some of which I will share, some nuggets of wisdom from a man with a lifetime of experience to imbue.
A lot of people think that asana is all that yoga has to offer; postures. Yoga is not a sport. The strongest and most flexible person doesn’t win. Human beings weren’t designed to cram themselves into postures. Postures were designed to heal human beings.
The words wellness and wellbeing are still not being used enough in the yoga community. Wellness is a sense of wellbeing and not just something on a physical level.
We must do more to open up yoga to those who feel it’s something for women. Part of it is because of the way many yoga centres decorate their space. For some men it looks like they stumbled into a girls’ space, that it’s not for men. The clothing on sale even is never for men so they feel they’re in a women’s world, trying to find their way.
How can we teach yoga in a way that is welcoming to everyone, so that everyone comes back tomorrow; so that people don’t think it’s something for Hindus, or that it’s a religion. For me, it begins with language. There’s power in words. I eliminated the Sanskrit and only use English because that’s the only language I speak. Speak about things such as compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, internal healing, things which transcend religions. You can talk about these meaningful aspects of being a human being without splitting the room.
For me it doesn’t matter if the student becomes the most strong or flexible person in the room if they’re the angriest person in the room. To me, this is misunderstanding what we’re doing. I want you to sleep better, not be depressed, to not have panic attacks.
Know your body. A lot of people have a very high degree in something like maths, but they know nothing about their body.
Breath is so much more than breath. I’m not here to teach you to breathe to get more oxygen. That’s interesting, but not what I’m here for. Through breath you can access emotions and memories. Most people are sitting on a lot [of emotions], because we are trained to, especially, though not only, men. We are taught to suppress what we don’t know how to deal with, then it comes out as addictions, anxiety.