When I decided to become a yoga teacher, I was already a Pilates teacher and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with 7 years of teaching fitness under my belt. I had been studying Tai Chi and was contemplating teaching it as a mind body movement that required no equipment and brought it's practitioners a sense of inner peace.
Then I met my girlfriend's father, the premier yogi of Iran, Massoud Mahdavi. His attitude was both calm and confident. He was aware, peaceful and accepting. He attributed his presence to his practice of yoga that he had learned in India. It just so happened that I was reading Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. Not only was I intrigued, but I wanted to embody his sense of realization. Massoud convinced both me and his daughter to travel to India to study yoga at the Sivananda Yoga Vendanta Institute in Neyrr Dam. After a month of rigorous training, we had our start and spent the next three months hopping across the country, ashram to ashram, gathering whatever we could learn from the practice.
When I returned to the US, I quickly realized that I had to adapt what I had learned in India to my American audience. Most had been exposed to Vinyasa Yoga or Power Yoga, where the emphasis is to do a series of pose routines moving with the breath. This form of yoga requires the student both breathe well and move well in order to get the most of that practice. But what if someone does not breathe or move well? What then? Back to basics, back to the foundation, the dharuna.
My style and the name of my style emerged from what I was doing with my students, which is first establishing a foundation in their breathe and movement before being still in the postures, and then holding the postures long enough to make changes to the posture from the inside out in order to feel more comfortable in the posture and to create positive feedback about it. Long before teaching yoga, I came to the conclusion that if a student doesn't like something, feel good or have fun, then he or she isn't going to come back to practice.
I had been using the Pilates method of movement in and out of postures when I discovered the work of AG Mohan and the Yoga Therapy Method. This uses a series breathing and movements to calibrate and fine tune a posture before landing in it. I saw that parallels immediately to what I had been teaching and began to incorporate this concept as well. What emerged was an effective method that used simple poses in a unique way to generate amazing results in a short period of time. My students got stronger, more flexible, more agile and more calm. The method generates inner peace and a enhanced sense of well being.
Good yoga is built upon the principle: "If you are breathing, you can practice yoga." This acknowledges the aging process and works with it. As the body fades and our ability to do complex poses becomes limited, students of the Dharuna Method can always return to the breath and to basic poses and feel accomplished.
Many of my students are older, and infirm. Many have had injuries, but when the emphasis is on breathe and state of mind, everyone can practice together and still get that sense of being a part of a yoga community. In regards to their health, this becomes their foundation, their Dharuna, from which they can build everything else upon.