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Bikram Yoga with Rafael Veiga

Published:Monday | May 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Triangle pose
Awkward pose - Photos by Craig Harley
Standing bow pulling pose.
Standing head to knee pose
Eagle pose
Bar stand

Rafael Veiga has been practising yoga for over five years and his frequent travel and teaching excursions have taken him to the shores of Jamaica, along with fellow instructor Keilia Veloin, for the opening of Bikram Yoga Jamaica at 17 Latham Avenue. Slated to open on Thursday, May 29, The Flair team got the opportunity to catch up with the yoga instructor for a private session at the new studio to find out a little about his life as a yogi. Veiga is expected to be in Jamaica for six months as a teacher alongside Veloin and Yolande Lloyd-Small, owner of Bikram Jamaica, who are all yogis. A trained and certified engineer, Veiga started out by telling us what led him into becoming a yogi.

"I was embarking on some personal projects and decided to leave the corporate world, but after a year, and with the crisis in Spain, I was not able to succeed. I was forced to go back to the corporate world, but I was feeling unhappy and yoga was the only thing holding my energy to keep me going. I realised then that yoga was the answer to my well-being and a fountain of happiness, so I decided to do a 360-degree turn and dedicate fully to the practice," he said.

Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesised from traditional hatha yoga techniques. All Bikram Yoga classes run for 90 minutes and consist of the same series of 26 postures. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 40C (104F) with a humidity of 40 per cent.

What made you decide to try yoga?

I was very much interested in yoga but never had the chance to try it. I met Keila, my girlfriend and yoga partner, and she drove me into it. Also, during that period, I was very much into rock climbing, so I found a perfect connection in the mindset you need for climbing and for practising yoga.

What do you like the most about teaching yoga?

Seeing how all the students get so much good out of it, experiencing together the achievement of their goals, getting better physically, overcoming their limitations, healing physical problems, building self-confidence ... it is an absolute blessing.

What are the main reservations from new students?

People tend to think that their lack of flexibility and being out of shape makes them ineligible to practise yoga, but this is false. Bikram says it is never too late, never too

bad, never too old or too sick to start from scratch.

What is your favourite yoga position and why?

I like triangle, it is a strong posture that implies every single part of the body in it. The moment you reach that posture during the class, you require all your mind and focus to go through it. You achieve a state of determination that feels very good, you build stillness in your thoughts. Physically, you work every single muscle in your body,

and you make a strong connection with the heart and lungs.

What are the benefits of yoga?

The benefits of yoga are countless. It is the best preventive medicine you can find. Yoga gives you what you need, not what you are looking for, meaning that you come to the class looking for something specific, but instead, you leave finding out many other things you needed that you really didn't know you needed.

What kind of fulfillment do you accomplish from teaching yoga all over the world?

I get the fulfillment of receiving the smiles and happiness of all those that have discovered a better life through the practice of Bikram Yoga.

What are some of the lessons that you learn from teaching yoga all over the world?

We are all so different, yet so much the same. We have different looks, we have such a huge variety of cultures and traditions and ways to deal with life. But, in the class, we are just confronting ourselves in the mirror. We struggle with ourselves throughout the class to try the best, and there, at the very basis of this struggle, we are all just the same beings ... . We all suffer the same, fight the same and succeed the same.

You seem to be travelling the world while sharing your knowledge, how many countries do you wish to travel and teach yoga?

I don't have a goal in terms of number of countries I want to visit. So far, Keila and me are enjoying our growth as teachers and human beings. We are so much enjoying the present tense.

Which of the countries that you have been to is your favourite?

I loved each of the places I have been to. Some were more close to the lifestyle I like, but no matter were I was, I always found wonderful people that made the place absolutely fantastic. So, for me, it is not the place, but the people.

What kind of approach should a layman take to the practice of yoga?

Open mind, positive thinking, determination, and focus. Try to stay in the here and now in your thoughts. We suggest that the first-timers doing Bikram Yoga have to take it easy. The first days, the body needs to adapt, and since we are working a lot with the spine, a lot of new feelings and sensation appear in the body. Trust the process and the teacher indications.