Yoga offers great health and fitness for everyone in today's busy world as it did ages ago, but the offer comes with strings attached! Rooting for a healthy lifestyle, diet and a peaceful frame of mind come-what-may, will go a long way to help Yoga practitioners add grace, vitality and mental agility throughout their lifetime.
Kären Anderson Zabé radiates good health, excellent fitness and positive energy in addition to sporting a trim figure and a glowing complexion. Ask her the secret of the glow in her eyes and she has no hesitation in attributing it to Yoga—the age old practice of holistic care that retains the fountain of youth and energy in an ardent practitioner of Yoga.
AdvertisementMedindia interviewed Kären Anderson Zabé, a Yoga teacher in Mexico, who began her tryst with Yoga very early in life and went on to share the benefits of this great art of living after experiencing the fullness of life through a diligent practice of Yoga for many years.
Q. How did you get interested in Yoga in the first place?
A. I chanced upon a book by Richard Hittleman Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan when I was a teenager. It is a do-it-yourself guide —one if the earliest of its kind in Yoga published in the West. I studiously practiced the Asanas (Yogic postures) as outlined in the book for nearly 18 years. There was very little awareness about Yoga in the southern region of United States in the 70's and my parents were initially apprehensive that I was leaning towards some weird cult! But I continued practicing Yoga with the book as my only guru and experienced great benefits in the body-mind-spirit areas that got me hooked to it forever. I have to underline the fact that I didn't take to Yoga as a form of therapy in the first place. I built a constant practice of Asanas into my daily routine and it gradually started impacting my behavior and attitude, and eventually brought about lifestyle changes.
Q. Could you elaborate on the 'change in attitude and behavior' that you credit to a diligent practice of Yoga?
A. The time I spent on Asanas made my body flexible and buoyant but I gradually realized that Asanas are only a part of Yoga. I started studying more on the principles of Yoga as way of living that balances the increasing dichotomy between the body and the spirit. I started meditation alongside and made changes in my diet, leaning more towards vegetarian food.
I started becoming more aware of myself, how I interacted with the world around me and how my behavior impacted those with whom I came into contact. I was less stressed, less anxious and less irritable. Apart from my self-observation, people close to me started bringing to my notice the positive changes in my life.
Q. Did you ever learn Yoga under a guru's supervision?
A. Oh yes. Lessons on Yoga are never complete unless you are tutored by a 'genuine' guru. I'm saying 'genuine' because, Yoga is becoming more of a fad or a fashion statement these days and there are teachers who just offer a short therapeutic course or Asanas practice and certify that you've learnt Yoga. People who are unfamiliar with the deeper aspects of Yoga or want to learn Yoga as a therapeutic practice tend to think Yoga can fix us from 'outside in.' Yoga actually works on us from 'inside out.' I believe Yoga is a great opportunity to explore what it means to be a 'light unto yourself' and that we should go beyond using Yoga just as a form of therapy, health and fitness at the superficial level.
In 1979 I moved to New York City where Yoga classes were more accessible and the level of awareness about Yoga was much higher than in other places in the US. I learnt and practiced Yoga in a more systematic manner in New York.
Several years later I went on to complete a Yoga Teacher's certification from the Sivananda International Yoga Vendanta Centers and in the late 1990's a certification by Herta Rogg in the Iyengar yoga method. In February of 2010 I completed a one thousand hour Teachers Training in Yoga and Yoga Therapy with Dr. Krishna Raman.
In my mid 40's, after moving to Mexico City, I developed a problem in the lower spine and all the neurosurgeons and other specialists I consulted could offer only major surgery as a permanent cure for Spondilolisthesis. Some doctors who didn't know about the therapeutic effect of Yoga even suggested I stop Yoga altogether. It was too big a risk.
At the time I was attending classes offered by a teacher certified in the BKS Iyengar method, and when I told her about my problem in the spine she mentioned Dr. Krishna Raman, a Yoga expert who is also a doctor in Western medicine. Though she didn't feel comfortable instructing me because of the problem, she lent me a copy of his book, A Matter of Health: Integration of Yoga and Western Medicine for Prevention and Therapy. I became engrossed in reading it. I emailed him seeking his help and direction for my ailment. He said an online consult would not give the desired result and invited me to India, advising me to come prepared for a month's stay. My "month" stay in India turned into a three-month treatment program under Dr. Raman and was an eye opener for me in many ways. I came to India in severe physical pain and returned to Mexico fully relieved of the pain by just a diligent practice of yoga under Dr. Krishna Raman's guidance.
I had a great opportunity to learn more about Yoga in India and now I make it a point to come to India every year and study to constantly improve my yoga practice and understanding of therapeutic yoga. I feel rejuvenated after each trip to India. I am now a Yoga teacher in Mexico City and I love to share the benefits derived from my yoga practice with so many others.
Q. What is your advice to others in the West who maybe contemplating Yoga Teaching as a career option?
A. If you've crossed the initial fancy or rush to learn Yoga and settled down to a dedicated yoga routine everyday, then you are in a good place from which to move forward. As you grow and mature in your Yoga practice, you might consider becoming a Yoga instructor, at least to share with others the great benefits of Yoga that you've experienced. There is an increasing awareness and popularity of holistic health and wellbeing in today's world and I'd say teaching Yoga is a good career plan. But it is important to bear in mind that Yoga is more than physical exercise and training. It is a path, a lifestyle. The purpose of Yoga is to rise to higher levels of attention, a path towards self-knowledge and finding our true purpose in this life.
Select a good Yoga school and teacher training program, practice diligently till you learn its nuances, before you begin to teach others. If you want to make bags of money, I suggest you look elsewhere. The goal of Yoga is personal transformation that will bring us closer to our true purpose of being, to serve something higher in this life. You'll find that health, fitness and healing are only collateral benefits and it is the lasting changes that Yoga brings within you that ultimately matter.
Medindia wishes Kären Anderson Zabé all success in her pursuit of mastering Yoga and taking the knowledge and experience to others for overall health and wellbeing. Hopefully this ancient and complete system that promises wellness, restoration and rejuvenation will trigger a personal evolution in others which in turn will prompt a social evolution making this a happier and healthier world for everyone.