Since I can remember, I felt the need to figure out what I was supposed to do. I moved from my parents’ village to the capital of Ukraine to study languages and seek new opportunities. Under the influence of my literature studies and encounters with some truly exceptional people, I started questioning myself and the world even more. The search for something that matters never left me, I had no answers, just this urge to do something important. Now I see it as a natural need to fulfill personal dharma, but at that time I had no idea.
Eventually, my studies brought me to China and I dived in exploring a new culture and a free life on my own. For 3 years I dreamed about India. One day I quit my job, applied for yoga training program, packed my luggage and left China. Somehow I always knew I was supposed to do yoga but I thought it would be just another hobby, like painting or writing. I had no idea how much it would consume me. After arriving to Shiva Yoga Peeth in Rishikesh, I turned off my phone and daily worries. From 6 a.m. till 8 p.m., I was only focused on yoga and observing life. I practiced Hatha yoga with Ravi Bisht, Ashtanga yoga with Yogi Sidharth and eventually received my certification as RYT 200 Hatha Yoga Teacher.
Once I returned to my life in China, I began to realize that yoga was not a tool to escape the world, it was something that changed my perception and actually became my world. I switched to part-time interpreting and dedicated more time and energy to yoga. My personal practice shifted more and more towards Ashtanga Yoga. It was hard to tell what exactly fascinated me so much about this practice. Of course, all these asanas looked impressive, but that was not the reason why I started nor why I continued. When I found ashtanga I knew right away this is something I could never give up. In this practice, I felt like myself.
I was looking for guidance and signed up for workshops with David Swenson, Kino McGregor, Tim Feldmann, Clayton Horton, and other teachers. Yet my biggest inspiration was Laruga Glaser, whom I followed around South-East Asia. Her words made me search for a beauty in simple asanas and deeper meaning in challenges. Besides workshops, I was alone on my mat day after day. I was looking for somebody I could practice with daily, whom I could trust with adjustments. When I found Niu Laoshi, I felt like learning Chinese was worth it, just to be able to understand his honorable way of teaching and living.
When I began teaching yoga, my students were multi-national Westerners and local Chinese people. Despite differences in cultures, visions, occupations, backgrounds, ages, bodies and practice motives, they all were searching for something more. I was there observing the movement of their bodies and their breath, teaching them and learning from them.
After two years of teaching yoga, I felt I needed to go to Mysore. My sister had begun practicing ashtanga yoga by then, and we both were incredibly happy to be accepted to KPJAYI to practiced with Saraswathi Jois. Saraswathiji had this unique way of being strict, kind and fair at the same time. Her presence was strong, her words came out with steady wisdom and her Led-class chanting moved us more than we could say.
Later I moved to San Francisco, resumed teaching and met Devorah Sacks. When I heard her chanting, absolutely new door opened to me. She challenged me to push walls of my mind and I gratefully continue practicing under her guidance.
There is a part of the road where you follow guru’s guidance, there is a part where you learn to trust your inner intelligence, and yoga is a delicate fusion of both. Yoga is a beautiful and deeply personal journey that goes up, down, in a spiral and inward. I am grateful when I walk my path alone, and I am more than grateful to share it with my dear yogi-sister. Maybe it is a coincidence, that my sister is a yogi and my best friend, but it truly feels like a gift from the Universe. I also see a smile of the Universe when something changes in people’s eyes, and I know the transformation is happening. After all, we all are one.