WANNABE FIREMAN . LADY LOVER . DRAMA DUDE . YOGI
What’s your story? Well, my story has many dimensions. I grew up in a house in the suburbs with my whole family living there. Mum, grandfather, grandmother, great granny, auntie, uncle and cousin. This was the crazy childhood part. It was like that until my mum re-married and we moved in with my stepfather.
I grew up as 'one of the Russian kids' and not so popular at school. I was also pretty chubby and didn't really have much luck with girls - ever.
This slowly started to change when I found myself taking drama class. I was noticing there were pretty girls around AND they were talking to me. It was amazing. Then after a while I ended up forgetting about the girls and focusing heavily on the craft (kinda like yoga, actually!) . This was the start of my pursuit of an actor's life. I was in middle school acting with kids from senior school. I played Danny from "Grease", Scarecrow from "Wizard of Oz" and other fun roles. I went on to pursue a career in acting after school for approximately 7 years. I was actually starting to do reasonably well when I decided to begin teaching yoga. Well, in fact, it wasn't exactly a decision; it felt more like the universe put me in a situation and I just had to let it happen.
I first explored yoga in India, on my first holiday after finishing school. 7 years of steady practice later, I was finding myself being asked to teach other students and teachers after classes that I would attend here in Melbourne. This went on for a few years until I accidentally started teaching AcroYoga (uncertified). The feeling was incredible - helping people learn to fly; to conquer fears. It was such a high, and I couldn't get enough! Then, of course, being an actor I never had any money, and now all of a sudden I was being paid to do something I loved and received fulfilment from.
The course was set. I travelled to the US to train to become a yoga teacher soon after. And I have not looked back since.
What did you want to be growing up? A fireman.
How would you describe yourself? Strong willed, passionate, outgoing, fun loving.
How would others describe you? Determined, driven but also someone who knows how to relax.
How would your mother describe you? A work she’s proud of!
What do you most value in others? Why? Loyalty, honesty and integrity are so important. Especially as yoga teachers - all teachers are influencers in this modern world and we have to take responsibility for that. It seems to have become easy to use yoga as a tool to make money, and to solely benefit oneself, rather than to help others. I believe we must aim to fully understand and live all elements of the practice - to have the integrity to practice what we preach.
Is there anything you preach but don’t practice? No. I truly make an effort to only express things I believe in and practice my self. I also try not to preach :)
We’ve all done a few things we aren’t too proud of, care to share one? I’ll spare you the details but I spent many years doing lots of drugs. Let’s just say I’m very glad to be on the spiritual path now, living totally clean and free of that weight.
Favourite meal? Avocado mash on toast.
Favourite drink? A delicious smoothie or real fresh orange juice
Favourite book? ‘Science of Being and Art of Living’ by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? I was chasing a girl (not literally). I followed her to a Bikram class. Terrible experience. I then went to India and explored it a little more whilst there; I met a man who taught me 8 foundational poses, which I loved. I’d always had an interest in the practice, and was drawn to the movement element but it wasn’t until then that I really came to feel the benefits in my own body. I never fit in with the sports teams world growing up, so yoga was the physical outlet I’d been looking for, as well as offering so much more.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing? Breathing! I didn't even consider focus on breath until about 3/4 years into practicing - it was all physical for me. Once I made that my practice, it all became a lot easier!
Why do you keep coming back? The bliss. To keep in touch with my self. The asana practice allows me to prepare for meditation and the feeling I get from the two together is irreplaceable.
What would make you skip practice? Maybe a lazy Sunday in bed with my girlfriend, but I will always catch it up. I haven’t missed a daily meditation in 1 and a half years - no word of a lie!
Do you teach? Yes. I love it. I love being of service and helping people find their own bliss. Especially in the crazy era we live in - it is so necessary for people to find that quiet space with themselves.
I also love being challenged. I try to come up with new ways to teach my students the same focus is breath, body and spirit. It tests me and encourages me to keep growing and evolving.
Other than yoga, what keeps you busy? Music. I play a few different instruments. I also love relaxing on the couch :)
What advice would you give to someone stepping onto the mat for the first time? Don’t take it so seriously. I wish someone had told me that!!
Tell us about a time your yoga practice came into play off the mat? Everyday. Every moment. Traffic is probably the best example - or talking to my mum and dad. I often have to remind m self to stop and breathe. Then I watch as the moment passes and I am fine.
What challenges or issues have you experienced being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? Hip and hamstring flexibility ;)
What does the BOYS OF YOGA project mean to you? An incredible movement that is going against the grain. I mean, originally, yoga was practiced by men - this is actually the ‘norm’. So we are bringing that back!
Fundamentally, I see BOY as a great way to share and expand the power of yoga in this day and age - for bodies of any gender, age and shape, everywhere on the planet.
If you could spend some time hanging out with some of the other BOYS, who would it be, and why? Well, I have been fortunate enough to spend time with some AMAZING BOYS on the 2016 Wanderlust 108 tour! MJW, Anwar and Jonni Pollard. Such incredible humans. It was so nice to meet and spend time with MJ. He was so kind and generous. It really felt like an instant connection of brotherhood.
What’s your favourite pose? Why? Can you cue us into it? Laying on my back in Supta Badokonasana. Have you tried it?!
Lay on your back. Bring the feet together, towards the body, and let the knees fall apart. So good.
What pose do you fucking hate? Why? I don’t actively hate any pose. After practicing for so long I have managed to find softness in any posture. Even if I am tight and my body doesn't respond I lightly pull back and enjoy my range. Wherever that is.
In my early days my worst used to be Upavistha Konasana - seated wide leg forward fold. Terrible pose for most guys. Hamstring and hip KILLER. Really, I used to loath anything that was hip and hammy intensive.
Yoga is… Union. Pure bliss. Happiness. A way to be at peace with everything that is happening around you. Calm in the eye of the storm.
Your quote or mantra: Be receptive.
Interviewed: April 11th, 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA LLC