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Maria Boox at Purple Valley Yoga Center in Goa

Maria Boox is one of the legendary yoga names in Sweden. She was one of the first Scandinavian yoga teachers to open a yoga shala in Scandinavia. She has practiced both with  BKS Iyengar, is authorized by Patthabi Jois and is now studying intensely with the O.P Tiwari. Maria was one of the participants in the David Keil and Gretchen Suarez retreat earlier this season, where we got an opportunity to both have a chat with her and make a few videos. Maria will be visiting Purple Valley for the first time in April 2014.

Soon in Purple Valley

Soon in Purple Valley

1. What brought you to yoga?

A deep longing for something beyond the materialistic world. A deep longing to get to know who I am. I started to practice both yoga, pranayama and meditation in the beginning of the 80’s. For many years, during longer periods I was living in India, deepening my understanding of yoga. My yoga path took me to all different teachers in the world.  The first Master was Mr. Iyengar, in Pune. I stayed at his Pune Institute almost a year. There I got a certification from the great Iyengar to teach yoga. That’s how I started to teach yoga.  After some time I met Guruji, Sri K Patthabi Jois: with him I felt like I was coming home, he became my teacher – and he still is. After 15 years of intense yoga studies, I was one of the first teachers in Skandinavia to open up a yoga shala, in Stockholm. At that time yoga was not known to people, and in the beginning we were very few on the mat in the mornings. My very first classes were for free and after some time I had a donation box. But that didn’t work so well so after some time I started to charge for classes.

Supta Kurmasana

Supta Kurmasana

2.How would you describe your way of teaching, what is specific for it?

For me yoga represents many things, one is to get to know yourself and develop faith within and without yourself. To practice asana gives us a connection with the body and the mind, beyond that, goes pranayama and meditation. The intention of the yoga path is to live in harmony with whatever is. Yoga is a tool in life, and with faith, it can take us beyond our thoughts and help us to break old patterns. The ones that seek for answers to the great mystery of life, will find answers through dedicated practice. As yoga students for life, we can take great inspiration from Patanjalis’ Yoga Sutra 1:14 “First when a correct method is practiced during a longer time, with dedication, without interruption, with an eager and positive attitude, we will have a possibility to succeed”. My teaching is based on love, and to see each student for what they are in this moment. Not to push or force anyone to be what they are not. Everyone is perfect as they are. If fear is in the way to love life fully, I as a teacher can challenge that fear on the mat, as well as guide students in their practice, to go through obstacles safely and with respect. I hope to be able to plant seeds of possibilities for each student, encouragement and suggestions, rather than expectations or directions. Practicing ahimsa – love, compassion and understanding towards ourselves and others and being present with every breath, will lead us towards the vital connection with what is bigger than us, which brings a deeper faith and trust towards ourselves and our lives

3. From where do you get your inspiration today?

Today the big inspiration for me is still – Guruji.

Maria and Guruji

Maria and Guruji

I am hoping to pass on his teaching of ashtanga yoga, the way he would have wanted me to teach. I also get inspired by Sharath and Saraswati. Last year I met Shri OP Tiwari. Tiwarji is 81 years and has dedicated his life to teach pranayama and yoga philosophy. He is a very wise and kind man, always smiling and with time to answer questions. In the meeting with Tiwarji I moved deeper into pranayama, and will go back to him for further studies of the light, of this wonderful yoga path. Below is a short video of Maria about yoga… you can see more of her as well as other teachers on youtube.com/yogagoa  

Where a yoga dream becomes a yoga reality….

 

I used to love reading One Thousand And One Nights when I was little….. 

In fact, I still do though it does not happen nearly as often as it used to.Tales of kings and queens in far away places, of forbidden love and endless passion, of magic lamps, flying carpets and mystic sadhus walking on fire…The never ending adventures of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba got me completely spellbound, and I had no problem picturing myself in their exotic world of spices, crowded markets, beautiful palaces and colorful garments.

During this past week at Purple Valley, I was brought back to this exotic world again.With its amazing rooms, terraces and beautiful gardens, the resort could be the palace of king Sharyar and his queen Schereazade, or maybe princess Jasmine. It is indeed a lil’ taste of the world of Aladdin, though slightly safer and without the stressful markets and sadhus walking on fire (ok, so a fire was lit when this week’s teacher R. Alexander Medin did a fire puja, or an “oma”, on the terrace, but that involved walking around a fire rather than on top or through one).

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Santosh and Krupa preparing the Oma altar

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Rangoli painted for the Oma ritual

The day would start off with half an hour of “jappa”, followed by Mysore practice. The stroll down to the shala, snuggly situated all the way at the bottom of the garden, was a meditation in itself and set the mind in just the right mood for what was to come. After a well-guided practice by Alexander and his lovely assistant Kaiza, breakfast would be served on the main terrace, a buffet of exotic fruits, nuts, toast, home-made musli, juices and hot drinks. On some days, there would be delicious banana muffins fresh from the oven, or if lucky, the chef’s chocolate-avocado-strawberry porridge, a dish that made me have seconds and thirds when I thought I was full.

Between breakfast and lunch, one could take one of the many scooters to the beach, or read a book by the pool in the garden.The latter became a choice of preference, as one wouldn’t want to miss lunch…The meals at this place are a culinary heaven and beat those of One Thousand And One Nights by far. A variety of fresh salads, chutneys, dips, pesto hummus and normal hummus, vegetable soups, various rice dishes, vegan tiramisu, fruit salads..Every day would offer new, healthy surprises on the table, always a combination of Western and Indian vegetarian dishes. If you’re on a diet, this is not the place to go as you would miss out on an essential aspect of the Purple Valley experience.

At 16 p.m., the day’s second yoga session would begin. Led by Alexander’s melodious voice, class started off with chanting in sanskrit, followed by a lecture in Yoga philosophy. Alexander’s knowledge in the classic works of Yoga is beyond what I have ever encountered and it is always just as captivating to hear him speak of the Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita with such enthusiasm. The class would end with a little bit of “soft” yoga asanas, just in time for a quick shower before the gong called for dinner.

When on a yoga holiday, one heads to bed at a reasonable hour. However, for those wishing to postpone the journey to bed with an hour or so, they could settle comfortably among purple cushions on the terrace as a movie was on the repertoire every other night. In my case, I preferred sneaking up to my balcony for a lil’ hour of reading or dreaming under the stars. If I had brought One thousand And One Nights, this would be the perfect time to get absorbed in its magic. But since I didn’t, I had to do with my own, dreamy mind. And that seemed to work just as well.

Katinka Sætersdal Remøe is an adventure-seeking, wine-loving yogini with a passion for the unknown. Her curiosity has led her into many peculiar situations, from having tea with Sudanese ministers and road tripping through India’s heartland searching for guerrilla soldiers to crossing the Alps on skis. She loves contrasts, which is why you find a mix of high heels, climbing shoes, cowboy hats and yogamats in her closet, and strongly believes it enriches her life. Katinka made a visit to Purple Valley Yoga Center in Goa. where she joind the Alexander Medin retreat, now she is back musing on her mat in Mysore but will be back in Romsdalen, Norway, in a couple of months to continue teaching at Romsdal Yoga, bake apple cake at Sødahl-huset, and daydream on mountaintops. Check out her website and blog or connect with her on Facebook.

Below you can see one of interviews we made with Alexander Medin, while he was in Purple Valley in Goa…

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