From Ukraine, Vitaly Shakirov (aka Cat Shanti in the social media) started his yoga practice not as a kid. With his passion and discipline, he is now a teacher of yoga. He shares his practice in the social media; and has produced various videos on YouTube. Asana talked to him about his yoga journey and how he finds his way to perfection.
Asana: When and how did you discover yoga? What attracted you to the practice?
Cat Shanti: I was interested in yoga a long time ago, but started to practice at the age of 30. I went in for different kinds of sports before, had a certain success indeed. However I could not answer the questions – What is next and what is the sense of those exercises?
The moment of yoga discovery answered all of my questions!
Asana: Is there a strong yoga community in Odessa, Ukraine?
Cat Shanti: There are a lot of yoga studios in Odessa. I am however not in a position to comment on the level of practice.
Asana: Were you born naturally flexible? How did you discover the various poses which seem impossible to most?
Cat Shanti: I wasn`t born naturally flexible but was a fidget for sure, liked to go out with my friends.
I practised asanas in different ways. At the beginning of my practice there was a passion and a strong desire to do everything and at once. However later on, I`ve realised that yoga is not just another kind of sport and the result doesn`t matter that much but the process.
Asana: Is Ashtanga your primary lineage? What is your typical practice?
Cat Shanti: I don`t practice only one style of yoga, I discover different styles and practise those I like.
There is no general-purpose style of yoga, everyone should create his own style of it, appealing to his temperament and body formThe Teaching
Asana: Do you teach yoga? How does it feel when most of your students are neither strong nor flexible like you?
Cat Shanti: One day the Wiseman said: If you want to succeed in yoga, you should become a teacher of it! And I did it, I teach yoga nowadays.
Flexibility in yoga is not the aim! It`s just the means. That is why I teach my students to be patient and understand yoga correctly. Yoga is a spiritual practice, but not a physical one. Philosophy should be the first place!
Asana: How do you adapt your teaching to suit different body forms?
Cat Shanti: The main thing is to explain to a student the sense of yoga and principles of body work. Then that student will easily start to adapt asanas to his body form, as he is the only person who knows his body best.
Asana: In one of your videos, you indicate “Yoga, path to perfection”. How do you interpret this?
Cat Shanti: For me, “perfection” is to live according to conscience, scriptures and feel love for the whole world!
Asana: What is your primary objective of producing the YouTube videos and Instagram posts?
Cat Shanti: Producing my photos and videos I try to inspire people to practise yoga!
When looking at the most difficult asana, a viewer is getting involved and interested in it because of his curiosity. I also write there quotes of some great teachers and texts of scriptures. Thus everyone can find something interesting for himself in my posts and social networks pages.
Asana: How do you see yoga changing your lifestyle?
Cat Shanti: Yoga gives me patience and ability to stay concentrated. When you know the rules of the Universe, you may live without breaking them, but to live in peace with Universe.
Asana: What is your typical day?
Cat Shanti: I spend my days in different ways. However when I have some free time, I either go into asanas or read scriptures.
Asana: Do you play other sports? Are you conscious of maintaining your body form and flexibility?
Cat Shanti: Yoga is an all-sufficient discipline and I don`t see any sense to go in for something else. To be more precise, there is a huge amount of things you can do if you live with yoga, but none of those things seem difficult or frightening to you.
Asana: Do you encourage your family and friends to practise yoga?
Cat Shanti: We can inspire someone only by our own example. That`s why I practise every day.
Asana: How do you envisage your practice going?
Cat Shanti: I practise every single day in the morning and on working days, I also practise in the evening. It takes 2-5 hours a day.
Asana: Would you like to create your own style and train more students to enable them to practise like you do?
Cat Shanti: My own style – it`s a rhetorical question… I see no sense in it at the moment. I have to try to give more knowledge to people by the help of original videos and without any distortions. Then everyone will be able to practise.
Asana: Is there any location you wish to visit – as a teacher, a yoga practitioner or generally?
Cat Shanti: There are no certain places. I would like to travel the whole world and share my knowledge about yoga with everybody.
Asana: Is there any project you wish to pursue?
Cat Shanti: I would like yoga to be taught at our schools! Then children would be able not to go through their parents` mistakes.
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