Aadil Palkhivala is a world-class yoga teacher. Big and bald, with a mighty chest that blows up like a beach ball when he teaches breathing, Aadil is known as “the teacher of teachers.” He’s a remarkable practitioner who began his formal training at age 7 in India with the legendary B.K.S. Iyengar and today is the founder and director of The College of Purna Yoga in Bellevue, Wash.
Purna means complete, or whole, and Purna Yoga is based on Aadil’s deep understanding that to live in true health, we must practice a yoga that cares for all aspects of our being: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
In other words, it’s not just about the poses. Sure, it’s great to master a handstand or perfect a backbend, but the beauty and value of yoga goes much deeper. “Yoga is not about your performance,” Aadil reminded us time and time again throughout a weekend workshop he taught recently in Chicago. “Yoga is about the ability to truly explore, discover and fulfill our life’s mission. Why are we here? Yoga can help us remember. Yoga is a constant reminder of the vastness of our potential.”
Here are a few more highlights from the mind-bending weekend with Aadil. Yes, they are directed to people with a yoga practice, but they also serve all of you who want to live a healthier, happier lifestyle:
Why yoga? Aadil sees yoga as a set of ancient tools that help us connect to our own true nature, leading us to greater health and fulfillment.
“Yoga,” he says, " is the benevolent hand of nature slapping us. ‘Wake up. Wake up.’ ”
- Living in the the moment. One of the keys to happiness is to live in the moment, a state of vigilant awareness so you aren’t worrying about the past or focusing on the future.
“When we are truly in the moment, the brain becomes extremely alert, the heart opens, and the breath becomes smooth and long. When these three things happen,” Aadil teaches, " we are in the state called the Now.”
It’s a splendid place to be, on the yoga mat or off.
- Gratitude rules. Gratitude, says Aadil, is how we connect to the almighty intelligence that surrounds us. Gratitude isn’t a thought, it’s a state of being. When you are in a state of gratitude, you can tap into the energy of the universe, and that will open your heart.
“When we have gratitude,” the great and grateful teacher says, “joy follows in its wake, always.”
- The trap of spending and getting. Too many people see this as the be-all and end-all of life, says Aadhil. Getting and spending. Greed and power. Money and more money. It’s a trap, he says. And worse than that, it’s a huge waste of our time on this planet.
- I wish I had. Aadil told a story that he wishes he could tell over and over again, as he teaches his classes all over the world. It’s about a study that was done, interviewing thousands of dying people who only had a week or less to live.
The researchers asked the dying people what one thing they would have done differently in their life. In other words, what do they regret? An amazing 90 percent had the same answer, and the answer not only stunned Aadil, it changed the course of his own life and teaching: “I wish I had loved more.”
That’s what they said. No one wished to be a better CEO or own a bigger car. They wished they had loved more.
“What matters most, in yoga, and in life, is not whether you can put your leg behind your head or balance on your hands,” Aadhil told us, “What matters most is being a loving person.”
For more information about Purna Yoga and Aadil Palkhivala, check out his Web site, www.yogacenters.com. For more information on being a loving person, find your path and let me know how it’s going.
Write Marilynn Preston in care of The Light, 565 Pearl St., Suite 300, La Jolla, 92037.