“Living in the moment”, “making a connection between the body and the mind” We hear patterns like this all the time. So, how do we do them, and more importantly, why should we do it? From Global Yoga Instructor and Cihangir Yoga Partner Chris Chavez, we listened to the way to connect with ourselves and experience the moment and the transformation it will create.
How did you decide to become a partner of Cihangir Yoga?
Actually, whatever happened happened very naturally. I have been teaching trainers for years in different cities around the world. Now I was starting to feel the need to root myself out and establish something of my own. I had different opportunities in other cities, but Istanbul felt like the best.
Long before I started teaching yoga, I was visiting Istanbul as a musician and I always felt good here. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to teach yoga and establish a community in Istanbul; My answer is sincerely "Yes." it happened.
Where is the magic of Cihangir Yoga's success?
First of all, I am so grateful for our success! When I think about why we are successful, two words come to mind directly: community and consistency.
At the very core of Cihangir Yoga (CY) is the importance given to the community spirit. The way like-minded people come together to share laughter and good energy is, I think, the glue that holds everything together. I want to have fun doing what I'm doing and I enjoy being surrounded by positive, energetic people who love to laugh. Consistency comes second. Even if there are endless ways to teach yoga; It was important to me to develop a system that is trainable, reliable, secure and that students can really stick with. Request “CY Method”, This was the system.
How would you summarize the content of the CY Method?
This method developed naturally so that instructors teaching or taking courses at Cihangir Yoga could use a common language while creating and presenting a lesson. It combines elements of many established systems, methods and philosophies such as Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Anusara Yoga and Siddha Yoga, adding the unique teaching skills and principles of Cihangir Yoga to this wonderful blend.
If I were to sum it up in one short sentence, I would say: “The CY Method” is an alignment-based yoga system that harmonizes various yoga traditions and practices, includes intelligent sequencing, and provides a clear path for growth and transformation.”
Could you give some information about “The Chris Chavez Path to Yoga”?
What I call The Chris Chavez Path to Yoga eventually became the CY Method. The only important difference between the two is; mine!
With the CY Method, I wanted to develop a system that could be taught and shared by any trainer. Of course, this road is entirely my journey. As a person, teacher, and yogi, I am learning and improving every day. I always want to bring my newest self into the classroom. In The Chris Chavez Path to Yoga, a student or instructor experiences me in real time as we walk this path together.
What was the most important truth you discovered during your yoga practices? How has this fact strengthened your relationship with yoga?
The most important truth I discovered in my practice, teaching and even in my life: Whatever I do, I do it with my heart and soul completely devoted! When practicing or teaching yoga, as in life, the body may feel limited or the mind may be restless or impatient. However, throughout this whole process, your heart and soul shine, staying still in the moment. Your heart always speaks to you. Therefore, I learned to trust the voice in my heart when things got tough. My mind is always filled with too many thoughts, counter-thoughts, fears, questions and more. But my heart always has one voice and it always directs me in one direction. A reality to be lived with for life; trust the voice of your heart!
How does Hatha Yoga help you connect with your body, mind and spirit?
Hatha Yoga refers to the physical practice of yoga. Connecting with your body is a highly spiritual practice. As our souls manifest themselves with the joy, peace and love that we all wish to have more of in life, and as we examine this nature of it; all these are the energies of that moment. When we can feel them, we are in the moment. Normally the mind seldom spends time in the present moment. He usually remembers the past with anger or thinks about the future with fear. Therefore, the key point is; to move the mind to the present moment. So, how do we do this; guess: with your body that can always be in the moment. It never travels through time the way your mind does. Try moving your body forward or backward in time for a single millisecond. Please call me if you can, because we will be rich!
Hatha Yoga; It connects your mind wandering in time with your body that is always in the present moment, allowing you to live in the moment and lighten your soul. This is both simple and very difficult for most of us. That's why we practice.
How do you compare online yoga sessions with offline, in-studio yoga sessions?
I love both very much. The instant connection chance I have while teaching in the studio and the energetic feedback from students are invaluable. When you're in a physical classroom as an instructor and you give students verbal or physical tactics for minor adjustments to the movements they need, they have an immediate realization. The tiniest bit of information or touch has the potential to change every aspect of their existence. So you can instantly change someone's life for the better!
You lose that intimacy and intimacy when teaching online, but you gain another kind of connection. In this version, a class has now become global. For example, now that my studio classes are broadcast online, I can see my former students who haven't been able to attend my sessions for years, or too many new students I've never met before. Opportunity to connect between us to be positive and raise our energy; It is now open to everyone and everywhere. This is great stuff.
Which poses would you recommend to feel more positive on busy and stressful days?
The pose I like to do to relieve stress; hand posture. When I do handstands a few times, I feel as good as completely refreshed. Inverted poses, on the other hand, focus the energy on that moment and a single movement in the mind. Thus, it clears the garbage piles in our minds and relaxes us a lot.
On stressful days, I suggest you try to turn this stress into a physical, fire-like energy; it works.
So, what are the health benefits of inverted poses?
In physical terms, inverted postures reverse the blood flow in the body, helping blood flow to the heart, while positively stimulating the respiratory and circulatory systems and glands.
Mentally, it changes your perspective. When everything turns upside down, the source of our power and energy is also changed. Observing and practicing all these changes is a lifelong skill.
What is the importance of arm weighted balance poses and hip opener poses?
The first is great for building strength and confidence. You feel great when you do something you think you can't do.
The poses aimed at opening the hip area slow down your system by rooting you. Many of us are trapping great tension in this region. Letting go of that tension is one of the keys to feeling good.
Which poses did you include more in your practice this summer?
During the summer months, it is much easier for us to warm up and open our muscle fibers. That's why I tried to focus on deep backbends and splits, where I was relatively inflexible and felt closed.
What would you recommend to people who have wrist pain during yoga poses?
Make sure you maintain correct hand, wrist, and arm alignment, and then relax. Wrist pain is a sign of excessive pressure on the wrist or arm, and sometimes the neck or back. This pain, which is quite common, is very rarely caused by yoga itself. It is usually an indicator of incorrect posture in daily life or too much stress, or both.
When practicing yoga with proper alignment, normally inflexible muscles feel a healthy, perfectly normal stretch. However, if sharp pains are felt, this is an indication that something is not in the right alignment as I said; An experienced teacher can help you.
If you are practicing at home; soften the movement or stop for a short time. Discover the movements and flows you feel in your body at that moment and just before the pain. See if you're out of alignment and if you feel good, if the stretching feels healthy.
What do you think of assistive tools like yoga belt and yoga block?
I really love them. They are great helpers for people who can't get into some poses yet to achieve the pose. They allow you to go deeper and become more open and flexible than you would be otherwise. I have been doing yoga for 27 years and after all this time, I still use these two tools almost every day in my own practice.
You are a source of motivation for many yogis around the world. So, what motivates you as both a yoga lover and a yoga instructor?
I am motivated and inspired by people who live their passions. I find that there is something very affirming, powerful, and beautiful in people who have had difficulties but have overcome them and are able to do what they love. I can relate myself to it. This gives me hope.
Do you believe in the concept of 'challenge', which is very popular in the world of yoga and fitness?
Whatever works, I believe in it. As in life, there is no one way that works for everyone. People are inspired and motivated by different things. If a remarkable word or phrase can inspire you to connect with your body; I'm in!
Can you talk about your eating and sleeping habits?
Frankly, I eat whatever food makes me happy. I put a lot of effort into my diet; I tried vegetarian, vegan, raw, organic, sustainable, eco-friendly whatever you say, but I realized that strict discipline did not bring me inner peace or joy. I was hungry and unhappy!
It took me years to realize that our bodies have a natural intelligence. He is always talking to us. If we listen, what and how much we will eat; Including foods we label as 'bad,' she says. Some things may not be the best for us, but if it feels good to eat occasionally, it's fine! We can find the middle ground of everything.
I also pay close attention to how I feel afterwards, especially if I eat something that is not considered very healthy. We crave certain things, but our body does not feel well after eating. On the other hand, some dishes also seem boring, but after eating, we feel great. It's nice to be able to recognize such situations.
Sleep is essential for me! I guard my sleep as if it were a golden treasure; because it really is. While you sleep, the body heals itself. I'm trying to turn the time before we fall asleep into a ritual so that it sends the message to my mind that it's time to relax. Recently, I have been recording how many hours of uninterrupted sleep I have been, evaluating how energetic and emotional I am, on a scale of 1-10. It's great to see that my sleep period length fits so well with how I'm feeling. Other than that, I also try not to stress about sleep. If I don't get a good night's sleep, I'm not stressed about it. The next day, I cut back on my energy-intensive tasks and plan to have at least one nap that day. One of the most important things that meet my need for energy; taking a nap for at least 20 minutes every day, or being able to lie quietly with my room door closed even if I can't sleep in the process.
What pose are you working on the most these days?
I am working on getting the Lotus (Padmasana) pose back into my practice. I am also a jogging person. More than a year ago, I injured my knee while running. It took a long time for my knee to heal enough to get into the lotus pose. This pose is one of my signature poses and I love it. Now that I can do the Lotus pose again, I definitely include it in my practice now.
As a musician, do you have playlists for your yoga sessions or do you prefer silence?
If I'm doing yoga at home, I can sometimes turn on loud and energetic music. For example, sometimes I listen to songs by Jeff Buckley, who I think is one of the best vocalists. However, I generally prefer silence. I want to observe and listen to what is going on inside me. In a crowded city like Istanbul, it is very rare to have a quiet moment. That's why I usually want to give myself this chance during my practice.
The views expressed in this article are written to shed light on alternative studies and to encourage conversation about these studies. Even if the articles contain the advice of physicians to some extent, they are for informational purposes only. This text; cannot replace professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.
Chris Chavez - Global Yoga Instructor and Cihangir Yoga Partner
Chris Chavez started yoga with Iyengar Yoga many years ago and has grown into a yoga instructor who has trained thousands of students and instructors around the world. One of the co-partners of Cihangir Yoga, Turkey's largest yoga studio, Chavez is the founder of the CY Method, which he developed specifically for yoga students and instructors. He sees yoga as the art and practice of connecting with his own truth. In addition to being a yoga instructor, she also continues her professional musician career.