Hanif is a businessman from the UK; he owns hairdressing salons and is involved in restaurants and real estate businesses. Before coming to India to do his YTTC, Hanif was big into his sports, from marathon running, to boxing and football. “I did yoga for all the wrong reasons,” he says, explaining how he first discovered yoga. “I did it to stretch out, because that’s what I thought it was all about. I wanted to improve my marathon running, and someone said you should do more stretching, so I did a Hatha yoga class. And after I felt really good!” Taking his first yoga class opened up a door for Hanif and he started to experiment with different kinds of yoga. After trying Hatha, he practiced Bikram for a year before discovering Ashtanga. It was then that he decided to take his yoga teacher training course.
Initially, Hanif took his 200 hrs YTTC with a different yoga school in Goa. He completed the course, which he said was physically demanding and well structured, but after the course he felt that something was missing from his training. He decided to return to Goa 12 weeks later to try out some other different yoga shalas, which is how he came across Abhinam Yoga. “We’d heard about Namito,” Hanif said. “I knew he was from Iyengar School and after the first class we (me and my friend) tried we got hooked. Usually, Namito never took drop-ins but once he understood that we were dedicated and that we were both teachers, he started taking the class.”
It was the spiritual side of the practice, Hanif said, that really set Namito’s classes aside from the other classes he had taken in the past. “He has a way of explaining things, turning little lights on in your brain. When he says something, it really resonates with you … Namito says that yoga is fitness for the witness – and it’s totally true. We’re doing yoga so we can be witnesses to our thoughts and bring clarity into our brain.” In addition to the spiritual side of it, Hanif was also drawn to Namito’s knowledge of alignment. “We were still learning Ashtanga, but the difference was he understood all types of bodies, whereas my other course was more for people who were very flexible – there was no alignment. There’s no point teaching someone to do something if it damages them in the long run.”
Hanif decided that although he had already taken his YTTC with a different school, he wanted to take the course again but with Namito, to learn more about alignment. So he went to the Abhinam Yoga centre in Dharamsala to complete his 200 hrs TTC. “It was totally different from the first course I did,” Hanif explained. “The first one was more about doing the poses mechanically – we weren’t thinking about the postures, we were just going in the postures. But this was more about being in the moment. When you learn the alignment, you can then go into the posture. It was a lot different.” He also felt the benefit of using a range of different props: “I’ve been to lots and lots of Ashtanga studios, and this is the only one that uses props. Namito teaches Ashtanga, but with an Iyengar twist. He’s all about alignment and modification, because not everyone’s got a flexible body.”
Now, having completed his 200 hours TTC in Dharamsala with Abhinam, Hanif came back this year to see Namito for at least two weeks. With each trip, he continues to deepen his practice but also assisted in the current March 2016 TTC course (via yoga work exchange program). “I feel privileged to come back to Abhinam to assist Namito in teaching the TTCs,” Hanif told us. “I’m hoping to assist more often. I’ve taken the same class with Namito three or four times, but every time there is something new because he gives so much information. He has a vast bank of knowledge.” Hanif teaches yoga in a studio in UK and brings alignment techniques into his classes. He is planning to continue to come back to Abhinam and assist with teaching, and hopes to visit the Dharamsala Yoga School again later this year.