Azmi Samdjaga [azmiyogi]
What is your specialty? How do you help people find harmony?
My areas of expertise are Yoga Instruction (Ashtanga) and Esalen Massage. Thus, I believe that it is safe to say that I am an overall body therapist. I have been practising Yoga since 1998. I have travelled to and lived in Mysore, India in 2004 in pursue of my passion in practicing the Ashtanga system. I am also a certified practitioner in Esalen Massage. In teaching yoga, I guide practitioners in finding harmony through promoting self awareness by bringing them to a state of stillness and by being observant to their own body. In massaging, I help clients in finding harmony through touch, guiding their breath and putting them in a state of tranquility and releasing tension from certain parts of their body.
Can you provide a link to a web site or blog where we can learn more about you?
You can learn more about me through these following websites:
- www.liveandinspire.com (my writings)
- You Tube my full name - Azmi Samdjaga -
What were the circumstances that led you to choose the professional path you have chosen?
Like so many of us in the beginning, yoga for me was just another form of exercise routine like BodyCombat at the gym. Then my curiosity led me to delve deeper into its thesis. I became more interested and later passionate in particular about its discipline and philosophy. I was lucky to be given the opportunity to explore my passion further by a samaritan who had sponsored my journey to India to learn more from the late Guruji Sri Patthabhi Jois at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore. Eventually after 8 years, I decided to turn my passion into a career in teaching and obtaining my Diploma in Ashtanga Yoga from the Sivananda Institute. I felt the need to sort of transcend all the wonderful things I have gained throughout my journey in learning. The best thing for me is to have the opportunity to share its wisdom and knowledge with all my students!
What is happiness, and the main obstacle to reaching it?
I would describe true happiness as the ultimate feeling of contentment, of certainty, no stress, un-hurried, un-worried. There are no 'ways' or 'paths' to happiness. Happiness is simply a CHOICE that one chooses to take. One does not take a journey towards happiness, the journey IS happiness. Happiness is a place one chooses to be, not a place one hopes to be.
Hoarding the feeling of fear and not letting go of the things that is not useful to us will prevent us from being happy. ATTACHMENT to immaterial things or emotions blocks the journey of life, which will prevent us from moving on.
Do we think too much? Why is it so difficult to feel here and now?
This is unfortunately an inevitable fact of life. Thinking and worrying too much. The bigger our dreams, desire and involvement in worldly issues, the more we think and worry about it. Peer pressures and the perceivement of society have been the major obstacles from being present, being one with the here and now.
Those outlooks impede the sense of being content with what we have and to be happy with who we are. Being in a state of meditation and staying still with our breath, even if its for 5 minutes, helps in creating a sense of awareness in our lives, thus allowing our mind to be calmed and experiencing tranquility in our present moment.
How do you deal with discouragement, despair, a sense of setback, etc.?
I meditate. I make the time to just shut-off. I find that place of quietness and move myself into that state of stillness by sitting down and staying in silence. I then turn my focus internally. The process allows me to escape from the struggles and obstacles that are counter productive. It also enables me to consult someone who knows me best - MYSELF. The stillness lets me reflect on my despair, relaxes my senses in order to stay in tranquility and it reconnects to my life force - the breath. The mind then in turn becomes calmer and is able to have a better perspective in dealing with whatever challenge that lies ahead. Eventually, yoga will teach us how to stay calm in a any challenging situation.
Are meditation and prayer cultural variants of the same thing?
While meditation is something of a spiritual practice, prayer is something religious. While one can meditate and draw its focus towards anything thats deemed to bring one into a state of tranquility, praying on the other hand is towards something more specific.
A deity is usually involved in praying, while in meditation, one can choose an entity to think of like a candle flame, for example. The key word here is focus. Meditation or contemplation is required as a part in praying to a God, where (a deity) is not required in meditating. As focus is the main deed in meditating, we need to FILL our mind with a single thought as oppose to the popular belief of clearing our mind from all thoughts - a feat no human can achieve. - The one thing that both praying and meditating share in common is in its spirituality where emotions and feelings are concerned.
Is faith necessary for spirituality to work?
Faith IS necessary for ANYTHING to work. In simple terms, it means to belief in something. It could be someone or it could even just believing in yourself. However, more than that, to have faith is inadvertently a natural process of healing through self reflection and awareness. NOT the faith in religion, where faith has another belief - in a deity and religious doctrines. Those are make beliefs and do not contribute to spiritual awakening, in fact its the other way around. Spiritual awareness needs to metamorphose from within which in turn contributes to the strength in religion.
Is it necessary to have a teacher to find the way?
Absolutely. When there is a need to FIND the way, it usually means that there is ignorance and a sense of loss in understanding things. A teacher is someone who provides directions, knowledge, source of inspiration and is a transmission of direct understanding. Teachers let things unfold, thus dissolving curiosity and dilemma.
Is it necessary to have a purpose to find meaning in life?
To have a purpose is to have an identity. As humans, it is just the nature of our spirituality to find purpose. I think in view of the modern society, one should cultivate a purpose that creates peace and harmony for fellow humankind to live in kindness, to have compassion, and to share the wisdom and knowledge gained through life experiences.
Is it wise to believe in things that do not exist if it helps you to be happy?
To begin with, it would seem illogical to believe in things that do not exist. Believing in something is to show its existence and would be illogical otherwise. Whether things do exist or not depends on each individual who decides on the nature of things. We cannot believe in the things that we perceived as non-existant. However, in the end it is down to the individual's happiness.
In the context of the above question and after some analyzation, it is obvious that faith here becomes more consequential than happiness. When you believe, it will create a sense of security and assurance and thus, lead to a state of being happy.
How do you distinguish between spirituality and religion?
Spirituality is something that you feel through your emotions which, could be translated as the soul. An emotion that touches your inner senses and an experience where you feel a sense of belonging.
On the other hand, religion is something you practice from your upbringing, community and the society that looks upon it and the actions that are connected to it.
While being religious requires a person to be spiritual in order to have that sense of connection with the religion and divinity, being spiritual does not demand religious beliefs towards deities or doctrines.
In religion, a deity is often the focus of attention. Religion consists of worship services which we need to attend. It also consists of rituals to perform. Doctrines are also scrupulously imposed among many other compulsory requirements. Whereas in spirituality, we allow our hearts to be opened and be receptive in receiving new ideas and information. The focus of attention could be anything that we feel very connected to, e.g. the breath.
Where the practice of spirituality allows us to turn inwards in ourselves to seek comfort and solace, religion has a congregation of members to follow, specific rituals to perform, priests and ordained clergy to lead religious services from. Being spiritual means doing something that effects the human emotion, spirit or soul. When you are praying and practicing the faith of your religion, worshipping and connecting to GOD, often you find that your emotions move and you experience a sense of belonging. Now that is spiritual practice, but so does in practicing Yoga. The difference is there are no deities nor sacred icons to worship.
In a nutshell, if you are practicing religion, it would be spiritual. However, in practicing spirituality, the need to conform to a specific religion is eradicated, thus cultivating a sense of freedom, independence and joy, certainly not having to fear of something or someone.
Is God an idea? Is God in the brain?
On a personal level, I believe that God IS an idea. Its a creation of ancient civilization that was in search of power and the ultimate authority to control mankind. As such, they needed to create a sense of fear upon the people so as to maintain that authority. The result, a creation of a powerful deity called GOD. God was given birth BY the Brain and manifested BY the Mind.
What is your concept of free will Vs destiny, fate, karma?
My concept of free will is to have a freedom of choice and thought to live life independently. Destiny and fate are again the things one should choose and decide on its nature, shape and size. There are NO written destiny nor fate. We decide on how our life would be and be responsible enough to shape it.
Karma is an act of kindness in order for kindness to be returned back to you. It forms a simple rule we should follow in life. Its THE golden rule. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Give us a simple proof for the existence of the soul.
Your emotions. Your reaction towards an action. When physical activities are controlled by your brains function, the soul identify it with creating an emotion to match with that activity. The soul determines what reaction you would have in making decisions, in giving advise, in having the awareness to always be mindful which, the soul identify as very important.
What happens when you die?
Your body will definitely rot and slowly disintegrates back into earth. Blending and becoming one back to the very source that created humankind.
What is in a temple that isn't anywhere else?
The collective intention of fulfilling the duty and responsibility of the religion.
Do you believe in the law of attraction: that we attract what we think about?
At a certain level I do. When we think strongly about something specific, we are actually emanating the very same senses and energies to the universe. Thus, we attract the same senses and energies and draw them closer to ourselves and vice versa.
How does one maintain body-mind harmony?
By keeping the body healthy through physical exercise and by keeping the mental faculties strong through mindful awareness and meditation.
Do creativity and positive thinking slow aging?
Absolutely. Being creative is to keep the mind fresh. When mind is fresh, thinking will become much clearer and positive thinking helps us in reducing a significant level of stress. No rocket science here.
What is your short list of healthy habits?
Making the right choice in everything you do. Eat healthily, speak thoughtfully and practice tolerance compassionately in all levels.
In what ways has your spiritual practice affected your creativity?
It has made me a more tolerant and patient person. To be kind is very easy and its worth the time. To accept whatever happens with grace and to know that trivial issues does not matter in life. I would consider that as a part of my spiritual practice. It is the kind of spirituality that allows the acceptance of new and fresh ideas and being receptive to anything new, which opens a whole new world of perspectives. This in turn will let the mind sees the world distinctly and from diverse viewpoints.