Jivana Heyman: Making Yoga Accessible to Everyone
February 14, 2014
Please share what you do in 10-15 words: My goal is to make the powerful teachings of yoga accessible to everyone.
Why do you do what you do? I feel so blessed to have found these life-changing practices, which have provided me with a peace and joy that I didn’t think was possible. Teaching is not really an act of selflessness, but a practice that reconnects me to the teachings. I often feel that I have gained more than the students when I teach a class! What a great thing I get to do — share step-by-step practices that allow people to find their own healing.
What are you currently fascinated by in your work? I’m fascinated by the self-empowerment of Yoga. The key Yoga teaching is that peace and joy are within us. We don’t need to focus on outer achievement — money, beauty, fame, relationships, etc. for our happiness. Peace is our essence, and we just need to remember that it is always there. When we relax the body and breath, and quiet the mind, we can immediately return to this place of peace.
This is a radical concept in the West. We spend most of our lives striving to get something from outside of ourselves to bring us fulfillment. The paradox is that we are looking in the wrong place. Happiness doesn’t come from outside of us â€“ it comes from within.
How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers? I am eternally grateful to my teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda. How lucky all of us are who have found the path of Yoga. We have direction and guidance in our lives and that is so helpful.
I have had so many incredible teachers along my path: my students! I’ve been inspired over and over again by people with disabilities and illness who have embraced the pain in their lives as their teacher. People who told me they were grateful for their illness or pain because it forced them to turn inward and find their peace. I’m constantly learning from them, and they inspire me to help other Yoga teachers bring Yoga to populations that need it. People with disabilities, chronic illness, the elderly — anyone who wouldn’t feel comfortable in a traditional yoga class. I have found that these are the dedicated students who take on the practice with an enthusiasm that is awe-inspiring.
What book(s) are you currently reading? I should probably be reading about yoga, but I love to read novels — and I read a lot! I just finished “Me Before You” by Jojo Menes.
Have you taught at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat before? I’ve never taught at the Bahamas Ashram before, but I’ve taught at the Austria Ashram in Tyrol for the past three years. My surprise was that as an Integral Yoga teacher I would be so embraced by the beautiful family of Sivananda Yoga. The founder of Integral Yoga, Swami Satchidananda, and Swami Vishnu Devananda were gurubais — meaning they studied together under Master Sivananda. We are sister schools. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Om Shanti.
Jivana Heyman is co-owner of the Santa Barbara Yoga Center, Director of the Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco, and an Integral Yoga minister. With over 20 years of training and teaching in the gurukula yoga tradition, Jivana has specialized in teaching the subtle practices of yoga: pranayama, meditation, as well as sharing yoga philosophy. His passion is making yoga accessible to everyone. In 2007, Jivana created the Accessible Yoga Teacher Training, the only program specifically designed to train people with disabilities and chronic illness to become yoga teachers.
Jivana has taught with the Dean Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Program through the University of California, San Francisco; California Pacific Medical Center’s Institute of Health and Healing; and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He has led more than 40 yoga teacher-training programs over the past 16 years. Jivana’s strengths are sharing esoteric and complex teachings in a readily accessible way, and applying the ancient teachings of yoga to our day-to-day lives.