A: In Jan. 1993 I had an unsuccessful wrist surgery which, after 7 years of going to different doctors and trying different treatments, left me in more pain that I had been before the surgery. I was depressed, and angry with the doctor, and decided I would heal myself. I started taking lots of classes from different teachers. One teacher was Gita, the owner of the local spiritual bookstore. She taught a small gentle yoga class. One day, while in hip side stretch, she talked about feeling a warm river of light streaming up from the base of the spine. I immediately felt the energy, and spoke to her after class about the experience. She was able to provide me with a couple of books. At the time I had been practicing yoga for 17 years and teaching for 10 years. After reading the books, and having a few more energy experiences while practicing different asanas, I realized that it was time for me to find a master teacher.
Soon thereafter I received a brochure for a conference in the Poconos, PA, celebrating 100 Years of Yoga in America. The conference was organized by Unity in Yoga, and all the master teachers were going to be there. This is where I met Kaliji. The first class I took with Her was a mudra class, and I immediately felt the energy. Later that day I happened to be speaking to a woman in the hallway, and she told me that Kali Ray was going to give a workshop at her studio the next month. It turned out that this woman’s studio was in MA, half an hour from my house. I went.
After the workshop I told Kaliji that the TriYoga flows moved me like no other yoga I had done over the course of 17 years, and asked how I could learn the method, who would teach it in MA. Kaliji told me I be the one to teach in MA. I only thought: “Oh, really? How is that going to happen?”
The next month I was invited to speak at a computer conference that was to be held the Thur. before the very next teacher training. The conference was in San Jose, which appeared to be a short distance from Santa Cruz (which is true, as the crow flies, but I was unaware of the big mountain in between). I negotiated with the conference chair for them to pay for my hotel over the weekend. That weekend it poured and I drove, white knuckled, back and forth over the mountain. But the training was amazing. It covered all the transitions, and what I needed to know to follow the stick figure flows. I also had the VHS video to practice from. That year, I was invited to speak at conferences the same time as each teacher training, so I made every teacher training that year, expenses paid.
During this time, someone I had practiced yoga with for years and who was learning TriYoga with me, was practically living in the hospital to be near her 10 year old daughter who was battling leukemia. My friend only left the hospital on Saturday morning to come to yoga class. Before class each week I said a prayer, asking that the energy would flow through me to provide her with some comfort. And it did! We both could feel it. As we were learning the flows, the energy guided us time and time again.
Q: You practiced other yoga methods for 17 years, did you feel like you have to “empty your cup” and forget all that you have learnt before to learn TriYoga, or your experience helped?
A: Neither. The difficult part was to re-learn the name of the postures, because they were completely different from what I was used to.
TriYoga changed my whole understanding of why we practice yoga. My whole approach changed. Before I was taught the sequences that will get one to a more complicated position, and the counter poses to relax the muscles. For example, if you want to do lotus pose, here is a series of postures that will get you there. Now my main focus is how to open the energy channels, nadis. So with TriYoga my whole experience, perception, goals – all these changed dramatically. Of course, when we start a new sequence or a pose, we do train the muscles, but the ultimate aim is to dissolve and feel the energy. I remember one training Kaliji kept telling me to open the hips in the Triangle. I just did not understand what she wanted me to do. When I returned home, I focused inside, and started to explore this asana, remembering everything that Kaliji said. And all of a sudden I felt energy running from the bottom of my spine to the top of my head! Then I got it. I had been doing Triangle wrong for 17 years!
Through TriYoga practice my physical body became much stronger, my wrist got healed, my breath deepened, and my focus moved from the physical to experience to the subtle body and the causal body, the body of bliss.
Q: So did your understanding of Kaliji and TriYoga grow over the years?
A: As I mentioned above, I felt the energy the first time I met Kaliji. But of course my understanding of the flows grew with my practice. The more I practiced, the more answers would come. Because I had practiced yoga for 17 years before finding TriYoga, I knew for a fact that the subtle energy experiences I was having were due to the higher knowledge within the flows. The flows came through Kaliji from the inside out, through Kriyavati. I found by practicing the flows, I could experience the energy from the outside in. And I was not the only one to experience. My students also experienced the energy. Over the course of the first year, practicing alone with only the flows themselves to guide plus the three teacher trainings, I came to regard the TriYoga flows as sacred knowledge.
Before TriYoga I did not consider yoga to be my spiritual path. I always thought that my path was service to others. But the TriYoga flows became my way to connect to my spirit. It helped to realize that physical body can be the instrument for attaining higher knowledge.
Q: How did you relate to Kaliji? Has it changed?
A: For the first 17 years of practicing yoga I had always been anti-Guru. But when I met Kaliji, I felt the energy and I had no doubt that she possessed the knowledge I was seeking. I was hungry for knowledge. The more I practiced the flows, the more this knowledge would come through. As I came to understand the nature of this knowledge being revealed, the more respect, gratitude, and appreciation I felt for Kaliji. I feel so grateful that I have always tried my best to give something back to her, because she has given us so much! Really everything! I had none of this knowledge before meeting Kaliji and practicing TriYoga. It all flows from Kaliji.
Q: How did you learn the flows and get certified?
A: When I started TriYoga there were only 6 flows: Level 1, Series 1, 2 and 3 and Level Two, Series 1, 2 and 3 (no condensed versions). The flows were expressed in stick figures, which was helpful to me because the names of the TriYoga postures were different from the names I had been taught in the past. I would study with Kaliji 3-4 times a year, but other than that, I found the knowledge of the flows was revealed through practice. At one point I had memorized each and every flow. When beginning a new flow I would start by practicing one season until I had it memorized, then go on to the next. On Sundays I would do all 4 seasons. When I memorized the flows, I was able to flow without looking at the page, without thought, and the inner knowledge would come through. It is still how I practice today. I find I am able to memorize any flow I am working on pretty quickly. They make total sense to me.
Q: How did you make the transition in your teaching?
A: After the first teacher training I pretty much knew this was the only yoga I wanted to practice and to teach. It took a while, however, before I could teach an entire TriYoga class. In the beginning I just starting incorporating a few TriYoga flows into my classes. As I always had been drawn to vinyasa, my students just thought this was just new vinyasa flows.
Q: How (why) did you decide to open a center? You were raising two kids, working in an IT company… was it hard to run a center at the same time?
A: When I discovered TriYoga I realized that it is my dharma, my path to share this knowledge with others. I opened a center in 2000. I was very tired of the cold and dirty church basements and the noisy air conditioned health clubs. I just realized that to share this sacred knowledge I need a sacred place. I have been running the center for 8 years now and we have a great community. I feel very lucky and grateful for it. I have always had great support from my teachers. And I did my best to support them. I opened the center as a service, and never treated it as business. Of course, I had to figure out how to pay the bills but I have never taken a salary from it. Now we have become non-profit, which has gotten more of the community involved and made the community even stronger.
Q: What do you pay most attention to when teaching?
A: When teaching my first objective is to give students the experience of dissolving into the flow and feeling the energy for themselves. But there is much involved in creating that. You have to pay attention to alignment, and the students’ pacing and breath. We have a small studio, and I try to give each student some individual attention in each class. Each student has their own obstacles, and every one of us can go deeper into the experience.
Q: From your point of view, what does it take to be a good TriYoga teacher? What do you pay most attention to when teaching TY teachers?
A: A good TriYoga teacher must feel the flow. If they do not feel it, they will have a very difficult time transmitting the energy of the flows to their students. They must understand all the alignments. Energy cannot flow if the alignment is not there. The correct alignment opens the nadis, incorrect alignment is like a crimped hose – nothing flows through. But even when an intern flows beautifully and understands the alignments, what is most difficult, and unique to TriYoga, is finding economy of words. In order to keep students in the flow cues must be no longer than the length of one inhalation or exhalation. I have interns first focus on the primary cues, what needs to be said in one breath to get to the next posture, then more expansive cues to say in successive repetitions of the flow, to deepen the experience or bring in refinements of alignment. This takes a lot of practice. I am always inspired by the amount of time and hard work the interns devote to their training. I try to keep them inspired by reminding them of the experiences they had which made them want to teach, and what they need to do to give that same experience to their students. Those who certify have the knowledge and integrity to share the fullness and completeness of the TriYoga teachings. It’s not easy, but it’s very rewarding.