“To be a maverick requires a certain sense of courage in the face of fear. That’s what makes the maverick so special because it’s not someone who’s well positioned but in fact it’s the person that can live unabashedly despite the odds.” ~ Vivekan
Bodhisattva Yoga is the synthesis of informed asana flow with a profound awareness of breath while at the same cultivating meditation through motion. The classes are all philosophically themed around the Bodhisattva tradition with the aim of generating a good heart and a better state of mind so that we can be awakened individuals that’s aware of the role we play in the greater fabric of life.
The director of the yoga studio, Vivekan, is a dear friend and brother. Our paths were brought together as Vivekan was making the transition from the corporate world to that of a business owner. It is my sincerest hope that his story offers encouragement in the face of whatever struggles you may be battling in your life. Enjoy…
What led you to your current life path?
I studied business and obtained a bachelors of science degree with the intention of working in the corporate world. In the summer of 1998, after some time working in the entertainment industry, I sustained a back injury on the job. At the time, I had a fledgling, although inconsistent, spiritual practice. However, the literal suffering that brought me to the floor was a sign that I needed to reconsider my life path and career.
Fortunately, I obtained a job at a holistic learning and cultural institute which allowed me to have the flexibility to study and get certified as a yoga professional so that I could leave working for any formal organisation to work for myself.
Seven days a week, with no less than two to three or five classes a day, I started teaching classes all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. This eventually led me to open Bodhisattva Yoga in March of 2004.
What was your experience as a first time business owner?
For the first several years, it was difficult. There’s a lot of competition in this neighbourhood. This brought my experience of teaching yoga into a whole new dimension because I was now tasked with handling the business and the administration side of running a yoga studio, which was very demanding of my time and resources.
Thankfully, a few years ago, my current fiance and co-director Jessica started managing a lot of the business aspects of the studio. In the past year, the studio has taken an upswing, which has been rewarding for me because there were numerous trials along the way.
I’m sure you encountered a lot of fear
There was a tremendous amount of fear. I was advised by several individuals, whose opinions I valued, to become a yoga teacher. I doubted that I could make a living let alone live in New York City – meaning brownstone Brooklyn where I have been living since 1997. Although I had very little resistance from family and friends to pursue this path, only my brother and ex-wife really understood what I was doing. Other family members thought that I was being a bit juvenile for taking such a risk.
How did you develop your own unique style?
When I first started yoga I was barely able, even at 25, to do a forward bend with my hands past the knees. In most yoga classes, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to do a pose that my body wasn’t capable of doing. This realisation led me to explore a different approach for my body type in my home practice.
Eventually I developed my own system which is a synthesis of yoga flow that starts from the ground up, advocates mindfulness and cultivates a spirit of altruism while reminding the practitioner that yoga is really about personal development. I think that people are drawn to the fact that I encourage working at their own edge rather than rushing the flow. This is important because it allows the practice to be more about connecting to the heart and being present rather than trying to do fancy poses.
How did you overcome the fear?
To be a maverick requires a certain sense of courage in the face of fear. That’s what makes the maverick so special because it’s not someone who’s well positioned but in fact it’s the person that can live unabashedly despite the odds. I was largely born and raised in a Dominican ghetto in Queens and despite the odds, I ended up running a business that has grown in the span of eight years. The motivation that encouraged me to follow through stemmed from my desire to be of service, to create a community and in the jungle of New York City to provide the weary practitioner with a place of sanctuary.