Some people are born to teach; Yoshio Hama is one of them.
The renowned Dharma Yoga teacher taught tennis at age 12 and martial arts as a teenager before discovering his life’s work. Though it wasn’t in his plans to teach yoga, it was in his karma and he feels blessed to have had powerful guides along the way.
Hama, 38, grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and started practicing yoga in 1998 to increase his flexibility and help with his scoliosis. Four years later he became a teacher. Hama was drawn to the Iyengar, Ashtanga, and rocket styles where he exhibited grace, strength and confidence in difficult postures, especially inversions.
He’d seen Sri Dharma Mittra’s famous 908 Asana Poster in studios around Caracas and had some of his books but Hama didn’t realize this man would be his guru until coming to New York City with his wife in 2008.
They had a list of famous studios they wanted to go to and Dharma Yoga was the first, and last, they made it to.
“We realized we didn’t want to go to any other place,” Hama said. “It was an amazing experience. My 10 years of practice before coming to New York was a preparation for Dharma’s teaching.”
Q: What is it about Dharma that makes him stand out as a teacher?
A: He is a living yogi master. He’s sharing psychically all the tricks. Each time you come, if you’re really open, you get what you need. The practice will give you all the answers. When you find someone who knows more than you and can guide you, stay with that person as much as you can.
He’s a spiritual father. In this lifetime, I realize I’ve found my guru and that’s why I have to be with him.
Q: What is Dharma Yoga?
A: It’s about the collective conscious, about moving together. Everyone is moving together, helping each other. Maybe if I have titibasana and see someone that doesn’t, I will stop my practice and help that person because I already have it.
It teaches you to be the same on the street. Maybe I’m in a rush but I see a blind man who needs help crossing the street. I will stop and help him, then run faster to get where I was going.
That’s one thing I haven’t found elsewhere.
What you show in the classroom is the way that you live. If you are not respecting the teacher, you do not follow instructions, you are not following any rules even in society or the country. You are breaking the laws. If you don’t help someone because you care more about your personal practice, you will not help someone on the street.
Q: What do you try to give your students?
A: I love to help people remove fears and blocks physically and mentally as I have. As yoga teachers, we have to be able to watch the students and share with them whatever they need to improve.
I’m not a big master. In the path of teaching, I’m just a kid in a diaper. But I share as much as I can so people can find their own way.
Q: Are inversions a good way for people to overcome their fears?
A: Yes. I was really scared to come up, it was a tremendous fear. It took me years but because I had a good teacher, I was able to come up. Maybe it’s not for 100 percent of people but like Dharma says, you attract the same. I realize whoever comes to me, they have the same things they want to overcome.
A yoga teacher has to help. We’re here to help others because we already found a way to remove obstacles, to remove blocks, to remove impurities. So because of our own experience we can guide people.
To be able to practice yoga every day is a blessing. To be able to connect yourself with the instrument, with the body, mind and supreme self…and even 100 times more blessed to find a guide to show you the true path. New Yorkers are lucky to have a real master like Dharma offering classes daily.
For more on Yoshio Hama, go to the Dharma Yoga New York website.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Jerome Burdi
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: courtesy of the author; used with permission