One of our most eye-opening teacher profiles – Jerome’s passion for Bikram Yoga far transcends the physical series of 26 postures. As a soldier, he experienced firsthand the meaning of “no yoga, know war.” Now, in addition to teaching at BYV, he’s hosting a yoga retreat that will give participants the opportunity to truly transform their lives near one of the world’s most spiritual sites – Machu Picchu, Peru – this summer.
When did you start practising Bikram Yoga, and why?
I was soldier in the French Special Forces for nine years before I was a yoga teacher. After an injury to my knee during an accident in Afghanistan, doctors said I’d never walk normally again. Not able to accept their diagnosis, I started my recovery process at the Bikram Yoga studio in Paris in October 2003. Four months later my knee had totally recovered, and the chronic back pain I’d acquired during my army life disappeared. A new life began …
How long did it take you to start practising regularly?
I had a regular practice from the very beginning. I had no choice but to practise every day until I fixed my body. I still practise as often as possible. If I stop, the pain in my knee comes back. I use Bikram Yoga as a “medicine,” with a minimum of two but usually four or five classes a week.
What are some of the biggest benefits you’ve received from Bikram Yoga?
First, the physical benefits: Bikram Yoga improves my physical capacities, with absolutely no limits. Even with a bad knee I can walk or run longer, faster and further than people with “normal” knees.
Second, the mental benefits: Bikram Yoga helps to improve my patience, my self-control, my concentration and my determination. What I do during class has an impact in my daily life. Yoga has changed my attitude and my personality, increasing my awareness about reality. I don’t live in my mind or in my imagination anymore.
Third, the spiritual benefits: I practise meditation and I think it would be more difficult for me to meditate if I had no control over my mind and my body. Because I train my body and my mind to work together in Bikram Yoga, reaching the state of meditation becomes much easier. I would not be able to stay still for 20 minutes with my spine straight, stopping my mind from functioning, if I didn’t do any yoga.
When and why did you decide to become a teacher?
When I choose a job, I don’t choose it for money. I choose it because I love to do it. Like that, I never feel like I’m working and I become more efficient in my job. After I experienced all the benefits of Bikram Yoga myself, it became my passion. It took only a few months after my first class to realize that I should be a teacher, to share with others what I love and what works for me.
What do you love most about teaching Bikram Yoga?
I love travelling, and teaching Bikram Yoga gives me the opportunity to travel all around the world to see different cultures and people – all practising the same yoga. Yoga truly has no borders. I love meeting people, and teaching this yoga gives me the opportunity to meet thousands of different people with the same passion.
Teaching Bikram Yoga also gives me the opportunity to believe in the future. I can see people who want peace, love and harmony practising this yoga. Watching students practising all around the world, for me, is a sign of a new state of consciousness, a real evolution of consciousness of the human kind. The real change begins from within us. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I think yoga and meditation are the best way to do it.
In the army, I used to travel around the world trying to bring peace with a weapon. Now I bring peace to this world teaching Bikram Yoga.
What’s your best advice for students of all levels?
Do the best you can during the 90 minutes, without any judgment or expectation about your practice or that of the students around you. That way you will have no frustration or disappointment. Accept yourself as you are. That is the most difficult thing in the world, because it goes against your training, education and your culture. From the very beginning you have been told how you should be. Nobody has ever told you that you are good as you are. Don’t be obsessed with yourself; rather, a natural self-love is a must. Once that has formed, only then can you love somebody else. Accept yourself and love yourself. Nobody else has ever been like you and nobody else will ever be like you; you are simply unique and incomparable. Love is possible only when there is a deep acceptance of oneself, the other and the world. Don’t try to be someone else and don’t try to follow an example. Be an example. Be yourself.
Tell us about the yoga retreat you’re offering in Peru …
We are a small group of yoga teachers from all around the world with the dream to offer students the opportunity to go to a yoga retreat that we would love to go to as teachers.
We created a new concept of yoga retreat, offered in English, French and Spanish, in a high-altitude training centre close to Machu Picchu, in the Sacred Valley of Peru. This is one of the best places in the world to practise yoga and meditation. During the eight-day retreat, students will have the opportunity to experience a real transformation, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, in one of most amazing places on Earth.
How is your retreat different from others?
In addition to doing original hot yoga and synergy yoga, which combines acrobatic concepts with a yogic consciousness, during the retreat and visiting Inca sites to learn about their history, we offer as an option to students a stimulating, responsible and safe experience based on the Ritual Ceremony of Ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a plant called the “Teacher Plant.” It’s the world’s most powerful herbal medicine. This experience is for those looking for an authentic way to pursue their personal quest for expanded awareness. During the eight days students will have the opportunity to participate in one Ayahuasca session in a sacred ritual context for profound self-exploration.
Experiencing an Ayahuasca ceremony in Peru’s Sacred Valley is powerful and transforming in and of itself; people from all walks of life can learn, grow and heal spiritually. Our interest is focused on the expanded states of consciousness reached during the experience of Ayahuasca and the healing process that can be achieved from this experience. The experience brings about the possibility of personal growth by cleansing psychological and emotional blockages and reaching elevated states of consciousness.
Also, some yoga retreats impose a vegetarian diet on students. While we fully support the concept, we want students to come to our retreat and be able to be themselves. If you love meat, eat meat. If you like wine, drink wine. We will accept you, whoever you are and where ever you come from. We don’t want to force, convince or persuade anybody to be someone else. We don’t want you to be like us, we want you to be with us. Our retreat is not a Teacher Training, not a temple, not an ashram and not a jail.
Besides, when it comes to bad food and alcohol, stress will kill you faster than a glass of wine.
Inca Yoga Peru
Jerome’s upcoming Yoga Retreat in Peru is being offered in several separate sessions:
•SESSION 1: August 4 to 11, 2012 (eight days)
•SESSION 2: August 11 to 18, 2012 (eight days)
•SESSION 3: August 18 to September 1, 2012 (15 days)
The package rate per session (per person) is US$2,400 for eight days and US$3,400 for 15 days. Each eight-day session includes:
•seven nights shared (double/triple-occupancy) accommodation (six nights at the Royal Inka Hotel in Pisac, one night in Aguas Calientes);
•guided tours and activities, plus entry to Sacred Valley sites and Machu Picchu;
•domestic transportation, including train to/from Aguas Calientes and airport transfers from/to Cusco;
•an authentic Andean shaman ceremony; and
•all meals except for three lunches and two dinners.