Reflections on a 40 Year Yoga Practice
Danny Paradise has been practicing yoga almost every day for over 40 years. A much loved and returning BaliSpirit Festival presenter, Danny is committed to his purpose to help people create a lifelong personal, joyful and expanding practice of yoga. Danny started yoga back in the 1970’s in Hawaii with leading Ashtanga lineage practitioners David Williams and Nancy Gilgoff. Since then, his journey with yoga has taken him to over 40 countries where he has shared, inspired and taught Ashtanga and Shamanic practices to thousands of yogis across the world.
WHAT DOES THE PRACTICE OF YOGA MEAN TO YOU?
Danny Paradise: Yoga predates all religions by thousands of years and comes from ancient animistic cultures when people were more sensitive and in tune with nature. These practices are ancestral gifts passed from generation to generation, of people exploring natural laws of the universe. So the practices tend to lead people back into a more natural simple life by living in harmony with nature which contributes to a greater peace of mind, wellbeing and a more balanced human being.
HAS YOGA HELPED YOU OVERCOME ANY MAJOR OBSTACLES IN YOUR LIFE?
DP: The practice of yoga continually helps me physiologically, psychologically and emotionally. It makes me present each day, and also helps increase insight, intuition and all the ways of seeing, so I can make clearer decisions and better choices.
Yoga has also saved my life several times. I would not have survived had I not had the strength from my asana and pranayama practices. I was stung by a Portuguese Man o’war jellyfish in Goa, India on an isolated beach and went into anaphylactic shock where I was in tremendous pain and my lungs stopped working. Thanks to my strong yoga practice for 8 years, I was able to gasp for air every minute or two for 4 hours, before I was found and taken to hospital. I strongly believe I was able to survive purely down to my years practicing yoga.
WHAT TYPE OF YOGA DO YOU TEACH?
DP: I expand the classical routines of Ashtanga Yoga and show derivative poses, modifications and variations and incorporate positions from Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Egyptian roots. I also recognize the connections between all shamanic nature based cultures.
Yoga is about healing and conscious evolution, manifesting our dreams, aging with vitality, grace, acceptance and communication with our soul and the great forces of the universe that creates order and purpose, movement and vibration. I aim to make yoga a playful non-dogmatic exploration. I recognize all yogic ancestral practices as very informed suggestions – passed from nature to the genius of the human mind. Our ancestral guides spent their whole lives in these fields of exploration.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF BEING A YOGA TEACHER?
DP: My regular yoga practice over the years has boosted my immune system, it creates a constant daily healing force and keeps me more balanced, strong and flexible both physically and psychologically. It is an amazing blessing and privilege for me to be able to travel and teach around the world, as well as meeting like-minded friends who are interested in shamanism, yoga and music is one of the many beautiful rewards.
“An interest in yoga has exploded worldwide and it is beautiful to see this mass movement of consciousness taking root on the planet”
HOW DO YOU MOTIVATE YOURSELF TO PRACTICE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?
DP: I see how yoga is helping me age with some energy and vitality, it becomes a necessary part of my day like brushing my teeth. The health benefits to a regular practice are obvious and vital, I just have to look at older people who haven’t had the opportunity to practice yoga to motivate me to continue practicing as I age.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOGIS STRUGGLING TO MAKE TIME TO PRACTICE YOGA IN THEIR BUSY SCHEDULE?
“Healing is a lifetime discipline and the day we realize that doing yoga is the most important aspect of our lives, we become responsible for our own well being”
DP: I tell people in classes that as you get older, you’ll start to practice more regularly. Our grandparents and parents didn’t have access to these practices and teachings, but now yoga is accessible in most regions of the world. It doesn’t have to be Ashtanga Yoga… All yoga techniques help. Yoga is a sacred gift from the great Spirit and the Spirit of our ancestors meant for the entire human race.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE ABOUT YOGA?
‘You are your only Master – Who else? No one purifies another. You are responsible for your own purity and purification. To straighten the crooked, you have to do a harder thing first…Straighten yourself’– The Buddha, from the Dhamapadda
WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT BALI?
DP: The Balinese culture is a unique phenomenon. It has been one of the most refined cultures on Earth, the people are gracious, accepting and kind. I have been coming to Bali for over 25 years and introduced yoga to local Indonesian friends and the international community.
Written by: Maeve Nelligan