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The 4 Aims of Life – Video Interview with Umaa

Umaa is the co-founded KUSH, the Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Center at Yoga Barn, where she addresses the existential questions of human nature through Ayurvedic consultations and Laya Yoga Intensives. In this video interview, Umaa talks about the 4 aims of life – Kama, Artha, Dharma & Moksha and provides further insights on living a life of fulfillment.

For your chance to meet and learn with fascinating teachers like Umaa, buy your full pass for the upcoming BaliSpirit Festival on March 29 – April 3, 2016.

Umaa Interview Transcription

Robyn: Hello and welcome to the BaliSpirit Festival, my name is Robyn Hasson and I am the General Manager of the Yoga Barn here in Bali. Today I am here with Umaa who is one of the original teachers at the Yoga Barn and has been with us for just about seven years. Umaa has been practicing Yoga since a very young age and learnt from her Grandfather and Mother and has been teaching Yoga for more than 26 years. Hi

Umaa: Hi Robyn

Robyn: Welcome

Umaa: Thank you

Robyn: How do you bridge the gap between the authenticity of the practice, and the business you need to sustain it?

Umaa: Yes, it’s an excellent question. My natural answer is there is no gap; I don’t perceive a gap between one and the other. I can perceive that there is likely to be a perception, that there would even be an inherent perception of separateness, a gap-iness between one and the other, but it is an apparent separation. In effect there is no difference. If you are living true to your own nature, no matter what you do, if it is work or play, parenthood, or being a business owner or entrepreneur, its all a part of you being real, you being alive, you being conscious, you being responsible, you in interaction with your world at large. So my perception is there is no gap, my being authentic and being integral, within my practice and the business required, or the means required to support that. That they are one and the same. The consciousness, the awareness is consistent throughout. So I don’t feel there is any switch.

Robyn: The give and the take, basically

Umaa: Yes. You can boil it down to principal, the simple principles like integrity, awareness, presence, and if you are true to those principles you could be doing anything. I’d like to say that in my culture, in my tradition, the way I was brought up and what I know inherently, is that everything has a place. Business has a place, money has a place. In fact in the yogic tradition, central to the yogic philosophy, is the understanding, the experience that there are four aims of human life, pillars if you will. Equally holding up the…..

Robyn: The platform

Umma: Yes the platform. The platform that allow us to fulfil our purpose as a human being.

Robyn: And what are they?

Umaa: So these four, one is karma, is sensuality, pleasure, enjoyment, very much in play when you are a little child you know, the play itself.

Robyn: Yes

Umaa: And it would include sexuality, reproduction, and perpetuity of the human species. Art and the other one is Dharma, so this is virtue, this is morality, this is what you are asking me, this is the integrity, this is authenticity of your spiritual practice. Its purpose, its duty, its obligation, its responsibility, not only to ourselves and that comes first, responsibility to ourselves and responsibility to our ancestors without whom we wouldn’t be here at all. Responsibility to our descendants by us being healthy, we are being responsible to the health of everyone after us. So this is very much including what you are talking about, the spirituality. Teaching for instance, being a spiritual teacher, being a yoga teacher would come with the Dharma.

Robyn: Yes big responsibility

Umaa: And another one is the Artha and in fact this interesting because in some text Artha is considered the first requirement before turning and focusing on the other pillars and artia is the means. Artha is wealth, Artha is occupation, Artha is career, Artha is ambition, Artha is business. Artha is the means with which we can then thrive freely to share and to focus in a healthy way on the other aspects of what it is to be human.

Robyn: Umhmmm, one, two, three

Umaa: And yes the last one is Moksha. The last one is liberation, the last one is self-realisation, realising yourself as the absolute, realising yourself and the consciousness, it’s the freedom. And what is really interesting here is that you can see it on all planes, on all four of those pillars, that there is possibly, a calling in fact to self-realise on all levels, so in this Yogic understanding of what it is to be alive, what it is to be a human. But there is an obligation in a sense to self-realise on all planes equally. That there is no separation in your spiritual life, realising yourself in a spiritual sense and realising yourself in a material sense. That you can self-realise along any path that you choose.

Robyn: But you need those four pillars.

Umaa: Yes, you need those four pillars and they need to be equally standing for you to be thriving, for you to be awakening, to be evolving.

Robyn: And you’re responsible for all of those elements.

Umaa: Yes, ultimately we are self-responsible. As we grow up, we grow into self-responsibility. It’s a key topic we are discussing because the Western mindset is limited to us in the West. We are all subject to Westernised way of thinking and this Westernised way of thinking tends to polarise.

Robyn: Everything that is going on

Umaa: One thing as oppose to another. So spiritual life, being a yoga teacher as oppose to being an entrepreneur. Righteousness in a way.

Robyn: Right, there is a good question right there . Righteousness in way. So earlier today we were talking about what’s kinda going on in the marketplace of yoga, in society, in the culture, in everything that is surrounding us and one of those things is a multitude of teacher trainings.

Umaa: Yes

Robyn: Sometimes maybe there may be more teachers than trainees/students. Do you teacher trainings right now, do you plan on doing them, is that to be an evolution?

Umaa: I have generally resisted the concept of the teacher training, as I’ve seen it. At the same time I am open, honouring the process by which a teacher desires to share what they have learned with others. So I don’t have a fixed preference for or against teaching training. For myself personally it’s not my focus. I do know from experience, to be a fully fledged teacher of yoga – and it’s a continuous process, its not a fixed state. Even the teacher themselves is continuously awakening to new possibilities within themselves. What I have come to experience, and it is also in the yoga text them-self, is that traditionally you would study for twelve years with one teacher. So it would be going all the way down one path rather than diverting, branching off, patch-working traditions, different teachings, different styles. The idea I think in this day and age is that you are gaining a broader portfolio, but the potential disadvantage there is that you are spreading yourself very thin. So traditionally you would be plunging down one particular track.

Robyn: Path

Umaa: The key there is, or the outcome there is you are embodying the wisdom that is being imparted to you.

Robyn: On that one track

Umaa: Yes on that one track, from that one teacher. And it is not necessary the best way or the only way, because ultimately any way…

Robyn: Is good. In your learning, in your teaching, in your participating, in your life, what have you given up to be here, right now to offer guidance to those that you are in service to.

Umaa: Yes

Robyn: Because that becomes your own business of yoga, right. What is it that you gave up to get here, that you give up?

Umaa: What I gave up is a limited sense of who I thought I was. What I gave up was a fabricated self-image and all the offshoots of that. What I gave up was a limited sense of what freedom means and what it looks like, so there was one point in my life where I thought I was giving up my freedom to be a mother, to be a householder, to be a successful householder meaning that I would have the means, I would have to be making money. A household thrives on means. Prosperity, financial security, economic prosperity. This is how the household thrives. So I gave up limited notions and what I learnt and what I share is I can be free in and through it all, conscious choice.

Robyn: Conscious choice

Umma: Any regrets, I have no regrets. Every step has been an integral part of this path, of this embodiment; every step has been a gift, a blessing. I see it all as a blessing and therefore I don’t have a sense of regret in a limited way of perceiving it.

Robyn: If someone came to you and said I think I have this calling

Umaa: yes

Robyn: and you are sitting in that position of actual power, right, grey line right there. What advice, I know it is a case by case, but think of it in the context.

Umaa: Yes case-by-case basis. Two words “Know Thyself”. Unless you know yourself, unless you know what you have been equipped and born here to do, how can you embody the wisdom that you will then be imparting to others. In fact if you are embodying that wisdom you are not even teaching, you are just being. As you are being you, they are learning. They will see reflected through you, the teacher, or their own true nature within themselves. “Know Thyself”, “Know Thyself” before you dare to become a guru.

Written by : BaliSpirit


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