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Anatomy of a Yogi - Laurence Wilvers

10 Feb 2016

FROM BELGIUM WITH HEART. BLOND HAIR, BLUE EYES AND BIG LOVE.

THE SMILING ASHTANGA TEACHER IS ON A MISSION TO BRING HEART BACK INTO PRACTICE.

"The full ashtanga system practiced with devotion leads to freedom within one's heart"
‘Krishna Pattabhi Jois’ Founder of Ashtanga Yoga

In the Beginning
Well I started practicing yoga in 2000. At that time I was a student at university.

In my weekly yoga class there was this quiet old Indian man and he was just transmitting so much love.

I looked at him and thought to myself this is what I want to be. More than successful or learned, I just wanted his devotion and in my own way be a person who brought love into the world. I finished my studies and bought a one way ticket to India with the little bit of money I managed to save whilst I was at school.

Can you give me a brief Bio...
It's spread over so many years I always forget something. Well I spent six months in India just studying and practicing after university. Then I returned to Belgium for my TTC (Teacher Training Course). Then I returned to India and completed my ‘Shivananda’ Teacher training.

I've spent a lot of time in London and Brussels working for different yoga studios. And always going back to India to learn and live.

How did Ashtanga change you?
It was in 2010 I discovered Ashtanga and since that moment it has been the focus of my heart. I have the anatomy of a ‘Yin’ (calm, peaceful, stable) person and Ashtanga is a full power ‘Yang’ (fast, fluid, energetic) practice.

It's this dynamic that balances my energies. It changed my life to practice Ashtanga. Thank you universe.

Is Ashtanga for everybody?
There are so many different ways to  practice. You have to really listen to your body and become aware when not to push. There are different sequences, to build strength, clean the nervous system, you just have begin where you are.

Ashtanga is the type of yoga that takes a lot of discipline, you have to practice every day. In the beginning the postures are quite difficult. It forced me to work a lot on myself. Like guru always said ‘it's not the body that's stiff it's the mind that's stiff’ I believe that and I believe everybody has the power to stretch their mind.

Ashtanga Gets attacked for being a physical practice, Is this true?
Of course not. From that outside I understand how people think that but actually Ashtanga concentrates on the breathe and the internal movement of organs to release energy blockages. Every posture has a sight line and a point of concentration. When practiced properly the entire experience becomes like a free flowing hour and a half mediation

One thing you would like everybody to know about yoga?
I just want to say that everybody has got an amazing potential and we can do amazing things if we decide to focus on our truth. People can do really amazing things with their body. Like guru used to says ‘practice, practice and all is coming’.

What Mediation do you practice?
Heart meditation, there is artfulness and there is mindfulness. I meditate on silence in the heart for one hour every morning and just feel what is there and connect. You can see the movie of the day without identification with the content of the mind.

It just totally changed my energy, I feel different, which is attracting different situations and different people with a really good vibe. It helps with the inner and outer journey.

What journey brought you to Koh Phangan?
On the first day of my trip a woman told me ‘You have to go to Koh Phangan. You will go there and teach yoga’. 

The next day in a different city I met man who started telling me about how all these yogi's have gathered on this beautiful island in South Thailand. I had never even heard the name Koh Phangan before. I knew this was no coincidence so I sent a résumé to a school and they replied right away, saying ‘we have a job for you please come’ and I was sure this is where I was meant to be.

Do you have any other spiritual practices?
I have fallen madly in LOVE with Acro-yoga.

How long will you teach here for?
Koh Phangan is my new home. There is a really nice atmosphere here, a really nice vibration. I'm just enjoying every day in paradise. I feel like I'm meant to be teaching on  this island.

Why do you teach?
My aim for the moment is to just to give. The only thing I want to do is yoga and meditation and share it with people. For  the moment what is clear is I have to teach. I have to be here. I feel like I'm at the right place at the right moment

Are you ready to play KP/20?
I don't understand what you're asking me

Let’s just begin...
1) Star sign: Gemini
2) Single, relationship or tantric: Aren't tantric and single the same thing?
3) Favorite beer, yoga style, Kurt Russell movie: I don't like beer, Ashtanga, Who's Kurt Russell?
4) Raw, vegan, vegetarian or Paleo? Vegetarian
5) Traveling since: October 2015
6) KP because: I followed the signs
7) Number of times on KP: It's the first of many
8) Best coffee house:  I don't drink coffee
9) Most you've been cheated in bhat: I'm good at bargaining 
10) What brought you here: Mainly yoga, a friend and Samma Karuna
11) Secret place on KP: I have a spot by the sea (but it's a secret)
12) If your trip was a company what was the slogan be: Enjoy the moment, be in the present
13) One piece of advice: Who am I to give advice
14) Anything you'd like to ask me: Are these the most inventive questions you could think of?
16) What are you hiding from your mum: (long pause) Next Question
17) Guilty pleasure:  (long pause) One is chocolate
18) Stones or Beatles: More the Beatles
19) Describe yourself in 3 words: Determination, focus, flexibility and a little crazy.
20) Funeral song: ‘The End’ - The Doors

What's your signature Pose?
It's a variation of ‘elevated lotus pose’. Aside from working with (biceps, triceps, and brachioradialis) the posture gives a strong stretch to the joints from the shoulders to the wrists.

Internally you're squeezing Mula-Bandha and Uddiyana-Bandha. In this one pose you activate the core muscle, massage the internal organs and stretch both muscle and fascia.  This one posture is a complete workout.

If you would like to begin practicing this pose. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed, place your hands next to your hips and push into the floor with all your strength. Even if you don't achieve lift off you are still getting all the benefits of the pose. One day soon you will lift yourself off the floor, half and inch for half a second. then one inch for one second. If you have dedicated and put your heart into it, into anything, you cannot fail. If you look at me and think ‘I could never do that’ you never will.

What is your life philosophy?
I just try and have an open heart full of love. Is that a philosophy?

Laurence is teaching her heartfull yoga practice at Summa Kuruna, school awkening and healing. 

Photos and Interview by Neb Nomad.