December Teacher of the Month: Dublin Salas

Harlem Yoga Studio’s Dublin Salas tells us about his Yoga Journey, the benefits of being up-side down, and some important and practical ways to practice Asteya (non-stealing) 

1) How did you start practicing Yoga? Tell us about your early yoga experiences

I started practicing yoga in a very dark moment in my life .I was losing almost  everything that I cared for  at the same time  my daughter, marriage, house  and my small Venezuelan  restaurant in Williamsburg Brooklyn.  I was very sad and depressed and my mind was repeating over and over” your life is over” .  I’m so glad that we are not our my mind ,we are not our emotions and we are not our body’s or probably I would be dead.  My cousin and friend Marco Rojas was teaching yoga at Pure Yoga in the Upper West Side at that moment.  He was trying to draw me to yoga for years but I never cared about it until that dark moment, he brought the light of yoga into my life.  I believe that many positive and beautiful things can come from the darkness. Almost immediately I began practice with Marco 4 to 5 days a week.  At the beginning the practice of Asana was very difficult to me I was full of attachments, emotions, memories, insecurities, etc.  My body was extremely stiff and out control and my mind was exactly the same as my body . I remember in my first months of practice I could hardly pass my knee with my fingers and downward dog was a truly challenge for me

 2) When was the moment you knew that Yoga was different or special – more than just another “exercise” or way to be physical?

 I knew the yoga was very special almost from the beginning went I started getting glimpses after each practice of the relationship between the strength and opening of my body and  my peace of mind.

3) What is your favorite and least favorite pose, and why?

I really like inversions head and hand stand “ Salamba Sirsasana  and  Adho Mukha Vrksasana  – they are my favorites they are fun a challenge and give you another perspective about my place on  Earth.  It is very helpful to experience life upside down,  especially if you feel your personal situation is the same.  My least favorite pose is Halasana I get a Little claustrophobic and  my fascia (layer of fibrous tissue that surrounds muscles) and  the skin on my back feels like it’s ripping . I’m getting better with the daily  practice.

4) What practices do you use to feel more peaceful, present and content? 

Definitely  vinyasa practice, after class I always feel  a strong and open body and a simple and calm mind. That sensation is one my favorite things in life,and I include surfing which for me is like vinyasa but with different sensations and more fun.

5) What Yama or Niyama do your find most helpful in your daily life, and why ?  (Yamas are “observances” that are recommended for relating to the outside world, and Niyamas are observances for dealing with internal struggles)

I believe that the Yamas and Niyamas  are the foundation of our practice without which no spiritual progress along the path of yoga can be made.   I think they are equally important because they are interconnected. Tapas self-discipline effort, commitment with the practice always remind me a Sri K. Pattabhi Jois “practice,practice  and all is coming”.

6) Question of the Month! December = Asteya (non-stealing / non-greed)    How do you incorporate Asteya  into your Yoga Practice?  Into your life ?

Don’t steal, the Yoga Sutra says, and all good things will come to you.  There are lots of things you can steal, not only material things You can steal someone’s time if you are late.  You can steal someone’s energy.  You can steal someone’s happiness. I say to my students these are subtle forms of Asteya like Jealousy  in your yoga practice if you compare and want what others have.  Whether this is flexibility, strength, body shape or an advanced forward bend.