Gifts of Teaching: the Students


Among the many gifts of teaching, first and foremost are the students.

Truth: a teacher needs students–even one student will do; no teachings can occur without the creative presence of someone who needs a lesson.

The relationship between a teacher and a student can be a funny one. There may be little to no details to fill the storehouse that make up intimacy between people and there might not be much talk, small or big.

But in a Mysore space, the practice inevitably brings a strange closeness. Breath and the asanas unite them. The teacher watches and waits for the right opening. And when that opening inevitably comes, students, when they are ready, surrender.

In those moments, there is a precious exchange. It is like two travelers meeting on a shared journey, one welcoming the other to a new road.

A month into my Cairo stint, feeling very grateful for the students who have been attending Ashtanga Yoga Egypt classes this month, who have entrusted me with their bodies and their practice in the absence of their regular teacher Iman Elsherbiny, who is currently studying with our teacher Sharath (grandson of Pattabhi Jois) in India. This is the precious thread that connects us, from which the energy of this practice passes from one person to the next.

I am grateful for the regularity in which many come to class and the dedication to show up despite crazy Cairo traffic, politics, life at large. Looking forward to one more month of teaching here!

Photo: Flowers care of student Zeina. Thank you!

Inner Dance, Inner Movement in Cairo



Inner dance is never easy to explain. The lightness in the body. The cosmic party as you dance with yourself. Something, however little, however quiet, moves.

I received an email today from a participant from last Thursday’s ID offering in Heliopolis (Shanti Yoga), who moved a little physically but felt a big shift within. He described the experience as moving, that the session was like a helpful push to restart a stalled vehicle.

Sometimes we feel broken. Our environment, our culture, our own expectations play upon us. Our mechanisms get rusty or ill used. Imbalances occur. The body suffers. And we identify so much with our physical pains, our frayed nerves, our sad feelings.

This makes me recall a chant that I love to sing:

so ham, so ham
so ham shivo ham
I am not my body,
my body is not me

so ham, so ham
so ham shivo ham
I am not my mind,
my mind is not me

so ham, so ham
so ham shivo ham
I am not my ego
my ego is not me

“So ham”, like “tat tvam asi”, means “I am That” — That which is unchanging, unlimited and eternal.

What would our lives be like if we could identify with That, if we saw That in ourselves, in all our fellow human beings and co-habitors in this planet, how would we live our lives like then? How could we not honor and love ourselves and each other?

Photo: Beautiful bronze. Sculpture by Nathan from Atelier de Nathan at Darb compound in Old Cairo.

Empty Pots


IMG_6030A lot of times practice can be sublime, the process focusses the attention, the breath is the only sound…

But then there are the other times! when practicing is like swimming through a thick soupy sea of thoughts and impressions.

Things come up. Issues, worries, thoughts of all sorts and sizes eek up into the surface of the mind, some incredibly insignificant and others quite significant, each attempting to derail practice.

Today was one of those days for me, where the practice wrestles with this comedy of the mind. The breath, still steady and easy regardless, is a laugh track as stuff bubbles up. But even this has its purpose.

Yoga, union, is a goal. But yoga is also a process. And today I observed this process of emptying pots, of cleaning house, the house of the mind and the body. This is the process of letting go and of creation, emptying to make space for the new.

Photo: Pottery at one of the Ateliers at the Darb 1718 compound in Old Cairo. Watch for announcements, will be holding ashtanga and inner dance space there soon!

Practice is a Mirror


Practice is a Mirror

The yoga practice is a mirror. Look into it. See what it reflects back at you. Use it as the powerful tool that it is to observe yourself, use it to discern the difference between the whirlings of the mind and the sweet center of you that is unchanging.

Photo: Yara in purvatanasana in La Zone, Maadi. Ashtanga Yoga Egypt runs Sun/Mon//Wed/Thurs mysore classes 7-10am and Friday 4pm Led in November.



Ashtanga in Aswan, A Yoga Retreat – Join the Facebook event by clicking here!

December 19-22, 2013. A 4-day, 3-night yoga retreat at Fekra Cultural Centre, El-Shallâl, Aswan, Egypt with Kaz Castillo, KPJAYI authorized ashtanga teacher (Ashtanga Yoga Egypt).
Breathe in the true nature of yoga in the very special surrounds of Aswan. We will explore a holistic view of the ashtanga practice through daily yogasana class, meditation sessions, and other fun and fulfilling activities set in the unspoiled beauty of Aswan.

The Program:
The program 1 yoga class each day in nature’s setting, an afternoon meditation each full day, Accommodation at Fekra Cultural Centre (Two meals/ day), Transportation from Airport, Train Station, Bus Station during arrival and departure day, Fun program during free time includes boat trips, Visiting Philae temple, Nubian night at Fekra and more. Price: LE 1500

The Teacher:
Kaz loves yoga for its transformational power and embraces the constant gifts of change that come with practice. A dedicated ashtanga student, she has been studying at KPJAYI in Mysore, India under the tutelage of Sharath Jois who has given her his blessing to teach the system.She taught at Boracay Yoga in the Philippines up until 2011. Since then, Kaz has immersed herself in the study and exploration of yoga, from the philosophy that fuels the practice to Sanskrit chants and bhajans. She now shares this expansive experience of yoga around the world, from Japan to Europe. Invited by friend and fellow ashtangi Iman Elsherbiny, Kaz is currently teaching for Ashtanga Yoga Egypt.

Fore more about Kaz:
and Ashtanga Yoga Egypt:

The Setting:
FEKRA* is the joining together of artists from around the world with the culture and traditions of Southern Egypt. FEKRA supports those artists in their endeavors and promotes a cultural exchange with the local people.

The Cultural Center organizes traditional and contemporary music and dance events, poetry evenings, lectures and film screenings. FEKRA also offers courses and workshops with local and international artists and facilitates an international cultural exchange.

FEKRA is located on 40’000 sqm of land next to the Nile coves and opposite the island of the Philae Temple, in Southern Egypt. More about Fekra Cultural Center at

by email:
or call: +20 122 3717729

Your Ashtanga Practice


Your Ashtanga Practice

Your practice is your own. You breathe at your own pace, you move according to your own range of motion. You decide the effort you put in.

You develop your own sense of independence, cultivating your body-mind-breath as a source of personal power.

The most important thing is to show up, is to be present.

Photo: Independent self-paced practice, Ashtanga Yoga Egypt, Mysore class in La Zone, Maadi.

Inner Dance & Slippers for Storm Victims



Haiyan, one of the strongest storms to make landfall, may have passed the Philippines, but the devastation it left in its wake is just heart-breaking.

I feel very blessed that my family in Manila are safe. And that Boracay Island and the many friends who live there have been spared despite being on the projected path of the storm.

Unfortunately, other parts of the Visayas region has not been so lucky. The death toll is still rising. Many thousands have lost their homes and all their belongings, they are without food and basic resources.

It is so inspiring to see so many organizations and individuals mobilizing good intentions into true acts of love. Been thinking of how to help from Cairo. A very reliable and dear friend is raising money to buy a 1000 slippers for storm victims who have lost everything.

So in the interest of helping people stand, walk and restart their lives in this small and simple way, I am going to donate the proceeds of the first Inner Dance offering here in Cairo to slippers for storm victims. Hoping that there will be more opportunities to share and raise funds.

Inner Dance is a healing modality and a moving meditation coming from the Philippines.

I look forward to sharing it this Thursday at Shanti Yoga Cairo (SYC), Heliopolis, 7:30pm.

Take Space and Practice


Take Space and Practice

I entered into the yoga shala (Ashtanga Yoga Cairo) this evening to find all the early starters taking a moment, all of them sitting and breathing. Ok, it’s that kind of day then…

It made me smile to watch them. It’s beautiful to see yoga in action. Most of the time, we think of yoga as making postures, with ashtanga particularly as movement in space. But this, this is the real thing. The collective, intuitively breathing, knowing that this is what is needed.

This is not a prelude to practice but a part of the great wide open expanse that is practice.

Street Yoga


This is not a beautiful example of street art, but it’s real. This street scribble, near where I currently live in Cairo, is someone saying something. In Cairo, which has been the scene for political upheaval of late, where the new is constantly grinding against the old, and bits of old keep on grinding into each other, these words have serious context.

In such a place as this, living is a constant balancing act. There is a quiet and some times not so quiet battle on. And the question for many is how to find peace and at the same time how to fight for survival.

This is yoga, walking the slack line, finding the fragile balance between being centered and strong, but being easy and flexible, teetering between two extremes: haphazard surrender and fighting tooth and nail–to find some kind of middle ground, which at its best remains pretty shaky. But in that constantly shifting space, there is a stillness, a center to stand on.