Name: Nicolas Maloufi
Occupation: Dancer, choreographer & yoga teacher.
When and how did you start practicing yoga? In the dance world, yoga is everywhere. You can see dancers doing asanas before a dance class or a performance… There are even choreographers creating performances around yoga Asanas.
I was taking dance classes with two well known teachers in Paris, Peter Goss and Wayne Byars. Both offer yoga asanas in addition of their class. A friend told me yoga would dramatically improve all layers of my dancing, so I thought it could be worth a try! Can’t remember exactly when… Around 2008?
How did you first meet Kia and Mysore Yoga Paris? It was kind of a journey. I had tried almost all yoga studios in Paris. I knew about Mysore Yoga Paris – Kia’s Shala existence… but didn’t feel ready to practice there. I was a little shy and thought I should improve my practice before coming. Obviously I had some personal work to do… A few years later I was more at ease with my ego… enough to let go and work under the guidance of Kia. I’m bad with dates, I think this was 2014?
Has a committed Mysore practice changed you, how? To be honest, I’m not sure yoga changed me. I believe yoga reveals the best in you and makes this part of you dominant. The “lovely” drama comes from how fast and deep this evolution occurs.
Confronting yourself with this demanding practice, regardless of what you may be dealing with, is a state of mind that spills over beyond the limit of your mat. It makes you focus, connect with your inner self and that which belongs to your inner self, it evokes questions, concerns, the ability to share, the ability to welcome otherness and divergence.
You are apprenticing Kia and assisting in the Shala. Why did you choose this way of learning through direct transmission, and how is it different to a Teacher Training for example? Actually I passed my 200h teacher training. But was not satisfied with that… It was a little bit dry… I could have continued on this path and taken my 500h TT but I decided differently. My teacher training was more than ok, it gave me tools to deepen my practice and start teaching. (By the way, I really love teaching, to humbly guide practitioners on their yoga path!)
But in the intelligence of Kia’s hands, there is much more! It’s a tailored and ongoing process! Yoga is a daily practice, not an artifact as in a teacher training. When you do your teacher training, you’re gathered with other yoga practitioners to learn the basis of teaching yoga; all with the same purpose and goals and ending up with a certificate for the same teaching… In my experience, so far, yoga is not an artifact.
What is the significance of working so consistently with a teacher and method? Complexity is surrounding us. To embrace it you might need to work on a specific system with a limited number of elements. Once you’ve integrated the different elements, the system is safe enough to welcome new elements.
I’ve always needed a safe framework to experiment within. Working with one teacher and method is my framework. It gives time to build a relationship. It allows the both of us to be more accurate with each other within this precious teacher-student relationship. Now I can dive into complexity and welcome the unforeseen. Guided by my teacher to help illuminate my obstacles, and to remove them by working on my strength, my flaws and all the little thing that make me human and make me who I am. It helps me to accept myself and therefore others.
Describe what the Shala and its community is to you? The Shala’s spirit comes from Kia. Strong respect, no blind devotion. Therefore the Shala to me is like an open heart! There is no judgement when you enter the Shala. It’s a safe place to explore your practice in. A place where you can allow your true self to unfold, and also confront it with the practice. Just being there on your mat and experiment your way through the practice. The Shala is a place for doubt, for confusion, for fear but also for finding confidence, trust, peace and so much more… And with the support of the Mysore community without a word said! Just feeling their caring presence, their energy - everyone in the Shala has got your back!
What inspires you to keep practicing? How I feel when not practicing! Practicing helps me connect to my inner self. This meditative state offers feed back to channel and shape the rest of my day or journey… It helps to grasp the essence of the moment.
Does practice influence your work as a dancer, in what way? Dramatically! Humpf… Drama is back… it might not have left…! We work hard as dancers for only a few minutes on stage. Practice helps you to put perspective on what is involved in each moment of your path. Different flavours appear in the process, and understanding the importance of each element, each and every flavour is more than helpful to perceive the situation with perspective. Through practice I tend to reinforce the idea of “non-attachment”. The ability to enjoy the present moment more fully while trying to avoid projections. When it comes to performance, there is no room for doubt. You’re now on stage and you need to be sure that you’ve done your best to prepare. So it’s time to let go and enjoy the moment, to enjoy and share with the audience.
As a choreographer I’ve got a lot of expectations from my team. I direct them as best I can to achieve the high level quality I’m looking for. But I don’t ask my team to do what they cannot. It’s my job to lead them to the best they can do with a lot of compassion and care. If they can’t achieve what I’ve asked is often because I haven´t been clear enough.
Practicing helps me to consider my flaws as part of my own misconduct, rather than blaming them on others… errors are not just the fault of “the other”.
And more and more I try not to consider flaws as a bad thing… I’m trying to be compassionate with myself too, without being complacent, so exigency is still here.
Describe your practice in 3 words:
Not Enough Words
Where do you go to find peace in Paris?
Thanks to yoga, peace is found in each part of my life. Humf... not there yet... I’m working on it!
Watch Nicolas beautiful work on vimeo: