“If you say you are not flexible enough to do yoga, it is like saying you are too dirty to take a shower.”
Interview: Şener Yılmaz Aslan
Photographs by Alenka Klinar
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Mojca Juvančič, I live in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and have been teaching yoga for seven years. I studied social sciences, which I really enjoyed, but never really planned on working in this field.
How did you start practicing yoga?
I started with my mom. I had a rough patch at that time and yoga helped me deal with it.
When did you decide to dedicate yourself to yoga personally and professionally?
After I realized there is something about yoga that is helping me to feel better, I wanted to explore it in depth. This led me to India where I did my first training for instructors. I didn’t really do it with the intention to teach after finishing; it was more of a curiosity about yoga for my own personal growth and development. But after finishing the course in India I felt like I wanted to share what I have learned. When I returned home I started teaching one class per week, which was fine, because I was also still studying at that time. The number of classes has slowly grown over the years. Now, I am teaching 14 classes per week. And I love it.
What type of yoga do you teach? Can you explain?
I teach vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa means movement with the breath. It means many other things as well. Sanskrit, the philosophical language of Buddhism that is also widely used for yoga practices is funny in that way. Same word has many different translations and meanings.
What I keep at the core of my teaching movement is awareness of the body, the breath and the fluctuation of the mind. This keeps one mindful and present in the moment.
I think each teacher has his/her own “type of yoga”. Probably everyone teaches what works best for them... At least this is what I do.
Do you think anyone can enjoy and gain from yoga?
In the western world the concept of yoga has been widely interpreted as yoga poses, asanas. But the asanas are actually just a part of yoga. Not even a necessary part.
The yoga practice of a 20-year old will not be the same as that of a 70-year old. But they can all practice it, enjoy it and gain from it. And it is not limited by nationality, religion or any of the labels that we, or others, put on ourselves. It is universal. If you have a body and breath, you can do yoga...
Do you believe it is an alternative form of healing and medicine?
I would rather say that they are complementary. But yoga and medicine are also in inversely proportional relationship. The more yoga you do, the less medicine you need.
Is yoga a way of life or a way to exercise and meditate?
It depends on whom you ask. For me it is a way of life.
If done with intelligence it can be a great exercise. If done with awareness it can be a great tool to calm your mind. Done with discipline, it consistently starts to creep into all levels of your life and becomes a lifestyle.
What’s your mission as a yoga instructor? Who are you trying to reach and why?
My mission is to get people out of their heads into their bodies. From thinking to feeling. And once your attention concentrates on the body, observing the movement, the breath, the body sensation, the mind rests and one is present in the moment.
Why do you devote your life to this practice, and how has it changed you?
Yoga has helped me deal with the ups and downs of life. It helps me keep my head above the water in the stormy days. It taught me gratitude and appreciation of life, which enabled me to live more fully and aware.
Why do you think some may feel intimidated by yoga? How can they overcome this?
One can overcome this by understanding. Perhaps some people still feel it is a set of religious beliefs that they have to accept or convert to. No such thing!
Yoga is a path to enlightenment. It is a way to calm your mind. Or just a great exercise. You make it what you want, what your intention is. You are the boss.
It is like going to a candy shop. Pick what you want today, tomorrow maybe you will want to try something new, or not, your choice.
And other people perhaps think they are not strong or flexible enough to do yoga. I read this quote the other day that said: “If you say you are not flexible enough to do yoga, it is like saying you are too dirty to take a shower.” And yes, we also do yoga to keep our body healthy, to develop strength and flexibility.