By Andres Gonzalez
“Treat each practice as an experiment.”
In my early twenties, I was introduced to yoga by the Godfather of my two business partners, Ali and Atman Smith. Initially, we began our sessions next to Lake Montebello in Baltimore. Surrounded by long needle pines, we practiced asana, pranayama, and meditation techniques, followed with discussions on the yamas and niyamas.
As our practice grew, so did the depth of our teachings. Gradually, we moved on to more subtle concepts;we engrossed ourselves in the principles and practices of Kundalini, Kriya, and Bhakti. Our teacher made us agree that we wouldn’t just be students, but that he would only teach us if we became teachers. He told us to be scientists and to treat each practice as an experiment. I was open and eager to learn.
Yoga: The Key Factor In My Metamorphosis
I was at a larvae stage in my life and yoga was the key factor in my metamorphosis. It changed how I saw the world. It changed how I interacted with people, animals, and nature—because, for the first time, I realized who I was. My real infinite self. Once I realized this, I saw myself in everyone and everything. Love became the guiding force of my being.
My mother used to always say that I was the architect of my own destiny, and I finally understood her message. My transformation was so profound that others noticed it before I did. Although I lived in a tumultuous area in Baltimore City, I was filled with bliss and inner peace. I wanted everyone to feel what I was feeling.
Then, the universe called—I was presented with an opportunity to teach a group of young “problem” kids. I was excited to share the techniques that had been so impactful in my own life; I could only imagine what type of person I would be if I had learned yoga as a child!
We Don’t Teach Students. We Teach Teachers.
Seventeen years later, our non-profit, the Holistic Life Foundation now employs over fifty individuals and has provided yoga services to over 100,000 youth and adults across the world. Our reciprocal teaching model stems from our teacher’s teachings — we don’t teach students, we teach teachers. We don’t help people, we help people help themselves!
Yoga isn’t something I do. It’s something I am. It is my life. It is my everything.