Trailblazer: Bram Levinson
Each Tuesday, we feature a unique Trailblazer in our community who has forged a trail that can inspire other yogis to pursue their own path. Today, we are happy to shine a light on Bram Levinson, a Montreal-based yoga teacher, who recently taught at Wanderlust Whistler, and who will be leading classes on (more or less) home turf when Wanderlust pulls into Mont Tremblant for the first time next week! He teaches and co-manages the studio at Centre Luna, and shares his thoughts on our "Trailbalzer Five" below...
WJ: What aspects of yoga / meditation / spirituality do you bring into your work?
BL: I try to infuse my classes, workshops and lectures with basic yogic principles delivered in language people can understand and immediately apply. Whether it be a Sutra from Pantajali's Yoga Sutras such as, "In the presence of negative thoughts, think of opposite ones," paraphrasing the Bhagavad Gita by telling students that they are not their bodies and to stop judging themselves based on their reflection, or by bringing the concept of Dharma into the equation by reminding them that they are not haphazardly alive at this moment in time, in this geographical location, with all the resources they have available to them for no reason, I try to contribute to the shift in perspective that the asana practice provides so people not only feel refocused, but empowered to go out and make the most of their time.
WJ: How did you get involved with yoga?
BL: I started seeking out yoga classes when I grew tired of the conventional gym-type exercising. I wanted to move, pure and simple, and I ended up finding my home. It led to years of practice, followed by ditching my career that left me miserable and enrolling in my first teacher training where I finally found the classroom that I had been searching for my whole life.
WJ: What's your favorite pose?
BL: Definitely a tie between Pigeon Pose and Headstand.
WJ: What's feeding your Wanderlust today?
BL: The desire to experience life and all that it embodies and encompasses. There is a tale from Hindu Mythology rooted in the teachings of Kashmir Shaivism that says that Shiva was between ages and called a bunch of his peers, Gods and Goddesses, to come help him decide whether or not the time was right to begin a new age. They showed up and encouraged him that the time was indeed right, but also told him that he needed to be more present in this new age, as his absence in the last one had been noticed. He promised that he would be present to all, and known to all by his being the only one around with no head. Kashmir Shaivism tells us that Shiva (consciousness, God, light, call it what you want) is everything and everyone. I am Shiva, as are you.
If I am Shiva, and Shiva is headless, then when I look around me at everyone I'm surrounded by and see everyone else with a head but cannot see my own, the myth holds true in my reality. From your point of view, you are the only one with no head, because you cannot see it when looking around. We can see our heads in a photograph or a mirror, but as the subject perceiving objects, we are headless, each and every one of us. We are all Shiva. To experience life is to experience Shiva, and that involves getting out into the world and connecting to all cultures and beings. That desire for connection fuels my Wanderlust.
WJ: If you could leave one legacy for the community what would it be?
BL: The gentle reminder that we are stronger together than separate. That we are all living the same existence. That we are deceived into believing that all is separate, especially by those in leadership positions that believe in the divide-and-conquer approach. The only way we will evolve and find true happiness, happiness that isn't dependent on how much money we amass or how incredible others think we are/look/behave/speak, is by being warriors for connection, to refuse to be led away from each other, to stand as a true collective of beings of truth and light. I want people to remember me as doing everything in my power to re-establish connection to those who had somehow lost it.
~ Presently the Co-Manager and Certified Yoga Teacher at Centre Luna Yoga in Old Montreal, as well as an alumni ambassador for Lululemon's Ste-Catherine Street location, Bram Levinson has been an enthusiastic yogi since 1999. After a massive life/career change in 2008, Bram began his Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training with Darby, Shankara & Joanne. With additional training from Luna Yoga's Jennifer Maagendans, he incorporates his experience and teachings into his yoga classes, which offer insight into alignment, breath awareness, and the ability to use laughter to get through the more challenging postures and sequences. Follow his insights and observations, Twitter, Facebook, and for more information check out www.bramlevinsonyoga.com.