• Interview with Will Duprey

      After my first memorable yoga class, I knew that I wanted to teach. I wanted to share. I felt right.  Like all the pieces slid perfectly into place. It was very profound.

    Describe your personality in three words.

    Punk Rock Shaman.

    Where are you from and/or where do you live?

    I grew up in Vermont. I currently live between Vermont and Kuala Lumpur.

    How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?

    I’ve been practicing pranayama and meditation since childhood (1984). I really don’t know why I took up those specific practices. I started a mixed (yoga, meditation and massage course) practice in 1994 during college. In 2002 was the most formal of practices and when I did my first initiation.

    What is yoga to you?

    This is like asking what is the meaning of life. Yoga is a state that is meaningful in different ways to each of us because our integration into the self (consciousness) is different although it appears the same.

    How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you want students to feel after they practice with you?

    After my first memorable yoga class, I knew that I wanted to teach. I wanted to share. I felt right.  Like all the pieces slid perfectly into place. It was very profound. I always want to bring students into their own personal self-realization.

    What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?

    I think it’s impossible not to transform (involution in some yoga philosophical components is our own self evolution). The practice is very much based on the self/you. That initial exploration, we begin to see layers of our own being. In the beginning we are in love and eventually work into deeper parts, sometimes harder parts. Life has all the components to create change. Yoga is what highlights that perfect and complete spirit within. In short, it’s unclear if yoga impacted my life or has been a tool to draw out what is already within.

    Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga teacher?

    Tough question. I just knew. First class, I begged the studio owners to do a teacher training so I could take. I ended up building the program with them as I also was their first studio manager. A lot of people at that time were just offering training programs. I also mentored with the owners and would have so many questions that they suggested I study with someone traditionally. That teacher became my first guru. I think all of those components above are great qualities of a teacher. Study hard, practice regularly, have a mentor and know when you are not of service to the student so have a referral system in play. It’s always good to know an expert with the field — these people are usually specialist in one or two things (e.g. pranayama). I often tell my students who are new teachers that at some point you have to break up with your private client. You want to develop self-reliance not dependency.

    Will Duprey on Omstars, Defining Yoga

    What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective? I don’t practice or teach a style of yoga.  I have mostly been initiated into Hatha, Raja, Siddha lineages. I have studied thoroughly Vinyasa Krama, Iyengar and various mantra and meditation approaches as well as Buddhism. I know that’s a laundry list. I draw upon my practice and experiences heavily. Without experiential knowledge, I do not think we can listen to the student well because the technique gets in the way. By listen I do not mean sitting and talking but using asana, pranayama or whatever yoga technique as a diagnostic tool to work with the practitioner. From there you have a better idea of what can be done or brought into the students life. If I was hard pressed to name a style, I’d choose the path/lineage of Hatha yoga which is mixed with Raja and Siddha.

    Do you have a teacher in your style of yoga?

    I have lots of favorite teachers! Dharma Mittra, Kofi Busia, Srivatsa Ramaswami, Dr. M. A. Jayashree and Professor Narasimhan to name a few.

    What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice? 

    Asana. I was already in love with pranayama (energy and breathing) and meditation from youth … naturally all the visual kriya and mantra came to me. Asana came very fast too however the difficulty was in knowing that you can practice yoga without having done any asana. So asana wasn’t a big physical difficulty but more mental. When the idea that asana, pranayama, bandha, mudra, mantra, etc., could all lead to the same result – a state of yoga – that was really liberating.

    What is yoga favorite yoga pose and why? And what’s your least favorite yoga pose and why?

    I really cannot answer that. I don’t think like that and at different moments one can be favorite or least favorite.

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga student?

    When I was first studying with Dharma Mittra there used to be a small group (5-8 people) of us in his master class. During this time, there is no other way to say it except that there was a lot of psychic energy. I remember him telling us to put our legs in padmasana during all these different types of inversions and in my head ‘No way! I can’t do that’ but then my body would just do it. There were lots of experiences like that. A direct line of communication without words. I feel like we were all connected that way. And the things that were happening (energetically and physically) were unbelievable.

    And how about as a teacher?

    To have a student feel the same way I felt inspired. That raw, unconditional and nonjudgmental space is really big. All the layers of our self-perception go away… I am really honored that I have students who take this life journey with me.

    Why do you practice? Why do you teach?

    Dharma.

    What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

    Consumerism.

    What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you as a student and as a teacher?

    Not really embarrassing but funny. When I was first teaching, I subbed for a fellow teacher. I was so tired, it was an emergency sub and the studio used English words so I went to say “happy baby or dead bug pose” and said “dead baby or happy bug.” I do a lot of silly things in class. I appreciate knowledge but levity goes a long way.

    Do you have any recommended yoga reading?

    I am actually finishing up a book. It’s a poetic translation from a classical hatha yoga text… so you can contemplate the passages, study alongside the text (with commentary on certain passages) or practice the poses (asana illustrations inside). I tend to read scriptural texts. Upanishads are always great!

    What is your dharma, your life mission?

    To teach and help others!

    What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?

    Find a teacher that you resonate with. One that understands your inquiry.

    Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

    The book I mentioned above is one of them. I put a lot of effort continually in the 300 hour program that I run (hathavidya.com). I started this program many years ago as a course to work with practitioners who were looking to integrate yoga into their lives. It’s important to experience yoga rather than just regurgitate information… I am very passionate about knowledge versus information. I am here to help and do the deep work so I provide a space for others who want to do that.

    By Will Duprey

    Will Duprey is an international yoga educator and is known for effortlessly combining classical theory and storytelling with contemporary yoga methods. With over 17 years of teaching and consulting on yoga teacher trainings globally, his unique mentorship program provides deep knowledge and balance among different styles of yoga. Hathavidya is his personal approach to teaching — starting with the individual practice (sadhana), energy (pranayama) and intuitive framework — classical hatha yoga. Will is a contributing writer to publications such as: Elena Brower’s teach.yoga, Kino MacGregor’s OmStars and is a guest columnist for YogaLife Magazine Malaysia. He lives between Vermont and Malaysia.

  • Interview with Ahmed Soliman

    I practice because yoga has become part of who I am – physically, spiritually, emotionally. I could no more easily stop being a yogi than I could stop having curly hair. I teach because it is a privilege to share this practice to others.

    Describe your personality in three words.

    Passionate, inquisitive, and loyal.

    Where are you from and/or where do you live?

    I am from Egypt and came to live in Brooklyn after sixteen years in California. All three places have been deeply influential.

    How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?

    I have been practicing yoga for almost 10 years and came to the practice after a serious car accident and multiple resulting knee surgeries sidelined me from my lifelong passion for contact sports and, particularly, soccer. I was drawn to the safe, sustainable practice of yoga as a means to repair my body, nourish my soul, and develop a practice that I could continue over the course of my lifetime. This experience has deeply informed my teaching style — I teach with a goal that each student practice with the precise, proper alignment that will prevent injury and ensure longevity of practice.

    What is yoga to you?

    As a practicing Muslim, I have been taught to always seek balance. Yoga is a practice and lifestyle that allows me to deepen my connection to my faith and find balance through challenging times.

    How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you want students to feel after they practice with you?

    After my first class, I remember walking up to the teacher and asking, “Can I do this everyday?” I hope my students feel that too.

    What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?

    Yoga has given me the gift of integrating a deeply personal practice with a tremendously satisfying profession. While on the outside, my prior career as a wildlife biologist (I worked in the recovery of endangered species) may seem entirely different, in fact the drive to serve a greater good underlies my entire career trajectory. My own yoga practice gave me grounding, balance, and sustainability. The fact that I am able to have a career of bringing yoga and helping others in my community to find balance brings me more professional satisfaction than I ever dared to imagine I’d find.

    Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga teacher?

    I started teaching yoga because I wanted to teach in a way that encourages inclusivity. With proper alignment and technique, absolutely anyone can practice yoga. Delivering that message is what makes a good yoga teacher.

    What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective? Do you have a teacher in your style of yoga?

    I practice Vinyasa and Iyengar yoga styles. Iyengar allows yoga to be available for all, through mindful and proper alignment.  Incorporating that knowledge into Vinyasa helps me shape an accessible flow.

    What is yoga favorite yoga pose and why? And what’s your least favorite yoga pose and why?

    My favorite yoga pose is downward facing dog. It is strengthening but calming and foundational to the practice. My least favorite is Kurmasana, tortoise pose

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga student?

    Learning that, with patience, awareness and practice, challenging asanas that I thought were impossible for me become possible and how I can apply that to other challenges in my life

    And how about as a teacher?

    After a few years practicing together, one of my private clients called me from his doctor’s office to tell me he had grown almost half an inch! I was so happy that our stretching, lengthening, and upright- shape enhancing movements gave him a tangible benefit.

    Join Ahmed’s LIVE classes on Omstars

    Why do you practice? Why do you teach?

    I practice because yoga has become part of who I am – physically, spiritually, emotionally. I could no more easily stop being a yogi than I could stop having curly hair. I teach because it is a privilege to share this practice to others.

    What’s your favorite yoga quote or mantra?

    When I teach, I often say “as you are.” I typically say it when I ask my students to maintain the shape they have made, but to add on to it. A student who practices with me regularly told me that every time I said this, she almost cries. And I realized that “as you are” is really representative of the practice of yoga and even life, more generally. “As you are,” whatever you bring to this day, on or off the mat, that is just fine. Exactly who you are right now is exactly who you are supposed to be. When it comes to yoga, we are working with who we are at that moment. Not what we once were or what we will be.

    What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

    I am a big believer in yoga as an inclusive practice and community. I hope that we continue to find ways to show people that you don’t have to look a certain way or believe in a certain thing to be a yogi. Yoga is for everybody.

    What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you as a student and as a teacher?

    I am either so fortunate or so forgetful that I cannot think of an embarrassing yoga experience!

    Do you have any recommended yoga reading?

    Light on Life and Light on Yoga, both by B.K.S. Iyengar, are exceptional. Thoughtful, thought- provoking, and informative.

    What is your dharma, your life mission?

    I am constantly seeking balance and sustainability. Be it through my pre-yoga career as a wildlife biologist, my political activism, or my community outreach.

    What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?

    I teach yoga with exacting precision for alignment. I encourage a beginner to seek to practice with precision, but to be forgiving throughout the journey. Like an archer who directs the arrow and lets it go must accept the path the arrow takes, so too must a yogi seek precision, but accept the unexpected directions. So start on your path, direct, redirect, and let go.

    Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

    I am most excited about my upcoming retreat in Costa Rica! As a former wildlife biologist, I am excited to lead my students through yoga in a bio-diverse paradise where we will explore nature, hike, identify rare species, bird watch and, of course, practice yoga.

    Aside from your fantastic course on Omstars, do you have a favorite class that you’d like to share?

    I have lots of exciting things going on! It’s all on my website, yogisoli.com. And my weekly, online live class on Plankk Studio App and Omstars.com is Mondays 8:00-9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

    Get started with Ahmed’s Mindful Alignment course on Omstars

     

    By Ahmed Soliman