Interview: Manoranjan Chand (Manoji)

Whats your story/background?

Before yoga I lived in a small village in east india, taking care of my family, no sisters, I made saris, farming and sometimes going to school as a child. I went to Deli to make some money for the family, as a cleaner and with house keeping…tough times, learning hindi and english all by myself. Then I left to Kerala as life was like slavery and I was tired of it….it wasn’t bad….just part of the journey.

I was always cooking with my family and in Kerala I started cooking and learned about Ayurvedic treatments, cooking and therapy…funnily, I ended up as a cooking receptionist. One day, a friend took me to a yoga class and I got to another dimension. That moment all was clear and I signed up to a Shivananda Ashram in Kerala, then everything changed.

My mind was brain washed. I left family thoughts behind and left Kerala with a backpack going to Rishikesh to live with monks. I wanted to learn more about yoga and exchanged cooking for classes in the Ashram. I sometimes even cleaned to finance my studies. Crazy but it worked out well. I learned with amazing teachers in different Ashrams.

In 2009, I saw that my friends were in my mind a lot so it wasn’t the right time to become a monk. So I concentrated more on Ayurveda and got my degree becoming an Ayurveda therapist. In general just teaching yoga is not enough for me…I even still love to clean…man, when I clean the bathroom people can eat there. I believe that whatever I learned in my life is what I am so it stays with you, I enjoy that.

 

How would you describe yourself?

I am just me, I am what ever knowledge I have and share in my classes. Thats also when I feel like myself. I just love to teach, then I don’t miss anything. I really feel in peace, nothing needed on top.

 

How would your friends/students describe you?

(Laughing) They say “baba your crazy”. All my friends love me because I’m always there for them and they call me when they are sad and call me when they are happy.

 

Any big passion besides yoga?

Cooking, I love cooking. What I really like about it; it keeps me really in the present when preparing. And then, when people smile while eating, I get goosebumps. Thats why this is my passion. Smell the food, create new things, thats my art. I can create.

I love therapy, you know, to heal people. You can feel, touch and connect. It increases my feeling of love and sharing this unconditional love without expecting anything back. I love traveling, meeting people, sharing my experiences.

I don’t even feel like there are bad things…even my hardest time in Deli, where I was literally tortured…this lead me to my new path. Because of the cruel people there I found to yoga, so no, it was not really bad. As strange as it sounds, because of them I am where I am today…not that I would go back (laughs). Shit, if you think about it this way…when something bad happens, try to think of what good things could come after it as a result. It’s a journey and like a school where you keep learning from every moment and every experience. I am very proud that I don’t see my sufferings as sufferings but as a learning.

 

What is your favorite yoga pose?

Uuuuh (Thinks) Thats difficult to say, probably, sitting without moving. Just finding stillness without moving after my practice. I love asanas that are taking me beyond pain…but when I sit down and am still…thats the best pose.

 

Which one do you keep avoiding?

I avoid every pose that tortures my body. I enjoy the stretch, but would never go into a pose that results in pain, thats violence. I’m about none violence man. A simple pose is enough. It’s just that our mind is addicted seeing all this fancy stuff on Facebook and Instagram. Keep it simple, don’t copy the others and do what you enjoy.

 

Words of wisdom?

Yoga is much more than just asana (movement). It’s so much about thoughts…are they about love? Is there greediness, anger or fear? Yoga should fill you with compassion then you are on the right path. Being on the right compassionate mindset is already enough. If this is happening you are doing something right, if not, you need to adjust. And this throughout your life…not just once a week at practice on your mat.

 

Who was/is your most influential teacher and why?

I have my Guruji, his name is Gopi from Kerala, he passed away last month. You know, I loved him so much because he was so enlightened but never wore orange clothes or shaved his head. He still lived his life and enjoyed it. He made art.

He was the person that would read a philosophical book and apply it to his life, and then share his experiences instead of just the theoretical knowledge.

Sometimes we would sit at the beach and beautiful girls would pass by in bikinis, I asked him (almost 80 years old): “Look at them and tell me what you feel…and I mean none of that spiritual bullshit”. He told me “Man my mind is still the same as when 24. I still have the sexual feeling, just now I realize that I am in another period, I manage my desire with help of my practice. You take a look at the feeling and you analyze it, its not reality…its all in your mind.”

Another wise sentence is about one of the best qualities of a yogi: Live, live like a kid, be pure and don’t be serious. One moment you are angry, just turn and smile. Nothing should become too serious.

 

Whats your biggest vice you want to get rid of?

I want to learn how to say no. Sometimes I cannot say no, and afterwards I realize that I have no time hahaha. That gets me into trouble a lot. This is something I want to learn, also to get some rest.

 

Whats your biggest vice you want to keep?

I love everything. Theres not really anything bad for me. Even bad things can be really good…depends on how you use them. Awareness helps a lot in that case.

Whats your speciality in yoga?

What I really enjoy is combining all aspects of Hatha yoga. I combine mudra, pranayama, bandha, asana, kria, yoga nidra and dharana. All this together makes yoga and links to the energy body. I love to bring this together and combine all these aspects as you need them to experience the full experience. Even food…bring it together and have the full experience.

 

Whats your favorite place in this world?

Honestly, my favorite place is in someones heart.

I meet people and will never forget them. If you want to live somewhere, live in peoples hearts. If its in a good way, you will always be surrounded by good energy.

 

When it comes to a no bullshit approach towards yoga, what has been your biggest learning?

I see people doing some asana and talk big talk about the energy rising, “I see colors and my chakras…” this is all bullshit…you do asana and your oxygen level gets high…thats it…no enlightenment just blood circulation. Its the full package that makes the difference. I am sharing my knowledge with people from western countries, I don’t pretend to be a yogi, I give them what I know. Straight forward.

No bullshit, I use my language to be understood well and not to sound enlightened. If I say “shit” to be better understood then so be it. I really don’t care. Just say things as they are. Simple. Become silent, calm the mind and find peace…don’t expect enlightenment. Thats the feeling yoga should give you. Like that you come forward…you get good karma, be good to people and explore in a respectful way. Do one good action a day and don’t ask for anything back. You will become a real and happy person, simple.

 

What is your favorite song?

I must say, its a song from Pink Floyd. Album: Division bell. Song: I’m wearing the inside out.

It has a big meaning behind…if you get it its awesome and I feel a beautiful connection to this song.

 

What would you want to give people starting with yoga on their way?

You should attend classes according to your capacity and feel where you belong. Sometimes our emotionality holds us back, so we need a push. Go to a very beginners class first. If you challenge yourself too much, you get a bad vibe from it and it won’t work. Just start slowly and see how you feel, give yourself space.


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