Get to know a local yoga teacher! Ivo Grossi will be teaching at Om Culture this March 18, 2016 as part of the center’s Spotlight on Yoga series. We have partnered with Om Culture to bring you an in depth introduction to the special yoga teachers who have been invited to teach the series.
Let’s meet Ivo!
#1 What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
I started practicing yoga in ’99 soon after I jumped the pond and moved to Seattle from Italy. I guess it was helping me to quit smoking, and it did. Initially my entry door was the Annamayakosha, the physical level. Ashtanga was the word of the day. I still remember I was skipping savasana and conscious breath was just an abstract concept for me at the time. I could feel there was something more and deeper though for me to grasp, so I stuck with it.
Over the following years while living in Los Angeles, I was fortunate enough to meet many great teachers, like Mark Whitwell, Erich Schiffmann, Bryan Kest, Shiva Rea, Sean Corn and Saul David Raye who were able hold up a mirror shedding light into my inner journey through a multilayered practice of yoga. Around 2005, as I took on formal meditation training in the Shambhala – sacred path of the warrior – lineage, more dimensions of yoga opened up for me. I began noticing the positive impact in my professional life as an executive in the health & fitness industry. I was starting to integrate the practice and the teachings into my life. The sense of separation was beginning to break down. I was slowly becoming a better leader, husband, lover, father and friend. It was at that point that I became inspired to be a yoga teacher, both on and off the mat.
I started teaching in 2008 after taking formal training with Saul David Raye, a brother and bhakti teacher with whom I resonate at a deep level. I teach as a way to share my practice and with the intention to hold a space for students where they can experience their own yoga, not just do yoga. Once that happens, once even a little spec of dust is removed and a glimpse of deeper clarity and centeredness is experienced, it carries over off the mat into life, into all our relationships.
#2 What is one piece of advice you always give your students?
Have a couple: Don’t use your body to get into the pose, use the pose to get into your (subtle) body (pranamayakosha) via conscious, deep breath (pranayama), attention (drishti) and dedication (bhava) What do you do first thing in the morning? Find your own inner space, center yourself, and give thanks to life that breathes through you. Then, eventually move into the flow of life.
#3 Describe your yoga philosophy?
“As above so below”. As incarnated spiritual beings, it is in the microcosm of the body-mind that we find the openings to the outer cosmos. It is in the different sheaths of the body (Koshas) that we grow and harvest our experiences. We can awaken to love, light, and compassion and eventually to our own true nature; we can manifest our sacred purpose (dharma) in the world, but only when we master enough bravery, strength and courage to dive deep into our inner journey first. Awakening is not an exclusive endeavor of the mind. We spend way too much time up there in the head, feeding it with all sort of technological stimuli while detaching ourselves from the flow of energy and consciousness that manifests as the universe into our body. The body, within its 5 dimensions (koshas) is the field in which we grow and harvest our experiences. This is the core of the Tantra yoga I practice and teach as a spiritual/energetic technology to make us whole, heal and then serve. Once we tap into our own inner guru we can tap into the energetics of a larger field of reality always present and in constant interaction with our being. That is the shamanic side of the equation. Once we become more attuned to it, we get into a process of personal mastery, we slowly relearn to recognize energetics imprints and master them overtime. Tantra yoga and shamanism share the same roots. Both are spiritual technologies based on subtle energies. I weave them together in my life and teachings, at least when I am open enough to let spirit work through me. When I am blocked, I stay with it, go through it, ask for help from the visible and invisible realm. I don’t numb myself down anymore.
#4 If you could practice with anyone dead or alive, who would that be and why?
My grandfather. He had a tough upbringing and that karma trickled down to his children and grandchildren, myself included. By the time I was a boy though he had already gone through his own version of the dark journey of the soul, including and with the help of some serious physical ailments. So, my only experience of him lasted for very few years while he was in his redemption phase, closing the last chapter of his life. I was his redemption project.
With hindsight it was a very sweet and pivotal time in my life. It taught me love and compassion and gave me the awareness that as humans we all share the same conditions, but our spiritual work is individual. Our own healing is the biggest contribution we can give to the world. Once we are on the path of doing our own work, then we can inspire and lead others with heart and authenticity. Then we can work at the collective plane, but we would make a great mistake if we did someone else work or lived someone else life.
#5 How lucky are you and why?
I feel so fortunate that I should spend my entire day just giving thanks. Family is big. I am in love with my wife Cosetta, son Emmanuele and daughter in law Hannah. I can express myself creatively in my teachings and sustainable business practices. I have very good friends. I feed off and nurture many circles and communities. I travel the world, work, teach, practice and learn on and off the mat. Boundaries between material and spiritual are becoming thinner and thinner. Life is teaching me to own my stuff and challenges me to show up and live the teachings in a way I can’t fake. No place to hide and certain days is tough. Life keeps me humble and honest reminding me we are ultimately all Light beings and there’s no other place for me but being a light worker, which means no fear or hesitation to do shadow work.
#6 If you could be an animal or a plant, which one would you be and why?
In the shamanic tradition I practice I have dieted few plants, meaning I have communed with the spirit/essence of those plants through a period of isolation, cleanse and dedication. All had their own wisdom and healing to share, but if I had to pick one I’d say the plant of coca. She’s strong, full of Shakti, opens the heart and the nadis of the body to let the energy flow freely and makes the higher mind very sharp. She’s also a perfect example of what we, as westerners, can do to nature ways and turn sacred Inca medicine like coca leaves into a powerful and addictive drug like cocaine. The problem is not with the plants, which sustain life on our planet, but with the use we do of them. It’s like playing with fire as creator or destroyer of life. The difference is in our intention, and wherever intention goes energy goes. So before taking any action or communing with any energy I always ask myself how clean and how aligned with truth my intention is.
#7 What is your latest favorite thing about humanity?
I love humanity. Having a human body is a very precious gift. Living on spaceship earth is a privilege. Shadows are part of the process of awakening. If I had to mention one though, Climate Change Denial, would probably be my pick. The silver bullet is that the higher the resistance to this scientific based truth the brighter the light awareness is shedding onto it.
#8 Anything else you’d like the local yoga community to know about you?
Given my professional life, I keep one yoga class a week at Zum in downtown Seattle where you can find me on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm. I do like to teach special classes like the one at OmCulture this Friday and love teaching at Festivals over the summer. Next one will be NW Yoga Feast in ID at the end of July. I also enjoy leading international yoga retreats together with my wife Cosetta. We just did and amazing one last Dec in Peru. The next one together will be in a really wonderful place in Puglia – Italy, June 2017. I do write a blog about leadership and mindfulness and offer private coaching sessions.
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