SYN: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
Maze: Teaching was a natural evolution of my own practice and studies. I have always had a desire to share with others what is deeply meaningful to me. Teaching yoga keeps me in a continual journey of learning, discovery and creativity. The best teachers are the best students. The yoga tradition is as wide as it is deep, and there is at least a lifetime of learning to be done. I am an introvert. Teaching has taught me how to come out of myself and connect with others.
SYN: How would you describe your yoga philosophy?
Maze: My personal philosophy is a blend of humanism and stoicism. Yoga is a journey of self discovery and should make us more human, more real, more authentic and skilled at living life. As my teacher’s teacher said, “Yoga is the virtuosity in becoming yourself.”
SYN: Can you tell us about the creative process when you plan a sequence?
Maze: I think about the students: What do they know, what do they not know? What are their abilities? What level? How much time do we have? What did we do last week?
I usually center class around a pose, or a group of poses: What do I want to accomplish in class? What direction, what are the landmarks? What kind of class? Is it an alignment class? Is it a vinyasa flow class?
What kind of energy does this class feel like? Is it focused? Is it playful?
Then I go through a process of deconstructing the pose(s) I want to focus on, and strategize how best to teach them. What structures are tight? What structures are weak? What are the common misalignments? What poses will be needed in the sequence to mobilize tight structures, strengthen weak structures, teach key actions etc. I sequence poses progressively from more simple to more complex, from easy to more difficult. I consciously repeat similar shapes, actions and cues throughout class. Every sequence I plan has options, because every class plan needs to be adapted to who actually comes that day.
SYN: How do you incorporate the Tantric philosophy into your teachings and personal practice?
Maze: Tantric philosophy underlies everything that I do; from my personal contemplative practices of meditation and mantra, to my world view. My tradition is called Rajanaka Tantra, and it is a lineage of Srividya.
I’m evangelical in my teaching. I’m not trying to get you to believe something or to buy into something. I don’t push my philosophical views onto my students. I am an educator, and I want you to think clearly about everything.
SYN: We’ve heard that you provide some of the most insightful cues that allow yogis to float through some of the most challenging asanas? What is it about your teaching technique that gets people talking?
Maze: I’m probably the wrong person to ask about this. When someone floats through a challenging asana, they may not be remembering all the step-by-step work that it took to get there. I’m interested in all of those steps. I’m interested in the work required to make progress from what you can do to what you have not yet done.
As far as teaching style, I am a direct teacher. Sometimes my teaching style is described as intense. I’m not very interested in fluff. I like good strong work in poses. I strive for progress, for useful feedback, and improvement. I tell lots of silly jokes when I teach. I love a good story.
SYN: If you could practice with anyone dead or alive, who would that be and why?
Maze: I would practice with my family. The time I have with my kids and wife is precious, and I am so often away from them.
I would practice with my teacher’s teacher, Dr. Gopala Aiyar Sundaramoorthy.
I would practice with B. K. S. Iyengar.
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