Interviews with Ebru Şinik

Interview with Claire Diab - The American Yoga Academy Founder

Claire Diab and Ebru Şinik

1. In the website of The American Yoga Academy it says “yoga is for everyone regardless of age, size, shape and religion”. Why should people do yoga?

Everyone should do Yoga because it makes you feel good!

Claire Diab

You feel younger, more attractive and sexy. Your skin becomes more radiant and develops a healthy glow. Most of all you feel a wholeness within… you feel a union with everyone and everything around you, your relationship with others become more meaningful, more fun, more loving and light hearted. You have an internal peace that radiates from the inside out!

Yoga is a beautiful philosophy and a way of life. Yoga is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is an ancient language and when you translate Yoga into English it means “Union”. It is the union of your body, mind and spirit. People of all walks of life can practice Yoga to achieve this state of union. Yoga increases flexibility, builds strength, tones your body, reduces stress, calms and clears the mind and gives us an overall sense of well -being and balance.A continued practice of Yoga will help you build self- confidence, improve your sex life, and bring you to yourideal state and perfect weight effortlessly. It is not about adding years to your life …it is about adding life to your years! You will begin tosee things more clearly, become more creative, and achieve happiness, health, wealth, and true success. After all… Your Health is your Wealth!

2. What discerns the "Modern Yoga" style you created from other yoga styles?

“Modern Day Yoga for the Modern Day Yogi” is my motto. My mission is to educate people all around the world that Yoga is for everyone; regardless of one’s lifestyle; whether you are a vegetarian, meatatarian, smoker, non- smoker, athlete, non- athlete, everyone and anyone can do Yoga and will benefit from it. Yoga doesn’t pass judgment on its practitioners. Each person who takes a class with me or one of my Instructorswill leave feeling rejuvenated, invigorated, revitalized, calm, and relaxed.My students always learn something new about themselves with each Yoga class. It truly is an education.

The American Yoga Academy trains teachers the physical ,emotional and spiritual aspect of Yoga educating people on total health and wellness and how to live their yoga on and off the mat. We teach The Modern Day Yogi to take care of their body, mind and spirit through movement,breathing, relaxation andmeditation… so then our spiritual essence canshine brightly through our eyes. The Modern Day Yogi has eyes that sparkle and shine!

Claire Diab teaching Yoga

3. What are the benefits of yoga?

There are so many amazing benefits of Yoga!

Claire Diab

Yoga increases flexibility, builds strength, tones your body, reduces stress, calms and clears the mind and gives us an overall sense of well -being and balance. A continued practice of Yoga will help you build self- confidence, improve your sex life, and bring you to your ideal state and perfect weight effortlessly. You feel younger, more attractive and sexy. Your skin becomes more radiant and develops a healthy glow. Most of all you feel a wholeness within… you feel a union with everyone and everything around you, your relationships with others become more meaningful, more fun, more loving and light hearted. You have an internal peace that radiates from the inside out!

Vasant Lad Teaching Assessment

4. People think yoga is difficult and hard to do. Is that true? Or if not, is it easy to correct that misconception?

People often will think yoga is difficult because yoga instructorsareteaching classes without giving variations orbeing aware of the specific needs of each individual. People tend to hear the word yoga and visualize putting their body into pretzel like positions. If yoga were about how flexible you are, then the Cirque du Soleil people would be the best yogisin the world! When I was trained 25 years ago, I was trained to teach a specific flow that was very difficult. There were no variations, and that was all I knew. After teaching for six months and seeing people struggle in my classes, I decided to create my own style giving the students variations that would help and serve their individual needs. I always look around my classes to make sure that each student is comfortable and feeling good.

I know after training over 1,800 students, half of them sprinkled throughout the world, people and teachers are seeing that it is more important to serve the students and be more aware of how to help the students learn to help themselves. Sometimes yoga does get a bad rap because of people being injured in class. I do see a turnaround in the education of yoga teachers being more aware now.

The misconception of Yoga being difficult is definitely changing! I believe if teachers can educate their students to be aware of their own bodies and we can teach everyone that Yoga is not a competition, it is a practice of “union”…we will see fewer injuries and more people doing Yoga!

5. Many instructors teach yoga. Of what must one be careful for choosing the right one?

There are so many instructors now! It is important when choosing a Yoga Instructor to look into their credentials and training. Yoga Alliance is a national and now international organization that created a standard for Yoga Schools so the teachers will get the best education. Generally you can tell when a teacher is into their own practice during a class or if they are focusing on their students. You want a teacher that is concerned with your practice and postures and gives an all-around great vibe with the class. Luckily, there is not much shortage in studios and teachers, so it is very likely that any student can find a teacher that is in tune with their needs. When you leave the class feeling good and happy you will know that is the teacher for you! And it is ok to have more than one teacher… We see this in America as cross training.

6. And, what type of meditation techniques would you suggest?

Meditation has truly changed my life… in how I look , how I feel and how I live my life! The Meditation technique that I use and teach is Mantra Meditation. I find this to be the most simple yet most powerful way to meditate. Mantra is a Sanskrit word:Ma translates to mind. Tratranslates to Instrument or tool.

The mantra is a tool we use to calm and quiet the mind. Any person can practice Mantra meditation; it has no connection to religion.There are many meditation teachers, books, and CD’s on meditation. I would suggest to find a local teacher in your area that you connect with. I also have a Breathe Move Meditate DVD and workbook which guides you through Mantra Meditation and how to meditate. You can visit my website for more info:

7. You teach in corporate wellness programs for worldwide known companies. In those programs what do the participants expect from you? What are your experiences from those teaching programs for the business environment?

When I teach in corporations, I teach a health and wellness lifestyle at the office and at home using yoga techniques. Participants can expect to learn daily tips to be mindful of physical and mental health in the office and also relaxation techniques to practice at home. I teach proper posture when sitting at their desk, from foot placement to proper spine alignment to relaxation of the jaw. I also educate employees on how to takebreathing breaks and quieting the mind through simple meditation. Having the mind and body taken care of through these techniques increases productivity and creativity, giving the person a sense of well-being in the office and at home. I also educate people to maintain internal and external balance and help people to realize their purpose in life, which is a great way to help increase creativity and enjoy relationships with others at work and at home. Even your intimate relationships become deeper and more fulfilling.

My experience teaching corporations has been wonderful. People are so happy to learn such simple yet powerful techniques that can really change their work lives, and easily translates to a positive change in their life outside the office.

8. Apart from teaching fitness and wellness programs to the Fire Fighters of New York City, you also write columns in on yoga, health and wellness. Have you been receiving pleasing feedback about them? Do you think about teaching similar programs to different occupational groups?

The feedback has been amazing! People love the short articles on health and wellness and find them very helpful.

I do teach to many different occupational groups—school teachers, physical therapists, athletes, nurses, doctors, lawyers, police officers, accountants, realtors, I think I’ve taught every occupational group there is.

9. Considering the workshops you have been holding for 25 years, is yoga getting popular around the world? What has changed in the minds of people about yoga?

Yoga is becoming very popular. The increase in yoga teacher trainings and even in the attendance of my yoga teacher training and my yoga classes has increased. There is a great demand for me to do workshops nationally and internationally. This proves the increasing popularity. As a Professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University teaching the philosophy of Yoga , it has become the most popular class on campus in the last 8 years. The students range in age from 18-25. They love to learn how to live Yoga! It gives them a new perspective and teaches them how to transform difficult times into growth, transformation, and opportunity.

What is beginning to change in the minds of people about yoga is that there is an awareness that there is much more than just a pose. It is how you live your life, from eating consciously to being more loving and compassionate and accepting towards each other and to be more open minded.Yoga is not just about your own physical practice… students begin to develop a comrodary… it is a gathering, a place of union… meeting new friends with like minds. Yoga is fun!

10. 10. What is the true meaning of health, wellness and success? How can one be healthy and well?

I always say… Your Health is your Wealth! To be healthy is to feel strong, energetic and happy….to wake up in the morning with enthusiasm toward life! Healthy is not only having a strong flexible body, it is also mental health… having a peace of mind and creative freedom. This allows us to sleep soundly at night. Wellness is just another aspect of health. When you have health and wellness you then have true success. We achieve a state of wellness when we surround ourselves with people who love us and bring us lots of laughter and joy.Success consists of more than material abundance; it includes good health, energy, fulfilling relationships, emotional and psychological stability, and a sense of well-being. Success is a journey not a destination. The monetary wealth makes the journey more pleasurable but true success consists of all the above!

You can be healthy and well by taking care and nourishingyour body, your mind andyour soul! Through the practice of Yoga: eating consciously, moving the body in a way that is enjoyable for you, and quieting the mind through breathing, relaxation and meditation we can create a peace of mind, light heartedness, and begin to feel more balanced internally and externally. What your inner world is…becomes your outer world.

Health & Wellness and True Success is not just about adding Years to your Life… it is about adding Life to Your Years! Enjoy the Journey!

11. Have you been in Turkey? What do you know about yoga practices in our country?

Yes, my grandfather was born in Istanbul and I will be traveling with my father on the Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul 4 years ago for a workshop with Ebru Şinik who is one of my Students from Chopra Center University.

From my research I understand that Yoga in Turkey is similar to the US. They practice all different styles of Yoga as they do here: Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kundalini, etc.