Stop. You’re beautifull! Ileana Stefanescu and the yoga’s magic world
“I am an engineer in electronics and also a yoga teacher. I have studied yoga for more than 16 years at MISA’s classes in Bucharest...". Interview to Ileana Stefanescu.
Any introductive words about You?
“I am an engineer in electronics and also a yoga teacher. I have studied yoga for more than 16 years at MISA’s classes in Bucharest, under the guidance of Mr. Gregorian Bivolaru. I studied also at other yoga schools, in Europe and US. I have taught yoga for almost 15 years, in Romania and lately in USA.”
Why have you decided to practice Yoga?
“I have decided to practice yoga because I needed answers to questions like: why do I live, what is the meaning of my life, what is death, is there life after death, who am I, what happens with me when I am dreaming, and so on. And I could not find reasonable answers to these questions in none of the sciences I had studied before.”
Which were your feelings at the time of your first lesson?
“Curiosity and attempt to understand the new concepts that were presented to me and to decide if I can find something that can help me answer my questions or improve my life in any way.”
In which ways has Yoga changed your life?
“Yoga has changed my life in many ways. I am healthier, stronger; my body looks much nicer, my mind is clearer; I am more successful, more able to communicate with people, etc. But the most important thing yoga brought in my life is the belief in God, which is not a theory but something real that grew up little by little in me through practice and direct experience. And also, the ability of seeing the goal and meaning of my life and the methods to fulfill it.”
Can you manage your life without Yoga?
“Yoga does not represent only a practice, but a way of life and a state of consciousness. Yoga has become a part of my life, so I cannot think of them separately. Even if I would stop doing any yoga practice, I would still understand life in a spiritual way. And I am sure that if I wouldn’t have found yoga, it would be something else in my life, another spiritual science, to guide me in life. Could you drive a car without knowing where you go, if you have enough gas, without understanding the engine and without taking any driving lessons?”
Why did you decide to focus your life on Yoga?
“I do not focus my life on yoga. I focus my life on doing something good and useful in life, something that can help other people; on living in such a way so I don’t have any regrets when I have to leave this world, and I will be able to think, in that moment, that I have done my best in every good direction that opened to me in life. I want to live in such a way that my life will leave a bright trace into this world.”
Which are the main bases of Yoga?
“Yoga is a spiritual science. A precise and practical science that guides you towards experiencing the answers to the most important questions of life: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where do I go after death? What is the Universe? What is the meaning of my life? The main bases of yoga are the same as those of the basis of any other spiritual science: several simple rules that can guide you towards living a good, honest, loving and harmonious life, and also guide you toward discovering the truth about yourself, and about the whole creation. Mircea Eliade, the famous historian of religions, defined yoga as The science of all religions.”
Maybe we need to practice Yoga in order to have a more suitable life?
“Sure, yoga can help a lot in this direction. But yoga is not at all the only science that can help you have a more suitable life. Everybody has to find something that fits their needs, aspirations and abilities. In my life yoga proved to be the most suitable tool to do this and I know that yoga is very good for many people. But not everybody has the desire or ability to practice it. That’s why there are so many different spiritual sciences in this world, so every type of person can find something that fits their needs and personality. The bases of all these sciences are the same, and they all lead to the same ultimate goal. The only condition to benefit from them is to practice them.”
How to have a good practice in Yoga?
“In the same way you can have a good practice in anything: sports, mathematics, cooking, journalism or love making: you need to like it; you need to save time for it, to do it seriously, to read and study the theory and to have the openness and courage to experience everything by yourself. To not expect over night results and to not be afraid of doing efforts and of working hard. It amazes me all the time that some people come to yoga convinced that it will take them no more than few hours of practice and they will get amazing results and supernormal powers.”
It’s more important the theoretical side or the practical one?
“The theory without practice is empty and useless. The practice without the theory can be done chaotically. Though, it is said that in yoga one gram of practice values more than tones of theory. What use to read one thousand books about honey, and to attend conferences where someone tells you how sweet and good the honey is, if you never decide to actually use a spoon and taste some fresh honey?”
What have you learnt after so many years of practicing?
“Well.... I would need years to tell you everything I have learnt. In a few words, I think that the most important thing I have learnt is the certitude that everything in life is a divine lesson that helps us to grow towards perfection; the joy of discovering that Love is the most powerful force of this universe and that it always shows us the path to our essential nature.”
I know there’re various forms of Yoga...
“Yes, many of them. I will write down here only few of them:
KARMA YOGA - the yoga of day to day action
JNANA YOGA - the yoga of superior knowledge and discernment
HATHA YOGA - the yoga of balancing the two main polarities - Yin and Yang (minus and plus, feminine and masculine) by corporal poses
BHAKTI YOGA - the yoga of devotion
TANTRA YOGA - the science of using the infinite forces of the Universe to transform ourselves in a spiritual way. In the tantric vision, all the conditions and events of our everyday lives are considered to be valuable tools for a spiritual evolution.”
The relations between Yoga and Tantra?
“The word “Yoga” means union. Union between the man and the source of the whole creation. Yoga refers generally to many methods that allow us to realize this union. Tantra is a part of yoga and has its specific means, as I said at the previous answer.”
How to work on our soul?
“With patience and endless love. With an open mind and without prejudices.”
How to consider Yoga: a religion, a philosophy or...?
“Yoga is a science. Not a religion and not a philosophy. Yoga has a theoretical part which is structured like a philosophy, but besides this yoga offers practical scientific methods. These methods can be experienced by anybody and they will lead to the same results if they are applied correctly.”
Could you introduce your way to teach in Yoga?
“My way to teach yoga is the way I myself have been taught by my teacher. Is clear and put in simple terms, making also the connections between the modern science and spirituality. That’s why this way of teaching yoga makes it very accessible for modern people, easy to understand and also easy to practice and obtain good results. Due to this way of teaching, MISA yoga school has actually over 30,000 students all over the world.”
For a good result you need to check the psychological portrait of each practitioner, right?
“We do not allow to our classes people who suffer from schizophrenias or paranoia. This is the only restriction. The good results depend on how much interest and practice the student puts in his yoga practice. But this is everybody’s choice. All we can do is to give clear and accurate methods to people. The way they apply them, is up to them.”
Yoga is a way to express own freedom and liberty, and that cause problems...
“Yes, yoga practice is a way of expressing our freedom. But everything we do in our life that is not mandatory, but free chosen, is a way to express our freedom as well. More than that, yoga is a way of liberating your mind from prejudices and wrong or destructive ideas. Of course that in a society that is based on manipulation and advertising and where the human rights are not respected, such a thing is seen as being a problem and is not desired. It is very well known that people who increase their spirituality are, first of all, able to take their own decisions, and not to live their lives according to what they hear on TV or read on newspapers.”
Why practicing Yoga is so dangerous in Romania?
“Practicing yoga became lately in Romania almost dangerous and a subject of very severe social discrimination because of the communist mentality of the people who rule the country. Yoga was forbidden in the communism, and the same people, now, using the powerful tool of an obedient mass-media, try to destroy any authentic spiritual movement in Romania. This is because the people who awaken their consciousness can not be manipulated and kept as almost robots in a life spent between their job, food market and TV.”
What do you think of times we’re living?
“I think that the times we are living are times of great potential. Lots of conflicts and materialism around us, but in the same time the great chance of many spiritual teachings revealed all over the world. I think they are times when people all over the world will start to ask questions about their lives and will want to know the truth.”
Maybe we need a less materialistic approach to life...
“That’s for sure. Do you know anybody that doesn’t care for love or happiness in his life? Can you say that these things are materialistic? Can you say that we can live happy just having money and food and enough sleep? If you look around in the world, you will see very clear where this materialistic culture led us: wars, natural disasters, deadly diseases, stress, chemicals, pollution and so on. You don’t need to be a sage to decide that something goes wrong very wrong.”
Your best wishes for your life?
“What I wish for my life? To live happy, practicing yoga and teaching it to as many people as I can. To discover the ultimate essence of my being. To have a loving family.”
What’s the future of your activities as Yoga teacher?
“Let’s talk about this next year. I don’t like speaking about my plans before they become alive.”
Your favorite Yoga quote?
“It is a spiritual quote that belongs to Constantin Brancusi, the famous Romanian sculptor: In life we are meant to create like a god, to command like a king, to work like a slave, to sleep like a child, to love like an angel, to fight like a hero and to die standing like a tree.”
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