Dimitris invited me to his new shala at Pagrati called Om Shanti, I had a class with him (asana & meditation) and then we had a beautiful conversation. Read what he told us: (You will find the full bio at the end of the article)
You can find the acoustic version of the interview here
Marianna: Hello Dimitri! Would you like to tell me how you started, how your yoga journey began?
Dimitris: My first contact with yoga was at the age of 7 that I had a serious health problem, I had teenage kyphosis and here at our neighborhood, at E.L.E.P.A.P, that it was an institute for special needs at Pagrati, the doctors of the social service(IKA) prescribed me to do physiotherapy and I was going for 3 years. The teacher back then was doing yoga but she didn’t call it yoga, so I practiced everyday at noon, I remember that I was living at Virona and I was taking the bus, I had a class from 2-3, my aunt that was a bus driver for the school Arsakio came for me afterwards and drove me home, my problem was fixed and I stopped. Then I started yoga again because of a relationship that I had, she left everyday from Virona, our house was uphill at Karea, and she was going with her bicycle at Erythro Stauro, she returned home happier and I thought “What is she doing? I have to go and see..” So I went, and we practiced yoga, at the first class I remember I couldn’t understand how people could touch their feet, because I had a job that I drove a truck many hours of the day and I was totally blocked as a person, and as a body, I was totally a mess. Nothing would have kept me to the yoga practice, but I remember that day at my first class I was the only one that managed the headstand, and my ego kept me to the practice. Of course when time passed and all these went away I saw the true essence of yoga.
Μ: Would you like to share with me an important moment, something that inspired you, something special that you have felt at the practice and kept you going, except that you stood on your head.
D: What kept me in the practice in the beginning as I already told you was my ego, but the thing that was a landmark for me was that although I was only practicing with my physical body and asanas and I was a modern John Rambo, I used to practice 3-4 hours, I went to an amazing training in Thailand, and at the start I was thinking, they are fooling us here, because they gave really simple things etc, and I said I lost my time and my money, the teacher told me Dimitri listen to your heart, and you should start meditation, I said what is that, I have never done, nobody in Athens taught us that, so she taught me a few meditation practices and I kept them, and when I returned back after 2 months in Thailand, I was living in Chalandri with a friend and through a meditation I experienced what in yoga we call Samhadi. I had a superconcious mind, I don’t know for how long, was it 1 minute, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, I lost time, but this moment I was like a God if you want, I mean I perceived at the same time the ants that were walking, 10 couples having sex around, I heard voices, and I felt that I controlled everything. I mean I perceived everything, there was hearing, vision and an amazing phenomenon that existed only then, because every time before I reach that state I was thinking oh it’s coming, so it never came, because I had expectation.
Μ: I understand.. So you have experienced a mystical experience lets say, really intense..
D: Yes, it was really intense, so much that from then my basic practice, my basic sadhana as we say in yoga is meditation, that it remains uninterrupted for 10 years, stable, and of course I practice with my physical body and asanas but secondly.
Μ: Do you have an advice to give to people who are practicing yoga, either as practitioners, either as new teachers?
D: The advice that I have to give, if it is allowed to me to give an advice, is to follow the whole path of yoga, not to separate it, yoga as Patanjali wrote it for us is not referring only to asanas, of course we should detox the physical carrier, but we should also take care our etheric body, to practice pranayama, as much as with the mental by practicing meditation, and of course above all to follow the yamas and the niyamas, so we can be more ethical as human beings. So the practice should be holistic if someone wants to taste the fruits that can have through this path.
Μ: Would you like to tell me what is yoga for you?
D: For me yoga is my life, what I mean is, it says yoga means union, I try to do yoga every moment, I mean living completely in now, that is this moment that we have this interview to be with you and not thinking about the class I have afterwards, or when I will be in the class not thinking what I am going to say at the interview. So the consciousness that I have gained if you want from my practice is that, not 100% but in a big percentage of my day I manage to be mindful in this path. So life gets another colour and becomes yoga.
Μ: Have you change as a person through the years from your practice?
D: I believe that every person changes, not only from the practice, but also as the years go by, but what I can say that I gained is consciousness, that is like I see myself playing in a movie and I observe, and if you want something really important that has changed through the practice is that I no longer get so attached at happy moments and disgusted of the bad moments, I am a bit flat. What I mean is that something positive doesn’t excites me too much, as much as something negative doesn’t tears me apart, so I consider this as a big profit.
Μ: You have opened this new shala, I wish you a good start!
D: Thank you!
Μ: Would you like to tell me what the students may expect by coming here?
D: Yes. We opened this shala, as we also write, it is a yoga & pilates academy and our goal is to teach people simple things, about the simple person, so they can live a better daily life, to be able to face their problems with a neutral attitude, to accept everything and to be able to evolve. What we do in the shala is that we suggest to all the candidates, or we can say the future students, this is also our moto “Good habits are learned, as well as the bad with constant practice.” There is no pill to take as somewhere fast, so all this slowly, step by step we set up what we do today, to write to our tomorrow, to be something more positive on what we have to live through the years etc.
Μ: Before we end this conversation, you are going to have a teachers training here, would you like to talk to me about that a little bit?
D: Yes, at first I would like to say that what we call in the market teacher training 200h, truly nobody becomes a teacher in 200 hours. What I always say to the future teachers is that this training is something that everybody should do before he starts his yoga, so he can have the right base to enter a yoga class, and behave right, to avoid injuries and have a proper practice. So basically it is an intense yoga school that in 200 hours of practice someone can secure its practice, to choose what he likes, and after that depending the experience that he had taken from the intense practice, if he truly feels that he has something to share with the person, he will know the right techniques and how to pass the knowledge.
Μ: Thank you Dimitri for your time, I also had a class with you and it was really nice!
D: Thank you Marianna, really nice to meet you!
NamasteAbout Babalu Aye):
My first contact with yoga was at the age of 8 years old, back in the 1987. It was my restorative method that I used for 3 years so I can cure my serious problem of child kyphosis so I could have back my orthosome.
The really important period was from 2007 to 2009, when yoga won an important place in my life and from a method of exercising evolved in to a lifestyle. This time through my practice, and realising more and more things about myself through yoga, gradually I stopped whatever I was doing till then and I bowed personally that I will follow the system with all my powers.
The last 10 years I live outside of Athens, at Lagonisi, where I share my life in between the unstoppable flow of my practice and on teaching my realizations through it.
All these years I have attended many training programs, I have studied on the side of many Greek teachers and outside of Greece and I have participated in many classes. Alongside I have teached over 10000 hours in classes in many shalas in Athens, with more than 5000 students that have participated in my classes. I have organized more than 50 escapes from the city and workshops with different subjects. The last 6 years through the Yoga Teacher Trainings that I am in charge, more than 60 teachers have trained, and some of them continue with a magnificent career.
The most important thing of my bio is that I remain a daily, tireless and unrestricted student in the path of yoga and meditation. The fruits of this daily routine are countless and are about all the levels of my existence. This experiences have define my only goal, that is nothing else than inspire and offer to as much people I can this holistic system – the science of yoga. So all the people can recognise and accept their self and walk free the road that is called life and finally unite with the Higher Self.