FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Tim Satyam Groen
Interview by Sarah McElwain
Tim Satyam Groen, RYT 500, started coming to classes at Integral Yoga New York in the late 1990s. His first Yoga teacher training took place in Rishikesh, India, where he studied classical Hatha Yoga. Since then, Tim has completed Integral Yoga Intermediate, Advanced, and Raja Yoga trainings.
What is your definition of Yoga?
Yoga is a great butt-tightening workout. Just kidding! My experience of Yoga falls pretty much in line with Sri Patanjali’s eight limbs. My actual Yoga starts with how I treat others and how I deal with my own organism and energy. Then, an enormous chunk of Yoga is taken up by asana. It is just my nature to be physical, so I’m grateful to have come across this method of attempting to understand major truths through working with my body and my breath.
I can go on and on, but to answer the question: I define Yoga as the Ashtanga of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
What do you love about Yoga?
It’s always there because it involves everything! And it is always beneficial; you don’t even have to understand what is going on in order to feel how it nurtures you and guides you, makes you better. There’s this quote by Osho that I love: “Let reason work in its own field, but remember continuously that there are deeper realms. There are deeper reasons which reason cannot understand, higher reasons that reason is incapable of conceiving.” There is no “doing it wrong.” Yoga is generous that way.
Why do you teach Yoga?
At one point in my life I decided that I wanted to “let Yoga take over my life.” That was literally how I worded it. The natural course was that I would not only continue to study but that I would also teach. That decision from years ago has brought me enormous happiness; I feel as if I were riding my dharma, and that can feel pretty amazing. I see teaching as my sadhana; it’s become extremely important to my growth as a Yogi.
What are the particular areas of Yoga you are teaching in now or in which you have created your own, special offerings?
I tend to teach on the advanced side of the spectrum, simply because that is my own practice. Students pick up on what we are the most passionate about and what is true to their teachers, and I think I communicate a lot from my own practice during classes.
A couple of years ago I studied Raja Yoga with Swami Vidyananda and the late Vidya Vonne, and I’ve recently started conducting workshops in which I combine attitudes from the Sutras with our asana practice, which is fun. That workshop, “Yoga Sutras on the Mat,” will return to IYI in September.
And then there’s my identity as a gay guy, which, unexpectedly, has become a bit of a directional force in terms of what I do as a teacher. I started the Gay Yoga Sangha at IYI last year, and this year I’m continuing it with Swami Chidananda. It’s a monthly series of get-togethers, and they involve asana and philosophy, practice, and Satsang. The gay or LGBTQ+ community is “a sangha within a sangha” (as Rudra described it), and I feel very strongly about facilitating these sessions.
I teach to all-male gay students weekly at another place here in the Village. The sense of community and intimacy during those particular (intermediate/advanced) classes is something I really enjoy. It has inspired me to look into organizing possibly international gay retreats, which I’m doing right now. Stay tuned!
What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher, and what do you hope students will get out of your coming offerings and workshops?
Ooh, that’s always a hard one to answer! But I think that in my classes, ideally, the students receive a warm approach to furthering their practice. I hope that my way of teaching inspires students to try new variations, to try longer holds, have fun being a little more daring. From what they tell me, that seems to be the takeaway.
In my coming Gay Yoga Sangha, I hope, this “sangha within a sangha” will come to connect and grow. Yoga, in the West, has always attracted LGBTQ people because it allows for one to be physical without being jocklike or too sporty. I intend to explore this sense of community further. It’s fun and sweet, and it’s a safe space.
Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share with the teacher sangha?
Some of my favorite things:
Nasya nasal oil by Banyan Botanicals. I use this every morning before my pranayama, unless my nose is too stuffy. I don’t know what the particular herbal mix does exactly, besides lubricating the nasal passages, but it feels amazing.
Inside the Yoga Sutras, by Rev. Jaganath Carrera. We used this book during Raja Yoga Teacher Training. If you don’t have it already, do yourself a favor and just get it. The IYI bookstore always has it.
Eden Botanicals. I love their oils; many are organic. Right now I’m into blending their Palo Santo with pink peppercorn. It’s the best.
Ongoing classes: Level II, Monday, 5:15 and Level II/III, Friday, 6:15
Gay Yoga Sangha: The Niyama
Thursday, May 10, 7:00–9:00 p.m.