Interview with Yantra Artist and Yoga Teacher Debra Kochanczyk
Debra is co-founder of OmAge Yoga and Director of OmAge International 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training School. She now lives in Tuscany, Italy. Debra is a passionate and internationally recognized yoga teacher and harmony enthusiast. She is also an artist who through the journey of yoga discovered the ancient and symbolic Yantra art.
ON THE PERSONAL SIDE…
Tell us a bit about yourself.
The journey of yoga has led me to many wonderful locations and has allowed me to study and learn from some of the world’s most distinguished yogis and yoginis. It has truly been a passage of growth and development, not just on a physical level but also on a spiritual level. I have just recently moved from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to Tuscany in Italy, to a very different way of life. I am excited to greet and embrace new adventures, new opportunities and new horizons.
Why do you think yoga has become so popular in the west?
I believe yoga has become popular in the west due to its very essence! Now, more than ever, the pressures of life are causing people to feel stressed, anxious and unable to relax and release. Yoga offers a journey providing insightful knowledge, enabling you to find your essence. As the pace of life quickens and individuals feel they have more demands and less time, many turn to this ancient tradition to find meaning, focus, balance and a place for the self. I also believe that, as a species of life, we are awakening to an age of introspection, of questioning, of observing. Yoga offers a place that is calm and quiet; a place where one can find peace. Yoga can bring answers to many of our questions.
What does yoga mean to you?
Yoga is my best friend! Yoga is with me wherever I am. Yoga never lets me down and is always supportive. Yoga offers solutions and is there when life is difficult. Yoga has gently guided me to be the person I am today. I love my best friend yoga!
Whose teachings have been a major influence on your life?
Let me thank all my wonderful teachers; their knowledge, passion and inspirations have truly illuminated my yoga journey. On my spiritual quest I enjoy the teachings of Deepak Chopra, Gurmukh and Carlos Pomeda. Each brings thought provoking and stimulating truths. On the more physical level, those who influenced me are Michel Besnard, Yogasana, for teaching me dedication and discipline, Simon Low, Yoga Academy, for showing me the benefits of Yin yoga, Shiva Rea, and her Prana Flow for being an inspiring liberated soul, Jason Crandell, Yogaglo, for the amazing Anatomy and Physiology knowledge and Ann-see Yeo, My yoga, my first yoga teacher. Each of these teachers and guides have been instrumental on my yoga journey.
Who or What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from nature, from the beauty that surrounds us. I am inspired when I connect to the essence or source of life. This is when I feel the need to be creative whether with my Yantra art or with my writings. I am also inspired by my students who discover their potential for spiritual and physical growth. To watch them embark on their own yoga journey as teachers fuels me to continue spreading the seed of yoga! Finally, I am inspired by acts of kindness and generosity of spirit.
What has teaching taught you?
I always smile when I get asked this question…What hasn’t it taught me! Teaching is a privilege and an honor. To share your passion with others is a joy. I have learned to overcome my fears of public speaking and I have learned patience and empathy. I have learned to teach only what I truly know. I have learned not to take myself too seriously and that to have a sense of humor and a playful spirit goes a long way. I have also learned that, as teachers, we must always keep learning, exploring and educating ourselves so we are then able to pass on this information to our students.
In which direction is your yoga teaching heading?
I have just finished 100 hour teacher training with Matrika Prenatal Yoga Teacher Certification. I am excited at the opportunity to help expectant mothers to be part of the miracle of life. I am also working towards leading a Yoga and Essential Wellbeing Retreat in Tuscany 2017. Through these activities I will continue in my quest to share the knowledge and benefits of yoga.