Lo + read in 2019: Interview with Tomás Zorzo
One of the most hardened and brightest yogis in the country, he was first and only Spanish certified Ashtanga teacher until he felt the call of a more holistic and conciliatory yoga for the integral health of all people. Today he tells us how he sees the transformation of yoga and about his own evolution as a teacher. It is an interview YogaenRed.
Summarize the biography of Tomás Zorzo (branch) it's not easy (you can read it in full here), but to get an idea of his specific weight in yoga, suffice it to say that he has been dedicated to the transmission of yoga for more than 40 years and that he learned with the best teachers.
He was a student of Swami Visnhudevananda, Ambu (Aurobindo Ashram), Pattabhi Jois (first Spanish certificate and pioneer in the introduction of Ashtanga Yoga in Spain). Later dazzled by the teachings of Krishnamacharya, studied with B. K. S. Iyengar, T. K. V. Desikachar, A. G. Mohan... And also Ramesh Balsekar, Father Bede Griffiths, Osho, among others.
He founded the Ashtanga Yoga Center in Oviedo more than 30 years ago, and still very active today giving courses and workshops both in Spain and internationally (Europe, India, Australia...) and combining different yoga techniques.
We spoke to Tomás Zorzo during the celebration of the Madrid Yoga Congress, in which he offered a beautiful workshop on 'The role of breathing in the asana to achieve physical and psychological well-being'.
Q. From the point of view of your yoga education veteran, how do you see its evolution, has it changed so much?
A. There's a fantastic book, Zen mind, beginner's mind, where the author, Shunryu Suzuki, says that the Zen mind, which is the mind of yoga, you have it when you are in a beginner state... Of course, at first yoga was something to discover, there was a lot of resistance on the part of society to know it, to facilitate it, and it was almost considered that those who practiced yoga were a cult. But at the same time we had an attitude of discovery and it was all very innocent. Society has changed and has also lost all that innocence because there is a lot of information. And sometimes we confuse information with knowledge. But yoga has to do with knowledge, in the sense of knowing and discovering the Being and being more being.
Now everything has become overcrowded and you can accumulate a lot of information and come to nothing in the field of knowledge. Yoga has to do with this awareness of being, of settling in your center, in your Being, and that must be done in a spirit of innocence. Without innocence, there is no knowledge.
P. ¿Se podría decir, entonces, que al popularizarse tanto el yoga se está desvirtuando y está perdiendo su esencia, o esto sería exagerado?
A. That is part of how society evolves, in a very materialistic way; everything is the market, everything becomes money. I remember when I went to India, the ashrams, they never asked you for money, it was a donation; this has changed, they already ask you for money even there. And that's a reflection of how society has become a market, everything becomes a product and is sold. That's where the fall is.
But there are always people... Now, at least that's my role as a teacher, you have to try to spread yoga from a more transformative vision, because yoga in addition to a physical component also has a very important psychological and emotional component. There are other tools that need to be worked on, and even physically, for healing those other internal systems. In that sense the vision I propose of yoga is more holistic.
Q. You focus on yoga around sanction, therapy. However, there are schools that deny that therapeutic purposes have never been at the prime valiary of yoga... how do you understand that debate?
A. Yoga is health, what happens is that the concept of health we have conceived it only in relation to the body. The word "health" in Sanskrit is svastha, which means to be in itself, in the being. While we are not in contact with the being, we are somehow sick, we are fragmented, disintegrated. Yoga has to do with health in the sense that health starts from being integrated, harmonized in all the planes that we are: physical, vital, emotional, mental, spiritual. All this has to be integrated and unified around a center. If we are fragmented, we are sick; maybe not in our bodies, for now, but all that fragmentation that we have on the psychological level is going to have an impact sooner or later on our physiology. Serious illnesses start with these disorders, many with a very strong emotional component.
Q. Do you therefore consider yourself a therapist?
A. Yes and no. Not in the concept of therapist we have here in the West. What one of my teachers taught me is that a teacher's mission is not to heal but to help the sanctioning processes. So, you're not a therapist because you're not going to work with specific diseases; you're going to help improve the health of the person in some way.
Q. What is your current assessment of your work? What continues motivate you to continue in this process of teaching yoga after 40 years?
A. For me, it is this process of seeing yoga from a very holistic perspective in myself; that is, working, getting to know myself and getting carried out motivates me to keep working. And from that space that I discover in myself, share, help others. It's important to me how to contribute to society. I've been a yoga teacher all my life, I don't know how to do a lot more.... That's my contribution.
Q. You had good examples, because you studied next to the most recognized teachers.
A. Yes, I've been lucky enough to study with the best teachers. Mi primer maestro fue Vishnudevananda, luego Ambu, profesor de asanas en el ashram de Sri Aurobindo, quien me dio una luz muy especial. Y luego, con 25 años, conocí a Pattaby Jois, éramos tres estudiantes solo, hasta que me di cuenta de que el Ashtanga yoga no era para todo el mundo, y a mí me interesara que el yoga fuera para todos los estadios de la vida. Krishnamacharya me fascinaba, y quise estudiar con todos sus discípulos, así que estudié con su hijo Desikachar, Iyengar, Mohan… También conocí a Osho… Más luego en Occidente hubo personas que a otro nivel descubrieron muchas cosas que me interesaron, como Wilhem Reich o Alexandre Lowen, la bioterapia energética, la gestaldt, todo el desarrollo personal… Era un buscador, y lo sigo siendo.