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Master Teacher: Alan Finger

This week we get to know more about South African Tantric and Kriya Yoga Master

Alan Finger who began studying yoga at the age of 16 with his father Mani Finger and renowned swamis of the past century. Eloquent and methodical, Finger (and his father) created ISHTA Yoga, a school and style of yoga that integrates breath-based flow yoga with alignment, meditation and healing bodywork. He has authored several books, including Chakra Yoga: Balancing Energy for Physical, Spiritual, and Mental Well-being, and travels the world to share his teachings.

Long-time student, Megan Young said, "Alan is a demystifier. On a daily basis, he takes this vast, enigmatic, complicated, ancient system of yoga and turns it into a simple practice that helps us all live at our most authentic, here in the 21st century. He doesn't ask us to meditate in a cave away from society. He doesn't tell us to bend into a pretzel before we can become enlightened. He knows from experience that the tools of yoga -- especially kriya -- are available to help us pull ourselves together so we can move through life more gracefully. And he does it all with a puckish grin and a bunch of silly jokes."

Kathleen Kraft: What does your yoga practice look like every day?

Alan Finger: My practice begins every morning with asana and kriya yoga, the technique of moving consciousness through specific areas of one's system. I follow this by a little pranayama, nadi shodana or bastrika, and then I do a kriya practice again, of circulating energy through the subtle body. Then I sit for 20 minutes in stillness. I close with samyama, a grounding practice which involves mantra and mudra. That's how I start my day, to clear my mind and allow me to connect to the unbound intelligence of the universe and bring it back into each moment of my living.

KK: What are the most important qualities of the student/teacher relationship?

AF: A student needs to be an empty vessel to receive the teachings from the teacher. For example, if you have two glasses to fill with water, and one is empty and the other is full of milk, the empty glass you can fill with one glass of water, the glass with milk will take many glasses before it is full of pure, clean water. The teacher needs to be someone who understands where they are taking the student and that the intention is pure. The teacher should not be looking for rewards or fame.

KK: What sutra is guiding you?

AF: I am just finishing writing a book, which is a tantric interpretation of the Yoga Sutras (“Tantric View of the Sutras”). I have had to understand and share each Sutra in its purest form, in other words, not giving them any attributes other than what Patanjali stated. So at this point, all the Sutras are extremely meaningful to me as they are each a link in the chain. And, ultimately, all are applicable to all of us, all of the time.

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