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Master Teacher: Rima Rabbath

This week Kathleen Kraft interviews Rima Rabbath who has been practicing and teaching at Jivamukti Yoga since 2001.

Known for her skill at making everyone in a packed room feel loved, her adventurous playlists, and a fun, natural wit, Rima Rani Rabbath has been entrusted with carrying on the method’s lineage by facilitating the Jivamukti Teacher Trainings, leading immersions around the world and mentoring apprentices at the New York School. Rabbath also teaches at the Wanderlust Festival.

Devoted student of Rima’s, Sara Miller, said, I have never come across another teacher with Rima's unique talent for individually connecting with people and bringing them to the edge. Her deep and intuitive knowledge of the human body and mind is born out of an intense and on-going personal practice that gives her an unguarded authenticity and easy ability to speak from the heart. Her class is an inclusive invitation to join her intoxicating world of music, sweat, love and infinite possibilities.

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

Rima Rabbath: My daily practice revolves around the asana practice. Bringing myself to the simplicity of the mat every single day and embracing the repetitive nature of the practice has allowed me to come face to face with my fears and resistances. The asana practice shows us where we are resisting, where we are resisting a physical opening that is actually emotional and therefore, far more subtle. For example when it comes to kapotasana, I find myself resisting arching back, which requires a deep opening of my front body (from the psoas muscle all the way up to the upper chest). In reality, it's the fear of being completely vulnerable that is kicking in. While I know that I need to further strengthen my legs and back muscles for me to get comfortable in kapotasana, there is something deeper at works. It is through that daily work that a certain kind of clarity and gentle acceptance inevitably emerge. Sitting on my cushion and chanting on the harmonium are also essential parts of my practice. These are rituals that help me befriend my mind and voice.

Regarding my teaching practice, a teacher is forever a student. When a teacher practices what they teach then they are fully present when they teach. When we apply the teachings to our own lives (doing the best we can at any given moment), very much like when we place ourselves in the asanas first before teaching them, we can explore what comes up in that seat. This familiarity enables us as teachers to pay attention when the same feelings arise in a student. This paying attention is presence; it's wise compassion, and it's an exchange of self and others. It builds trust. You are there with them at that moment. Nothing else matters...

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

RR: Respect of one another – as student and teacher but also as living beings doing the best they can at any moment.

Genuine Interest in passing down the teachings and in receiving them.

Clear Intention to support and encourage the spiritual growth of the student and teacher alike.

Candid Communication at all times to ensure that the above qualities are being engaged in.

KK: Which sutra guides you?

RR: There are a couple of verses from A Guide To A Bodhisattva’s Way Of Life by Master Santideva that have resonated with me ever since I read and studied them with

“Even if it were the nature of the child to cause harm, it would still be incorrect to be angry with them. If living beings are by nature wholesome, it is senseless to resent them. It would be like resenting fire for its heat or being angry at the sky for having clouds!”

Somehow these verses allow me to chill-out a bit, to let my urge to react cool down, to understand the fleeting nature of emotions and thoughts (mine and others’) and to come to recognize that our true nature is basically good.

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