Print Posted 03/03/2017 in Community

Interview with Sri Dharma Mittra

Interview with Sri Dharma Mittra

Yoga Alliance Professionals: How does your world look upside down?

Sri Dharma Mittra: Basically the same as it does right side up, but, for me in the pose, the gravity is reversed and I feel lots of blood pressure in the head. In Headstand, my neck has over 150 pounds resting on it. I love it — the feeling of being in this pose.


YAP: Would you recommend that everyone stands on their heads?

SDM: No, not at all. Headstand is optional. It’s only recommended for those who are physically fit enough to safely practice it. A good yoga teacher knows who should or shouldn’t practice it. For example, if someone is not healthy enough, is too old or too young, they need to be carefully supervised by a qualified yoga teacher.

YAP: You are doing this event to bring awareness for world peace. Do you feel that it is our duty as yoga teachers to actively encourage world peace?

SDM: I think that it’s totally optional. We need to work ceaselessly to achieve Self-realization. This is the greatest act we can perform in this or any other lifetime.

YAP: What are your thoughts on the Unesco decision to add yoga to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity?

SDM: I agree with Patanjali’s system of Ashtanga Yoga being recognized in this way because it has nothing at all to do with religion. What yoga really is, is indeed universal in nature.

YAP: What can we do as yoga teachers to support the vision of yoga as a precious gift to humanity without it being exploited by big business?

SDM: Even yoga teachers have to be on guard due to the temptations presented living and working in the world. We have to constantly observe the Yama of non-hoarding. Thus, the profits of the business side of yoga will be used properly. This is to say: to expand the work of sharing the knowledge and making it (with the help of technology) more comfortable and easier to practice both for the teachers and for the students of yoga.

YAP: Being upside down gives you a different perception on how you see the world. How has your perception of the yoga world changed over the years?

SDM: Really very little. Nowadays, the number of yoga teachers is beyond grasp, the number of yoga postures available is constantly growing and the distractions available increase daily. Yoga centers are on almost every block in cities like New York and London, and the  styles of yoga are diverse beyond what can be imagined. The yoga scriptures that used to be so hard to attain — most of them are available now online. But, there is a lack of Self-realized teachers. Today most yoga practitioners are seeking physical and mental powers only, and very few are practicing yoga to achieve Self-realization. Technology is amazing because it makes the practice easier, but, of course, it adds lots of distractions, too.

YAP: How often do you do a headstand?

SDM: Not too often. Usually, just 3-4 times a week these days, but in every class I teach, I do lots of it.


Yoga Master Sri Dharma Mittra founded one of the early independent schools of yoga in the west in 1975 and has taught hundreds of thousands the world over in the years since. For more information please visit

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