Carrying the heart of a small child at the age of 32, Plakor Kovacevic’s personality radiates exceptional dynamism. And it’s his regular yoga practice of 10 years that he owes it to. There’s been no looking back ever since. Hailing from Croatia and now an Art of Living Yoga teacher himself, Plakor has taken yoga courses in Croatia and other countries in the Balkan region, including Macedonia, a place he loved to visit the most. Also a passionate dancer, he feels that yoga, like dance, is an expression of the joy of life. Excerpts from his interview:
Q: How did yoga come to you?
Plakor: I was seeking some evolution, some spirit-evolving practices, so I ended up in different sessions of self-observation such as Reiki. I found it nice. Then, I met one of my friends who had done The Art of Living course and noticed he was really centered. I asked him, "How do you manage to stay this way?" He showed me the Five Tibetans practice. It was quite amazing.
I did the five exercises every day. Later, he invited me to an ‘intro talk’ for The Art of Living course. So I guess the interest was there but I just needed to come to the right doorstep.
Q: What is your normal yoga routine like?
Plakor: Since the last six months, I have been doing Sandhya Vandana three times a day. So my daily yoga practice also includes that. But normally, I start with some yoga asanas, which keep varying each day. Some days I do more, some days less. Sometimes it depends on the time I have. But I do at least 10 Surya Namaskars and if possible, Padma Sadhana, followed by pranayamas and Sudarshan Kriya. I end the session with meditation. Sometimes I would squeeze meditation also in the evening or around noon time.
Q: Looking at your life 10 years back, how do you think it has changed after yoga came in?
Plakor: There certainly has been transformation and I don’t know what would have happened in these 10 years if I wasn't on the path of yoga! For me, it seems like there was no choice anyway.
Back then, I was very insecure, messed up, my mind was wandering, I lacked self-confidence.Thanks to yoga, I feel much more innocent, like a child, at the same time more mature and wise. That goes hand in hand with growing up and years of experience of practice. The more I am at ease with my body and aware of my mind, the breath flows naturally, without restraint; that is the natural me.
Q: Why do you think the youth today needs to practice yoga?
Plakor: As children, we used to play in the park every day or do sports, there was no internet and video games were less. By not exercising, being exposed to violent movies, accumulating stress from the elders, children can feel suffocated and their growth can be disturbed mentally and physically. The practice of yoga would reinforce a healthier and happier growth.
Students and young professionals are often studying under pressure of deadlines, having to satisfy societal/parental expectations, and have a need to belong somewhere, to a particular group, to feel natural, at home.
Yoga can help bring about that self-confidence, mental clarity and focus, boost energy, and give a natural charm which no one can resist!
Q: You are an Art of Living Yoga teacher. Any interesting experience you can share from any of your courses?
Plakor: At times, I conduct a specially tailored yoga class for parents and kids. Even though the kids are between the age of two and six years, it is easy for me to get them interested and entertained. They especially like to imitate what the elders are doing.
So I would have all parents do warm-ups, funny faces, run and jump around. That way, children just love to come to the yoga class; yoga becomes joyful and interesting for them. After the class, both me and the parents would be tired, but there is some magic that happens there as these little angels bring satisfaction and joy!
I would say that it is not always necessary that having children at home is an impediment to doing your yoga practice. You can do it together with them and later, even though children might not remain very quiet, you can read them some short story on wisdom!
Q: Speaking of your passion for dance, how do you think yoga and dance can be put together?
Plakor: Yoga brings about inner beauty, which expresses itself outwardly. So does true art. In any action, performed with skill, there is beauty. Dance is the expression of joy of life, and with yoga my life became an expression of joy. When I dance, there is no mind, so the transcendence happens. It is so beautiful to be in that state!
Q: Any message for our budding yoga enthusiasts?
Plakor: I would say that this life that we have is so precious and it is definitely in our hands to take responsibility for our health and remain energetic, youthful and fit. So take a commitment for a healthy body, mind and spirit. And this comes with regular yoga practice. I'm discovering that the older I get, I still remain the same joyful being I am. I feel like a little kid!
As a yoga practitioner, you can keep a few things in mind. Healthy eating habits, sleeping enough, eating the right amount of food at the right time, as prescribed in Ayurveda, and equally important is to keep a positive approach.