Interview with Vadim Tsivan: the softness of yoga is to learn to take "action in inaction"
Vadim Tsivan, a yoga teacher in Kiev, a poet and a developer of Soft yoga approach, has told TopYogis why yoga should be adapted to present-day circumstances, how to practice Soft yoga, and how yoga can help us live up to 150 years.
TopYogis: Vadim, what is the goal of yoga for you?
Vadim Tsivan: Yoga helps me to generate a lot of energy that can be spent for whatever goals I have at the moment. I use yoga to stay active for as long as possible, to keep being interested in life and to improve my energy level. My main goal is to be my own therapist, to extend my lifetime to 120 or 150 years, and the rest will follow.
I am not very interested in yogic philosophy at the moment. My goal is to take care of my body, the temple of my soul. And if my temple is healthy and vibrant, I can put whatever icon there. Right now, my walls are blank.
TopYogis: So you are most interested in health and extending body’s functionality, right?
Vadim Tsivan: Yes, I am interested in the harmonious and balanced development of my body. I like the adapted approach to yoga, I use yogic instruments that help me deal with present-day challenges now. I am not that much interested in historical aspects of yoga, in literally complying with all scriptures, because they were written for different times and for different circumstances.
I use yoga to stay active for as long as possible, to keep being interested in life and to improve my energy level.
TopYogis: So you do not advise your students to be vegetarians?
Vadim Tsivan: No, absolutely not. This is not my business. We are all very different people, we have our own goals and circumstances, we have different genes, different digestion patterns, and allergies. I cannot guarantee that every person who switches to eating exclusively vegetables will function at their best. Maybe a dietician can develop such programs, but for me, the responsibility is too high. What I can do is to tell people about my own eating habits. But they need to make their own decisions and conduct their own research concerning their food choices. Just like medicine is getting personalized now, we need to personalize yoga as well to fit individual priorities and situations. I do not think that one should eat something that a person does not like or does not digest only because some sect says so.
TopYogis: Tell us about your Soft yoga. We have seen your class during Yoga day festival, and I was surprised to see lots of strength asanas there. I was expecting to see you lying on the back and pulling your knees to the chest.
Vadim Tsivan: ..and singing mantras (laughs). Well, there is indeed some confusion because of the name “soft”. What soft refers to is not a low-intensity physical exercise but rather one’s attitude and mental state while performing an exercise of any intensity. Softly. You need to stand in a plank for a minute or so, softly. Then softly you need to go to the downward dog and to a side plank, to stand in a Warrior for a minute and to sleep there, then you need to softly lie in a boat pose and to hold it for a while. All these practices are connected by one word: softly. Just like a cat who is not forced to do any physical exercise, but she does it because she enjoys the movement.
Therefore the point is not to come to a 90-minute class and to kill oneself with intensity so that you can only crawl back home and get to sleep. The point is to perform every day, or every second day, practically the same set of exercises, gradually adding in intensity and effort so that your body keeps adapting to strength requirements, cardio vascular elements, to all the challenges that you gradually add to your class. The point here is to go gradually and to do your practice with pleasure. Not to exhaust yourself but to stimulate more and more energy, make yourself stronger, more enduring, more adapted to external circumstances.
TopYogis: So your approach to yoga is rational: you leave all the metaphysical stuff aside and practice those aspects that fit your current goals of health, longevity and adaptiveness.
The point here is to go gradually and to do your practice with pleasure. Not to exhaust yourself but to stimulate more and more energy, make yourself stronger, more enduring, more adapted to external circumstances.
Vadim Tsivan: Yes, I like to understand what I practice and why I practice something. If a person that comes to my class feels resonance with my approach, we keep working together. We cannot impose our own goals on other people: everybody has their own lives with their unique priorities and tasks. I am glad that I help my students achieve their priorities and I advise all people to listen to themselves and not to accept someone else’s goals as your life’s roadmap.
I advise all people to listen to themselves and not to accept someone else’s goals as your life’s roadmap.
If you have practiced with Vadim Tsivan, please share your experience by leaving a review on his personal page. On this page, you can also contact him and check where he is currently teaching.