Born in Pakistan to Mongol and Persian parents Changu Changezi learned Bikram to complement his dance. His teacher was Bikram Choudhury and he packs a pair of high heels wherever he goes…
by The Yoga Site Team
[Changu strolls towards me and before I can introduce myself, he has jumped up on a railing on Sandymount seafront, is in full Tuladandasana pose, with a great big grin on his face]...
1. Hi, how are you, [intros], you’re very welcome. So what do you think of the Irish yoga scene?
Hi ‘I’m grand’, that means I’m good right?! [Big smile]... I love it. It’s my first time in Ireland. It is behind the rest of the world but there’s a real sense of community here. I’m here for 3 weeks and I’ve taught at Fairview, Dublin City, Sandyford, Bikram Dublin so far. It’s been great. Hey, but what’s with the men?! The women are beautiful but where are the good looking men?! [Laughs]
2. What brought you to practice Bikram?
A few years ago I was working for an insurance firm and the whole office got these great Groupon discounts for cheap Bikram. I’ve danced since I was 3 so I found these classes a great help for it. But all of a sudden I was made redundant and had not a cent. So I made an agreement with the Bikram studio that I’d do a cleansing exchange - I’d clean the studio and facilities in exchange for free classes. I loved it so I wanted to teach but how could I with no money? So I heard of the Bikram scholarship and applied. I got it!
3. What did you learn from Bikram?
Yeh so the training was in Los Angeles. There were about 250 other students training with me at the time. What I learnt was to use yoga to accept the way I was. I was always trying to change myself. Bikram Choudhury taught me that imperfection is perfection and the importance of self-realisation.
4. What’s the biggest misconception about Bikram Choudhury?
The misconception that I think people have about Bikram Choudhary is that he'll be some typical Indian Guru with a shaved head and a long beard in a saffron robe with a stick in his hand haha! No! Bikram has been living in L.A for decades, he's a U.S. citizen and he lives in a house in Beverly Hills. Bikram is honest about wanting to enjoy his life like any other person on the face of this planet. He does not want to become a monk just because he teaches yoga. And a lot of people cannot comprehend the idea of a modern yoga guru wanting to live a not-so-simple life. And the other negative talks about his law suits and stuff, I believe is none of my business. I was taught to teach yoga and that is what I am going to do/am doing. I don't get involved in the negative talk associated with him.
5. Why be so loyal to Bikram right now?
Bikram is my guru! I love him for all he’s given me. He changed my life. I’m now living my dream and I hope I can help others live theirs.
6. Would you consider making up your own sequence?
[Laughs!] I only teach the 26 poses of Bikram but you never know, I might organise ‘Changu Yoga’ or ‘Drag Yoga’ but only for the fun of it. Sometimes I whip out my heels in the middle of class and give the students a laugh. Try doing a one legged wheel in heels! Great fun.
7. With Rio coming up do you think yoga should be an Olympic sport?
It defeats the point. Yoga is not about competing. It’s about learning to understand yourself. I’d like to go to Rio though!
8. Are you a vegetarian?
The first time I travelled, after my initial training, was to the Philippines. The way they sometimes cook their meat and kill the animals [grimaces]. I’m vegetarian ever since. [We later learn he loves jam and scrambled egg on toast?!!!]
9. What’s next for Bikram yoga?
The whole world is next for Bikram Yoga. Yoga has been healing people for thousands of years, there is a reason it exists, it's because it works. Why is yoga becoming so mainstream? because the universal consciousness of the whole world is rising regarding well being and peace and love and compassion, that is what yoga and meditation teach us. I was teaching in China for three months and it's booming in China! The Chinese love it and they get it. I find them really disciplined, great at the postures and the meditation side of it. It’s also taking off in India now too.
10. What’s next for you?
I’ve just come from Belgium and I want to go back [for PRIDE] I’m also thinking of Morocco. Before Belgium I did a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Asia. It was amazing. I love Sydney and could live there. I’m constantly travelling and that’s the way I live now. I have been back to Toronto multiple times during my travels but I haven't lived there in two years! Will I pop my heels on and show you some moves?!
[Changu takes a pair of size 41 red stilettos out of his bag, laces them up and jumps up on a railing again, balancing in Tuladandasana. A lady passes by with her dog and smiles ‘You look like a total Greek God!”…Changu brings a lot of smiles to a lot of faces].
Changu will teach in Bikram Yoga Dublin on Monday at 6.30pm.
To follow Changu on Instagram click here
To follow him on Facebook click here
And if you want to see him "Tuladandasana" Everywhere click here