Brando is a Dharma Yoga Teacher at Yoga District. He teaches lunchtime and evening classes at I-Street and 14th Street studios. Read on to know more about Brando’s personal history, philosophy, and how his classes are a loving offering to his teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra.
What is your favorite style of class to teach, and why?
Dharma yoga. It is the only style of yoga I teach. After 10 years of practicing yoga off and on I met Sri Dharma. Shortly after the scriptures made sense and my heart was alive like I had never experienced in this life. So I just pass on to the best of my ability what he has shared with me since he has so profoundly influenced this life.
Describe your personal circumstances or experiences that made you want to share yoga.
I never really thought about sharing yoga, I just wanted to be in the presence of Sri Dharma, but then there were the requirements to teach as part of the yoga certification and while I was uncomfortable with sharing the practice at first as it felt so personal – like sharing bedside prayers out loud – over time I have come to recognize the value in sharing something so personal and the honor it is to pass on the knowledge Sri Dharma has shared.
What advice do you have to others sharing or seeking to share yoga with others?
Keep your daily personal practice going strong. Purification of the body and mind requires constant attention. Even Sri Dharma does some practices before teaching.
Please describe a challenging moment that you have experienced teaching, how you faced that challenge, and what you learned from it.
I often have migraines and one day I had a particularly intense one. I decided to teach that evening despite the circumstance. It required more concentration than usual and ended up being a great opportunity to watch the mind and body suffer and just accept that’s what was happening.
What pose or practice do you like to teach to help students feel empowered? To relieve stress? Please describe how you saw this practice work with an individual or group.
I don’t think about linking particular postures to helping students feel empowered or relieving stress. This can be experienced in any of the postures, as it is a state of mind. Sure, there are particular postures where this often comes easier but a complete asana practice that includes at least a variation of the following: a warm-up, headstand, shoulderstand, fish, a back-stretch, cobra, bow, a spinal twist and sivasana – will take care of feeling empowered, relieve stress, and provide many other benefits.
Describe a yoga posture, breath or meditation practice for which your students taught you a practical application.
Bring your awareness to your breath whenever you feel out of control or are in a situation that you’d rather not be in. It will help relax the body and calm the mind so your next move with have a greater chance of being a skillful one.
How has sharing yoga affected you?
So far it has been a way to serve Sri Dharma.
Could you describe any best practices in sharing yoga that you apply regularly in your classes?
Follow the yamas and niyamas in thought, speech and deed. For example, I share up to where I am with my own practice, beyond that I would be sharing a mental construct of what I think something is or someone told me is and not an experienced truth and therefore is not following satya at the experiential level.
What is your favorite thing to do around town?
A stroll down the Billy Goat trail near Great Falls on the Maryland side. There is a nice loop that takes about 1.5 hours.
What is your favorite thing about the DC yoga community?
The drive that folks bring to DC in the workplace is often carried onto the mat. When this drive, or burning desire, is turned towards sadhana the discipline necessary for regular practice is already there. On this note, it’s easier to move to a predominantly sattvic state from a rajasic state than from a tamasic state.
If you had to describe your life in the form of a yoga pose, which pose would it be?
Utthita Balasana (extended child’s pose). This posture exemplifies surrender. The more surrender, the closer I move towards the Truth. The mind often fights against this, so on a moment by moment basis I am reminded to constantly surrender.
How long have you been in DC?
Nearly 10 years. I arrived in June 2005 from Colorado.
We are happy to support Brando as he continues sharing Sri Dharma Mittra’s light with our yoga community. Check out Brando’s classes at I-Street and 14th Street. To meet Brando’s teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra in DC on May 3, sign up online.