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Zahir Akram on Self-Realisation, How to Teach a Teacher, and Why Yoga Might Not Fix Your Back Pain (#3)

Really enjoyed talking to one of my great yoga teachers along the way, Zahir Akram. We explore some ideas in his new book, “Yoga, Meditation or Madness”, the path to self-realisation, teaching teachers and how to approach doing yoga if you have back pain.

Zahir Akram is an author, yoga teacher and owner of Akram Yoga studio in Surrey, UK.


00:00 Introduction

00:55 Yoga isn’t the only way to achieve calmness

03:12 Starting points on the physical journey; cricket, Muay Thai

04:45 The transition into yoga

07:45 The non-sense of the yoga world; “yoga is good for people with back pain.”

09:18 What modified yoga is, and why it is more appropriate

11:10 Working with a therapist to discover what modifications are necessary

13:20 When your system becomes your dogma

15:50 Benefits of hot yoga for athletic populations

19:25 Mental strategies for newcomers to get the most out of their practice

22:00 Why so serious?

24:10 How are you going to teach the science of self-realisation if you are trying to be someone else?

26:00 The irony of winning the ‘Best Yoga Teacher’ award and how teaching is the direct expression of your own personality

28:35 The history of arm balancing within asana practices and the evolution of yoga
Breath of the Gods documentary (…)

34:50 Beginning the inversion journey – where do you start; headstand, crow, handstand?

36:20 “Yoga; madness or meditation?” (… ) – inspirations for starting the book and the writing process and why it’s not your typical yoga book.

42:20 The importance of critical thinking within the frameworks of other cultures

45:02 Letting students discover things for themselves by sharing with them how you discovered things for yourself

46:50 The difference between yoga and jiujitsu and the relationship between pressure and achievement

49:47 Why Zahir doesn’t meditate (in the modern sense of the word) and how we discover what our meditations are in periods of reflection

55:30 How the modern yoga industry has catalysed the rise of charlatans

59:10 Advice to new teachers; it’s easier to change lives when you’re being yourself

1:00:21 Teaching the art of teaching, simplifying cues, removing the useless.

1:02:30 Why people come to learn to be yoga teachers, and why people come to practice

01:07:00 Converting an old bank into an environment that provides an escape

Website (
YouTube (…)
Instagram ( @akram_yoga )

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