An Authorized Interview: Kranti Atmo
by Michael Peter Carter
Michael: Let’s start at the beginning Kranti… tell us about your origins, where you grew up, etc...
Kranti: I was born 38 years ago in one of the most beautiful countries in the world -- Italy! We have world class food, music, art and amazing landscapes. There is also the ‘Italian Style’ that we put in to everything we do. I lived there for the first 20 years of my life. At this time, the urge to travel pulled me away from my wonderful homeland.
M: Italy sounds like a dream! Tell us something about yourself. For example: what your taste is for music, movies, food; or what hobbies you have, childhood nicknames, who inspires you, what things you fear in life (spiders, heights, people) etc…
K: I love music in general, from classical to rock; blues to trance... it all depends on which song is playing. I cannot really say I like this genre of music only or I don’t like that kind of music at all.
I just enjoy listening to music that touches my emotions. I don’t watch many movies as I think that very few are really worth the time they require. I prefer to read, but I do like movies that are based on a true story, and documentaries.
I love Italian food, which is way more than just pizza and pasta like some people think. As an Italian, food is central in our culture. It is about so much more than putting something in our belly. It is a time for enjoying life, enjoying the company of others. I love Japanese food too, I find it to be one of the healthiest options out there. I like French cuisine and sometimes some good old greasy, overcooked Indian… MMMMM!
I love traveling; I have travelled for most of my life. I love riding motorcycles -- through the country and on the race track!
I don’t have many fears in life, but I do feel a little uncomfortable with heights. Nature is a powerful force, and I respect it! Beyond this, I don’t have fears, just curiosities… I want to try everything, meet everyone. In life, all is good, all is welcome!
M: So how about yoga?
K: My first yoga class was actually not in a studio but in a field! A friend of mine, who was 10 years older than me, had made many visits to India and wanted to teach me. We started with Surya Namaskar, and a few other asanas. I was 16 at the time and I was fascinated and stiff!
That was the seed. I was also inspired by a book on meditation from Osho Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh which I read when I was 14.
M: You started so young! Did you try out many styles before Ashtanga?
K: I tried classical Hatha Yoga, Iyengar, Sivananda and they were all very nice. But something different happened when I tried Ashtanga. That was when I found my true Love!
M: Who was your first Ashtanga teacher?
K: I was checking out some new yoga studios while I was living in Berlin, and then went to the open house of Studio Moveo. They were offering 20-30 minutes of each kind of yoga style they had in the schedule, so I tried them all. It was my first time practicing Ashtanga, but 20 minutes was not enough for me! So I went the day after to my first full Ashtanga class. Oh man, that was it! I had no doubt anymore, my heart was clear as when you meet the woman of your life. But it was hard, man! I went home after class full of internal energy but so, so tired even though it was only half primary led class! My legs were shaking, but my body was sparkling. I felt prana coming through each pore of my skin. From that day, I have never stopped.
M: Sounds like you were hooked for life from the beginning! Are there any teachers that have been major influences in your practice?
There are a few teachers among the others that have had great impact on my practice and when I say practice, I don’t mean just asana practice, but spiritual practice.
Osho was the first, my beloved master, the “man” who opened my heart and showed me the new path of my life. Indirectly, but through his books, Alan Watts gave me some light on Zen. Ramesh Balsekar made even clearer the question of non duality.
Richard Freeman is someone for whom I have great respect. He is the embodiment of a modern, western, true yogi. For me, Guruji is the direct example of a living yoga Guru -- old school with his clear message of how to approach the path of yoga. And Sharath, who has the difficult task to transmit and spread Ashtanga yoga to all of us, with his modern and fresh understanding and interpretation of it.
M: What was it like to meet Guruji for the first time?
K: I met Guruji when he turned 90 years old! Yes it maybe a bit late, but I could not manage to go to Mysore before that, better late then never! I just remember how powerful it was meeting him personally. I was sweating and it was not for the external heat, rather for the amazing energy Guruji radiates. I could hardly speak. Then he asked me, "what is your name?” and from there on, everything kind of softened up and he smiled at me. The day after was led primary and after we finished, we all got into a line to thank Guruji. When I arrived in front of him, he looked at me straight in my eyes and asked, "where you from?" I said, "Italy, Guruji," and he smiled again.
I feel blessed that I had the chance to study with him in the last few years. Last year it was strange not having him in the shala. But we know nothing is permanent and we learn it every day, every moment of our life.
M: So what’s been going on since you were "authorized"?
K: Well, I know we are not supposed to teach before being authorized, but now I am teaching a Mysore class in Tokyo, Japan at Under the Light Yoga School. It is a wonderful studio and I have the most sweet, kind, and dedicated students that I could ever wish for as yoga teacher. I love all of them!
I regularly teach workshops, mostly in Japan. I concentrate my energy on the Mysore program that is developing very nicely, especially after I received authorization from Sharath and Guruji. I have been asked to teach workshops also in other parts of the world, but it is always difficult to leave the studio and find a good sub.
M: Well, you may have some offers for subs now! Any plans for the future?
K: Hopefully to keep sharing yoga with others, help people, taking care of my future kids, share my life with a beloved partner.
M: Anything else you want to say?
K: Thanks, Guruji, for what you have given to us. Thanks, Sharath and Saraswati, for your help, and continuing to share with all of us this great tradition of Ashtanga yoga.
As Osho used to say at the end of his talks, "enough for today!"
Check out Kranti's website at www.krantivira.com.
Michael Peter Carter is the co-founder of Livingmysore.com and practices with Paul and Rachelle Gold in Toronto, Canada.