Health & Beauty | April 2009
|Yoga Master Makes Full Circle Back to Vallarta|
Marla Hoover - PVNN
Imagine traveling by bus twenty five years ago from Texas to Punta de Mita to go surfing, when all that was there was the howl of the wind, a few palapas and trusty fishing pangas bouncing in the same surf that was your goal. Richard Baimbridge did just that as a teenager and has been "traveling since." His path to yoga has been just as adventurous.
|Richard can be found teaching yoga at Davannayoga on Tuesday and Thursdays 6:15 pm and Saturday mornings at 10 am, and teaching AcroYoga at Arbol de Yoga on Monday and Wednesdays at 8 pm. For more information, contact Richard(at)acroyoga.org.|
After spending two years as a kitchen worker in a Hare Krishna community Richard left for India where he learned Hinduism, meditation and other eastern philosophies. He even worked in an Indian restaurant, whose owner is a somewhat famous yogi, playing himself in several movies, however, at the time, Richard was not into the physical aspect of spiritualism.
It wasn’t until after a girlfriend, a yogini whose practice he made fun of, gave him a yoga book as a departing gift that he started to practice what he saw in the pictures. "Yoga was one step away and finally caught up with me," Richard said.
Richard began his yoga practice at New York’s Jiva Mukti with world-renowned master David Life. While living and working as a journalist in New York, he was asked to go to China on an assignment. He was entranced and fell with love with the country, the people and its natural beauty. His translator practiced Tai Chi and invited him to one of the many parks where it is practiced daily.
Upon returning to New York, Richard wrote an article about the connection between Tai Chi and Yoga. While doing research he met Duncan Wong the creator of "Yogic Arts" system; a blend of martial arts, Thai massage and yoga who later became his teacher.
In 2002 his love for China could no longer be contained and Richard relocated there to dedicate his time to the study of Chen-style Tai Chi. "Tai Chi is making beautiful movements with your body, it is in a way like singing," said Richard.
From there he spent a year living in a Buddhist monastery in Yunnan Province, close to Tibet, studying Shaolin-style martial arts with Master Jin Kong, Abbot of Wu Wei Temple, and a monk of the original Shaolin Temple.
With the blessings of his master, Richard opened the first foreign-owned school for yoga and martial arts in China, Wu Wei Center, located in the famously scenic river town of Yangshou. The center is still open today, now headed by one of China’s leading tai chi masters, Zhang Lou Mei, currently ranked number two nationally in Chen-style Tai Chi.
While at the monastery Richard invited Duncan Wong to China, and who ended up opening the above mentioned school with and consequently studied under for four years in Shanghai. According to Richard, "Duncan and I were one of the first to teach yoga in China, I think we started a bit of a revolution, now it is hugely popular especially among women as it is their number one physical activity."
Most recently Richard has turned his attention and passion to Acro Yoga – a combination of acrobatics, partner yoga and massage. He is the only foreigner ever to have trained at the Shanghai School of Acrobatics, and is the only certified AcroYoga teacher in China (one of just 120 in the world). "At class you partner with another student (to practice.)
AcroYoga reverses the effects of gravity and allows you to do lots of neat things. It is half therapeutic-massage in the air and upside down, a 3 dimensional massage that opens the spine. ‘Acro’ is from the Greek for ‘high or highest.’ It takes yoga to its highest form. You have complete trust in your partner who you are flying with. It contributes to you over all wellness by developing your potential and is just yummy in its playfulness," said Richard.
While at the Wu Wei Center Richard met Anna Laurita who was also studying under Master Wong. She later came to Vallarta and opened her own school, Davannayoga, and invited Richard to come and teach. Since he hadn’t been here since his first journey Richard felt that the timing was right. He had heard that there was a "profound spiritual awaking in Mexico, a shift from the Himalayan area to the Sierra Madres," and wanted to see and experience it for himself.
"I am excited to be back at the place where it all started. Recently on my 40th birthday I walked down the same road in Punta de Mita as I did when I was 14, both times with a surf board in my hand!" said Richard.
On this sojourn Richard can be found teaching yoga at Davannayoga on Tuesday and Thursdays 6:15pm and Saturday mornings at 10 am, and teaching AcroYoga at Arbol de Yoga on Monday and Wednesdays at 8 pm. He teaches in English, Spanish and fluent Mandarin.
For more information, contact Richard(at)acroyoga.org.
Marla Hoover is a practicing yogini, a registered RN, a Puerto Vallarta Real Estate professional and an accomplished journalist with over 300 published articles in both international and local print and online publications.
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