Born in Brasil in 1939 and teaching yoga since 1967, Dharma Mittra has been teaching yoga for almost 50 years, and is still teaching at the Dharma Yoga Centre in New York City, as well as offering courses and retreats around the world.
After years of reading books about yoga as a teenager, Dharma Mittra started practicing yoga in 1958, and in 1964 took his practice deep by moving to New York City, to study under Sri Swami Kailashananda. After intensive study here, he became a sannyasi (one who renounces the world in order to realize God), a full time yogi and brahmachari (a celibate religious student devoted to the practice of spiritual disciplines).
In 1967 he began teaching and is the director of the Dharma Yoga Centre in NYC. Teaching Classical Yoga including advanced postures, yama and niyama and how to lead a content, simple and happy life, Dharma Mittra advocates making each practice a devotion to God.
“Reduce your wants and lead a happy and contented life. Never hurt the feelings of others and be kind to all. Think of God as soon as you get up and when you go to bed.” – Sri Dharma Mittra
Then the call came…
Before coming to yoga, Dharma Mittra was a bodybuilder and also practiced wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which no doubt helped him become the teacher of advanced yoga asana that he still teaches today. It was an injury in 1961 which saw him turn to deep relaxation to go beyond the body, and the following year when his brother beckoned him to America to study with Sri Swami Kailashananda, who went on to become his long-standing guru.
Still teaching today, Dharma Mittra is known as the “teacher of teachers” and teaches in a way which emphasises the nature of karma yoga, that of selfless service.
Bet you didn’t know…
In 1984 (after photographing himself in 1300 yoga postures – without Photoshop or Instagram filters to help) Dharma Mittra completed the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures. He has since released another book featuring hundreds of yoga asanas, a yoga video series, and is featured as the inspiration and model for Yoga Journal’s coffee table book, simply entitled Yoga.
In an interview Yoga Journal he explains how in some of the asanas he had to hold the clicker to his Nikon camera in his mouth and spit it away in order to get the photo taken!
Dharma Mittra’s Selfless Service
Dharma Mittra has dedicated his life to sharing and spreading the truth, knowledge and light of God through yoga, and for many years was the only yoga teacher in New York City teaching advanced yoga postures.
In an interview with Yoga Journal in 2007, he said,
“Some classes at some schools are getting too much into the physical. It’s only about their figures for some people. Others do yoga to prepare for meditation, which they do only in order to succeed in their job. Too few practitioners today are looking for self-realization, which is the true purpose of yoga.”
Known also as the “rock of yoga”, he tirelessly promotes ahimsa (non-harming) through vegetarianism, and veganism and is known to be extremely fond of animals. Dharma Mittra is a shining example of using yoga asana as a path of self-realisation, so if you happen to be in New York anytime soon, check out his class (and let me know what you think!).