Oneness and compassion for all beings

Jules Febre is an internationally acclaimed Advanced Certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher. He began his practice at the age of 6. Jules travels the world teaching Jivamukti Yoga, Hip Hop Asana, as well as immersion programs and retreats.  Jules teaches a rigorous class with creative sequencing permeated by yoga philosophy with joyful wisdom that inspires uplifts and serves all those he meets. Recently he conducted a Yoga Workshop at the Indian Council For Cultural Relations, Kolkata.

What brought you to yoga at such a young age?

I can’t say that there was any real divine inspiration on my part. I have an aunt and uncle (Sharon Gannon and David Life) who are very much into yoga practice. They are the one who started teaching me yoga. So I started practicing pretty regularly  from a young age. At the age of 13, I spent three months in India; two of which were spent in Mysore studying Ashtanga Yoga with Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois. During that time I was invited to share satsang with Swami Nirmalananda and Shyam Das.

Could you explain the basic philosophy of Jivamukti Yoga?

There are two elements. We advocate that the goal of yoga should be remembered by the practitioner and by the student. Sometimes, Yoga these days is only concerned with very short term benefits.  The aspect of the Yoga practice that really differentiates it from other things is the intention. The intention is to have an end result that benefits more people than just yourself. Jivamukti Yoga is interested in this idea of yoga of moksha/mukti/nirvana with using compassion as a means. Compassion not just for humans but for non human animal as well. We have a strong emphasis on ethical vegetarianism.

Also, the practice is very rigorous. We want the teacher and the students to challenge ourselves/themselves intellectually and to be engaged politically. We want to be role models socially. We want to have large impact as possible. We want for yoga practitioners to be synonymous with those of good character who are interested in improving the whole world.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from a life devoted to learning and teaching yoga?

Though there are several lessons, one of the things I try to remind myself is an act of sense of humility. Humility is not false modesty. Humility comes also with some responsibility to make change but it also not so arrogant that you don’t hurt others unnecessarily on your way to try to make the world a better place even in some small way.

What do you want your students to take away from your classes/workshops?

The main thing is-What we do matters. Only thing that matters is what we do. We live in a world culture that encourages us to take advantage of other people and of other non human animals of the world and that if you don’t take something you will never get it. What I am hoping is that through the yoga practice we start to see that the world doesn’t belong to us and that we are incredibly dependent upon the world.

What is Hip Hop Asana?

I teach a lot at risk children- children who have had trouble with the law, they have been to jail or might stand a chance of going to jail, or they have been kicked out of school or they are homeless. I come from a hip hop background. A lot of these children come from a hip hop background. So if I show up in a probation centre or a homeless centre and if I am playing a kirtan they wont relate to that. I was in a similar situation. Yoga helped me to understand the importance of my own action. Hip hop for me is the common language. So I have some hip hop beats but everything else is the same- breathe awareness, meditation technique, asanas and the philosophy. The whole idea is also to inspire people even if they didn’t grow up with hip hop. Yoga is multi dimensional -you can keep it pure and still let it be influenced in some ways by other things.

There are yoga sites that offer online subscriptions to follow yoga classes.  Your thoughts on online yoga classes?

You can’t undermine the value of having a teacher.  I haven’t met many people who claimed to be enlightened from an online course or had profound spiritual experience from online courses.  I think that in a world where people are so on a move, if it is a question between nothing and some form of daily inspiration may be better to have some of form of inspiration but it’s not to replace the relationship between the students and teachers.  This is invaluable because the teacher acts as a mirror. We live in an age where everybody knows everything and this leads to a certain kind of jaded interaction and people lack appreciation lot of human contact.

What is the Importance of Yoga in the modern world?

My teacher believes that the reason that yoga is so popular today because the earth needs more people to slow this incredible process(not necessarily progress) that is causing massive destruction on a scale that we have never seen before. Yes we have more information but it’s not always having the desired outcome. I hope that yoga causes people to have an awareness of how our actions continue to resonate and affects other people.

What is your advice to yoga beginners?

You can always tell when someone is a beginner. They are always worried about the goal, the end result. When you talk to somebody who is well practiced then they sees that the path is almost endless.  The end result may never come. So patience is very important.  If you are interested in overcoming the fluctuations in the mind that cause lack of self confidence, if you are interested in overcoming  the habits that cause mental and physical distraction/sickness  to yourself and others then practice yoga. You have to willing to put everything in your practice. Change usually doesn’t come when you are comfortable. You have to be willingly to be uncomfortable.


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