Lest Talk Yoga

Mona Jahja

Let's Talk Yoga With Mona Jahja
Gudang Gudang yoga studio is the number one yoga destination in Jakarta. The studio offers unique yoga classes and it is the only studio that offers Yogamaze teacher training program under the guidance of Noah Maze from Los Angeles. Yoga in Indonesia had the chance to sit with the School Director, Mona Jahja.

Q. Gudang Gudang used to be known as Gudang Gambar and a year ago you relaunched the beautifully renovated studio and changed the name to Gudang Gudang. What lies behind the name of Gudang Gudang? 

A. Ah actually Gudang Gudang is a spinoff of Gudang Gambar, an art gallery owned by my brother Tim Jahja when we temporarily moved to Kemang Timur while the New Gudang Gambar was being rebuilt. 

The idea is unlike Gudang Gambar, which focuses on Art only; Gudang Gudang offers Art, Yoga and Living in one location, which is at Kemang TImur 88. The synergy of three activities has been seen since we lived in the old location. We built on that experience into this beautiful place. Our studio's signature is the picture yoga scenes as the place is decorated with carefully chosen art work (paintings) and uniquely designed and produced furnitures (Living). We do our best to carefully design Yoga curriculum and class format in the same way the Art & Living are done.  We chose the name Gudang Gudang to reflect that it will have more than just one offering - not only Gambar (Painting). 

From the point of view of a yoga studio & school, as aligned with our vision to make Yoga accessible and interesting for those who need it. Gudang Gudang Yoga offers Studio (and School), Space (to be rented for various types of events to leverage the beauty of the space) and Style (not only offering products via shop/retail, but styles which are rooted from our community). In itself, we see Yoga as part of someone's lifestyle - not necessarily what we see today. I'd like to see Yoga to blend with one's life that they don't have to look "Yogi" - it is best if yoga is not seen as exclusive.

Q. Gudang Gudang is the only studio in Jakarta that is known to have the hottest yoga teachers in Jakarta like Deera Dewi, Mas Arif, Slamet Riyanto and many more. What are the missions and goals of Gudang Gudang Yoga Studio?

A. Uhhhmm, I am not sure that we are the only one to have hottest yoga teachers in Jakarta, but thank you for the compliment. I take it with a deep appreciation to our faculty, as Gudang Gudang Yoga studio is blessed to have a team of faculty, which is a blend of, sought after teachers (who are also teaching in other places) and new teachers (also teach at other places) who we see have a dedication to practice and to serve students. 

Professionally, I have a background as a learning & development specialist. I believe that people will be happy when they do what they love while minimizing their weaknesses. This doesn’t mean no hard work from their side. So, to me each of our teachers has unique gifts and strengths. From that angle, my focus is how can I work with each teacher in crafting a class, which is built on their strengths and preference. I see how senior teachers like Deera, Slamet, mas Arif put emphasize on their self-practice, so it is such an inspiration. I hope that that is the way our faculty live their Sadhana: as from the self-practice we build compassion and understanding of an introverted journey that our students are going through while we are teaching.  

Talking about our vision, we simply see that Yoga is useful for everyone who chooses it. Our mission is to participate in offering Yoga for everyone in a harmony within our community in Jakarta, Indonesia, perhaps later in South East Asia.  When I say everyone, I don't mean we will offer all types of yoga. We focus on what we know and see as our practice: combination of Flow, Form and Flow & Form. In my own practice, having both alignment based (Form) and breath based (Flow) in my routine helped me to get to know my limitation, my potential and to progress or regress, as I got older. I designed the program and curriculum at our studio based on my observation of Jakartan's need and my own experience & practice. Entering the second year, from generic we crafted classes, which attract certain groups of new comers to Yoga based on research & conversations with friends and others. I can say our ZanziYoga is one of our ways to connect to people who won't do Yoga because of its labeling as a serious business.

Q. You also organized YOGAMAZE teacher training every year. Can you tell us a little bit about the program?

A. Deera and I are Yogamaze Emissaries, so we are signed off by our teacher Noah Maze the founder of Yogamaze school to deliver the 200Hour YTT Program in addition to having our own Registered Yoga School 200Hr (LearnYoga@GG).

At the same time, Noah has agreed to deliver the 300Hr Advanced Out of Box YTT - I believe Jakarta is the only place where Noah delivers this outside of Los Angeles. The last module of 2014/2015 cycle of 300Hr will be held this October, I am excited to see the graduates from Yogamaze 300Hr soon - some are from Indonesia and some are from overseas such as Hongkong, Thailand, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne.

If I can share a bit about this October module (Train-the-Trainer), it is one of a kind program, which is appropriate for our fellow experienced teachers. Perhaps, I am generalizing, but in my observation often teachers forget that their job is to serve the students, hence having a skill set and knowledge to teach our students based on adult learning principle is important. Deera, Pipit and myself attended this in Los Angeles and we have gotten a lot from the module, as teaching adults is different than teaching kids. Having various tools and ways to teach people with different learning preference is helpful in making you a great teacher. I think people will be able to differentiate when they attended a workshop and feeling inspired during the workshop but when they go back home they forgot about it. The module will teach you how to teach people to learn hence to teach. Ok, enough for advertisement :-)

Q. What do you think about the growth of yoga in Indonesia? Do you have a special message to our yoga community?

A. I am fascinated with the growth of yoga in Indonesia - it is exploding. Wah and can you imagine that we have multiple yoga festivals only in Jakarta? For that I am very happy.

Well, I am not sure if our yoga community would listen to my thought to them - I am just a studio owner and a yoga practitioner who is a recovering yoga addict (kidding). 

What I can share is a message to our fellow teachers out there. As Yoga is now exploding, many new teachers are entering the quest of teaching. I see that folks teaching what I see as intermediate/advance poses to new students. Yes, people with dance, gymnastic and other sports can do those asana easily. However, the more advance a pose is the more risk to get injured for a person practicing. 

To me, a Yoga teacher can play a role to teach humility - knowing exactly where they are at without discouraging their students. How can you get into a headstand safely if your arms and head are not placed correctly, your core is not activated enough. Most people want to get their legs up there, but their foundation is weak. They lean on walls without correct understanding of what to be built. Even worse, for a split second they are captured to be on headstand while the truth is it was set up. It's all good and part of my own behavior too. But as we asked our students to do their pose research on shape, safety and full expression, we get to know what is needed first. That is my two cents.

Well, I have been there and I need to relearn yoga practice, which is based on strong foundation and equipped with knowledge about my body ability and potentials to be able to practice in the long run. I am no longer embarrassed to use props when no one does in a class (except when props are not allowed by the teacher). Yoga teaches me to find the truth about where I am at and both trying my best and be kind to myself - such a difficult balance.

This is the reason why Deera and I created the LearnYoga@GG and we got full support from Noah.

I think teachers have a key contribution to offer yoga, which is appropriate for their students safely and sustainably. Our all-level class encourages people to stop at a bus stop where they are. This is a statement, which I hold dearly to my heart from my teacher Christina Sell.

Q. Which one is your favorite yoga class at Gudang Gudang and why?

A. Haaaa - my favorite? All of them - I love flow, form, flow & form, propped class and vinyasa based styles: Jivamukti & Astanga. But life is not that luxurious, as my focus to serve the studio, staff and students I can only take 3-4 classes in a week (that if I am lucky).

I rely on self-practice at home or at the studio or with a teacher in a private setting where I develop a 6-week routine/program to work on some specific things. A bit odd for a studio owner to keep on encouraging the students to also do their own self practice, but I truly believe that to progress in yoga, someone need to have a self-practice. Well, that has been my experience in the past 8 years - self-practice is like a prayer and an intimate time with me. Questions popup and I put them as a list of questions when I see my teachers in the class or virtually. I think someone who does self-practice will understand his or her students better.

Thank you Mona, our best wishes for Gudang Gudang :)

By: Dee