This week we had a chat with Ben Rakidzija, who is leading 3 back to back retreat weeks of "Zen Yoga" at Suncokret from 30th August - 19th September.
Tell us a little about yourself, Ben...
I live in a small coastal town in Croatia, called Icici. Five years long I was living in Sibenik/ Dalmatia, and fall in love with the country. I´m half Croatian, half German, and got my Master of Arts Degree in Germany (in Philosophy/ History). Besides teaching and practicing Yoga, I write short stories, poems and aphorisms. My last publication was a short story called “A prayer”, published in the German literature magazine “Konzepte”. I spend a lot of time writing, and traveling, mostly in winter.
How did you get into yoga?
After seven years at university, I got my Master Degree in my hands - the results were excellent. My mind, on the other hand, was closed, and I felt weak from all those thoughts and theories I brought into my life. Yoga and Meditation gave me a freedom back, a new freedom - which I didn´t expect. My first Zen-teacher told me: “Sit down and just sit; nothing more.” This is the still the biggest experience of my life.
What was your life like before yoga?
Mostly I was stiff in mind and body.
What would you say is the one best thing about yoga?
Yoga has many benefits. It can help in case of lower back problems, increase metabolism or clean the mind. But it depends on personal experience and the individual situation of the student what benefits will appear. Yoga helped me, and still is helping me, by stabilizing my body and cleaning my mind.
What style of yoga would you do if you weren’t doing your current style?
A style that would mix QiGong and Tango-Dance. I guess “Contemporary Dance” is very close to that, isn't it?
What was your most embarrassing or best teaching experience?
I taught exercises of Laughter Yoga for one group of students. It didn´t work. Nobody laughed. Then I did the same Laughter Yoga exercises with another group and It worked. Everybody laughed!
What do you hope guests will gain by attending your event at Suncokret?
That they have an enjoyable time and take something home that is useful in their daily life. I hope I can offer them, through Zazen, a Meditation technique that they can involve in their daily life rhythm - in order to reduce stress or to stay focused on the necessary things.
I will try to use different Yoga-styles at the retreat in order to move the body in many ways. Using always the same exercises might be contra-productive and will higher the risk of injuries. We try to be creative with our body, work on our muscles and bones. Specially the stabilization of our Fascia (or the body’s connective tissue) will be in focus; new research has shown that back-problems, for example, mostly do not come from problems with muscles or intervertebral discs, but from stiff fascia!
Why did you decide to call your event “Find Silence in Yoga and Meditation”?
When I started meditation, and continued with it, the calming of my mind became the biggest experience of my life to date. I hope that I can share this experience with many others.
Why would attending your particular event be beneficial to the participants who join?
Every new life-experience can be beneficial when we come with an open mind. The aim of my practice is stabilization of the body and cleaning the mind. But also having a good time together can be a very good benefit.
Is there any ideal way retreat participants can better prepare themselves for their retreat time with you?
Come as you are, try to be relaxed and involve your life-experience into the practice.
At the end of the event week, what is the one thing you hope retreat participants will walk away feeling?
That they feel more light in body and mind.
What are you most looking forward to experiencing as a co-hosting teacher at Suncokret?
I look forward practicing with people from all around the world.
What advice would you give to aspiring yoga teachers who would like to lead retreats?
Try Laughter-Yoga with your students and see what happens.
Thank you, Ben. We’re looking forward to experiencing Zen Yoga combined with Zazen meditation and hopefully a session or two of laughter yoga with you!