Original article in PDF

January/February 2013

Yoga Journal My Yoga copy

MAKPAL ILYAS was a professional ballet dancer in the past, now she is the mother of three children, a restaurateur, a writer and the President of the Sports Dance Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan. She has been practicing Kundalini Yoga for 4 years.

I can’t say that yoga somehow came into my life all of a sudden. It was more that I’d been approaching it right from childhood. From the age of seven I was engaged in ballet. As I later understood, ballet is also yoga. Like in Iyengar Yoga, every muscle and every ligament are worked in ballet. As in Hatha, deep rhythmic breathing is important in ballet. As in Kundalini, you work at the end of a tether in ballet. Ballet is austerity, like Bhakti Yoga. The difference is that yoga brings your body and soul to perfection, and ballet sacrifices your body and soul to art. I made that sacrifice too – I injured my meniscus and tore ligaments, which forced me to end my career a ballet dancer. At that time, yoga became an outlet for me because a body and mind accustomed to loads desperately needed it. After trying different practices, I found myself in Kundalini. My teacher was Sergey Alekseev, and the yoga center was Golden Bridge. Now I begin every morning with a Kundalini practice and a meditation.

Meditation that helps me maintain a balance between spiritual, physical, family, social and secular life. Balance is the most important thing! The desire to learn and to create is also very important. I’m never afraid to tackle something new, if I’m interested, and I feel that I can do something useful.

When I was offered the chance to become President of the Sports Dance Federation, I agreed with pleasure. By that time, I was involved in ballroom dancing in the Pro-Am (professional + amateur) project at the La Danza club, and really cared about that kind of sport and art. I really want as many children and adults as possible to be able to appreciate the beauty and dynamics of samba, cha cha, rumba, tango, foxtrot and other Latin American and European dances! By the way, ballroom dancing is not such a traumatic kind of art as ballet, and so it’s accessible to everyone as a hobby. To date, we can boast of success on Channel Seven of the Kazakh version of the international franchise Dancing with the Stars, in which many Kazakhstan singers and actors have danced, and their partners and performance directors were the best dancers and World Cup winners. The project was highly rated. That’s why I don’t have the slightest doubts that the second season will be even more popular. But most importantly, children and adult groups have been significantly replenished with people eager to join the ballroom dancing culture I think that a project like Yoga with the Stars would be very useful for promoting yoga in Kazakhstan. Who knows, maybe I’ll decide to take a hand in it!