Gopala Amir Yaffa, Founder & Senior Teacher Trainer
Meet your Trainer Gopala!
Gopala is the Founder of Rainbow Yoga and your superstar Senior Teacher Trainer. We interviewed Gopala on what yoga means to him and asked Gopala more about his life.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a tool. A tool to help us with whatever we need help with.
For some it is health, for others it is peace of mind.
In Rainbow Yoga, we do yoga to be more connected. More connected to ourselves, to other people and to nature and the world at large.
When we feel connected, life is more meaningful, joyful and beautiful.
Yoga is more than yoga poses; it is an attitude of growing and making things better by choosing to take a moment to look and reflect and see ourselves, others and the world a bit clearer.
From this uplifted clarity we can make better and kinder decisions to create a more purposeful and happy reality.
We can get this clarity through being still, stretching, moving creatively, playing, being creative, interacting, thinking, feeling… Anything can be your yoga.
For me it is important that we don’t become too religious about yoga. Yoga is here to serve us and make our lives better on every level, it is not here to limit us and dictate to us how to live our lives.
There are as many ways to yoga as there are people; find your own yoga.
How long have you been practicing?
I started practicing meditation when I was 12 and yoga when I was 14.
My first meditation teachers were my music teachers. They taught me this practice both as a way to be my best self for a concert and as a way to experience ecstasy through music.
I was interested in oriental music too and when I was 14 I went to an Indian Flute (Bansuri) concert that was held in a yoga centre in Tel Aviv. The concert was cancelled because the musician was unwell and I stayed for a yoga class - I was feeling so ecstatic and expanded that I decided then and there that this is what I’m going to dive into!
Which superhero would you be and why?
I would be a new superhero… Always best to be the best version of yourself rather than the second-best version of someone else!
It is funny, but since I was a little child, most of the dreams I can remember are ones where I’m a superhero trying to save the world.
“Saving the world” was always my mission with Rainbow Yoga. First as a yoga centre in Tel Aviv with the intention of bringing world peace, then with making the world a better place by bringing yoga to the next generation, and a couple of years ago with the Rainbow Centre, a centre for social evolution.
Changing the world for the better is a big task, but every little bit counts… and it always starts by bettering oneself.
Again, simply be the best version of yourself and the world, starting with your world, will follow.
There are ups and downs, it is not always easy, but life is in a constant movement of evolution.
How do you want students to feel after a Rainbow Yoga class?
I want the students to feel ready to make the world a better place!
Change starts from within. But for the change to happen we need to take the time to stop all of our business and take a fresh look at ourselves and the world we interact with.
Everyone knows how much better it would be for the world if we stopped using plastic and we all became vegan. Yet so many people are simply too busy to even consider it, and even those who consider it are sometimes too busy to implement it.
Yoga helps us to slow down, even for just a bit, take account of where we are at the present moment, expand our awareness and create a change.
Evolving oneself is important, but to make the change sustainable and global we also need the support of our communities and here comes the power of Rainbow Yoga in doing it together!
So yes! From inner peace to world peace, nothing less!
It may start with an inward feeling during a yoga class, but it is sure to spread far and wide.
What impact has yoga made on your life?
Yoga made me less selfish.
The obsession with oneself and all of its problems is constructing and limiting.
Yoga and mindfulness can expand the mind and free us from our self-obsession.
We have a social responsibility to strive to make things better both for ourselves, our families, our communities and the world.
For me, yoga was that wake-up call early in my life.
What makes Rainbow Yoga stand out from other styles?
Rainbow Yoga is social and interactive!
We come out of our yoga square or our yoga mat and we join the Rainbow Yoga circle!
Rather than contracting and going within, which is also important at times, we expand our mind, body and spirit to include everyone and everything around us, and the feeling is ecstatic!
While doing yoga together we can stretch farther than ever before and enjoy a deep connection with friends and loved ones.
We are also not afraid to reinvent ourselves and reinvent yoga as needed. We change and we adapt, adjust and accommodate yoga to best fit us as we evolve.
Each one of us is a one of a kind bright colour in the rainbow and together we all shine brighter!
Tell us about an inspirational moment in your life?
Recently I was very inspired by the world response to the Corona Virus. I think that it is the first time in my life where I’ve seen the world take action as a global community.
This is human evolution!
If in the past we have taken actions as an individual and as a community, and even as a country or a few countries, now with all of us connected through technology we are able to act on pressing needs as a global entity!
And this was just the beginning! Even more important topics to care for than pandemics are ahead of us… Social justice, animal liberation, world hunger, world peace…
Look how we are taking action now as a global community about racism after the sad and unacceptable events with George Floyd and anti-Asian hate crimes in the USA. If you don’t know about it, you should check it out now and be a part of the voice for equality and justice!
And you know what? I’m certain that this is just the beginning of something even bigger!
We share this earth with each other and with so many non-human animals too and it is our job to make it a safe haven to all.
There is so much hope! Things will get better… We need to make sure they do.
What is something you struggle with?
Anger… But I learned that anger is a warning light that shows us that something is not right and needs to be changed.
I feel very sensitive to inequality and injustice. It bothers me greatly on every level, personal, professional and global.
Our minuses are often our biggest plus if we can learn to direct them in a way that is of benefit to others.
When I was a monk in the ashram for ten years I thought I'd conquered anger, but I think it is because I had no personal responsibilities to worry about and I have delicately trained myself to just be here and now and not to engage in matters that are beyond my spiritual work.
It was a mistake though, or just a phase maybe, because really what is the use of inner peace and inner happiness if it is not of benefit to the world?
We can’t ignore wrongdoings. Our silence makes us accomplices.
I prefer to be Gandhi who stands up for what is right and tries his best to amend the wrongs in the world than a Buddha who sits and teaches enlightenment.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting their kids yoga teaching journey?
My advice would be to be passionate about it!
The things you are passionate about are the things you are best at.
Teach about topics that matter to you, share yourself with your students, be real and authentic!
It is with passion that you light other’s passion for any topic that matters. It is with passion that we can inspire people and transform lives. It is only with passion that we can make the world a better place!
Tell us about your incredible family?
We are lucky!
Our life is so full!
We live in the hills of Byron Bay, Australia, close to the beach and lots of surfing!
Angel and I, and our four beautiful children run an Animal Sanctuary, Kindred Spirit Sanctuary, where we care for our fur and feathered family raising awareness for animal liberation and making kinder choices wherever we go.
Angel is the most loving person I know, her heart is simply the biggest!
And each one of our children is a unique entity of their own that is already making my world a better place.
Emily is wise and centred. Oli is funny and cuddly, Delphin is quirky and magical, and Indigo never runs out of energy to play and play!
Is there a project you are currently working on you wish to tell us about?
Yes! The whole family has been working on it!
We have spent the last 8 weeks filming for our Level 2 Online 95 Hour Rainbow Kids Yoga teacher training... what a journey!
It was so much fun to play yoga, and also loads of hard work to get everyone (including me) in the right mood and all of the details organised to create an amazing journey for our students!
Because of quarantine, we did it ALL ourselves, working with what we have and making a fabulous thing with it!
It's raw, it's us and it's beautiful.
Angel took on so many roles: Besides "acting", she was also the producer, director, videographer, makeup artist, costume designer and more! What an amazing woman!
Our four beautiful children were troopers! Each stepping up to the job at different times with all of their different talents. What an awesome bunch!
Besides learning so many amazing tools about how to teach yoga at school (Even without moving the chairs and tables) and using everything we got in a classroom such as chairs, tables, whiteboard etc.), yoga for children with additional needs; Including chair yoga, yoga for children in the hospital, yoga with the assistance of the wall, yoga in bed, yoga for children with low mobility where we move them into yoga poses and more, how to make yoga cool. Including how to build to a peak pose, creating cool sequences, human mandala creations, yoga and dance, curating awesome playlists. Plus so much more. Our focus here is on teaching meaningful classes and life lessons through yoga.
If we can pass those important ideas gently and passionately to the next generation, not through lectures but through experiential learning, we will see a brighter future for sure!
I hope you join me on this journey of inner transformation and human evolution as we use yoga together to open our hearts, expand our minds and bring it all into action in the beautiful world we share!
Watch Gopala and Ollie perform the ‘Star’ pose here
Want to become a kids yoga teacher?