Benjamin Sears, an international yoga teacher and mentor and founder of LUXYOGA, an immersive wellness and lifestyle experience in the South of France, talks about his vision of balanced living and the singular integration of expert instruction with world class cuisine and personalized service in one of the most beautiful locations in the world.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your history with Yoga. How come you started practicing and what were you doing before?
I started practicing Kundalini yoga in 2001 because I was looking to connect, to find answers to universal questions – but my truly dedicated practice began out of physical necessity. I was suffering from 2 herniated lumbar discs and tears in both knees from sports and despite a high level of what is often called fitness (I looked strong) was in terrible pain, which lead me to Bikram yoga. My passion for practice lead me to further my studies by enrolling in a number of teacher training programs. Right before I started teaching yoga full time in 2006 I was working in advertising and product development.
Tell us about your teachings and which yoga philosophy and science you embrace?
My goal as a teacher is to empower my students to transcend any one yoga brand or style by giving them tools to understand themselves on and off the yoga mat, physically and psychologically. I respect the history of yoga and hope that our collective practices evolve to suit the needs of modern life without bowing to modernity’s desire for a quick fix. Fundamentally, Yoga has the power to teach people to pay attention in a non-habitual way, and this is real freedom.
How did LuxYoga come about?
I wanted to create a space unlike any other, where people could come together and reap the benefits of an immersive and focused yoga curriculum while enjoying a comfortable luxury vacation. The South of France is perfect, a great metaphor for life; it can be a place of decadence and glamor or a place of nature and quiet. I want people to find their own way by helping them look to the future with clear eyes.
What do your retreats stand for?
The greatest luxury today is time. I want guests to leave a retreat with an appreciation of how small moments treated with care are the beads on the Mala of a beautiful life, how details are not the difference but are the thing itself. Our retreats stand for quality and the power and grace of being a student and the joy of being a guest amongst friends.
How do you see Yoga evolving? And any comments on the industry?
It’s up to us all to evolve, to continue to increase the accessibility of the practice without selling diet pills, so to speak. On the somewhat sad side, saying Namaste at the end of a cycling class doesn’t make it yoga, but at the same time the confluence of yoga asana and well-informed physical culture modalities are helping people practice more effectively and safely. You can get a guided meditation on an App, anywhere. Yoga pants can’t practice for you, but they’re nice to have. One of the real challenges for people nowadays is that there are so many options, which can make it hard to be consistent, patient and process-oriented. The practice of Hatha yoga (all physical yogas) hopefully can remain a doorway to greater awareness and peace, and we can also use modern physiological understanding to make the physical aspect more effective and sustainable. It really comes down to all of us yogis and teachers being willing to hold a vision of precision and intent even when the trends say to just turn up the music.
How are you helping fellow practitioners through their journey and make this world a better place?
I post on Facebook about politics a lot! Just kidding. Change comes from within – with guidance and motivation from outside. I travel non-stop all over the world and put everything I have into every retreat, workshop, training, and class I teach. I hold myself accountable for giving people functional and safe protocols to grow and I request a high level of quality attention from my students, because the point is to turn potential into reality – this is self-realization. What is sacred about practice is it’s inherent devotion to the sacred aspect of one’s self. Quality teaching can lead people in the direction of their own best.
Benjamin recovered from two herniated discs, five knee surgeries, and the traumatic suicide of a loved one through consistent yoga practice. He now travels the world inspired to help students practice yoga in a healing way. A perpetual student and thusly a deeply knowledgeable teacher, Benjamin is a sought- after mentor in the international community often featured in the media for his views on yoga in the modern world. In 2007, he founded LUXYOGA, a unique wellness and lifestyle experience in the South of France that reflects his vision of balanced living and has been repeatedly named the world’s premier yoga retreat.