Hi! My name is Panos Kontogiorgos, and I am a Yoga Instructor & Teacher Trainer.
Describe your profession to a 6-year-old child.
Well, actually, I’m a teacher, but instead of being a strict one (like the ones at school) I’m happier, more polite and patient. I’m trying to train your mind and spirit, but instead of reading and writing tests, we are having fun by “working out” and breathing. My class is more playful than the “normal” ones and we always relax and “sleep” afterwards.
What is the most common thing people say when they find out what you do?
“Wow, that’s so interesting, I would love to change my career into something like that!”
What is the one thing they don’t ask but you would like them to?
Is it hard to become a yoga teacher?
What is the biggest misconception you/others have had about your profession?
That it is easy, just relaxing and laying down, pretending you meditate.
What is the one thing you are most proud of about your job?
I’m so proud when people start crying after the end of the class and express themselves, or they tell me that I “fix”, rejuvenate, and restore their bodies and souls.
What is the one aspect of your job that you find less engaging or monotonous, but is nonetheless essential for your professional success?
The most monotonous, but nevertheless necessary, for my job as a Yoga Instructor, is that I have to keep practicing almost every day, both physically and mentally. Most of the days I don’t want to get up from the bed, but yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory, so I have to be consistent in my practice. Through this process, I am able to observe and become aware of my own nature. Through practice, I cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation, and higher consciousness. The lack of this practice will lead to the disconnection of my mind and body.
Name the three things that require most of your attention each week.
My body, my breathing, my consciousness.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be successful in your profession?
Keep practicing, keep studying, keep evolving.
What are the key leadership skills required to do your job well?
Build relationships, communicate clearly, inspire others, manage time and priorities, welcome and lead change.
I chose these because our goal as yoga teachers is to inspire others, not to impress them. In order to succeed, we don’t only have to communicate clearly our knowledge but also build strong relationships with our students. And we can truly call ourselves teachers if we put the right priorities in order by being open to all the new changes that allow us to flourish.
If you think of successful leaders in your space, what are their leadership qualities you admire?
Courage, creativity, fairness, honesty, humility.
How would you like your profession to look in 10 years?
Well, I have a dream for yoga instructors, especially in Greece: to become a real and well-established profession, as it is in other countries. First, we all have to fight for our professional rights by establishing requirements and qualifications, not only for ethical but also for educational purposes.
Describe how your job can contribute to making the world a better place.
The world is evolving. More than ever before, we are becoming aware that discrimination, capitalism, injustice, and greed have shaped the way in which our world operates. When we know better, we do better, and the world changes for the better. Now is the time for that change, and that change starts with us. It is time to use yoga for more than achieving a great body; it is time to put our yoga teachings to work. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
We just have to be fearless, put ourselves out there, and find our tribes in the process. These tribes will be comprised of other individuals who want to support and sustain change. Together, we will have the power to raise our voices higher. So how do we begin? I believe these five principles are the fuel to our fire. When applied in union, they will undoubtedly change the world as we know it: Mindfulness, Karma, Self-study (Svadhyaya), Kindness, Joy.
Having studied (BAHons) and worked for many years in the insatiable domains of Journalism and Media, I crossed yoga purely by chance, which evolved to a great love, able to change my personal and professional status. By means of further investing in this relationship, I acquired a 500hrs Diploma and now I train yoga teachers and participate in yoga retreats all around the world.
I am also the owner of the Soul House: Body & Mind Shala, based in Athens, an alternative Shala that offers Yoga classes and happiness to people.
See more on LinkedIn.