MURFEST 2015 was made even better by the presence of true artists who choose to facilitate workshops and sessions.
We were able to catch up with Anna Sugarman who was kind enough to give us a short interview on her work and her life’s mission. If you find that you resonate with what she shares, please feel free to contact her. Details given below.
What was the deciding factor that made you agree to joining Murfest as a Facilitator?
The invitation to join Murfest as a facilitator was an awesome surprise and enormous honor. To have the opportunity to be part of such a colorful celebration in the home of dear friends, the chance to share, inspire and be inspired, made the decision easy – the only difficult part was getting here, as I spend November in the US.
Quite a journey!
We know a little of your background from what we see in your own website… but what would you say was the turning point in your life? Or was there one and at what period of time was it at?
I was working in an office, at the beginning of my corporate design career – I wanted to sweat and maximize my limited time, and yoga sounded wimpy…
My first step into a studio was solely to appease a friend who’d been relentless in his quest to get me out of the gym, onto the mat. It was an advanced class in which I had no business as a beginner, and it was perfect – it was hard! Un-yogically competitive, I wanted to do what the others were doing! And I instantly felt something else.
Something simmering just out of reach. Something I wanted…
What pulled you into living a lifestyle of yoga?
From my very first class, I was blessed with access to teachers whom I respected immensely, and surrounded by other students who were well established in their practices.
One especially influential peer practiced smiling, with her eyes barely open – her astounding lightness was contagious. Around the same time, I’d started to hang out at Prema Drala Ashram in Southern California, where the message of love had a profound affect on me. A rockin’ resonance which brought that simmering something into reach. Yoga was my backstage pass, and I promptly discovered that the yogic lifestyle extends waaay beyond the mat.
From your perspective what would you say is the root message of yoga?
Unite the mind, the body, the soul, and beyond by… Redefining normal. Being you. Living in love – actually IN love, surrounded, engulfed, as if it is tangible, viscous, scrumptious. Yum!
Why did you decide to focus on Ashtanga Yoga, among the various other types that we seem to hear about everywhere?
Ashtanga appealed to me early on, as the strict regimen is reminiscent of the competitive gymnastics I’d grown up loving. The physicality felt familiar, as did the perceived achievement of goals and promotion to new skills upon mastery of others. My original teachers were Ashtangis turned Vinyasa Flow’ers and their practices, graceful combinations of strength, stamina, and stillness, snuggled my heart.
What attracted you to staying on in Koh Samui?
I’d been traveling for about five years, and though my journey usually entailed living somewhere for at least a few months, I was craving a more sustainable community. Intended to be only a two month stay, Koh Samui turned out to be the home sweet home I’d been desiring. I was offered a work permit at the lovely Yogarden studio, found instant support in the locals, and a dreamy beach house that came with dogs!
In addition to living in a postcard’esque setting, the gentle culture makes it a truly easy place to be me. I can spend mornings in prayer and practice, and evenings dancing under the stars. The spirituality is pervading and fellow practioneers and teachers are in abundance.
What would you say is your guiding philosophy for life; perhaps your mission and vision?
As a teacher my goal is to assist each student in finding their own practice – to discover where their true passion lies, and to nurture that.
I believe it’s that deep rooted passion that sparks the joy that will maintain a strong self-practice, and the ability and authenticity to share it with others. So my vision is of illuminating the individual practice – finding it and cultivating it by providing the practical knowledge and resources to make it effective – not necessarily to be like mine.
In your description there seems to be much focus on laughter and fun; is part of your message for others to see that yoga can be fun?
To live in love, and therefore be open to assimilating knowledge and fun experiences into relevant wisdom, I believe it’s imperative to retain joy throughout the practice. To me, an infusion of a little laughter and a lot of lightheartedness makes evolving smoother and sweeter.
Through intensive study, I respect and believe that each style of yoga is impeccable, that they work as they were designed to, the way that they are. However my current perfect style (which is constantly evolving) is a combination of several lineages; and it’s possible to maintain the integrity of each, incorporating ancient philosophy and modern science, whilst playing yoga.
So sure, I like to show others that yoga can be fun, but that’s a side effect of my essential message being that everyone’s practice can truly be their own.
Can what you teach and share be integrated into a person’s busy lifestyle?
I hope so!
I believe in yoga as medicine – for healing and prevention, physically and intellectually. And if my message is heard – that the practice can be individualized, that each person can essentially write their own prescription – what I share is absolutely integratable into a busy lifestyle. Somedays the practice might be a brief meditation and some pranayama in the car, whilst other days hours are spent on the mat aligning one’s unique body, mind, and soul.
What is your message that you would like to share with those who come to MURFEST?
Choose happiness by courageously putting forth the effort to discover what makes your heart shine, and then do that. Make magic by listening to the sound of your breath and truly hearing the profound silence in between.
Know that you do not have to fit into Yoga, Yoga fits in with you. Play yoga. Live in love.
What do you see for yourself in the near future…are there other areas you’d like to pursue?
I will continue to offer Yoga Teacher Trainings – which is my dream- come true collaboration of my experience teaching, study of philosophy, multiple modalities of Western and alternative healing, and 20 years of yoga practice – including a 200 hour course in Thailand this January, and another here in KL in the springtime!
As well, I will offer a series of modules and workshops around the world in the upcoming year. On a personal level, I am always striving to shine brighter and elevate my own practice – spiritually, intellectually and physically. I’ll continue to pursue my passionate study of anatomy. And I am wildly excited about a program I’ve just completed to include in YTTCs, in hopes that my students may feel moved to offer it as well – a track for volunteering to share yoga with handicapped children, irrelevant of language and previous experience.
How can people who would like to know more about you contact you?
Find me in the front row of rock shows, stand up paddle boarding on sunny days, or at…
www :: annasugarmanyoga.com  
Facebook :: annasugarmanyoga
Instagram :: annasugarmanyoga
Twitter :: annasugarman
Linked In :: Anna Sugarman
MURFEST 2016 will be held this year from the 4-6th of November at MaTic, KL. It’s for anyone and everyone from all ages, sizes and backgrounds! This is the third year running and it promises to be even better, with it’s usual stellar line-up of artists and workshop facilitators. Bring your family, bring your friends, and of course yourself!
But first sign up here: Murfest.com and then
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