By Julio Moran
Born and raised in a small district in Kerala, India, Mukt Mukh lived in the slums of Bombay from 1999 to 2006 and then came to the United States in his 30s to study Spa Hospitality and Management at UC Irvine.
Mukh, 42, is in his third year at City College studying graphic design part time while also running the Yoga Society of San Francisco studio in the Mission District.
Mukh learned everything about yoga during his childhood. He was around 15 years old when he began leaving his home for weeks or months at a time to travel in search of teachers that could help him understand yoga.
It’s a desire to help others that fuels everything he pursues and accomplishes, Mukh said. He wants people to know that yoga isn’t just a form of exercise, but also a way to organize your life and gain another perspective.
Yoga is “becoming a fashion and misused and he’s becoming aware of that,” retired teacher Vasanti Jayaswal and a friend of Mukh’s who comes from the same district in India, said.
Mukh wants to teach yoga correctly, Jayaswal said, “and not the way it is this day and age.”
Sometimes Mukh would find a teacher and sometimes he’d return home without making progress. The yogis he did find would spend days with him passing on their knowledge.
In the U.S., his yoga teachers would only spend a fraction of that time with him, Mukh said.
Mukh teaches four styles of yoga and usually focuses on just one or two students at a time. He teaches each student a different style based on what their specific needs in life are.
“I’m happier, my relationships with people have improved,” Deborah Aiono, a retired metal fabricator who is now a student and colleague of Mukh, said. “I’m learning and understanding to accept myself, which makes me and the people around me happier.”
Mukh tells his students that he learns more from his life experiences than from books.
Instead of getting upset by mistakes or accidents, he tries to learn from them.
Living a positive lifestyle is most important, Mukh said, and that includes having a circle of friends that won’t bring you down.
“No matter how much money you have, if your heart is not happy, then you are poor,” Mukh said.
Mukh sends art supplies back to India for a school he founded called Art One, which focuses on encouraging children to create traditional Indian art.
Mukh also provides life coaching for $200 a session with his patients and holds free classes every Friday from 9-10 a.m. at Yoga Society at 2872 Folsom Street.