Michael J. Stewart
Michael J. Stewart
Michael J. Stewart is a teacher, nomad and creator of Shanta Vira Yoga. Born in Karachi to an Assamese mother and a Scottish-Irish father, he developed an early interest in a broad sense of humanity. His first initiation in to spirituality and esoteric practices came from his maternal grandmother, a healer who was deeply connected to her Hindu roots and as much, a counter-cultural rebel. Being raised by his athletic and disciplinarian father, he spent his youth building a relationship with the physical body through boxing, competitive powerlifting and bodybuilding. Michael has since lived, studied and traveled in over 30 countries.
While in theater school in Chicago, he was introduced to Yoga as a way of calming the mind and exploring subtle aspects of expression. Once this deep, familiar acquaintance was made, his life took a turn away from theater and fully toward his life as a yogi, seeking and deeply delving in to all aspects of spiritual life.
In New York City, Michael went first to Jivamukti Yoga and Astanga Yoga for regular classes and a crucial stay at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas where inspiration fortified his understandings. He went further afield to study the precision of Iyengar Yoga in India with Sharat Arora and Rajiv Chenchani.
His religious studies during all of these explorations brought him as well to Buddhism, Christianity and Sufism. He developed a daily practice of Mindfulness and Mantra and lived for several years in intentional communities where humans focused on building healthy relationships – interpersonally and interiorly.
Decades later, Michael met Dharma Mittra and through his presentation of Classical Yoga spurred a next level of inquiry in to the human condition, the Self and the possibilities that Yoga holds. At the peak of this questioning, Michael became aware of a lineage of South Indian Tantra called Rajanaka. These teachings of Saivism and Saktism, as offered by Dr. Douglas Brooks, responded clearly to his own soul’s desire.
His journey continues on this path today.
Alongside his profound constancy with a spiritual life of Yoga, Michael has been involved in civil disobedience protests and activism. He is touched when unheard voices of society find a platform to be heard. He is empowered when through unification, impossibilities become possible. He is blown away that even with the chance of loss, humans place themselves at risk in order to create change, growth and betterment.
This life is from where Shanta Vira Yoga took root and grows.
Michael J. Stewart offers workshops, trainings and retreats around the world for guiding people to make wellness, art and community.
Shanta Vira Yoga
Is a complete and total practice designed by Michael J. Stewart to invite every practitioner to engage in “actively being human.” Shanta Vira Yoga intends for each practitioner to embrace all of the qualities of being human with emphasis on the source and the fruit of the two words in its name, the calm courage of the peaceful warrior — “Shanta”- serene, and “Vira”- hero.
The perfect environment for “actively being human” is in the experiments of Yoga in which the experiences of Self-Reflection, Resilience, Acceptance, Receptivity and Vulnerability are present and rife with attention.
Tantra hatha yoga is a dynamic posture practice that always includes alignment emphasized Asana sequenced skillfully with Pranayama, Bandha, Mudra and Mantra.
Creative expression takes each practitioner on a journey to the unknown and to the joy of discovery, incorporating Writing Your Soul, Expressive Movement, Trust Exercises, Vocal Expression and Kirtan.
Active community participation invites yogis to positively influence the world they inhabit. Many worthy causes need commitment and resource to be effective and this element of SVY asks for engaging the “change we wish to see in the world” (Gandhi) and giving back to the world that gives to us.