Becoming a Yoga Teacher: From Injured to Inspired with Niklas Elgryd

We are so happy welcome Niklas Elgyrd back to Gili Yoga, this time as one of our resident yoga teachers. Niklas first traveled to Gili Trawangan in 2010 and took his first Freediving Course with Michael Board. From his first breath-hold, Niklas fell in love with Freediving. It took him a little longer to learn to love yoga and eventually, that hooked him too! Read on to learn more about our newest Yoga Teacher to the team. Shakti is in the house!

What interested you in yoga?

As a Freediver, I knew that upper body flexibility was important for adapting the body to depth, preventing injury and increasing lung capacity, but I didn’t really know how to stretch my upper body. I was also young and injured, with lots of areas of pain from intense training and competing in basketball, Thai boxing, soccer, back country Skiing, skateboarding, downhill Long boarding and various forms of martial arts. I was really used to pushing my body to the point of injury (mainly because I was having too much fun to stop) but I didn’t really have experience in “fixing” it. I tried physiotherapy and chiropractic adjustments but they didn’t have a lasting effect for me, probably because I thought the exercises were boring. I started purely for physical reasons, to compliment other activities and to heal sports injuries.

Was it love at first downward dog?

Not really. I thought that yoga was like systematic contortion-ism for hippies. It seemed like too much fluff and fairy dust for me to really get into it. But I thought I’d keep going with it, just out of curiosity and because I knew it was good for me.
And then, I noticed that I started to feel really good after yoga classes. I was feeling strong, calm and happy and I wanted to do more of things that made me feel good and happy. I started to change my diet, not because I thought I should, but because I wanted to do more of what made me feel so good. I guess I started to experience health and everything it gave my mind and body.

On Spirituality: Do you now believe in the spiritual side of yoga?

mmm yes…I have experienced something deeper than can be defined by science. I have felt trippy stuff happen in my body and I know that it is from and through a yoga/meditation practice. I am open to energetics and spirit but I can’t label it because it’s what I’ve felt not what I think about how I felt…

On Freediving: From the first breath-hold to Instructor…

I started to “freedive” or play around with breath-holding in the pool in Stockholm when I was 10. In 2007 I started Freediving while traveling. I took my first course in the Philippines in 2010 and then traveled to Gili Trawangan to do my SSI Level 2 Freediving Course with Michael Board at Freedive Gili. I traveled some more, did a ski season in France and couldn’t stop thinking about Freediving and how I could do more of it. In 2012 I came back to Gili Trawangan to do my Level 3 and Master Freediver course.

Did you already know that you wanted to teach Freediving?

It was a pretty distance thought, kind of like a distant dream.. to be able to travel and teach Freediving around the world but I didn’t think it would happen any time soon and I didn’t even think about it too much. So I did my Master Course and had the opportunity to join the next Freediving Instructor Course with Mike and continue on teaching here… so I did and I passed and I stayed on for 6 months teaching Freediving and practicing yoga. I went home to Sweden for a year with the idea to come back to Indonesia to do my Yoga Teacher Training and of course, more Freediving.

Who are your inspirational teachers?

Bob Marley and Hakan hellstrom

If you could have one Super Power what would it be?

Teleportation, so that I could ski powder in the morning and Freedive in the afternoon.

You can meet Niklas on the mat at Gili Yoga at 7 am on Tuesdays and Saturdays and in the afternoon for Vinyasa Flow. Niklas rocks an authentic, funky vinyasa flow class which will be sure to keep you breathing, smiling and maybe even balancing on your hands.