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Stillpoints: A Podcast with Scott Johnson

Sep 26, 2020

#018: Simon Borg-Olivier

Scott talks to Simon Borg-Olivier on his 50 years as a teacher and practitioner of yoga. Simon Borg-Olivier is a maverick and someone who has truly done his own research into how yoga works for him.

Simon Borg-Olivier has been studying traditional forms of posture, movement and breathing for over 50 years. He has worked as a research-based scientist, exercise-based physiotherapist and a university lecturer. He has over 33 years experience teaching yoga, inspiring people all around the world. He co-founded Yoga Synergy in 1984 with Bianca Machliss, leading daily yoga classes, workshops, teacher training courses and international events. 

His passion for his work has brought him to understand the interconnectedness of the world around us, and the belief that we can make the world a better place by acknowledging and enhancing the connections within us and around us. The purpose of a yoga practise for Simon is to ‘lovingly encourage the circulation of energy and consciousness’ in the body, so that we can be in greater harmony with everything around us.

You can find out more about Simon’s profile and teaching schedule here and his teacher training courses here 

Simon also has a new online Ashtanga Yoga course. You can access it here.



Finding The Real Yoga – Simon Borg-Olivier

Scott and Simon have an incredibly expansive conversation on SImon’s 50 year exploration into yoga and movement and his search for the ‘real’ yoga. Simon shares incredible stories of his time spent with some of the leading teachers of modern postural yoga and shares how he has formulated his unique approach to yoga teaching and practice. 

In this inspiring conversation Simon shares:

    • How he was introduced to breathing techniques when he was very young.
    • His fascination from an early age with the connection between yogis and nature. 
    • That for him, meditation is a deep deep process of the body and mind based on circulation of the blood in the body.
    • How his approach to meditation resonated with the Iyengar teaching method.
    • How meeting Professor Bim Dev Malik inspired him to see the possibilities of what yoga can achieve.
    • That meeting Shandor Remete in 1985 really deepened his knowledge of Iyengar Yoga and sent him to meet BKS Iyengar in India, leading him to understand that only BKS Iyengar taught true Iyengar yoga.
    • How he learnt Ashtanga yoga in 1985 from Robert Lucas, Cliff Barber and Danny Paradise. 
    • About meeting Pattabhi Jois in the 1990s, and w he’s still inspired by Ashtanga yoga.
    • How he met TKV Desikachar, who was an influence too.
    • How seeing and learning the Malakam practice in India inspired him greatly. 
    • Learning dasaran in Malakam was challenging but a way to connect with the Indian boys in India.
    • The similarities between yoga postures and martial arts postures. 
    • About his time working in an Indian hospital. 
    • His decision to teach yoga rather than become an academic in 1992.
    • How, as a result of a friend having a bad accident, he presented yoga exercises to doctors to help rehabilitate paraplegics.
    • That training to be a physiotherapist was about being able to present yoga to doctors as a valid rehabilitation process.
    • How becoming a physiotherapist changed his way of teaching people.
    • His views on how easy it is to become a yoga teacher now, and why he set up his own teacher training programme.
    • How Yoga Synergy became a system that could help benefit a wide range of people, basing it on traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and adapting it for the modern body.
    • How he healed from a back injury by changing how he moves as well as how he teaches, and how this non-traditional approach has been healing for himself and others. 
    • How care needs to be taken with yoga cueing so that their meaning and helpfulness doesn’t get lost or misunderstood
    • How he met his teacher, Master Zhen Hua Yang, in 2007, who he continues to train with.  
    • How he sees his role as a teacher as learning from his mistakes and doing better job with his students than he did with himself.
    • That the ultimate purpose of yoga is to realise that we are all one – a manifestation of connected consciousness – which we can start to realise by becoming physically connected with ourselves first. 
    • That, for him, the aim of yoga practice is to generate loving information and communication in the body by freeing good energy, and becoming yama and niyama in action.
    • That, ultimately, it’s all about love.


Simon talks about:

Shandor Remete

BKS Iyengar

Prashant Iyengar

Cliff Barber.



‘To me Simon Borg-Olivier is a teacher’s teacher. A modern day icon and maverick in the yoga world. He is a visionary and has never rested on his laurels, always learning…  This conversation get’s behind how he has become the yogi we know and love. An essential listen for all modern day yoga practitioners who are on a quest for real yoga….

Scott Johnson – September 2020 


If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Danny Paradise, Ann Weston, and Dr Matthew Clark.