triyoga talks episode 17: Jonathan Sattin on seva, community + the origins of triyoga

Jonathan Sattin with two dogs

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19 years ago today on 19th February 2000, triyoga opened the doors to its first centre in Primrose Hill. And so, to mark the occasion, we spoke with triyoga’s Managing Director Jonathan Sattin, in this very special episode of triyoga talks.

As a lawyer, Jonathan worked for 18 years in private practice. Having started practising meditation in law school, in 1985 he met his teachers John Stirk, who taught him the physical practices of yoga, and Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, who became his spiritual teacher. In 1996 he quit law and began to form an idea to open a wellness centre in the UK.

Jonathan talks candidly about triyoga’s beginnings and his original vision “to create somewhere different; somewhere where anyone could practise.”

On the origins of a multi-disciplined yoga centre, he explains, “Having been to YogaWorks in LA, I felt the range of styles of yoga available in LA at the time was not available in London. The idea was to create somewhere where, whatever you wanted from a yoga practice, there would hopefully be a style you could practise with us.”

He recounts the intensity of the time when the Primrose Hill centre closed its door and its relocation to Camden, the many challenges of running a yoga centre and how supporting teachers’ and therapists’ growth is close to his heart.

Seva, or self-less service, has formed a key part of Jonathan’s own personal practice for many years. On whether triyoga is a manifestation of seva for him, he says, “I think that is probably true. It wasn’t conscious, in the sense I didn’t think of it like that. But I realise that this is what I’m meant to be doing. And when I look back at how the whole thing started and how I got into setting it up, and the skills I learnt in the ashram – it is like a funnel. You are just being guided to do this thing. Now, when I look back at my very first physical yoga class, there has been this hand guiding me. Grace.”

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Listen to our other podcasts in the ‘triyoga talks’ series here.

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