Tangkao’s Bio

Tangkao’s first experience with yoga was 20 some years ago while still active as a dancer. Out of curiosity, he tried a yoga class at the legendary White Cloud Studio in New York. The class was taught by Ms. Hilary Cartwright and known back then as “Yoga class for Dancers”.  Although many years would pass before he returned to yoga again, the sensitivity of the practice and attention redirected towards within left a profound impression on him.

In the late 90’s a severe back injury forced Tangkao to stop dancing and for two years he sought treatments of both Eastern and Western medicine without much improvement.  He remembers clearly how one sunny afternoon, he sat down on the floor and closed his eyes, without knowing what he was doing he began to bring his attention and breathing to the area of injury and pain. Two days later, he noticed an improvement he had not experienced from any previous treatment.   It was a revelatory moment and he verified for himself that the power of healing lies within.

In 2010 Tangkao took his first 200 hours teacher training in Shanghai, China at Yogi Yoga, a branch school of kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute of Lonavla in India.  Upon completing the course, Tangkao was invited by the director Yogi Mohan to join the faculty, thus embarking on the ongoing journey of yoga learning and teaching. 

As a yoga practitioner, he was first drawn to Ashtanga vinyasa style, advocated by the late Sri Pattabi Jois in which traditional yoga postures are linked together to form a sequence of postures and movements.  This seemingly outward and intense style is exhilarating  and when paired with a fixed sequence offers a meditative quality.  To deepen his practice, Tangkao made repeated trips to Mysore, India and studied under teachers such as B.N.S Iyengar and Sri Sheshardri. However, the intensity and the repetitiveness of the sequence eventually led to injury after injury. 

The fact that most yoga practitioners from the west (outside of India in general) have a very “unnatural modern body” as Simon Borg-Olivier describes, is rarely considered seriously.    “One becomes stronger through yoga practice if one survives it” has become a painful norm.   While the idiom “sukham sthiram asanam” is often spoken about, it relates mostly a seated meditative postures,  rather than asana practice in general.  

At that stage in his practice, it became clear to Tangkao that his yoga practice was disconnected from the yogic scriptures for it rarely served to create the yogic state described in these texts—the state in which the body is rejuvenated  and the mind reaches a clear meditative state.  The truth is that yoga practiced at that level differs little from common physical exercises such as sports and various forms of gym workouts.   

In 2014 Tangkao met Simon Borg-Olivier, who has co-founded Yoga Synergy, a Sydney based yoga school with Bianca Machliss. Simon and Bianca are both physiotherapists and with their decades of yoga practice, learning and teaching, they made the incredible and daring connection between classical yogic scriptures and modern science and medical studies such as those by Neils Bohr and Constantin Buteyko. Through their hard work and research,  asana practice found its unique and proper place in the yogic path and the applications of yogic techniques such as mudra, bandha and pranayama also came alive, but this time under the light of modern anatomy and physiology.  After completing two Yoga Synergy on-line courses, Tangkao participated in a 200-hour teacher training with Simon and Bianca in 2015.

This experience changed Tangkao’s practice completely. Although already a yoga teacher trainer at that time, he was convinced for the first time of the value of Hath Yoga (physical yoga) practice and the importance of proper yoga teaching in order to deliver it promised benefits. It was with this new mindset that he decided to open his own studio Morning Star Yoga in Northern California in spring 2017.

At Morning Star Yoga, Tangkao worked closely with a small community in the rural, fire-threatened Northern Sierra Foothill.  Working with an older age group, his teaching has gradually condensed into two fundamental buildingblock principles taught by Simon Borg-Olivier: spinal focused active movements (see post) and relaxed natural breathing(see post).  The core initiated movements (see post) become an expression of harmony and a balance of freedom and discipline. 

As a dancer and dance teacher, Tangkao is fluent in ballet technique. From experience, he is aware of the way harmony in body movement influences a person’s internal state. With this new-found understanding inspired by Simon Borg-Olivier’s remarkable teaching, Tangkao has begun to incorporate his early acting training—based on the Polish theatre legend Jerzy Grotowski who aimed to create an ideal actor’s body that is free, organic and ready to take any form(role)— into his yoga practice. The synthesis of his years of experience  in dance, acting and yoga have led to a practice that is kind and respectful to the body  while placing the mind and soul at the creative heart of healing and harmonious movement.  

As the new year 2019 begins, Tangkao has renamed his yoga school “ArtAnvaya” to better represent his new vision.

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Tangkao is a E-RYT 500 yoga teacher registered with Yoga Alliance and has completed two separate 500 hours yoga teacher trainings and has received almost 2000 hours of yoga related training courses.

A former dancer and a specialist in 18th century Baroque dance, Tangkao holds BA degree on Dance Pedagogy and for many years trained in Jerzy Grotowski’s movement based acting techniques.  The variety of his  experience has creatively enriched his understanding of body movements.