Warren buttery, electric memories

koh phangan, thailand

Warren Buttery, co-founder of Moksha, a yoga teacher, former humanitarian worker, and soldier, was among Electric Memories’ initial clients. He kindly allowed us to share an excerpt from his Electric Memories, where he delves into his deep passion for yoga and his immersive apprenticeship in the practice in Nepal. 



Who I Am


If someone wants to get a sense of who you are today, how would you describe yourself?


I start with, I’m a yoga teacher. It’s my foundation of life and holds me to the island. I appreciate the island because it brought me to yoga.


I’m a chi nei tsang practitioner. I have a new skill, aquatic bodywork, which is kind of cool, a deeply healing practice, beneficial for me in the past, guiding people in and underneath the water.


A lot of what I do is about breath. With my yoga practice, I have a Kundalini bent as well as Hatha, I’m always teaching people how to breathe pranayama. The water stuff is all about breathing. When you hold someone underwater or are being held underwater, you no longer have control of your breath. Amazing things can happen. Trust.


When did your interest in yoga start?


I was in Burma, one of the last contracts of my humanitarian career, and my third spinal injury inspired me to do something about it. I have three, one in my neck that was pretty scary, two in my lower back. It was my body telling me that I needed to change. For my third spinal injury, I was lying flat on my back in my apartment in Yangon. I recognized I needed to do something about it. So I went to a yoga class and I thought, oh, this is kind of interesting.


When was that?


2015, 16. I started in 2015. Just a little here and there. I knew I needed to change so someone said, why don’t you come to Koh Phangan? I thought, well, that’s ridiculous. I can’t take drugs and drink tequila for breakfast and party all night. He said, no, no, no, there’s another side, there’s a healing side, go there. So I did. And practiced a little bit. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I understood that the change needed to happen, so I went to Nepal in 2016, 17. I found my teacher; I was going for one month but I stayed for one year. Sort of did an apprenticeship where I committed myself to the practice, learned a lot about my physical body but also my energetic body and a way to better connect with myself. It’s a beautiful place up in the forest, on the lip of the Kathmandu valley, and I spent a lot of time walking through the forest as well as practicing.


The Nepal Apprenticeship


How does one find one’s teacher? Destiny, a mystical connection? Or is it stumbling across someone you just decide to study with?


Yeah, it’s very mystical. Um…Google (laughs). I was looking to leave the island to really get embedded into yoga. I was looking for a one-month teacher training. And I was looking at India not really knowing what to do. But the visa process didn’t fit my timeline. And I just switched to Nepal. And I googled and on top of the list came my teacher. He has a Ph.D. in yogic science and a Ph.D. in Sanskrit. I thought, wow, I’m going to somebody real. One month became one year and he gave me this incredible apprenticeship, to practice, to learn the philosophy, the wisdom, what it’s like to live a life committed to practice, how he was raising his family. I had a connection to his little daughter, the first time I ever dealt with a little girl. That was interesting learning for me as well. Yeah, so committing to a karmic yogic path, a path of service, which I recognized then, oh, I’ve always been in service anyway, in the military, in my humanitarian career, and on my yoga path.


Was there a moment during that year where it went from, this is really a cool yoga class, I’m enjoying this experience in Nepal, to something transformative, either in terms of your intention to take teaching more seriously or some movement in your own identity?


I always knew I’d be a teacher. Because I’ve always trained people, no matter where I’ve gone, could be in the middle of Sudan. I’ve taken upon myself to train staff around me, national staff, international staff on all types of things. I’ve always had that in me. I’m always open to learn. A lot of people with even 20 years practice will come to his TTC’s (yoga teacher trainings). And they were generous enough to be able to share their learning which I took on board. So it was a rate of growth that I really appreciated.


Was there a point in doing that training that you had a deep sense that you were going to make this big commitment for the next phase of your life? Devote yourself to teaching yoga?


A part of it was, I have been coming to Koh Phangan for so long but I’ve always been a consumer. I’ve wanted to set roots here. And so what can I offer? How can I be useful as well as preparing myself physically and psychologically? So that was always my deepest intention. How can I ground here onto this magical island of healing and transformation? And of course a skill that potentially I can take traveling around the world. This is a very transferable skill.


So you decided selling ketamine was not the Phangan commercial path for you?


(Laughs) Getting high on your own breath.


Yoga for a lot of people is exercise, stretching with Sanskrit names. What’s yoga to you?


Yoga is the basis of everything that I do. It’s the philosophy. Asana, the daily practice that we have, is the hook that gets you into the door for advanced training. For me, because I love teaching the philosophy, these are incredible tools of how to understand self and the practice is actually a very small part of yogic philosophy. I like to ground myself in the philosophy first and to make my decisions based on that. I appreciate that everyone comes to yoga for a different reason. Except men, generally men come for two reasons (laughs). One is injury, physical or psychological. And the other is because of a woman. A woman led them there or they worked out in the gym and saw unique women doing their thing and thought, okay, I want to be part of that. For me it was both. There’s a woman who really led me back here. My first yoga teacher was a woman. And it was to understand my injuries.



If you’re interested in constructing your own Electric Memories legacy project, please contact Brian today for a free discovery call.  
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