Giulia Moiraghi is a post-doctoral researcher in Philosophy and has been a dedicated Yoga practitioner for about 20 years. After a summa cum laude Master’s Degree in Contemporary Aesthetics from the University of Milan in 2005, she completed a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Verona in 2010. She is the author of In cammino verso la cosa. Heidegger dall’estetica all’ontologia, (On the Way to the Thing. Heidegger from Aesthetics to Ontology, Mimesis, Milano, 2006, monography) and has written several essays on philosophical subjects. She is a certified yoga teacher at the Cavedine Yoga Academy (3-Years Teacher Training – 1920 hours) and Y.A.N.I. member (National Association of Yoga Teachers) and teaches yoga and meditation since 2013 in Rovereto (TN), where she founded “Fenomeno Yoga” in order to create a bridge of communication between Eastern contemplative practices and Western philosophical research. The practice of asana and breathing techniques is developed phenomenologically, according to a method particularly suited to Western background and culture, that is, as an experience that holds at its center the "embodied" dimension of Being-there, a dance at the heart of Being, beyond any construction or ideology. In 2017 she published with Corriere della Sera: Cura e Ardore. Il rigore e la passione della pratica yoga (Care and Ardor. The Rigor and Passion of Yoga Practice), RCS, Milano, 2017. In September 2020 she will teach a course on Philosophy within the “Consciousness and Cognition Summerschool” of the University of Pisa.
But if you want to know how it really went, here is a longer and more informal version!
It all started at the time of the University, when, with my master thesis, which later became a book, I started to get passionate about the forgotten dimension of "Being" that philosopher Martin Heidegger believed was still present in the artistic object, but was no more traceable in daily life. How was it possible that the ancient Greeks had the opportunity to relate to the world, without emptying the things of their "fullness of being", while today we tend to transform everything into a barren tool, emptied of life? What had happened in the meantime? A further investigation was needed. My thirst for knowledge was growing and I had sensed that another philosopher could help me answer these questions. So I decided to continue the path of philosophy, with a Ph.D. program, in which I would investigate the origins of this process, through Friedrich Nietzsche's analysis. And there I was, drawn back to Plato's time, when the separation between a world of pure and virtuous ideas and a physical and bodily one, progressively undressed of value, was set. Nietzsche was convincing me, Platonism had to be overturned and the sensory phenomenal world urged to be rehabilitated. There was a need to return to the body, to the lived life, no doubt about that. I had even begun to feel it in my own flesh. My health lately had increasingly deteriorated and after years of stomach pain, doctors found I was suffering from celiac disease. That meant I was going to say goodbye to my beloved pastry in the morning and to hundreds of other good things. Alas, how was I going to go through that? These were the troubles that, despite being decidedly minor within a wider perspective, were truly anguishing me at the time. And the more I went into philosophy, examining the themes that were important to me, the more I wrote articles and essays, the more I realized that my body did not appreciate this excess of mental rumination, even sight was fading, with a galloping loss of dioptres ... Hours and hours sitting bent over a desk, curled up on books and on the pc, had also completely altered the rhythm of my breathing, with the result of blocking it. I had to make a change in my life, I couldn't go on like this anymore . The first big change I made was, once I finished my doctorate, taking a look outside the academic domain and that is how I started working at the educational department of a contemporary art musem, Mart. I also became the curator of a Japanese artist, the art of whom brought me back to the strength and fullness of the sun. After all, I had discussed two theses in Aesthetics and in both I had brought up that art could represent one of the few last reaching points to restore our link to the sensorial dimension. However, the choice that was to become directly responsible for the change of life that awaited me was the small, modest decision to resume the practice of Yoga. Actually, the fascination for this practice was not recent, it was born at the time of the long journeys spent in India with my parents when I was still a kid. I owe them the chance of getting in touch, at a such young age, with the magic of India, its culture and its sacredness. Among the many experiences I had, I also had the opportunity to meet the practice of yoga. My father was an assiduous practitioner for many years and it was with him, almost playing, that I began to approach this discipline. After a fairly restless childhood, I was later happy when I could undertake a straight and regular course of life and study, finally, in Italy! Perhaps it was this need of normalization I intimately felt that drove me in the following years, when I got to University, to choose Western rather than Eastern philosophy. I needed not only to rediscover my roots, but also to deeply explore them and, for this reason, despite the interest in the Eastern world was not lacking, my yoga practice had become less present and for long periods almost absent, especially during the years of what I call the “hard study”. As often happens, I needed to take a step back, to take one forward. The need of starting a research on the body surfaced only after having experienced how it felt going all the way away from it. And in order to devote myself to this new path of embodiment, I felt I should no longer limit to the declarations of intent, typical of many contemporary phenomenologists. Talking about the body was fine. I had written about it extensively in various articles. But it was not enough to simply talk about it or theorize it. All this represented an excellent starting point, but it was not transformative. It was not enough. I needed to take up on experience. I had to try or at least begin to turn my analytical and logocentric mind into an embodied mind. I knew that this would represent more than a simple philosophical interest, and that it resembled more to a task of a lifetime, according to which the field of theoretical knowledge had to be abandoned, at least temporary, in order to maybe have a glimpse of a wider and more comprehensive dimension called "wisdom". There was a lot at stake, but there was no solution, that was the only choice for me. Not only my body had taken me in this direction, it was philosophy itself that had led me there. It was phenomenology that had brought me back to the “phenomenon". So I said to myself: be it Yoga than! I plunged back with my whole being into this practice: I did not miss a lesson in the classes I attended and, at home, I treasured every moment available to dedicate myself to exploring and tasting the joy of a body that is waking up. Over the years I found myself entering an official three-year training Yoga Academy led by a student of Visnu Devananda, in the path of the Sivananda tradition. Although at first I had no idea of becoming a yoga teacher and started the academy more as an interpreter than as a student, after three years and thousands of hours of practice, I finally found myself as a certified and full-time yoga teacher, resuming back to traditional philosophical activity of writing articles and books in my free time between classes and practice. What happened next is recent history: devoting myself with immense passion to the transmission of these practices and feeling grateful and honoured to have this chance. Said like this, it may sound like the happy ending of a story, but no, this story is just starting, there is a long way to go and I am happy to share the path with everyone who wants to walk the way with me!