Bangalore: In 2013, when Alman Timofeev won the World Karate Championship again, he achieved a feat very few sportsmen in the world had. He became a World Champion at the age of 35.
So what gave the Russian sportsman the edge over competitors half his age, given that the sport of Karate demands high speed and agility?
“It was a huge challenge for me,” Timofeev says. “Breaking through that first stage of preparations for the fight, with the help of Sudarshan Kriya and meditation, was the spiritual turning point of my life.”
“I can say for sure, without the practices, it would not have happened,” he says.
The two-time World Karate champion says, “Now I am confident that whatever happens, everything will be ok and is taken care of”.
Timofeev’s journey as a professional martial artist has been one full of dizzying highs and scary lows. In 1997, he won the World Karate Champion title at the age of 19, one of the youngest Russians to win it, Timofeev says.
But in 2000, he was suddenly dropped from the championships.”After that, I stopped competing professionally and got fully involved in training youngsters,” he says. But after 13 years, he would fight back and his decision came from a spiritual encounter.
In 2013, his mother asked him to attend the Art of Living Happiness workshop, hoping that he might find peace and stability to help him strengthen his professional game.
“The practices had a very profound effect on me. Actually, it was only during the course, that I decided to fight for the championship again. Before that, I was not even sure about going to the championship,” says Timofeev, who is in Bangalore to train the judges of the Asian Karate Championships.
Calling his second win a “miracle”, Timofeev says, it was far more difficult for him to prepare for a professional title again, versus someone who had been fighting professionally, especially because he was not getting any younger.
“It is difficult to describe, how I became a champion for the second time, but that for me was a miracle. I was training a lot- three times a week, I would run 10 km, swim 2 km10 and skii a lot. I would spend time in the gym too, while practicing Karate daily at least 3 hours a day without fail.” In addition, “I would do my home practices of Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation which supported me tremendously,” he says.
Timofeev believes, it is very important for sportsmen and athletes to adopt spiritual practices like Sudarshan Kriya and meditation into their daily routine.
“It gives you peace of mind and calmness inside. If you have fear (of losing) for example, there is a rush of adrenaline and sportsmen burn out quickly. The fire rises quickly and it dies quickly.
“Kriya and meditation are very powerful tools for being very relaxed and for calming oneself and performing well for a sustainable period of time,” he adds. His message to all those who want to take up rigorous sports like martial arts professionally, which requires immense mental strength and centeredness, is-“Just meditate”.
“You definitely have to try and meditate. You need your own experience. Then you will observe the difference before and after you have learned the practices. This is something that words cannot fully describe,” Timofeev says.
Even though Timofeev’s association with the Art of Living and its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is not very old, he believes he shares a deep connection with him on a spiritual level. “Since I was 15, I have been training others and I realized an important thing- it is impossible to become a champion if you just want to become a champion. But if you come to the training and enjoy it, then this is the way to be a champion.
“And when I heard that from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as well, it resonated so deeply with me. From that moment, I feel that connection with him. I understand his teaching of not being attached to the goal from my point of view,” he says.
Timofeev will be back in India in March to be a part of the 3.5 million-strong gathering at the World Cultural Festival as part of the Russian contingent, of the 155 countries participating in the historic event.
“Yes, I am coming. I think, such a huge event will bring about a change in the world for sure. We all wish peace in the world and that is what this event stands for and of course I will come to be a part of it.”
3.5 million people like Timofeev, who believe in the power of meditation and peace in transforming the world, will meet in New Delhi between 11 and 13 March for the world’s largest peace meditation and cultural extravaganza.