Yogi Cameron went from top model to Ayurvedic healer and yoga master to the stars and if you love yoga as much as the other estimated 15 million Americans that are now practicing yoga; you may have tuned into his television show, A Model Guru on VieraLiving Network. In each episode he takes on a new client challenged by a health issue. Using Ayurveda, a 5,000 year-old-system of medicine and healing, he helps people get to the root of their problem and on the road to wellness.
In addition to his own television show, he is often asked to be a guest on shows like, The Dr. Oz Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, Extra, Martha, and the list could go on and on. He has been interviewed for and featured in The New York Times, Men's Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The London Times, and ELLE, amongst many others
Recently I was able to grab some of his precious time to talk about his life and path as a Yogi. I had read that he was a nice guy, but up to this point I had never had the pleasure of meeting him. I wondered if he was as down to earth as he seemed on the show. I have to admit I couldn't help but wonder if there might be a hint of ego in there somewhere. I mean come on- you can't live in LA, be a Guru to the rich and famous, have supermodel good looks and still be a nice guy-can you?
Our conversation began with the usually pleasantries and within minutes his unassuming demeanor and his calm and peaceful nature were evident. Soon we were discussing everything from troubling global issues to laughing about lighter hearted subjects, to who is Yogi Cameron really and how did he end up in LA with a host of celebrity clientele and friends like Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres?
Cameron Alborzian now known as Yogi Cameron, was born in Tehran to an Iranian father and an English mother. When the revolution broke out, he was sent off to boarding school in England at the age of 12. Years later, while attending a sports collage to study sports medicine, a modeling scout spotted him on the streets of London. He was soon walking the runways for high fashion moguls such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace and Dior. His modeling career really took off when he landed a three season campaign for Guess Jeans. That led to being hand, picked by Madonna herself to play her love interest in her 1988, Express Yourself video. By this time, Cameron's career was soaring and he was considered one of the industry's top male supermodels.
Fast forward to1998 and while doing a benefit show with Versace for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund along with Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Kate Moss, he went to Nelson Mandela's house which would begin a turning point in his life.
He shared that being there with that blend of people he had a sort of epiphany, "There was this outward high fashion kind of life meeting that inward life of somebody that was so peaceful and calm, forgiving and loving and there was a nice blend of it altogether. It just showed me where I've come from in the fashion world and outward beauty and where I was kind of heading, although I didn't know it at the time. When I got back to New York, I decided to put that to rest and start moving on. I had no idea what I was going to do, I just knew that sort of chapter after 12 years was over."
After coming to the realization that he had done all he could do in the fashion world, Yogi Cameron left the modeling scene to seek his higher purpose. After training at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York City and Yogaville of Sri Satchidananda he went to India to begin his ongoing studies in Ayurveda at Arsha Yoga Vidya Peetam Trust under the guidance of his guru Sri Vasudevan.
Since then, Yogi Cameron has worked with individuals throughout the world to provide them with these ancient methods to live healthier, greener, more spiritually-minded lives in accordance with the Ayurvedic and yogic path. He is the author of two books, The Guru in You and The One Path that stress the importance of approaching health holistically. He says that Yoga and Ayurveda must be taught together to address one's spiritual, physical, and mental well-being and a primary goal of his path is helping each person find their purpose and practice.
When I ask him why it is so important for people to find their purpose and to serve others he explained that the teachings of the Vedic path are clear, "The purpose of all beings is to serve first. That's not the kind of service where I am helping you and you are helping me. I'm referring to the innate feeling in a being or a soul that is here primarily to serve another soul and it get's served from serving. So in that sense everybody is a servant of all people and that way everyone's needs are met."
Although Yogi Cameron can strike many of yoga's most difficult poses like nobody's business, his spiritual practice of yoga is also very apparent.
When I asked about the westernization of yoga he clearly expressed the need to preserve the original teachings. He explained that what was once the direction of Patanjali some 2,000 years ago to assume an easy seated posture (padmasana) has grown to over 1000 postures if you consider all of the variations. So, yoga has become much more physical but the most important aspect of yoga is in danger of being lost.
Referring to the ancient teachings of yoga as a system for relieving suffering of the mind, Yogi Cameron shared, "Everybody can do it but it takes a lot of time to do it. What we are trying to do is over simplify something and say, let's do the physical aspect of it because it's like a work out."
He continued to express his concern with, "We just don't have the Gurus and enough people studying or being part of a lineage anymore. It's kind of like that game you play; you know the one where you say one word in somebody's ear and by the time it gets passed down it's changed."
On the topic of keeping his spiritual practice strong while living in LA where there is much focus on outward beauty, he confesses that he was considering just remaining in India to continue his studies, but his Guru Vasudeva, the guru of Arsa Yoga sent him back. Vasudava explained to him that although it would be challenging with the crazy, mad, energetic, and wonderful mishmash of energy in America, if he could stick to his path here, then he could sail through life anywhere. Although Yogi Cameron lives in LA and serves Hollywood celebrities and even has his own TV show, he clearly keeps his practice at the center of his life.
I couldn't resist asking Yogi Cameron what advice he could offer that would have the quickest impact on a person's health and wellbeing and he offered, "If it's an overall message, make something important." He goes on to explain that when people dabble here and there and never really commit to anything, the results they are looking for never emerge. He continues, "If you make your health and your well-being your primary importance in life, you can be more useful to your loved ones, your relationships, your work, and you will be in a much more peaceful place.
That means you pick up a spiritual practice, do some exercise and take care of the body, mind and spirit; then all other things will be ok."
In talking with him about his latest book I asked him why he chose to call it, The One Plan, and he explained, "Because everybody is looking for something; we all want the one thing that we can do, but there isn't really one thing. You need to have a plan. If there was just one thing you could do then the whole world would get what they want. He continues, "The One Plan is based on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra and living your life. You don't have to do it over a year but I set it out over a year because if you want to do something properly you need to give it time to mature. You need to make it a part of your lifestyle. If you don't, you will get a taste of something but you won't truly get it done."
Toward the end of our time together I asked him about his work in Afghanistan and Cambodia and if he was still involved. He explained that he participates in Seva or selfless service every year. He has, with the help of the Amanuddin Foundation, brought yoga and meditation to Afghanistan as part of a peace and education program for Afghan children, soldiers, and other members of the civilian population and worked with young girls rescued from sex trafficking practices in Cambodia in coordination with the Somaly Mam Foundation. This year he'll be teaching at a festival in China and also visiting some orphanages.
He said, "I'll go back to Cambodia. I have a nice relationship with Somaly Mam. Afghanistan, I am not sure when I'll go back next because now that the troops have left it is kind of a crazy town, so we'll see what happens."
We discussed a few other topics, laughed a bit and I got to see a bit of humorous side. The conversation wrapped up with me stating..."Wow Yogi Cameron, you have led quite a life haven't you?"
He contemplated, "Well I don't ever really think about it much, but I went from Iran during a revolution, to the high fashion world, to leading this life, so it's been quite a journey in and of itself. It's funny where it's taken me. So, karma is whatever it is, nobody can make sense of it."
I think I can honestly conclude that referring to Yogi Cameron as a "nice guy" would be a huge understatement and I am thankful that he agreed to grace our cover this Spring.
Yogi Cameron's Teachings are available in his first book, The Guru in You, published by HarperCollins in January 2011. His latest book, The ONE Plan (HarperOne January 2013) provides a realistic approach to the Patanjali teachings designed to result in a positive transformation of one's life. Through The ONE Plan, Yogi Cameron translates these complex, intricate teachings into practical daily tasks, routines and systems that can easily be incorporated into everyday life for an improvement in one's overall physical, mental, and spiritual health. Yogicameron.com