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10 Apr, 2010 05:01

Life beyond limits

A flexible approach – that is the motto of one bendy Russian artist. Mukhtar Gusengadzhiev says the secret to inner peace and harmony is the ability to stick your leg over your head.

For him, spectacular physical feats of twisting and bending are more than that – they are physical expressions of his philosophy. Mukhtar believes that it is through body control, discipline and respect of self and of time that he has been able to change his life and live it on his terms.

Before hitting stages in such cities as Paris and Las Vegas, Mukhtar was confined to a prison cell for three years after landing a punch in a brawl. The 45-year-old performance artist decided in his 20s to dedicate himself to health and to agility. He carved some free time between prison chores and sleep, and used it for training and meditating.

“I saw myself as a free, independent, popular, healthy, balanced person, fully engaged in creative interesting projects. And that’s what I am now. That’s why when you have a clear vision of yourself, it’s easy to live a life – because it works like a beacon which shows you where to go.”

He did not know where his newly-found purpose would lead him, but through his skills he has traveled the world, sharing his unusual art form. His abilities have landed him acting roles in Russian films and spots on American television and in magazines. The Guinness book of world records has recognized his talents – and now he teaches his techniques and his affirmations weekly in Moscow.

Although not all students will reach his level of flexibility, Mukhtar hopes his message will help them reach their own goals.