How did you get into yoga?
I first started practicing yoga at the age of 13; one of my Mum’s best friend’s was a primary teacher by day and an Iyengar Instructor by sunset. We went to her classes once a week that were held in my secondary school building. It was mostly a mixture of women in their 20s to 60s. I was the youngest there and sometimes brought a friend along with me. I didn’t really understand at that point how influential yoga would be on my life, but what I did know was that it felt amazing for my body and even more amazing for my mind. Those moments of complete stillness in Savasana made my busy teenage mind feel calm, which was a rarity!
Was there a moment when you realised you wanted to pursue yoga seriously?
When I was 19 I travelled to India and visited Rishikesh, the magical spiritual town and birthplace of Yoga. It was there, when I was practicing in an Ashram, amongst lots of likeminded travellers from all over the world, many whom were completing their teacher training, that I thought “I want yoga to be a part of my life forever”. I was still towards the beginning of my journey at that point, but I knew from this moment that I would complete a teacher training one day and that being able to share this wonderful practice with many others would be a dream come true.
How has yoga changed you?
Wow this is a tough question…because honestly, yoga has changed everything for me. My mindset, my ego, my levels of compassion, empathy and understanding of people and the world. My ability to sit with and experience feelings (good, bad and ugly) and developing the power to let go of things that no longer serve me. For me, yoga is so much more than the asana that we hold for seconds or minutes, but it’s a complete lifestyle change, one that lasts forever. Getting to my mat, allows me to experience my complete self, to learn about myself and to be honest with myself and to practice appreciation, ahimsa (non-violence) and love. I always roll up my mat after practice, feeling calmer, more in tune with how I’m feeling right here and now and with more love and light in my heart.
What’s your advice to people considering starting yoga?
First of all, don’t be put off by the poses that demonstrate huge amounts of strength and flexibility. Flexibility and strength are not requirements of yoga, neither are they goals, they are the by-products of a regular, consistent and patient practice. There is no criteria you need to meet to practice yoga! It’s all about your own personal experience and growth, so it doesn’t matter if you can’t sit in lotus pose or do a handstand. We’re all unique and have different anatomical capabilities. Use it as a way to get closer to your internal self, through challenging yourself and pushing your limits at times, but by also being kind and honest with yourself and learning when you need to give your body a break. It’s ok to use props and to make adjustments to your practice, this doesn’t make you a weaker yogi, it shows you are strong and listening to your body’s needs which is an act of self-love. Finally, enjoy every moment of it. The wobbles, the falls, the sweat, the tears, the excitement, the serenity, the sense of community, the individual growth. Experience and be open to the whole journey – I’m sure it will change your life too.
What is your approach to teaching?
I see myself as a student of yoga and a tool for others to teach themselves. We only truly learn through our own practice and experiences, so I offer my students plenty of room for exploration and to intuitively listen to their bodies. As much as I love a fiery, challenging heat-building practice, I also love the soothing, healing and meditative qualities of a Yin practice. Therefore you can expect to feel well-balanced after leaving my class. Compassion and belief are two key features of my approach to teaching. I want my students to feel as if they’re completely supported, encouraged and believed in while creating a safe, warm, open and creative space for them to lose and find themselves in.
My favourite quote as a yogi:
“As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings.” Dalai Lama