We’re delighted that long-term Yoga West member Stephanie has joined our team as studio manager covering Rebecca’s maternity. She will be at the studio on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. We thought it would be nice to find out a little bit more about her and her journey to yoga and to share this with you.
How did you get into yoga?
I started regularly practicing yoga whilst living in Ho Chin Minh City in my mid-twenties. Not a very exciting origin story for me I'm afraid - I just wanted a hobby that would help me find friends in a new city. I stumbled across a yoga class led by a former physics teacher and student of Thich Nhat Hanh. The class was a gorgeous mixture of Anusara yoga infused with Buddhist philosophy. A few breaths in and I was hooked.
Before that class my experience of yoga was limited to London gyms. My ignorance of the practice meant I was deterred from pursuing yoga by a scepticism of anything too "cult-like" or "airy-fairy". My first teacher in Vietnam opened my eyes to the many facets of yoga and the nuances of its eight-limbed path. The right teacher can get you like that.
Was there a moment when you realised that you wanted to pursue yoga seriously?
Three weeks after that first class actually. My teacher left Vietnam to go back to Canada. I knew yoga was doing such great things for me so I had to keep going with it. My anxiety had decreased and my asthma had improved; my mind and body were changing. I picked up the phone to another local teacher from California, a student of Ana Forrest. I explained to her that I'd only been practicing yoga for 3 weeks but it's starting to change my life and I had to learn more... then I begged her to join her teacher training which started the following week! It was a bold move and a bit of an awkward conversation. She said she wasn't sure whether this was the right time for me to do the teacher training, even without an intention to teach at the end of it, but she was curious to meet in person. She invited me to one of her classes and then to her house for a chat. A week later I started my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training. I didn't even have my own mat. It was the best decision I've ever made.
Advice to people considering it?
Just go for it: be open-minded, be curious, and be kind. As with any learning the right teacher can unlock doors for you that others can't so spend time finding that person. Every style of yoga and every teacher won't work for you so give yourself time to find what fits. And be kind to yourself on the mat, be patient with your mind and body.
My favourite quote as a yogi and a school teacher:
"You are braver than you believe; stronger than you seem; smarter than you think" Winnie the Pooh