YOGA for EVERYBODY
My yoga journey began…
in 1995 with a senior Iyengar teacher in Austin, Texas. Her attention to detail and focus on alignment appealed to me. I liked how my teacher took the time to set up each asana for each individual so that we could all practice safely and confidently under her guidance. I had every intention of beginning my teacher training with her, but life in my 20s kept me busy and distracted.
In 2003, I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and when I was unable to find an Iyengar teacher, and began practising Power Yoga. Although the style appealed to me, the heated room did not. Eventually I had wrist surgery in 2005 and with the birth of my first child in 2006, my yoga practice faltered a bit.
I moved to Canberra in 2007 with my family and was thrilled to find a senior Iyengar teacher. Although he is on the opposite side of the globe from my first teacher, his approach to teaching yoga was very familiar to me and I found it comforting.
Teaching is my vocation.
Previously in my life, I have taught desktop publishing, French and Spanish. Yoga had been with me for most of my adult life and it seemed like the next logical step in my teaching career. Despite being an ardent follower of the Iyengar method, in 2013 I made the decision to enroll in Vinyasa Flow teacher training with Heather Agnew at Yoga Trinity. I learned a tremendous amount about yoga and myself from her and she gave me the courage to begin teaching my own classes.
Combining Classical Hatha Yoga with Modern Vinyasa Flow
In my classes I try to strike a balance between the precise movements that I learned from traditionally trained Iyengar teachers with the creative freedom of modern Vinyasa Flow. I like to create sequences, that allow time for adjustments, modifications and self-reflection. It is important to respect each pose in how you approach it, interact with it, and transition from it. Sometimes this requires the use of props because it is the poses that should be adapted to suit the practitioner, not vice versa. It is my intention to teach particiapants how to do each pose properly and safely, so that they can develop a yoga practice of their own.
Like you, I too am a student of yoga.
The first thing that you should know about me is that I am still a student. And I will continue to be a student of yoga until the day I die. I will continue to attend classes, workshops and seminars. I will continue to read great yogic texts. I will continue to trawl the internet for more information and ideas on how to improve my practice and my teaching methods.
Therefore, I never try to pass myself off to my students as being a guru. I may be a wee bit more flexible, but I do not purport to know more than you. Yoga is something that resides within each individual, and the shape of one’s Downward Facing Dog is not a reflection of how enlightened they are.
Yoga is not merely a form of exercise. Yoga is a philosophy, it is a way of living, a way of breathing, a way of thinking, a way of observing and reacting to the world around oneself, and a way of connecting with the universe. These poses that we do are only a small aspect of what yoga is. The asanas, or poses, are a way of caring for this vehicle, your body, that you have been given. This “vehicle” is in charge of taking you through Life. Consider this, you could make the journey in a worn-out, beaten-up jalopy, or you could fine-tune your vehicle to run well with fewer break-downs. It is not about buying a new car, it is about caring for the car that you have.
Taking yoga off the mat and into the world.
This is why we practice the asanas the way we do. During an asana practice, my goal is to try and create scenarios which challenge you physically, mentally, and perhaps, even emotionally. How you react to these situations will determine your overall happiness with the class, with me, and with yourself. These challenges that I create are meant to be practised regularly, so that once you leave the yoga mat and go out and about to live your daily life, you will carry some of these lessons with you. You will begin to change how you react to stress and anxiety, sadness and anger, confusion and frustration. You will learn to take a deep breath and hang in there just a little bit longer, because just as in class, the situation will eventually change. But until it does, and while you are in it, you must maintain focus, steady your breath, relax your neck, relax your jaw, and learn to accept those things which you cannot change. This in turn will affect your overall wellbeing and contentment with your life. This will eventually lead to physiological improvements such as lowering your blood-pressure; improving your posture, breathing, and circulation; you may have more energy and become sick less often; your ability to sleep peacefully at night may improve; and in some cases, even increase your libido and overall sexual pleasure.
Don’t expect miracles.
These changes do not happen over night. But with steady practise, study and commitment, they will come eventually. So if I leave my students with only one thought at the end of a class, it is that I cannot cure their ills in one class per week, however it is a good place to start. They must take it upon themselves to create a regular practice of asanas and meditation in order to reap the fruits from the tree of yoga.
I look forward to being your guide on your yoga journey, just as my teachers are for me. To get you started, I encourage you to take up the Yoga Habit Challenge as way to make a much needed change in your life now. If you can attend 10 classes in 10 weeks, you’ll start to feel a difference in your overall wellbeing. 10 classes in 5 weeks, even more so. Let yoga be the keystone habit that has a trickle down effect on other aspects of your life.
I am grateful to all of my teachers for giving me the knowledge and confidence to pursue my dream of becoming a yoga teacher and to share my practice with you.