A naturally curious Being am I, very much drawn to inquiry of the Mystery that is Life and Consciousness and to understanding the play within it of my own unique place and role. The wisdom of the Nature, the Life-Force and Consciousness of it’s numberless and priceless expressions initiated me into Yoga some 20 years ago and, to my last breath in this body, I see myself as never losing what Einstein called this “Holy Curiosity”. This is a quest as infinite as the Cosmos, and its over-whelming and humbling scope calls out to me to integrate, accept and be grateful for the privilege of my opportunity to learn and practice. Yoga is for me both the journey and its destination.
Yoga is a gift of grace and serendipity as it arrived in my life at a time of pain, insecurity and anxiety as I launched into an ambitious research plan for my Ph.D in Cultural Studies, in a comparison of the philosophy and practice of Home between a location in India and the suburb in which I then dwelt in W.A. I arrived at my Indian location with my family at the beginning of 1997 with a back injured by an uncontrolled dive off a boat in the Mediterranean and lots of worries about how I was going to pull off such a vast and formidable research process. And the Cosmos answered me and kindly ushered Shree Paresh Thakkur into my life who, became my principle research assistant and translator and my first yoga teacher for Shree P. Thakkur was an accomplished Yogi and immediately showed me a few simple yoga moves that rehabilitated my sore back. I was graced and hooked !
Of course, I knew of Yoga but the practice itself was nothing short of a Revelation ! So many times during those years of rather isolated and self-directed research and writing, my Yoga practice bought me back into balance and gave me the capacity to lighten up and cease taking myself and my work too seriously. And 20 years later it still does ! Yoga is my sacred sanctuary, my place of solace, serenity and refuge, which I can take with me absolutely everywhere. Yoga warms the cockles of heart never ceasing in its capacity to deepen my love and compassion for myself and others while strengthening and nourishing my body and reminding me, no matter what the superficial identifications and attachments of my restless and sometimes over- anxious mind, that I am a Being of a pure awareness that I have only temporarily lost or forgotten. My Yoga practice is my Soul Food, resonating through every facet of my life in thought, word and deed. A deep-dyed and activist Greenie, I love the natural world. I love learning and cultivating my garden and hope to become a natural beekeeper soon. I am also a very eclectic music lover and cherish opportunities to dance, swim, read great books and watch great fılms.
After my year in India we went home to our adorable abode in W.A and I immediately found my way to my local Ashram, The Beacon in Beaconsfield just outside Fremantle where I enrolled as a student and then at the outset of 2002 in the FINY (Friends in Yoga ) Teacher Training program of Integral Yoga that it offers.
The Beacon is my Yogic Alma Mater, of the Bihar or Sivananda School.
The small bevy of beloved teachers were led by Rakini (aka Michele Hendarawin) who now heads the Golden Lotus School of Yoga. When I graduated at the end of that year I immediately began teaching both Beginners and General Yoga at The Beacon which was voluntary and paid posıtions at local recreation centres.
Throughout my teacher training and my own teaching I was still writing my Ph.D which I completed in 2004. Between 2002 and 2005 honouring a promise to my husband Michael, we moved out of Australia and looked for a place abroad to settle.
We chose a place on the Turkish Black Sea coast where we lived for 5 years but moved in 2010 to the Med coast. Coincident with this radical choice and move Michael’s health deteriorated and I found myself nearly anchorless and managing our life abroad alone. During the Turkish winter we went to live in India and it was here that I trained for a month with an Indian Ashtanga master in Mysore who turned out to be a very mixed blessing.
Though I have never been so fit and toned, my much more valuable lessons were experiential for I learnt that no Yoga teacher is as relevant or as important as one’s own self- awareness and inner voice. This master had some very dogmatic renderings of Yoga philosophy and practice one of which was his insistence that I sit for a ½ hour every day in full Lotus Posture.
As a Yoga teacher I doubted the value of both this posture and time period for my body, especially for my knees but respectfully complied with the result that I did considerable damage to my left knee which is now much better but becomes weak in periods in which my yoga practice has been derailed as I allowed other priorities to squeeze it out.
I lived in Turkey for 10 years during which due to family responsibilities, I practiced and studied on my own. For one glorious week in 2014 I attended the Kabak Valley Yoga Retreat where for 5 days I practiced and learnt a lot but most of all from the inimitable and lovable American Vinyasa teacher Ms. Sean Korn.
My teaching continues to pay homage to that most important lesson learned in Mysore, emphasising to my students that, whatever practice we are doing in class, it is so important that moment by moment they tune into and respect the Being that they are. I gently remind them to pay attention, to come to know themselves, in an unfolding process of Self- realisation.
I ask them to become aware of their every gross or subtle state and their mind and body will follow; their Yoga practice will respond and resonate accordingly. The breath is the key to the kingdom of Self- awareness and realisation just as it is foundation of our Life and Consciousness.
As I practice so I teach – “Breathe into your practice, Let your breath be your guide; Become as one with your breath and follow it, for never will it lead you into error or astray; Breathe and release. Breathe and let yourself relax completely.
Fully immerse yourself in your awareness of your breath and, as the wonderful teacher and my current inspiration Donna Farhi says: “As you give yourself over to this current you find that your body becomes married to the breath. A thousand tiny shifts, rotations, openings and closings are happening throughout your entire body. Let yourself be breathed .”
As mentioned Donna Farhi is my current inspiration. I am reading her Yoga Mind Body and Spirit : A Return to Wholeness (available on the CYS bookshelves once I return it ;). Donna’s The Breathing Book was one of my first Yogic inspirations and I hope that in the future the Cosmos will gift me a place for some treasured time, on the mat in her class.