My story…in brief!
I have been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for about 15 years and teaching it for over 10. It took a while for me to commit to a regular Ashtanga yoga practice but I remember deciding stop ‘dabbling’ as I saw it and make it my main practice. I took many trips to Mysore and was Authorised by KPJAYI in 2014. I have since renounced my Authorisation If you’d like to learn more about why I did that click here).
A year ago I spent a month in Byron Bay studying with the wonderful Dena Kinsburg. She’s an amazing long term Ashtanga teacher and I had high hopes for the development of my Ashtanga yoga practice.
The trip was expansive in a many of ways, but I left Byron feeling really conflicted about my Ashtanga practice. The heat was a killer for my body. I felt exhausted. Postures that I had been doing well at eluded me. Most of the time I’d leave our morning sessions thankful it was over. My cycle went awry. I felt my body had been talking to me for a while but I hadn’t been listening.
This is in no way a reflection on Dena…she is an epic teacher and I highly recommend her! But something had shifted and I could no longer ignore it.
So when I got home I had a bit of a break from practicing Ashtanga so much and I decided to learn to swim. I remember coming out of my first lesson buzzing! I thought, this is what people must feel like coming out of their first yoga class! And it’s been a REALLY long time since that was me (I went to my first class 25 years ago!).
About the same time I got switched onto and trained in Functional Range Conditioning (FRC) and started going to Calesthenics (gymnastic training). I began to realise how imbalanced my body was. I learnt about ‘passive’ and ‘active’ range of mobility and I found I had plenty of passive but very little active!
After 15 years of Yoga I could do a perfect Indian style sitting squat but an active squat? Something like a Cossack Squat. Not a chance in hell!!!
Me hanging out in a squat! 😉
Through exploring, I started to find lots of inspiring people who were also experimenting with strength training and yoga. I began going to the gym…for the first time ever! I began lifting weights…and we started a strength training for yogis class at the Yoga Reading studio!
I do still love Ashtanga. I’m thankful for all the years the practice served me and I think it’s really important to learn a system properly before you start mucking about with it too much! But…I believe it’s really important to be multi disciplined, meaning move your body in a variety of ways!
It’s healthy to move our body in lots of different ways. Flexibility seems to be so sought after but if we don’t have the strength to support it we might be over stressing our joints and connective tissues. BUT it is possible to add strength into your yoga practice..and yes your Ashtanga practice too!
So what does my physical practice look like these days?
These days I practice yoga 2-3 times a week. I do mobility work and I swim. Oh and I get in the sea as much as humanly possible (unless it looks like its a really stupid idea to go in!). This multi disciplined approach works REALLY well for me and this is an ever moving feast. Some weeks there is more yoga…some weeks there is more sleeping ;-).
And my teaching?
Well…I love to bring what I’ve learnt into my teaching to help people understand the specifics of how their bodies move. When teaching Ashtanga I have taken the empahisis off of ‘binding’ and ‘deepening’ poses by using physical adjustments. I like to help people bring in some strength opportunities into their practice and to create new awareness of their body and how to move and work with it.
You can catch me in Reading teaching on Monday evenings and in Brighton the rest of the week. You can find me easily on Instagram. If you have any questions do get in touch I’d love to hear from you.