From Asana to Inside
Updated: May 25, 2019
The story of my unfolding life and yoga journey
My adventure into yoga began in 2006 in Berlin. I went to a class with a friend and though it was humbling and difficult, I was hooked. Despite my unwieldy body, purple straining face and poor grasp of german, I fell in love with the way it plugged me into my body and breath whilst completely consuming my focus. It was the first time in my life that I’d experienced something other than being lost in the trance of thought.
After that I class I know I wanted to be a yoga teacher and built my life and plans around that goal.
In the first year of a daily practice that bordered on addictive, I felt I needed yoga to be dynamic so as that was the only way I could step out of my mind and get that release that all yogis know too well. While my body changed and I enjoyed a deeper connection with my body, my heart and mind remained as entangled as ever.
My practice was strong and people began asking me to teach, I began leading informal daily classes in the city park in Barcelona where I lived. After another year of daily practice and teaching, I was ready for the next step. India was calling me so I went to Mysore, the home of Ashtanga, to begin my first yoga teacher training.
I jumped into the course, and as many people find with 200 teacher training, it was not what I hoped. I was still very focused on asana and found any other forms of yoga torturous. They say that India gives you what you need, rather than what you want and I found the meditation, chanting and unfriendly Indian discipline to be the opposite of what I was looking for. I remember the teacher telling us that the journey of yoga is a path from the gross to the subtle. I didn’t understand what he was talking about and I certainly wasn’t ready for the subtle.
I travelled north, to the Himalayas, and found Vijay. He was an impressive ashtanga teacher and I had found what I was looking for. I spent 4 months with Vijay undertaking a second teacher training. He was an amazing teacher and gave us everything. When I finished the course I felt like I was ready to teach.
I moved to Israel and began teaching. I was not at peace there, it is difficult to be in peace in a country at war but Israel gave me a great gift. Whilst living there I went on a 10 day vipassana silent meditation retreat. I had to sit with much grief, much trauma, much mania of the mind but I went from the gross to the subtle on that retreat and finally I began to unwind the knots in my heart and mind.
I returned to India and spent 6 months living, working and teaching in an ashram, It was another gift. The healing nature of the ganges and himalayas worked a magic on me and learnt to be simple, slow and most importantly to be with myself.
My journey towards subtlety became more important than asana and I went on a 40 day silent meditation retreat with my teachers, Jaya Ashmore and Jess Huon. It was a baptism of fire and taught me that with the breath I can abide with anything. The retreat was a revelation and remains a touchstone in my life. What I discovered there has become fundamental to my own practice and my teaching.
I then found the teaching of TKV desikachar, son and carrier of the lineage of krishnamacarya, one of the foremost teachers of yoga and grandfather of most forms of yoga. I returned to India to study at his school. Their teaching encompassed a profound and authentic transmission of yoga, and underlined the absolute primacy of the breath in yoga.
Since then I’ve had children and settled in the northern heavenly realm of Hebden Bridge. Children have deepened, and tested, my spiritual practice in ways I could not have imagined. They have brought into my life a new level of groundedness and shown me the importance of rest and self-care.