Zen Den Collective - Dunsborough
How long has yoga been a part of your life?
I was first introduced to yoga about 10 years ago but it did not become a major part of my life until a few years into casual practice. I have been practicing regularly since 2006 and teaching since 2008.
Tell us all about Zen Den Collective?
Zen Den Collective is a holistic space dedicated to raising the vibration of wellness in our community. After teaching in several other locations in the area it was clear that there was a need for a space that was regularly available for classes while still offering a tranquil environment. Knowing that there would be other instructors and therapists who would also be looking for space to work from was really the catalyst for making this a "collective". The ZDC is home to several individuals who all share a similar philosophy of well being.
As a surfer, how does yoga help you...and vice versa?
Yoga has helped my surfing immensely. It's funny but I actually think I surf better now than I did when I used to do competitions. My regular yoga practice did not coincide with my time as a competitive surfer and in retrospect I think it would have made me a much better competitor, mentally and physically.
I love how yoga has given me more awareness in my body. When I translate this to my surfing I really maximize my strength, flexibility, and balance. There are longer periods of time now when I find myself not in the water and surfing so it always amazes me how quickly I can find my rhythm again on the waves. I think i've found a new joy for surfing through yoga because it's helped me to appreciate things more.
If you could practice with anyone in the world who would you choose and why?
That is a really hard question! There are many people I would like to practice with for many different reasons. A few inspirational teachers past and present come to mind but the person that keeps coming up most is my mom.
I would love to see her experience the joys of a regular yoga practice and if I had the opportunity to share this with her I think it would be an amazing way to give back to her for all she has done for me in my life. Sharing your yoga practice with the people you love is so powerful!
What do you think is the most common misconception about yoga?
That all hot yoga is Bikram or that Hatha Yoga is for beginners
A lot of yogis compliment their practice with a vegetarian or vegan diet...what's in your fridge?
Mostly fresh veggies, watermelon, and tons of coconut water! I think it's important to eat with mindfulness - from what you eat to where it came from, there are many things to consider. I try to eat as local and sustainably as possible. If you were to come to dinner at my house you would likely be served vegetarian mexican or a thai style vegetable curry unless my hubby is home then you might get fresh local abalone and salad!
I just finished the Hellbound Trilogy by my friend (and yogi) Tim Hawken. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone looking for a good read! I also love David Sadaris for a laugh and many a Yoga text for inspiration. I am currently enjoying Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom by B.K.S Iyengar
So many amazing places, each with a unique set of offerings but there is a beautiful little piece of land in Bocas Del Toro, Panama where we hope to open our own eco surf and yoga retreat in the not too distant future! Pretty stoked that Bali is in our backyard too! I love heading back to the Island of the Gods for a big dose of yoga taught by amazing people from around the world!
"Live the Life You Love, Love the Life You Live" Bob Marley
Art of Motion - MARGARET RIVER
When was your very first introduction to yoga?
I did my very first Yoga class in Whistler, Canada. I was living over there at the time, snowboarding, travelling and hungry for adventure. I was working at a day spa and Yoga Studio that offered FREE classes to staff. This was the beginning of an amazing journey which even though it took me almost 2 years to make Yoga a constant in my life that first class unlocked a creativity inside me that never left. I tried different styles and loved them all...well most of them but it wasn't until I moved to Sydney in 2011 when I truly fell head over heels, crazy in love with this dynamic practice. I give credit to my amazing Teachers Mark O'brien, Joan Miller and Nikola Ellis that have resourcefully and artistically supported my growth every step of the way.
Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
I was first inspired by the transformation Yoga was having on my physical body. Being a Massage Therapist I was already interested in the human body and techniques on how to create more ease and support, Yoga amazed me at how effective it was in doing that. I wanted to learn more so I signed up to a year long course at Qi Yoga and Natural therapies in Sydney and never looked back.
In a class full of people with wildly different aims and expectations, how do you strive to keep everyone engaged and motivated?
Be real, have a sense of humour and meet my students where they're at. I am not going to lie it is challenging some days and I am learning just as much from my students as they learn from me. I like the analogy of conducting an orchestra. Anyone can wave a stick in front of people but the true magic and transformation happens when you connect with the people. For me it is not about teaching people poses it's about the process and experience of getting into the pose.
Name the top three benefits of yoga, as you personally experience them to be.
I best describe my experiences in one word answers, so here is goes....Flow, Ease, Connection
What is a common misperception people have about yoga?
Hmmm I'm not sure if they are misperceptions or more unsurety of the unknown. We have to remember that there is no one size fits all in anything and that is the beauty of life, that we have so many choices. The same goes for Yoga. I think the best message to put across is to be open and explorative not just in Yoga but in anything we do in our lives. Yoga is a practice on skilfully living our life to the fullest, taking care of our bodies and connecting the two.
If you could do only one pose from now on, what would it be?
Managing Director & Yoga Instructor
Yoga One - DUNSBOROUGH
When did you first try yoga and what specifically brought you to want to become a teacher?
Yoga has had a place in my life for over 25 years, since my mum was a teacher. My earnest practice began during highschool with an American teacher in Cottesloe. I recently became a teacher because I wanted to help people through yoga, I love helping people it's a passion. Yoga has so much to offer people on so many levels and I try to share that and inspire people to be the best version of themselves that they can, putting in some effort towards the values they want to maintain each day. I love helping people clear the mind, strenthen the body and soften their hearts. I agree with the addage, the meaning of life is to find your talents and the purpose of life is to give them away.Many people are suprised by how much yoga builds a strong body along with the flexibility, I wanted to share this way of doing vinyasa yoga with people.
Describe a usual day for you
Either a run and swim at Yals or yoga in the home studio; organise and drop kids to school; teach a yoga class or 2; home for office work and home duties; pick up kids from school and either play or go with them to an afterschool activity like piano. Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach a short class of yoga to children after school.
What or who inspires you?
Favourtite Yoga Teachers: Sean Corne; Tiffany Cruishank; Jason Crandell; Dice lida Klein; Paul Grilley; Leslie Kaminoff.
Other people who inspire me are the Dalai Lama; all active mums; anyone who works to be helpful to others and give of themselves; and mostly my 2 boys - they inspire me every day to be a better person; to question everything; to stay strong and healthy (to keep up!); to keep things simple and not sweat the small stuff.
book? All Magie Dents books are great, "Saving our children from a chaotic world". Fingerpainting in Psych Class by J Morgan.
food? Fresh salad and fruit, specifically spinach and pinapple! Breakfast green smoothies are a favourite.
place to practice? My home studio, wood panelled from hubby's grown and sawn plantation timber, it has such a eco feel.
I would like to see yoga and meditation become part of the PE program in schools... what do you think?
I think absolutely yes, I have tried to encourage it in schools too! I have given a short series to Our Lady of the Cape and Busselton High School through their innovative PE teachers, the children all loved it. I would love to teach the teachers a small sample they could use themselves. Best gift you can give to kids, love your body, focus your mind, let it go...
Yoga has been around for a very long time, but why do you think is it gaining so much popularity recently?
Daily life can over stimulating and stressful, Yoga is guaranteed to relase layers of tension and rejuvenate you. People always walk out of the room feeling lighter, more positive, rejuvenated and stronger. They feel more like themselves without the layers of stuff that was weighing them down.
A yoga session will systematically strengthen and tone muscles; increase the stability around major joints and improve posture; increase flexibility and the range of motion of your major joints; ease back, neck and hip strain; improve balance and coordination; promote a sense of inner calm and contentment.
Researchers have also found that yoga can assist a range of health problems and medical conditions, including Chronic pain, Lower back pain, Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, while also reducing the need for pain-relief medicines; Insomnia; Posture improves, Strength and resiliency increase, Endurance increases, Energy level increases; Weight normalizes
Blackwood Bliss Yoga - BOYUP BROOK
How long has yoga been in your life and what inspired you to teach?
I began practicing yoga 16 years ago, and was drawn to firstly the physical aspect of Yoga, and at that point there was no Yoga Classes around my area, i had no car and so I from then I got as many resources i could, I drew as much as I could from them until later in my early twenties I started attending classes in various places as often as I could, as it was a lot effort to travel and especially as my babies arrived and the challenges of being a Mother! Practice of Yoga was a wonderful experience for me, and it really was a huge awakening in my life, as the amazing benefits and effects that Yoga Practice's bring not just in a physical sense but as a person as a soul, and how Yoga could release the emotions and tension the body so subtly through deep awareness and compassion, it was this experience that I really felt inspired to share this with others and make a difference in other peoples lives through Sharing of Yoga with my family, friends & the wider community.
What is your preferred style of yoga?
I am a Hatha Yoga Teacher, and I teach a beautiful Hatha Vinyasa Flow Style of Yoga I find so transformational, which I love to share with my students in all of my sessions beginners or gentle classes, themed or targeted classes to stronger sessions with a blending of Yang Movement lighter, active, outward and upward moving, warm, Yang yoga is the more traditional hatha based asana practice that develops muscular strength, stamina, and flexibility. with Yin Movements darker, passive, opening , reflective, withdrawn, cool, introspective to penetrate deep into connective tissue expanding flexibility and aiding healing while stimulating the nadis or meridians to loosen energetic blockages and increase energy flow, combined with breath work ( pranayama), guided relaxation and meditation all to beautiful music to soothe the soul, & bring vibrancy, love & awareness to the body, mind & soul. There really is no greater feeling for me than seeing all everyone all blissed out in Savasana at the conclusion of a Yoga session !
Teaching children is part of your schedule, is it challenging teaching younger students?
I absolutely love sharing Yoga with children, they are so open, loving and free, the only challenge is keeping my imagination going to plan wonderful sessions for them, it is beautiful to see them every session happy and ready to learn and practice the poses, we have so much fun with music, dancing, art, games & instruments during classes & over the Term we also about gratitude, compassion, love, community and our environment and how we are all a part of nature and the cycles.
The benefits of Yoga for children are truly life enriching, body awareness, self love & compassion, self respect, openness, awareness and how to really relax and just 'be', as when we can experience this ourselves we find it comes naturally to treat others the same, and it is something that is needed in this world, and it is an absolute honour to be able to make a difference in someway to child through sharing Yoga with them. Plus we have an absolute party !! and lots of laughter and smiles
How do you find living in a rural community influences your practice?
Rural living certainly has influenced my practice in many ways, the practice of Yoga itself has supported me through some very tough times as we are running an extensive family farming business life on the farm is very unpredictable in many ways, but through Yoga practice I have been able to learn acceptance, patience and love you can get through anything! I have been so blessed to live here in Boyup Brook it truly is a beautiful place certainly my own personal practice is a special time with our beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the fresh air, clean water the large expanses of land to practice Yoga in this part of the world is inspiring, it really brings gratitude onto the mat how life enriching it is to share Yoga in the Community here :)
I did find in previous years that the isolation of being a Yoga Teacher and Practitioner so far away from main centres that I was somewhat lonely due to lack of a Yoga Community on the door step limited by distance and circumstance, but this has been vital to the organic way my practice and teaching style has evolved and we are now as a Yoga Community growing beautifully we have amazing Yoga teachers from Bunbury, Balingup, Bridgetown, Boyup Brook to Manjimup all sharing Yoga in many different styles and forms for the people in our community to learn from, it is really exciting !
As well as your studio in Boyup Brook! where else in the south west can we find you on the mat?
You will find me teaching Yoga in in various homes, halls & spaces from Donnybrook to Kojonup teaching Private one on one or Small group Classes. Various Group Classes - Gentle Yoga, Hatha Vinyasa Flow, Pregnancy or Mum's n Bubs, Men's Only Yoga, Kids Yoga Classes in Boyup Brook from CWA Hall, Forrest st Boyup Brook or Kojonup from Lesser Hall, Albany Hwy, Kojonup. Email or call 0428538801 to discuss or you can visit the website blackwoodblissyoga.com.au for current group class information and to book a class.
Treehouse Yoga - BUNBURY
What does yoga mean to you?
To me it means becoming more aware of me and who I am, more aware of why I am who I am, and how I can modify or evolve who I am.
When did you decide to dedicate yourself to yoga personally and professionally?
It came to me on the mat! Truth! Many ideas and solutions do. I remember it clearly, a light bulb moment. I had just fallen in love with Ashtanga Yoga and was practising asana, with thirst, 6 days a week at The Red Pearl in Florida. I had been sailing around the world working on yachts for nearly 10 years and was ready to go home....but, what was I going to do when I got home? It was then that I looked at yoga differently. My weekends became full of yoga workshops and every holiday had to be in close range of a yoga studio/workshop/retreat.
What style/s do you teach?
My teaching is always with the breath. Vinyasa style. Ashtanga based. Mostly dynamic and strong. My teaching, generally, comes straight from my personal practise and experience and as I get older I am finding my practise and teaching is getting gentler. Still, always focusing on the breathe. Im enjoying a yin style practise at the moment and finding an enjoyment of incorporating this into my classes too.
Why do you think some may feel intimidated by yoga? How can they overcome this?
The first thing a new yoga friend says to me is always 'Im not flexible, but Ive heard yoga is good for you'. It only takes a few classes and their misconception will change and they realize their is so much more to yoga than being flexible and it generally becomes something they want to keep as a part of their lives. Yoga is massive, its a lifestyle and so much to learn that it is portrayed in so many ways that it can be confusing. Serene pictures in ideal locations and pictures of beautiful people doing impossible poses for most does not help this at all. They need to just arrive with an open mind, leave ego at the door and have a go.
Who or what inspires you?
My kids. They inspire me to be more aware, with every action, every word, every thought. Wanting to create a humble and happy life for them, leaving the planet in great condition for them and thier own.
Where is your dream practice location?
It's not so much the destination for me it's about my personal journey and what and where I need to be at that time. Mysore in the next couple of years hopefully. Bali and Byron Bay are both great all round packages. Great teachers, food, beach/surf, music and laid back living. Though, I think number 1.....I would LOVE to visit one of my first ever teachers again, Brigitte Longuville in Zipolite, Mexico. I think that tops it for me. A remote location. Off the typical yoga tourism radar.
What plans do you have for your studio in 2014?
Just to continue sharing the gift of yoga to our growing community.
Emilie Abbiss The Shed - BRIDGETOWN
You have a very interesting background! Tell us a bit about that and how it led you to yoga.
I never thought I would teach yoga or run a functional training/ wellbeing business as my profession, not for one second! I was a journalist working on stories about Fair Trade and Social Entrepreneurship. But I was always very involved in sport, and had started working as a personal trainer/Pilates teacher back in the 90’s during Uni in the US. It was during that time that I began practicing yoga consistently, in response to my own experience with panic disorder, and did my first training as a personal journey to deepen my own practice and understanding. I also completed my first round of study in Nutritional Medicine and spent time volunteering with different organizations offering alternative health programs (for people confronting cancer, chronic diseases, various degenerative illnesses) in the US. So by the time I graduated, I was already passionate about holistic approaches to health and wellbeing.
After Uni, I began working in journalism. I spent some time in East Africa on assignments and was very emotionally affected by the situation in Darfur and the resulting refugee crisis. I became a bit obsessed with the notion of having no home, no safe space, and realizing that yoga could offer displaced people that space within themselves. I began to research the increasing usage of Yoga Therapy in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and undertook further study in Yoga Therapy.
I had been supplementing my journalist’s income by teaching yoga & working as a trainer on fitness/yoga retreats in Europe, Africa, and the US and slowly I began to shift my focus completely. I ended up in Central Africa (predominantly Rwanda and the Eastern Congolese border) with my friend, Sam Cunningham, an amazing yoga teacher out of London. We began collaborating with an NGO called “Right To Play” seeking to introduce yoga to marginalized populations and displaced people (refugees).
It was during what was meant to be a brief trip home to Australia and crashing on a friend’s couch for a few weeks (Danny, who is now my husband, was that friend) that my future took an unexpected twist!
Having recently had twins, what is your advice for pregnant and post-natal ladies practicing yoga or considering starting yoga?
I subscribe to the idea that if you already have a strong, consistent practice, you simply listen to your body, to your baby, and practice with that awareness. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. In my case, I continued teaching until I was about 26 weeks along- but then was transferred to Perth because identical twins can be a complicated pregnancy, and in my case they were. Pregnancy is certainly not the time to begin a vigorous practice, but pre-natal yoga is such a phenomenal way to prepare the body, and the mind, for delivery and motherhood.
When it comes to post-natal yoga, if you can find the time to get back on a mat in the months right after becoming a mum, you’re doing a heck of a lot better than I did! Our boys were 2 months early, so that threw things out of balance for a while, but once I did begin practicing again, I just took it very gently. Becoming a mum softened my practice, as it softened my body, and I found in the early days, a slower, sweeter practice was what I needed. I had to learn to appreciate the changes, to work with them, not just on the mat. I think post-natal yoga is an important part of that journey, and when you start back will be a function of so many things: the practice that you had before, the nature of your pregnancy and delivery, your post-natal health. It’s always good to have a chat with your teacher and doctor before stepping back on the mat.
Changing the mind-set of the younger people in your community is very important to you…what part does yoga play in this?
The capacity of yoga to inspire and focus the minds of younger people is HUGE. So many of the kids I see now are out of balance- not just physically or emotionally, but it almost seems as though they have lost true self-awareness. Social media has made our younger generations live this pseudo-celebrity, where their every waking moment is posted on FB or Instagram or Twitter, but it is completely superficial and narcissistic. I think kids are forgetting how to just be, how to sit with themselves and remain present and let that be enough. Yoga provides that opportunity, but you have to tailor it to resonate with kids. I’ve worked a lot with pre-teens and teens over the years; they’re some of my favorite groups to teach. Once you get past the tough exteriors, older kids
are so hungry for the quiet spaces and sense of calm that yoga brings. And they love a good vinyasa!
You also run a men's class, how do those farmers go on the mat?!
I love that class. The guys are so fun. We have real mix: farmers, footy players, welders, dads and their sons. There are lots of grunts and groans, but you can see them sinking in and letting the whole experience evolve. And these guys are a lot more flexible than they like to admit… We laugh a lot. I think there should be more laughing in yoga classes.