Honouring my yoga linage
It’s Samhain, Day of the Dead, Hallow’een… the time to honour our linage, our ancestors, the people who walked the Earth before us. And what a potent day it falls on: the second full moon of October, a Blue Moon.
It made me think not just of my own family tree and those who have passed. But also my linage as it comes to my spiritual practice and my yoga. Of the yoga that has been passed to me and informed my practice and return, how I share that with you.
I took my first class in the late 1990s. Trust me, there were not a lot of yoga studios in Denmark at the time. Maybe one or two. And I only knew of one. I signed up for classes with two teachers who co-taught the classes in a beautiful space in Copenhagen.
My first yoga teachers
Hari Prem and Bjørn were Satyananda yoga teachers and had been involved with the main yoga studio in Copenhagen, Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School, founded by Swami Janakananda.
I fell in love with yoga. Immediately. I loved it. I felt like I was coming home. To me.
Satyananda yoga, also known as Bihar School of Yoga, was founded by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
The biharyoga.net says:
The Satyananda approach incorporates the whole person, not just the body. There is an emphasis on awareness and practitioners are encouraged to learn about all aspects of their personality through Yoga. Change is a process that takes place naturally as a consequence of regular practise with full awareness, rather than by forcing the mind and body to the limit and beyond and by incorporating yogic practices and precepts into one’s daily life.
Swami Satyananda was a student of Swami Sivananda.
In the 1920s Swami Sivananda went to Rishikesh to explore classical yogas and to develop a system of yoga to integrate the faculties of head, heart and hands and awaken the self. He established the Divine Life Society which taught integral yoga. Swami Sivananda went on to be an influential yoga teacher for not only Satyananda but also Swami Vishnudevananda the founder of the well known Sivananda Ashrams and schools across the World. Satchidananda Saraswati, founder of the Integral Yoga Institutes, Chinmayananda Saraswati, founder of the Chinmaya Mission.
Soon after I started practising with the inspiring Hari Prem and Bjørn I was off to India. They recommended that I could visit one of the Sivananda Ashrams founded by Swami Vishnudevananda. It was a great introduction to being in India and travelling. It was a basic ashram but catered to the Western students.
Mother India – my teacher and my love
Needless to say that I fell in love with India!
I ended up spending a lot of time at the ashram. I was there, then travelled, came back again, did a few courses… In the end, one of the teachers suggested that I should stay for the intense one month teacher training.
I didn’t feel ready to do a teacher training or to be a yoga teacher. But I knew that at some point I would. I knew that this was something I had to share.
So in 1998, I became a Sivananda Yoga Teacher.
I offer immense gratitude to my first teachers and the wonderful teachers at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala. I honour Swami Govindananda Saraswati, Sri Nataraj Ji, Ma and the other wonderful teachers.
It was also here I first encountered the ayurveda. Something that is now a practice which very much informs my life and my yoga.
So many styles of yoga…
After my trip to India, coming back to Copenhagen and then moving to London I was practising yoga on and off. I loved Jivamukti Yoga, went to some Iyengar classes and got inspired by Vinyasa Flow.
However, my love for Satyananda yoga never stopped. I have been a regular student of Swami Nirmal at the Clapham Centre and absolutely adore her. I did my Yoga Nidra training with them and went back to the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School to do a meditation course with Swami Janakananda.
Becoming a yoga teacher
Finally, in 2005 I was inspired to share my love of yoga. I enrolled in The Cambridge School of Yoga’s teacher training course in London. Barbara Harding and Elena Voyce tutored me to pursue my Dharma or dream to offer yoga to others.
I want to offer gratitude specifically to Barbara. I continued going to her classes, she offered support and chats and encouragement beyond the teacher training. Barbara have a background in everything from Iyengar, Asthanga and pilates and offered a grounded, alignment-based practise.
The journey never ends… There are always more teachers and inspirations.
Some of my continuous training which has influenced me deeply has been my workshops and teacher training courses with Seane Corn. She taught (and teaches) me just how powerful prayer and ritual is in our yoga. To heal beyond the body. To uncover the layers and layers of “stuff”, to feel and acknowledge. And to use yoga beyond the mat.
Also gratitude to Shiva Rea with whom I did my 300 hours+ training. The flow, poetic movement, the power, strength and sensuality of yoga. A teacher, like me, who also have the tantrik roots of Satyananda as well as ayurveda imparted in her teachings.
There are many others. Teachers who may not be “yoga teachers” but are still sharing yoga (but not as we “think” of yoga). Teachers who may not have been easy and wonderful to be inspired by. But because of that – did inspire me somehow. Or certainly taught me important lessons in Life.
My teachers of Ayurveda who underpins my life and my yoga. (But this may be another post!)
What stays with me are the roots of yoga, of ayurveda and the traditional tantrik traditions. That this is a spiritual practice and never-ending.
I honour and give thanks to all my teachers. And their teachers’ teachers.
I am grateful that I am in a position to share my love of yoga.
I am grateful and honoured that you are open and willing to be there. To be in my company. And you too are my teacher. Thank you.