My philosophy as a yoga teacher
Hello. Let me introduce myself. My name is Claudia and I live now in Hove and I have been giving yoga classes internationally since 2004. I believe that yoga is more than just performing on the mat and acrobatic exercises. I take all life experiences into my classes. I have studied social studies, philosophy (west and eastern), psychology, have worked with trauma and former drug and alcohol abuse, different bodies and minds. For me, yoga is my life and not only work. I don't see my life purpose as much as having a job, but taking every step in life with a newer understanding.
I started to teach on a little massage parlour on Ko Tao in Thailand 2004 giving my first yoga courses after graduating from a second teacher training in India with a senior Iyengar Teacher. I called this course "Dive deeper into your yoga practice - since Ko Tao is an island frequented by divers. Before that I worked for an international NGO, learning about empowerment and justice.
I volunteered for Amnesty International in the Columbia department and when living in Spain I worked with former drug and alcoholic addicts offering them yoga and meditation. In India, I volunteered and worked with a local NGO.
My classes stress emphasis on self-awareness and involve a mindful flow adapting yoga postures to a modern body and learning step by step in a safe and enjoyable way.
In all classes, I ensure empowerment of oneself and encourage self-inquiry and self-reflection. Sometimes through intention, meditation, pranayama or mantra the mind quietens and prepares us for energetic meditative flow. Yoga is a way of life and how to apply this wisdom in everyday life.
I am registered with the UK Yoga Alliance Professionals as a Senior Yoga Teacher and have completed various teacher trainings (one in Dynamic Yoga with Godfrey Devereux, one in Iyengar style Yoga with Karin O'Bannon in the Parmath Niketan in Rishikesh and one with the AEPY in Barcelona). I am also running a registered Yoga Teacher Training Provider Course.
My yoga journey took me from London off the mat to the birthplace of Yoga India in 2003. I gained a broad array of experience having studied with certified Ashtanga Yoga Teachers, senior Iyengar Teachers, Jivamukti, Synergy Yoga and many more.
Yoga for me is connecting on a deeper level. I have worked in yoga studios in Jerez and Barcelona and held many workshops.
I have also studied the Synergy Yoga Approach by Simon Borg Olivier and Bianca Machliss having completed the advanced yoga fundamentals and Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga Courses.
In 2005 I moved to Southern Spain and run a little yoga studio and retreat place. I participated in giving yoga classes as an alternative treatment for former drug addicts, Thai massage and coordinating the project. I participated in the Yoga Congress in Marbella in 2009 and in various other local yoga exhibitions as went on local TV - Onda Jerez.
My journey took me after 5 years in the South to Barcelona where I gave classes in one fabulous centre right in the heart of Gracia Yoga con Gracia for 5 years and also other centres. I started to collaborates with SpanishSteps Wellness and teaching on their awesome premises in the mountains of Asturias and to teach yoga on the Canino de Santiago and the spent one-month teaching in Ibiza before moving back to the UK.
I really wish to thank all my present, future and past teachers, Petra and Becky for having been my first teachers and friends in London, John Scott for having inspired me, especially in the first workshop, to take yoga more serious, Godfrey for going deeper, Karin for pushing me to action, Arun in Bangalore for having relaxed and restored me and the children of Samarthanam for having given me so much love and feeling yoga!!
In Barcelona, I am grateful to Yoga con Gracia having given me a space to continue teaching my passion.
In 2011 I set exams to be recognized by AEPY (equivalent to the British Wheel of Yoga) as a Yoga Teacher.
Why do I call it Sundara?
Sundara means "beautiful", "lovely" or/and "noble" and that is what yoga is for me. "Yoga for me does not entail any dogmatic belief, but connecting with yourself and ultimately with everything. Yoga is not about stretching, tensioning or strength, although ultimately you may get more flexible, stronger and balanced.
On a physical level, you start by connecting your brain to your body increasing the communication and flow of energy and consciousness throughout your body. I love and follow Simon Borg's Synergy approach and advise: "Stretch less, tenseless, bend less, breathe less"...and this for very important reasons.
Sundara Yoga Flow is an energetic fun practice that will reinvigorate you with vital energy and make you feel alerted and strong yet balanced and relaxed. A powerful sequence that will move and increase your Ojas, ayurvedic word for "vigour".
Every posture has a simple and more complex variety so that the practice is suitable equally for a beginner as a more advanced yoga practitioner. Sundara Yoga Flow is energising Yoga. A dynamic practice actively moving from the core. Through a powerful warrior practice, you will gain strength, flexibility and core stability. We focus on a strong standing flow combined with balance and increased flexibility.
I also offer Restorative, Gentle Flows and Iyengar inspired classes, but SYF is a mixture of traditional Ashtanga, Dynamic, Iyengar and Viniyoga with a strong bias on Synergy Yoga with a sense of humour and adapted to a modern body.
Sundara Yoga Flow is the beautiful flow of life energy within your body.
I focus on the upper limbs, shoulders, organs of actions for the neck and upper back, the heart and also will focus on the lower limbs, organs of action for the sacrum, lumbar spine and organs of digestion and reproduction.
You will get a good foundation with a series of basic yoga poses (standing, seated, balancing, back arching and inverting) and you will develop personal awareness to move in and out of the postures.
Moving actively from the core without force increasing the flow of energy and communication throughout your body. This practice is suitable for everybody. The focus is a more subtle spine.
A little interview I gave to a local newspaper in Barcelona The guy came to my beach yoga classes about 5 to 6 years ago (in 2011). I used to have a regular beach yoga class. Nothing much has changed. I would add "bend less, stretch less, enjoy and relax more"
1) How long have you been teaching yoga?
I've been teaching the art of yoga for more than 7 years. In January 2005 (teaching briefly already in 2004 in Bangalore India and Rajasthan), I started teaching in Thailand on an island on an outside massage parlour in a holiday complex after I had completed my second teacher training in Rishikesh, India at the end of 2004. I moved to Andalucía the same year where I taught for 5 years and two years ago, I moved to Barcelona where I continue teaching and learning about yoga.
2) Where did you learn to teach yoga?
My first teacher training was in Spain and Italy with Godfrey Devereux (founder of the method Dynamic Yoga) in 2003. After this, I went to Asia to stay on and off for the next two years, where I completed another intensive teacher training with Karin O´Bannon (senior Iyengar teacher called the “Wildcat with a Tiger´s eye”) in Rishikesh in the Parmath Niketan Ashram.
I also set exams to be recognized by the Aepy (Asociación Española de Practicantes de Yoga which is equivalent to the British Wheel of Yoga) in 2011 in Barcelona.
3) What inspired you to teach yoga?
I loved yoga and went to classes every day whilst living in London. I started with Ashtanga but also went sometimes to Iyengar or Vinyasa Yoga classes.
I was working in different employments after finishing a degree in European Studies and my last job, in particular, was a job I always wanted, working in a big NGO with great values, but after a while even this job became politics and I was made redundant.
I went through redundancy in 2003 and practising yoga helped me enormously dealing with the politics going on at this time in the organization. I decided that I wanted to take the time to go off travelling. As I was practising yoga and loved it, I thought of going deeper into my practice, that is, to live 24 hours with yoga and go to India, the origin of this art, but before I left for India, I completed a teacher training course in the Autumn of 2003.
I didn´t even contemplate to teach in the beginning even thus I completed the teacher training, but then I loved and love yoga so much that I felt I had to share humbly what I´ve learnt with others.
When I finish teaching, I almost always feel lighter, happier and I ask myself why I don´t teach more.
4) For you, why is yoga important?
Yoga is freedom. Freedom from any dogma, freedom to belong to any class, any profession, any category or pressures of society. Freedom means Peace, but in order to achieve this you have to let go and give up, you have to accept yourself as you are and where you are, you reclaim yourself as you were just before you were told to do this or that. You stop judging.
Once you let go of all those seeds of conditioning you achieve even more freedom and you realize there is nothing but union.
In fact, there is nothing to attain. Yoga is simply your participation or intimacy with what there is already.
If we only adhere at least to “ahimsa” (non-violence) we will make this world better for the whole.
5) Why do you do yoga on the beach/in the park rather than in a studio?
I dislike being closed into a room or studio especially if the weather is sunny and pleasant. You are surrounded by the 5 elements of water, air, earth, fire and space and it´s a real nice sensation to feel and to connect with it outside.
You can listen to the sound of waves or birds in the trees, smelling the saltwater, smelling the leaves or flowers, feeling the sand or grass underneath you, breathe in the fresh air and let the sunlight warm you and embrace you. Yoga is everywhere not only in a comfortable studio with a clean mat and often people become really obsessed with practising only a certain way. For me yoga doesn´t entail dogma, the classes are equally important to entail laughter as alignment. It´s all about feeling and personal inquiry.
My classes are never the same, according to a given day and given circumstance, it might be a ying or a yang class (some studios want you to do ONLY what they think is yoga or what they think or interpret with dynamics, that is external dynamics, but I like to work also with the inner dynamics of a given body-mind. This is the beauty of yoga, it works on a much subtler level, but you cannot own it.
Often some people are coming from a banking sector and open a yoga studio and seem to bring all those cooperate values into their directing of the studio. It seems fair enough for me to apply to cooperate business principles, but if you forget the yogic values you ultimately fail. It is the right balance. I often have met more "yogic" people in places where I worked (finance, travel, education) than yoga centres. Often they were not even practising yoga. It is all about which kind of human you want to be. In psychology, it is proven that if an employer values you and appreciates your work your productivity rises.
My yoga studio is everywhere where there is yoga, it may be on the grass, on the beach, in a room, on the roof, in the language classroom or studio.
6) How does yoga make you feel?
Good. It brings me back to what really is happening and that underneath all those perceptions I´m ok and free. If it weren´t for the philosophy, art and science of yoga, I wouldn´t know how to deal with all those experiences and injustices in this world.
7) What would you say to people who have never tried yoga?
Try it and see for yourself. There are so many “styles” and “teachers with their own body-mind” so don´t judge by one class, try a few and see which one appeals to you. Also, I recommend looking for a teacher with experience and maturity.
Nowadays so many teacher training is offered with so many teachers teaching yoga. I remember a time when teacher training was given by people who had at least 20 years of teaching experience, but this is not the case anymore.
The media speaks about the benefits of yoga and more and more people are doing it, which I think is great, but those benefits won´t come through gymnastics. It´s a slow process with a huge amount of patience and nurturing and being ready to let this enquiry happen to you (this is a big step).
Yoga is not only on the mat in a studio, but yoga is also everywhere. Open your horizon and therefore be able to see the same in different colours and not being blinded by one´s limited perspectives. How can you truly investigate and penetrate the conditioned mind-body if you only look at it from one perspective?
Articles and TV
This is an article about teaching yoga in English to children in Jerez de la Frontera (in Spanish):
Relaxation style east (in spanish)
I wish to thank a few teachers who have influenced me and changed me: John Scott in my first Ashtanga Workshop, Godfrey Devereux in the first tt, Karin O'Bannon in my second TT and many teachers I had in workshops or classes
My first teacher Petra Mitidieri, Becky Mallison and subsequent teachers: Norman Blair, Hemish Hendry, Alex Medin, Arun, Karin O'Bannon, Usha, Sharat, Ramon Clares, Olga Oskorbina in Jivamukti, Amelie Strecker, Simon Borg - Olivier etc.
I also wish to thank so many people who have come to my classes, workshops and retreats for over 15 years. I have learnt a lot of them and endevour to do so.