Alix, Dharma Yoga Teacher

25 November 2018

This weeks story is with the gorgeous yogi, Alix, a 500 hr Dharma teacher trained by Sri Dharma Mittra in New York, Mark Khan in London and a vinyasa teacher trained by Stewart Gilchrist and Amanda Denton. Once a lawyer in the City, after practising yoga more regularly realised there was more to life than the daily grind and became a teacher. Drawn by the physical challenges of the practice and even more because of the effects Yoga had on the mind and wellbeing, she wanted to share all these benefits with others.

You'll find her teaching in London studios such as,  Power Yoga Company, More Yoga, as well as Chelsea Harbour Club.

I caught up with her on what may have been the last sunny day of Autumn on the streets of Westminster.


One word to describe the first time you practiced yoga?

Intrigued


What books have inspired you?

First it was The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It is the first Yoga book I read and I was hooked from the first page. I have now read 4 different translations, two of which several times. I have summarised the comments on each sutras in two of the books. My favourite version is by Edwin F. Bryant. I always go back to the Sutras.

The Tree of Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar is amazing - so easy to read, so clear.

I loved Self-Knowledge (AtmaBodha) by Swami Nikhilananda, which I intend to read again soon.

My constant reference is also Yoga Wisdom by Sri Dharma Mittra.

It is the philosophy that drew me and actually keeps me drawn to and makes me passionate about Yoga even more than the physical practice. When I was 16 I wanted to be a philosophy teacher, it is all I was reading. I knew I would come back to philosophy. The scriptures are my teacher and I constantly go back to them, I think it is the Yoga path I am made to be on.


How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

Whether we are referring to the physical, mental or spiritual practices in Yoga, what matters for each and all is constant practice. There is no failure, there is just progress and evolution.

This is true for the physical practice of course. I have failed over and over again for some poses until I did the full pose. The day it happens it feels like it’s magic, when in fact it is every single attempts that have allowed me to progress and reach it. Of course depending on our natural abilities some poses will come quicker than others, but for those other poses, the same applies: repeat! There is no secret: you have to do the practice and not be discouraged. The ego works that way too - to make us think it’s not for us, the body can’t do it. This is the mind tricking us. We must persevere.

It is the same for the other aspects of the practice. Non-violence for instance. We fail to be nice to someone over and over again, we get angry and can’t control our temper. Yoga is on and off the mat. When we notice ourselves being unkind, there is a beautiful Sutra that says we must cultivate the opposite concept, which means we must go to the root of why we are unkind/angry etc, reflect on it and cultivate the opposite. So we fail, then reflect, and then change. I practise this and it has help me so much. Everything in Yoga is about increasing our awareness. I think Yoga makes us smarter. But most importantly, constant practice makes us kinder human beings, more compassionate.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it with a message on it — what would it say and why?

‘You are stronger than you think!'

I am referring to inner strength as well as outer strength. Never be discouraged. Don’t let the ego tell you you can’t do it. If you have the right mindset, the willpower and the love for what you do - or even better the passion, nothing can stop you, the strength within will come to light.

Yoga has help me find more of both types of strength.

Strength to follow a passion and a path, which could have seemed unusual for the ex-lawyer that I was, strength to ignore other people’s expectations of who they thought I was. I knew I would never be a lawyer for the rest of my life, working long hours at a desk, reviewing contracts. I fell in love with Yoga and very quickly knew I wanted to be a teacher. I followed my passion rather than a very well paid job. And yet at first I thought I would never be able to teach a public class but only private classes as I am very shy and terrified to speak in public. It is my passion for Yoga, the hours spent on my mat, studying a lot, reading a lot that made me find my inner strength and confidence to teach and follow my passion to make it my job. And now I juggle being a Yoga teacher, doing my daily practice and raising three young children. It is a challenge but again I know I have the strength to do it all!

Inner and outer strength - Yoga has made me physically so much stronger. A strength I never thought I would have and actually never sought. Strength is built!


Do you have favourite yoga teachers and studios in London you can recommend to fellow city yogis?

As much as I love my self-practice and is what I mainly do, I practise weekly with my Dharma Yoga teacher in the places he rents to teach (Fitzrovia Community Centre, The Glasshouse in Vauxhall).
I also practise in a few studios from time to time: Indaba, The Power Yoga Company (my very first studio, that I love and where I teach a lot), Triyoga (Chelsea or Soho).


If you could be an animal what would you be and why?

I would be a bird who can fly very high - how amazing it would be to be able to fly!

For the latest news, classes and retreats from Alix, click here

Sarah, Yoga Teacher. AKA Yogi Grogie

11 November 2018

Sarah, the beauty behind the Instagram handle Yogi Grogie (what a name!!), is the kind of person you meet and within seconds feel like you’ve known for years! She’s great to be around and is exactly the reason I love to meet people within the wellness industry.

Sarah came to yoga in a similar way to many people - out of necessity, following years in a job that overwhelmed her being. After 7 years as a stock broker she took herself off to a hotel in Spain called La Crisalida that hosted yoga and found her love for it there. In her first class she was so exhausted from work and life, she fell asleep! (You all know you’ve done this in savasana once or twice!)

When she got back she knew she needed to get into yoga, so YouTube was her answer. She watched videos before work just to keep her balanced for the day. Finally, she plucked up the courage a year ago to leave her job and embark on a career in yoga and she's never looked back! 

We caught up on the streets of Shoreditch for a coffee and chat about her life in yoga...


One word to describe the first time you practiced yoga?

Meh. But that was when I was back in university. I wasn’t that impressed with it, so didn't come to do yoga again until my mid-twenties when I was stressed at work and in search of a release. Then it instantly had an incredible calming effect, so I guess the word I’d use for the first time that I really practiced yoga was 'Calm'.

It was a 5 day retreat. The first class was a yoga nidra class. I was so exhausted that I fell into a deep sleep and didn’t wake up until everyone had left the room and the teacher gently gave me a shake! Yoga didn't resonate with me the first time I practiced because I didn't need it. I truly believe you find the practice when you are in need of it.


What’s books have inspired you?

The China Study – This book was eye opening for me on the merits on a plant based diet. I’m not totally vegan anymore but, for me, thinking with a ‘plant based’ frame work makes me feel a lot better. The Goddess Pose, by Michaele Goldberg about Indra Devlin who helped yoga to the west. To Kill a Mockingbird is still one of my favourite books I’ve ever read.


How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? 
I've noticed a pattern that I often mess up the first time I try something! I 'failed' my first interview for an Investment bank 10 years ago. Similarly, I messed up my first ever audition for a yoga studio. While seemingly failures, both were opportunities to learn and I’ve not failed an interview or an audition since!

Until we try something we simply don't know what we don't know. By trying, we understand what is needed and can focus our efforts in the most efficient way. I don't like the feeling of failure, and without a doubt, that is a driver for me.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it with a message on it — what would it say and why? 
God this is tough! I’d love a whole sequence of them saying – ‘Let Go’, ‘Believe in yourself’, ‘You are enough’.

I have spent the past year working on all of these. Letting go of a previous career and relationship. Letting go of all the self-doubt that can creep up during such a big transition, replacing those feelings with self-belief and knowledge that I was doing the right thing and setting myself on the right path.



Do you have favourite yoga teachers and studios in London you can recommend to fellow city yogis?

We have sooo many great teachers here! Marcus Veda was my first teacher and one I practice with regularly. He introduced me to the Rocket and was the person who gave me the courage to do my TT. Kat Rayburn is another fave, along with Aram Raffy (Yogasana), Emi Tull (Dharma), Harriet Bone (Jiva). I recently discovered Naoimi Absalom and Celeste Periera. I love the studios I teach at - Another Space and Psycle. Triyoga and Yotopia have nice vibes and good teachers.



If you could be an animal what would you be and why? 

One of those migrating birds, who travel the world to wherever it is summer!! Haha! Seeing the world is one of my biggest passions and I don’t like the cold at all!!



Sarah's retreats are a must check out! www.rocketrelaxrestore.com

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