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

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