This week I´m beginning a new occasional feature on this site: interviews with teachers about their practice. I hope to bring you interviews with teachers working in schools, universities and other institutions around the world, alongside the usual books and adventures.
First up is Worcestershire yoga teacher Sharon Alderson. Yoga might seem a world away from books and adventures, but writers spent so much time in their own heads that it´s always a smart idea to stretch out once in a while!
-How did you come to practice yoga?
My personal path to yoga was due to a constant pain in my shoulder. I was diagnosed as a “freak of nature” by one physiotherapist who could not understand why her methods were not curing me. I went to India on holiday, where I came across a man on the beach wearing practising these strange and beautiful postures. I watched him from my sun lounger in wonder. Finally he sat cross-legged facing towards the sea. The look of peace on his face was wonderful. It was then that I decided that I would like to try yoga!
I got home and rang my local sports centre to find out about Yoga. After I went to my first class, I felt calm and at ease. Yoga really did start to change me that night and it has continued to change me completely. I am calmer; I know why my body aches and what I need to do to ease it.
-How did you make the transition to becoming a yoga teacher?
Dean my wonderful teacher left the area and offered the class to me and another student at the class. We decided that we would do a week each in the end. It was a real learning curve and made me realise how little I actually knew. So I decided to take the plunge and enrol on a teacher training course with the Devon School of Yoga. I am still teaching that class 5 years later and I know a lot more now!! However, with Yoga you never stop learning. Good for me and my active mind!! My fellow student who started the class with me is also now a qualified teacher but decided to let me take the class on fully.
-What school of yoga do you practice?
Basically I teach Hatha Yoga, but I have a very eclectic approach to my teaching. Really I am a magpie who steals material from any source that I can! But I do feel that this is a creative way to teach because my students get a broad base to build on and I try to keep the classes as varied as I can. I have been to classes in the past where you know exactly what is going to happen next, week after week.
-What do you feel are the benefits of yoga?
Yoga is an ancient system of promoting well-being in both the body and mind. I find that most people come to value the sense of well-being that Yoga produces in their life. The individual will start to notice an enhancement in their health and clarity of mind. Therefore, they will start to notice their body more and will eventually take control of their own life and health. With regular practise they will learn to tap into their energy reserves when needed and know instinctively when not to waste energy either physically or emotionally.
This is very important in the stressful, fast-paced lifestyle that is led by many people today. Often we become overworked and tired, sometimes making us depressed and lethargic. This is why yoga as a system of personal growth and development to balance the body, mind and spirit is essential. Yoga is powerful enough to free the body from all of these symptoms of stress.
Yoga also affords us the time to work at our own pace and to know our own personal limitations. Yoga can be used in almost every aspect of life. Society is demanding and yoga offers something for everyone. It is like a tool box which can be reached into to find what you need for that moment in time.
-How does yoga philosophy inform your practice?
The philosophy of yoga plays an enormous role in how I practise and is an enormous subject in its own right. The key text for the actual practise of Hatha and Raja Yoga is The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
These set out the eight-fold path to achieve enlightenment. Five stages are related to the body and mind and three to the spirit. The first two stages are Yama (right conduct) and Niyama (observances), which suggest ways to conduct your self both physically and mentally to set you on the right path for the later stages.
The more you practise you do come to realise that all of the stages overlap. However, with regard to actual physical practise there are probably three elements that I would pick out as particularly relevant. They are Ahimsa (non-harm), Satya (truth) and Svadhyaya (self-study). If you can make these relevant in everything that you do then you will have a practise that will see you well.
-What does the future hold for you as a yoga teacher?
I have been extremely lucky in building up my business this past year! I continue to teach my three regular classes, and have taken over two established classes from another local teacher, which I am pleased to say has been a roaring success.
I am currently on a Yoga Therapy course with Real Yoga based in Ledbury, which will allow me to treat people with specific problems using Yoga techniques, either in small groups or on a one to one basis. I already do some work with people who have MS and I hope to expand this.
I am also hoping to do some half day workshops this year to give people a better grounding of what Yoga actually is and where it comes from. Sometimes in a general class there is not enough time to give this the time it deserves.
I am also moving my original class to Holland House, which is a beautiful retreat with a newly built Yoga studio with under floor heating. (A yogi’s dream!).
-Where can people find out more?
To find out more about my classes I have a web site: www.sharyoga.co.uk or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me: 07775 605 630/01386 41431.