Sue’s yoga path started in the late ’70s in South Africa when she was initiated onto a path of meditational yoga – a path she still follows today. Hatha yoga followed soon afterwards and happily saw her through three pregnancies.
When she moved to New Zealand, her three girls were very little, but once the youngest started school she was faced with the option of looking for a full-time job or continuing her yoga teacher training that she’d started in Cape Town. No contest there!
Sue lives on Waiheke Island and if that lovely smile is anything to go by, it’s a delightful place to practice yoga.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I teach is a fusion of many different influences. I began as an Iyengar teacher in the mid-90′s but have over the years adopted a softer and more fluid approach, mainly due to the influence of my teacher Donna Farhi.
I have also started to spend more time working with the breath and with meditation, and teaching a little yoga philosophy. I teach on Waihake Island and you can find me through my website Growing Younger.
I dabbled in the ’70s because of the Beatles, and ‘cos it was the cool thing to do. But I really got into it when I was pregnant with my first child in the mid-’80s and did pregnancy yoga.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
Probably when I immigrated to New Zealand in ’94 and I was in such a state, having spent 18 months in preparation for the move, and then arriving here with my husband, three small daughters, my elderly mother and 19 pieces of luggage! Boy did I need yoga!
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
In every possible way I would say.
How my body and energy feel, how I think, how I regard the world,my interactions with other people. My general attitude towards everything has changed and my life is so much easier and happier. Even how I relate to creepy crawlies in my house is different!
5. What is your home practice like?
I try to sit for an hour early every morning – even after 30 years meditation is still hard some days! And getting out of bed never seems to get any easier either, especially when the weather gets colder. But I just know that when I make the effort to do the meditation, no matter how ‘successful’ it may have been – quiet and centred or some mental marathon – I still feel the effects during the day. I feel calm and more able to cope with stress. I feel a very deep sense of connectedness with the world, and a deep sense of gratitude.
My physical practice I do at my studio before I teach – so that may be an hour or it may be 10 minutes
And then my ‘off the mat’ practice takes up the rest of my day. Some days are better than others shall we say?
6. When people ask you, ‘What is Yoga?’, what do you say?
I guess I say yoga is a way of life. It may begin with the body but it’s a lifetime of dedication to evolving into the person we want to become.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
They can expect to be gently encouraged to explore their body and their mind as if they were in a foreign country.
They can expect to be stretched and perhaps challenged, both physically and mentally and sometimes even emotionally but they will never be pushed. They will always feel safe and accepted, whatever their ability.
Hopefully they can also expect to laugh a little. And to come away from class feeling enlivened and peaceful at the same time.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
I think it’s seeing students (especially women) changing in front of my eyes. So often a woman will come up the stairs for her first class looking anxious and stressed and tense. She will leave smiling and happy. And over the weeks and months her face will change and relax and she will begin to glow and carry a feeling of new lightness with her wherever she goes.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
I wish everybody knew that somewhere out there is a style of yoga that would suit THEM. So often people try one or 2 classes somewhere, hate it and give up. I wish people knew that the right practice, a practice that really works for them, would make them feel happy and content and at ease with life.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
I see yoga as a tool for peace – one person at a time yoga can change hearts and minds.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
Just that I wish people would stop being so hard on themselves. Why not be more compassionate towards themselves? So many yoga students feel they need to beat themselves up in order to have a ‘good practice’ when in fact kindness and compassion are at the very heart of yoga.
12. And finally, how do people find you?
Through my website Growing Younger.