Willa is the founder and director of the SOUL CENTRE.
An established choreographer, director, filmmaker and dancer who has performed all over the world Willa has been working in dance holistic health and wellbeing for over 15 years, and teaching yoga for over ten.
She is also one of NZ’s top somatic practitioners and has a current practice at SOUL combining, biodynamic cranio-sacral therapy, massage, movement therapy, dance, yoga and meditation.
As one of New Zealand’s two SRT certified facilitators, Willa and has taught somatics in many institutions, universities, training programs and communities. She is currently doing further training in the Land to Water Yoga series with Sondra Fraleigh – of the EastWest Somatics Institute, is creating a new dance work and writing her first book.
Willa teaches open-heart metta-meditation on the last Sunday of the month at her centre in Titirangi as well as SRT classes on Wednesdays, M-Body on Mondays and School of Love facilitated sessions on Friday afternoons. She also teaches corporate yoga to businesses every week in Auckland central.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
My personal practice is a combination of Astanga, Hatha and Shin yoga, as well as a conglomeration of my own somatic inventions. My style shifts with the clients I teach.
At present, I love teaching Shin yoga at the SOUL CENTRE, which is a deep restorative practice I am developing. It is a beautiful balancing practice for the nervous system and endocrine system. Drawing on the developmental postures of Shin Somatics, Skinner Releasing principles and somatic practice it focuses on opening and lengthening the body and quietening the mind, using asanas and pranayama inspired for healing and inner reflection.
2. How did you come to yoga?
I discovered yoga through dancing – as a full time dancer, I needed something to keep my body loose and flowing, flexible and supple so that I could do all those crazy moves those choreographers wanted me to do. I have since learnt the inner nature of yoga and now my practice is more reflective instead of inspired by crazy moves.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
The yoga bug really got me when I began to teach and develop my own understanding of the postures and what they mean.
And when I lost my competitive – got to get my legs around my head mindset – yoga is not about that – it is about ‘being’ and experiencing yourself. That’s when I really started changing. Developing the Shin yoga format for me has been deeply healing.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
Yoga has helped me to find balance, it is a movement practice that has allowed me to find my own way. Everyone comes to yoga for a different reason – I came to yoga firstly for physical reasons – I now do yoga for my whole of my self. It is my spiritual practice, physical practice and mindfulness practice.
5. What is your home practice like?
Sunrise over looking the sea – me and my little white kitty cat by the fire – and the universe!
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
Yoga is a way of living that means you begin to ask and then practice waiting for the answer…
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
My Hatha classes on Tuesday nights are dynamic and flowing, the Shin Yoga classes on Wednesdays are balancing, restful and mindful – and delicious. The Heart Meditation is just simply heart – beauty and rest!
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
That I can be myself, I can be in my body and that it just comes. Yoga for me is an intuitive practice. I have been teaching so long now – it simply is just me.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
There is no try – allow! There’s a difference between opening to spaciousness and trying to stretch.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
A means of community, a place to gather and align, in a heartfelt, open and beautiful space. Yoga means ‘to yoke’, yoga is community, yoga is church, yoga is oneness.
11. And finally, how do people find you?