Like many natural-born Kiwis, Maree’s lived all over the world including Sydney and London. She now calls Auckland home, and has stayed put for the last six years.
Once upon a time she was a fashion designer, but eventually decided to swap the hectic pace for something more rewarding both to herself and others.
Yoga was a therapeutic force in her life, so she’s made this her focus in teaching others. She wants to see yoga make a positive difference in people’s lives and and is also currently studying towards a diploma in yoga therapy to further this.
Maree says this appeals to her, because she likes to ensure each individual’s needs are met in her classes, and believes in working with your body, rather than against it. This means finding postures appropriate to each person, rather than forcing one’s body into painful and counter productive positions.
Maree also does personal consultations to design home practices for people, based on their own level and requirements. It’s not necessary for them to attend classes to do this, which makes it accessible to everyone, from the fittest person through to someone who can only manage a few arm raises a day.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I trained in Svastha Yoga, which is a type of Hatha Yoga, focusing on the individual and making the practice as appropriate as possible to suit each person’s needs.
The open and pregnancy classes are held in the beautiful space that is the Auckland Unitarian Church, at 1a Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby. The class is in the actual church, surrounded by the wooden floors, red velvet covered doors, high wooden ceilings and huge pipe organ. It’s a very special space to practice.
Please see Tree of Life Yoga for details of classes offered.
I also teach at Svastha Yoga in Mt Eden and in people’s own homes and offices.
2. How did you come to yoga?
During a particularly rough patch in my life, where I was diagnosed with a serious anxiety disorder. I decided to try a yoga class, almost jokingly, but also because I had heard that it could reduce stress. I giggled my way through the whole first class, but once I started to notice how much it was transforming my life I never looked back.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
Right at this point really. After about 10 weeks of doing yoga once a week I had noticed calm and inner peace replacing so much of what had been anxiety, as well as increased physical health and fitness, that I knew I just wanted to keep practicing and learning and experiencing more. We are often so disconnected from ourselves that when we reconnect, through yoga, meditation or some other practice, that it is this feeling of connectedness that really can feel like getting ‘the bug’.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
As well as the above, over the years it has also transformed my whole outlook on life and way of being, as well as having increased flexibility and core strength. Having always perceived myself as a very stressed out person for so long prior to discovering yoga, I am still half surprised every time I hear someone say ‘you just have that yoga calm’ or ‘you are the most chilled out person I know’! But I am getting used to it 🙂
5. What is your home practice like?
I do a practice almost every morning, made up of asana (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation, plus additional meditation when I have spare time.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
Yoga is about bringing about restoration of wholeness and vitality to each individual. It is about bringing physical health back to the body, but also a state of well being and tranquility to the mind.
Yoga is often translated as ‘to join’ or ‘to connect’. It is about connecting with your inner self. I think this is what suprises people about yoga when they first try it. They expect to just do a few exercises and go home, but most of us are so disconnected from ourselves, that when we experience what it feels like to be reconnected, it feels amazing!
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
A holistic approach where the individual’s needs and level of experience are taken into consideration and welcomed, no matter where they are at.
All classes are focused on increasing:
- Flexibility and core strength
- Structural restoration, stamina and good posture
- Mental focus and a balanced, peaceful mind
And hopefully they will have a good time as well.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
Seeing both the long term as well as the almost instant increase of well being in people. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone come in who is stressed out or suffering from some kind of problem, finish a class saying ‘wow, I feel so much better, thank you!’
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
That you don’t need to be able to touch your toes to do yoga! The most common thing I hear from people is that they would love to do yoga, but they can’t because they couldn’t put themself in this position or that position.
Yoga is not about the final posture, it is about the benefit gained from moving towards it, whether that is moving a metre or an inch. And that generally in a yoga class people are at all levels, so they don’t have to feel silly coming along and doing what they can.
I think people have this idea of what a yoga class looks like as being a whole room full of people with perfect bodies, twisting into complicated postures perfectly every time. It’s not like that at all!
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
As transforming it from the inside. By changing our own outlooks and creating that little bit of peace in ourselves, where there may have been frustration or negativity, we take that out into the world and spread it on to others.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
Don’t be afraid to give yoga a go and try other classes if the first one isn’t for you. You have to find what works for you.
12. And finally, how do people find you?