Debi started practicing yoga in 1996 – after graduating, living in London and doing what she thought she should (and how many of us can relate to that!).
Work as a writer and then as a fashion designer proved stimulating and fun – but Debi still felt like she was lacking something. After eight years of yoga practice,went to India for six months and gained her Hatha Teacher Training.
In May 2009, she also completed her Astanga Vinyasa Diploma, which involved 240 hours Astanga Vinyasa Yoga Training with John Scott. Debi started teaching in early 2004 and in 2009 her partner and her set up The Heart Center, a dedicated yoga space in Taupo.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I teach both Astanga and Hatha asana classes and a monthly philosophy class – at The Heart Center, a beautiful studio I’ve set up in Taupo surrounded by trees and bird song and also at the REAP Centre in town.
My first teacher training in India provided a great foundation for traditional Hatha classes – offering students a gentle approach to asana and pranyama. More recently I studied with John and Lucy Scott – who encouraged us to open our hearts, minds and bodies through the flowing Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. They both helped me realize our connection with spirit and
2. How did you come to yoga?
In an old school in Cricklewood, North London! I went to my first class 14 years ago and was fascinated by the talk about chakras and energy. I’d done gymnastics for many years as a child – so I could move – yet I lacked any awareness of synchronising movement with breath or focus, which is so fundamental to yoga.
It took a few years of practicing irregularly and a desire to live my life beyond a material, decadent lifestyle and doing as I was expected, to finally take the plunge and head to India in a search of a teacher.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
When I realized that yoga touched depths I had barely even heard of – yet had felt all my life. It offered a way of navigating through and understanding the world as though you were looking from your heart.
Yoga is now an integral part of my life – I love the physical, meditative and philosophical aspects and greatly enjoy sharing this ancient practice with others.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
For a long time I was looking for a purpose, for something that I could do that had real value, and yoga has filled that gap. I feel each day that I can return to my own heart center and help others connect to theirs. I used to feel that it was a weakness to know that inside there is a gentleness and softness – I now realize there is instead a strength at being able to honour this and share it with others.
5. What is your home practice like?
I like to feel it reflects the balance in my life. For a long time I was very strict and disciplined and practiced most days – or got frustrated if I didn’t! Now I practice about 5 times a week – if it fits, sometimes a full primary series (up to 2 hours) and others what feels right. Sometimes it involves a sit, sometimes an acceptance of wherever I’m at is where I’m supposed to be.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
Yoga means unity, or connection, so the simplest way to practice is to smile. In class, we just learn how to connect more with ourselves – really connect with our bodies – to physically move, stretch and open. To connect with what’s going on mentally and try to let some of the mind stuff go – and then still the mind enough to step away from the physical, the mental and the emotional to go on a deeper journey inwards.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
Depends on the class. Some are dynamic, flowing, energizing and fun, others are gentle, philosophical and heart opening.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
The chance to share with others something that I believe in totally. A way of living life and feeling humble each time you trust and let go and let the ancient teachings flow through you in a way that inspires others and touches their heart.
Creating a space that students feel secure and comfortable enough in to let go and start their own yoga journey inward.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
That it’s not about physical gymnastics, but about returning to our heart center and realising what is really important – spending time with our families, connecting with others and learning to let go.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
Helping to create balance and bring us back to our heart – connecting and helping others – being selfless, not selfish.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
Yoga is or everyone – it doesn’t matter how young or old, how tall or short or even your colour – its about connecting inside, letting go and learning to return to your heart centre.
12. And finally, how do people find you?
Recommend Yoga Reading from The Yoga Lunchbox
This was one of my first ever yoga book purchases, and I devoured it. Not only does it give you an excellent guide for developing a solid home practice, but Beryl weaves all aspects of yoga into her own personal journey.
Power Yoga derives from Astanga, and this book would suit anyone who wants to develop a solid home practice, or delve further into all eight limbs of yoga.
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