No matter how many yoga studios there may already be in a city, there can never be too many. There’s always feel a buzz of excitement in the yoga community when a new studio announces it’s opening it’s doors. Late last year, Wellington was blessed with the opening of Hot Yoga NZ, both a studio and a yoga teacher training facility.
Run by husband and wife team Claire and Lou, it’s the second yoga studio they’ve opened. Their first in Nelson was a big hit, and Wellingtonians kept asking them, “When will you come up to Wellington and open a yoga studio?”
Located at 250 Wakefield Steet, Hot Yoga NZ is an oasis of calm amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. Like all great yoga studios, it features a variety of classes designed to suit every temperament, passionate instructors who beam at you when you walk in the door, and pampering luxuries like help-yourself toiletries in the changing rooms. There’s a wide selection of yoga books, DVDs and clothing on sale, and the studio itself is simple and welcoming.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
When taught and practiced with integrity, all yoga is good yoga in my mind. That said, I most enjoy practicing and teaching Hot Yoga (Barkan Method), Yin Yoga and Power Vinyasa – all in a heated environment for the detoxification, deep release and the joy of sweating out the occasional pastry my loving husband (who can eat ANYTHING) is always try to feed me… My yoga journey takes place at Hot Yoga of New Zealand, Wellington and Nelson locations.
2. How did you come to yoga?
In Sacramento, CA, a hatha yoga class was advertised in an old Victorian house around the corner from the coffee shop where I hung out with the other twenty-somethings – back in the day. I went just to check it out. By the end of that class I was left in tears – I had found home.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
A few years later I moved to Portland, Oregon. An acquaintance told me about hot yoga over lunch. On her advice I checked it out and was hooked. Ironically, I never saw her again, but I know she was sent into my life to lead me more directly on the path.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
Big question. The shortest answer: I’m more at peace with being me. My sisters and I have mild-moderate cases of muscular dystrophy. By doing hot yoga regularly for the past 14 years now, I can do things the doctors once doubted. The more yoga I do, the simpler and healthier my life becomes.
Over the years, I’ve let go of the money glory of corporate America, a big house and tons of stuff I never really needed in the first place. I’ve since become a yoga teacher – not for the money, that’s for sure. But because there’s nothing else I’d rather do for people. In return, the universe provides: I’ve been blessed with a fabulous fellow yoga teacher husband, and together we manage two gorgeous, thriving studios in New Zealand.
The best part of the life transition is not having to pay huge dry cleaning bills anymore. It was amazing how working “for more” actually cost more (in many ways!) in the long run.
5. What is your home practice like?
The yoga studios are my home.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
Yoga is journey of self-discovery – physically, mentally and spiritually. Some people aren’t ready for that much esoteric feedback though, and to them I answer with the aspect I sense they most seek: Whether it’s getting back in shape, some emotional grounding, or a change of heart – they’re all equally valid and normal yoga experiences.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
As a former motivational speaker, my classes are a dynamic exploration into testing comfort zones, always with a sense of humour and a lot of patience for the process. Good alignment is essential, but from there the yoga class journey goes deeper and gets more interesting in my opinion. My calling as yoga teacher is to be a guide, the reminder to each student that ultimately they are the best teacher for themselves. To help people access their inner atman (inner teacher, intuition) and to develop a relationship with the Self (physically, emotionally, maybe even spiritually some days), that is at the heart of my teaching.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
I love watching people change and become more at peace with themselves – over the course of a 90-min class or our teaching training programme, it doesn’t matter. The changes appear. Sometimes a student tells me about them, often times they don’t have to, they are so glowing and somehow “different”. At moments like those, I’m constantly reminded why I do what I do: I provide a time, space and guidance for yoga, and acknowledge them for doing the work of “showing up to the mat.” Together we share a slice of the journey.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
I wish everyone knew how yoga can truly make the world a happier place, one person, one practice at a time.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
Same as above really.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
See ya in class!
12. And finally, how do people find you?