This month post is written by one of my students, Sybille Pouzet, a yoga teacher and amazing chef! It’s nice sometimes to know how the outer world perceive you! Here we go…
When i moved East London about a year ago i was determined to find a yoga teacher that would suit me. Even though i love practicing yoga on my own in my room under the roof, i also love following a teacher and feeling the energy of a group class.
After trying several places and teachers, i went to Alessandra’s class at Yogahome . I can’t say i instantly loved it as i came from a different style of Yoga and found it quite hard. Something got me hooked though. Something in Alessandra made me want to jump on her “yoga train” as she said later to me. There was a sort of presence in her that i felt i should try to follow…
As i entered Alessandra’s house i felt like going into her world. And her world at the moment is rather busy! Taking care of her son is her Sadhana (yoga practice) these days. I got the impression that Yoga is present in Alessandra’s entire life.
S: Tell me about your Yoga journey.
A: My Mom was a Yogini. In Italy at this time she was considered as a bit marginal, but she did not mind, she worked hard and yoga was something that she discovered and it accompanied her all along her life. She was very interested in the devotional and philosophical aspects of it. So i guess i have always been surrounded by that, even unconsciously.
I started doing tantra and Kriya yoga. I was initiated by a swami when i was 20.
Then i discovered Ashtanga Yoga which i took as yoga therapy. It helped me recover from a serious injury. I studied with Patthabi Jois in Mysore, Matthew Sweeney and others.
Then slowly i moved to Vinyasa flow yoga. I first met Shiva Rea in London in 2004 and her approach instantly talked to me. This is the style of Yoga i now teach.
S: I am intrigued by Kriya yoga, can you tell me a bit about this experience?
A: I studied Kriya Yoga for several years under the direct guidance of Swami Kriyananda (direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda) both in California and in Italy. Kriya is Yoga for the householder of the 21st century and consists of Karma , Bhakty, Meditation, Pranayama and mudra asana that have been passed down from generations by the great Siddhis (Saints) of the Himalayas. It is a technique of very powerful pranayama (breathing exercises) that works on the chakras. It moves Prana (life force) and can be very uplifting. The asanas are simple and gentle.
S: How did that practice made you feel?
A: To be honest, i really liked it and found it fascinating. At 20 years old i was initiated by a Swami. This is quite a big thing, believe me and i am not sure i was old enough to go through all this. As well as being wonderful, it made me feel very UN-grounded. The funny thing is that most people these days start Yoga from a physical aspect with the Asanas, and then the spiritual side can come (or not). But for me it was the opposite. And i have to say i was not always so happy. I felt like i could not relate to other people of my age. I could relate very well to 50 years old people though, but it made me feel apart. I would meditate every day, mornings and evenings. It was a fantastic and also difficult time.
S: What made it so difficult?
A: Don’t get me wrong, i felt very blessed to experience such a thing, however, i felt like it had made me ready to leave this life, i felt like i was on another plane. I think i felt like i was too young to be like that, i had a whole life in front of me and i was very ungrounded and isolated.
S: Did the more physical Ashtanga practice helped you then?
A: Not only did Ashtanga help me recover from an injury, i think it also helped me to ground myself. My husband also played a very important role and i realised that Yoga had to be applied to my life, be part of my life but not necessary taking over everything and making me feel isolated and ungrounded. That, i feel is the real challenge: to incorporate yoga in your everyday life.
S: You studied in Mysore and with loads of great Ashtanga teachers, then you discovered Vinyasa Flow yoga with Shiva Rea. It seems like it was a revelation, a practice you could relate to a lot.
A: Yes, Ashtanga has been wonderful for me. However, in my personal experience i am not sure i could practice it right now, at the moment i need to preserve my energy to take good care of my family! Well, i am sure some women find it works well for them . But you know, i am talking for myself, and i practiced it a lot and loved it. It’s just that my Yoga journey has continued and brought me to teach about discovering the flow of prana (life force) .
S: It feels like you have a strong connection with Shiva. Can you tell me what you like in her practice?
A: Shiva is like a wild animal, she really is in touch with nature, wilderness. She brings you back to real life and teaches how to apply Yoga to your own life. There is no rigid rule. It is all about being connected to yourself and finding your own path and your own way.
S: Can you tell me about your teaching?
A: Teaching makes me happy. I need space and time though to get inspiration. That is why i try not to teach too much.
In my classes i include movement that gives freedom. I really like people to find their own “dance”, their own rythm. I like using music to uplift, or calm when needed. Some parts of the practice are very cleansing (kriyas) and liberating. Each class is different. I try to have a different focus each week. There is no rigid rule about a series of postures, it’s more about flow. I like to include some partner work as well sometimes.
I also like to incorporate some philosophy, usually at the end of the class when people are more relaxed and their ears are more open.
S: Thank you Alessandra for our conversation.
Before i left Alessandra’s house, she showed me her beautiful Ganesha Statue.
I felt very inspired by our conversation.
The Kriya Yoga subject definitely aroused my curiosity and i want to learn more about it and the energy body. For those of you who are interested, Alessandra recommends to read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda.
My next encounter will be with Ann Malone, Hang player singer songwriter and sound healer…