I met Rose from New Zealand during my travels in India. Rose set up and runs a guesthouse in the Algarve in Portugal where she also teaches yoga. Here she talks about teaching yoga to compliment surfing, her yoga path, the inspiration for her trip to India and the importance of keeping the traditional aspects of yoga alive and the responsibility of being a yoga teacher in today’s society.
What brought you to yoga?
My best friend introduced me to yoga whenI was about 17 years old, I really enjoyed it. I was then given an opportunity to work at Ashram Yoga in New Zealand and they offered me a scholarship to become a teacher.
What was you idea of yoga before you began to practice?
I didn’t really have any idea of yoga, it wasn’t really in my upbringing. My mom took pregnancy yoga when she was pregnant with me which I found quite interesting because Shanti (Shantimurti – Rose’s teacher) said that most of our conditioning is made up when we are in our mother’s womb – so maybe that’s the connection.
How did your idea of yoga change or develop?
I guess I was getting a lot of benefits out of practicing yoga , that was a real eye opener for me and I just really wanted to live naturally. One thing I really noticed when I started practicing was how much more I’d see around me on an awareness level. I’d be driving along the road I drive to work everyday and I would be seeing all these things I never saw before that were always there because I was opening myself up more. That kind of affected me in the beginning, I didn’t really have too much of an idea of that before.
What is your background in yoga?
I started off studying Satyananda-style hatha yoga at Ashram yoga. I was really into the philosophy style of yoga and I more and more got into enjoying the meditation side of it.
Then I went to India and studied hatha-ashtanga in an ashram there, called Yoga Point,for a month. That was pretty similar to what I started off doing from the same lineage of the Bihar school of yoga so I have pretty much stayed with the same tradition the whole way through – not that much in other styles.
Did you find your lifestyle changed when you started to practice yoga?
It was a big lifestyle change for me really, I just wanted to be healthy and to eat organic food all the time. My life was very much concentrated around my yoga practice and leeping my body clean. I was really into all these different types of yoga techniques and keeping my body clean with cleansing practices.
Did you find you attitude in general change?
Yeah it was a real journey in the beginning actually because when I started practicing yoga it was four years after my dad died so it was a real healing process for me. It was me going through my own therapy in a way, finding my own way to deal with everything, so yeah it all helped in that sense.
How do you find yoga and surfing benefit each other?
I really believe that yoga and surfing go hand in hand. A lot of surf camps are really bringing it into their schools now, it has become really popular and they really compliment each other. Yoga really warms the body up for surfing and stretches it out after the session. The pranayama is really good also for strenghtening the lungs and being able to deal with being wiped out when you surf.
Have you come to India for yoga?
Definitely, yes! I just really enjoy just being around the sanskrit, the chanting and the rituals of yoga. Just being around that environment and having the option to do yoga all the time is really nice.
Do you find a difference to yoga here in India and yoga in the west?
I think it just depends on where you are and who is teaching. There are a lot of western teachers here. I think you can find what you find here a lot of the time outside of here also. Unless you meet some old guru in the mountains, which I haven’t encountered yet!
I do like how they bring in all aspects of yoga here – the chantings and the rituals. There is definitely a real energy here.
Its also really nice to be around other travellers who are open to yoga and its a sort of focus other than other places you go to. Its quite nice to have that around you all the time.
What is your intention for your time here?
Really to just do a few classes and pick up a few more things to teach next year. I want to regenerate my energy after giving a lot this year teaching classes, to come back with a fresher body and mind to teach again for another season.
One really important thing as a teacher is to be inspired, to give back to yourself. Its really important to have your own time and to make sure you keep up your own practice so you can feel the benefits.
What have you noticed change with yoga since you have began practicing?
Yoga has definintely become more popular now – its a billion dollar industry. I think there is definitely a lot of responsibility as a yoga teacher to look after how you are teaching your students. To really be aware of what’s going on in your classes and not just project your own ego into your class which I have seen happen a lot.
I think its really important to refer back to ancient texts regularly as a teacher and to do your research.
The more I’ve been teaching the more I’ve realised how its so much about teaching people on a class basis. More and more I have people coming to classes with injuries and I just can’t give them the attention they need as a student, for me I usually recommend they see a yoga therapist or take a one on one session.
Would you like to talk about your yoga Ocean Life Guesthouse in Portugal?
So I thought it would be a nice idea to run a yoga B&B called Ocean Life Guesthouse so I suggested it to an English couple I knew who were buying a house in Aljezur in the Algarve. They weren’t into yoga but they were really open to the idea of me starting a business there. Its been going really well and is attracting lots of really nice people to come and stay. Alongside that I’ve been working for five different surf camps teaching yoga.
And you also run yoga retreats there, would you like to talk about them?
With the retreats I’m just trying to offer a relaxed space for people to come and do yoga and also get into the other side of yoga a little bit. We offer ceremonies in the evenings, meditation, pranayama. We do three classes a day, serve healthy food in a really relaxed environment.
The guesthouse is located beside really beautiful beaches on the west coast of Portugal near a natural park so its a really nice space.
I’ve always had great groups of people who seem to be getting a lot our of it. That’s really nice to watch, to see people go through their own journey over the week and to just be there to support and guide it.
I always run them with another teacher, I think its really important for the students to have different teachers there and it takes the pressure of just one teacher running the whole thing. It brings in different aspects to teaching.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Not really, except that I think Yoga: Tradition in the eyes of moderneity is a really good documentary to watch about modern yoga vs. traditional yoga.
Follow the stories on Facebook.