I met Madrid native Almu when I started to teach a class at the Sat Nam Centre in Galway city – its been so great meeting and connecting with the lovely yoga community here in my home city of Galway. Almu spoke to me about her journey with yoga, motherhood and running a yoga centre.
What brought you to yoga?
After I had my first child, I found a one month Ashtanga course in Galway with a teacher called Ciara and I loved it. After that I started going to classes with Carol Murphy– at the time there were only two yoga teachers in Galway, one taught hatha yoga and Carol Asthanga,but the classes were on and off while Carol would be away in India.
Anyway, I was quite busy with the baby, but everytime I needed to get back into Yoga Carol would reappear and I would get an email saying the classes were back on.
I started college in 2003 so I would go to classes intensively in June, go on holidays and then not go to any yoga classes during the college months, so it was quite on and off.
When I finished college I had a breakdown- I lost my job, I had a miscarriage and my relationship was going through a tough period, so I immersed myself into yoga again by going to classes several mornings per week. I think that was when I started to get it and pick it up again. For me it was my space- an hour and a half for myself, just time for me outside of being a mother or a partner.
Then I saw that my teacher was doing a teacher training so I decided to do this – not with the intention of teaching but to just to go a little deeper and to learn more from my practice.
Did you have an idea of yoga before you began practicing?
My mother used to do yoga in the 80’s, she would go every Friday morning when I was small. It was some relaxing form of yoga, just a 50 year old woman doing yoga and going for an aperitif with her yoga friends after. I guess it was her time for herself as well.
So I really thought yoga was something for older women, until I went to my first class.
How did your idea change?
The style of yoga that I learned was quite intense and physical compared to my mother’s practice and it is still quite physical compared with other styles.
Yoga has never been a really spiritual or philosophical practice for me. I have never really connected with that aspect of the practice. I love bodies and to be able to move out of pain, so it is more like detective work on the body. I’m more into going deep into the body than the outside – I have a degree in biochemistry so I enjoy knowing how and why things work or why they do not.
Did you find your lifestyle changed when you got into yoga?
Not really, my age and children have. I still smoke (quitting tomorrow..) and now and then I like to party. I eat pretty well and I like to take care of my body and my mind. I prefer the balance that a salad and some wine gives me instead of the stress of judging myself for my lifestyle choices.
In a way yoga has helped me to be less reactive. I’m a little bit more zen. I know my strengths more and my shadows – I am who I am and I’m accepting that. It has been through my body that I have learned so much about myself, listening to it, when to be flexible when to say no and to stick to my core, when to be strong and hold and when to let go. It has helped my mental stamina, just knowing that everything will pass. I noticed how much it helped my mindset when giving birth to my second child – I was in and out in two hours!
I’m sure there are a lot more things that I am not even aware off.
What inspired you to take on the Sat Nam Centre?
I have been teaching there since 2011 and the woman who was running it left and she asked me to take over but I was happy enough to just be teaching. When the next owner told me she was leaving the centre, I decided that it was time for me to have a challenge apart from being a yoga teacher but to become a business owner. It has been a rollercoaster – lots of learning and it is just now that it is making sense and I’m making a living out of it, so it is now that I can focus on my classes and my students
I don’t know if I will always be doing this but for now it feels right.
How do you find teaching yoga in Galway?
Being such a open city, I find there are many misconceptions about yoga. Some people don’t know what to expect with yoga.
There are a lot of yoga teachers in Galway and many styles to choose from.
I personally teach Vinyasa and Yin yoga . I really like teaching and the students I have now. I am very careful about who I bring into my class, which I haven’t always been in the past. I don’t think it is just about filling the class – I like to meet them, ask them what they want and see if I can help and if we click. Its very important because I am helping them and they are helping me. Its not personal training but I do like my classes to be fairly personal, some people don’t resonate with that at all and want to go to a class where they do their thing for an hour and where nobody knows them and that is ok too.
I like to have the connection with the students and take care of them, both inside and outside of the room. For me yoga is a vehicle to do what I love which is helping people – so it is very rewarding. It can be quite tiring as well when you are a mother and a business owner, and some days I miss my own practice and having someone there to teach me, push me a little bit and carry me through – or even just some time off to read!
Sometimes It is hard work and it can be quite lonely as well when you are by yourself running a business, but at the end of the day I am quite grateful to be able to serve, and when I am on the mat I forget the hardships and enjoy the practice.
How do you see your practice evolving?
I see it de-volving! I’m backing off a lot in my yoga practice. Triangle feels very good, I don’t do much flexibility – I bend knees and round backs. I love props and mild back bends. Now I am good to myself and that’s how I enjoy it.
Anything else you would like to say about yoga?
Physically and mentally Yoga has made me stronger and lighter. Its only now since I have backed off about what a yoga posture should look like and more about how it should feel like, that everything is connecting much more. It feels good to be in this line of work. I’m a lot more trusting – Yoga has helped me build a good foundation, well, I would say yoga is a good foundation.
I find yoga unlimited, and I would love to spend my life learning and yoga can give me the opportunity to learn, play and rest.
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