September Yogi of the month : Tessa
It’s an absolute blessing to introduce our September Yogi of the Month, Tessa. Gracing our studio in between research trips, Tessa loves the sense of sanctuary she feels each and every time she returns to practice at Live and Breathe Yoga. Having practiced yoga for over ten years, Tess has some great words of wisdom to share and I feel very honoured to have her share her story here.
When and where did you first start practising yoga?
The first time I remember going to a yoga class was in 2003 in Cape Town, at a little hatha yoga studio called ‘Shanti Cottage’.
Why were you interested in the first place?
I think I was drawn to the calmness and earthiness of the yogis I had met – I wanted to tap into what they had!
What is it that got you hooked?
Savasana! I remember being totally overwhelmed by the incredible depth of the peace and calm that came during those blissful minutes of rest after a yoga practice. Everything just seems to fall into place again.
What do you love about Live and Breathe yoga?
I love the sense of community at Live and Breathe yoga. I love the continuity it provides in my life; whatever else is going on, it’s so grounding to come back to the sanctuary of the studio. Allison and Harry have created such a nurturing space, where I feel completely supported, but also challenged to grow. They always meet me wherever I’m at, and I always leave feeling better for having been there.
What benefits/changes have you felt since practising yoga?
I am much more aware of my body and sensitive to any changes. I also feel more accepting of my body, as well as my mental and emotional state on a given day. There’s also a stillness that seems to permeate through life off the mat that I can tap into when I need to.
How often do you practice in a week?
When I’m in Townsville between research trips, I try to do at least two full primary series practices at the studio; one led class and one mysore class. I find the two styles of practice balance and complement each other perfectly. I also try to maintain a daily ‘mini’ practice to start the day.
What’s your favourite thing about Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga yoga at Live and Breathe Yoga has made me really understand that anything is possible. It’s taught me that patience and acceptance are essential to progress and to working through setbacks. It’s helped me to understand what it means to ‘find comfort in the discomfort’. I love how the Ashtanga yoga practice engages you so completely. I value the honesty – when it’s just you and your practice, there’s no space for pretence; it shows you where you need to put in the work and where you need to take a step back. I love the feeling that I’m on a lifelong journey rather than trying to achieve some finite endpoint.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of trying yoga?
Do it! It will probably become such a cornerstone in your life that you will wonder how you ever lived without it! Give yourself time to get used to a new practice, to grow into it. Recognise that that not all people gravitate towards the same styles of yoga – explore different styles to find what feeds you. Don’t get discouraged when it feels tough – it is absolutely worth the effort of sticking with it! Just show up. Allison once said that on those days that you feel you just don’t have it in you to practice, just sit on your mat and have a cup of tea and see what happens.