Gabi: “When I’m not doing yoga I’m pursuing my favourite hobbies, pole dancing and sailing. Yoga is my way of life, I practise because it puts me in a good place. Each time I’m on the mat is like coming home. I began Astanga 20 years ago, initially self taught (badly), before I discovered some amazing teachers who have not only inspired me but taught me a safer, softer practice. Te Aro yoga is my current inspiration; Mike, his team of dedicated assistants and the other practitioners that share their energy are also an inspiration. Coming from the UK I feel very privileged to be living in the unique and friendly Wellington community of which Te Aro Astanga Yoga is an integral part.”
Danny: “When I’m not practising yoga I am enjoying working in education being in my garden, cooking, walking, and most importantly having a great time being a Dad. I began practising at Te Aro Astanga in 2010. I continue to practise because it has become part of my daily ritual. Early morning yoga is the best way to begin the day, it gives me clarity and strength.”
Jasper first embarked upon her yoga journey a year and a half ago when she was 19 years old after getting back home to Canada after travels in Costa Rica where she came to clarity about the path she needed to follow. At first it simply served as a little wee space of time –maybe 20 minutes a day– that she could really take for herself to check in and see where she was at. Slowly that little space grew in time, and soon it was a full, empowering, practice every morning. The relationship that she was developing with her body was better than ever before. With a background in gymnastics and other competitive sports, she had never before found a place where she could start to listen to her body rather than telling it what to do, the place where she could progress at the speed she needed to and the place where she could simply take up time and space guiltlessly. Jasper loves the strengthening aspect of Astanga yoga. When her body is strong and energetically clear she feels stronger emotionally and mentally too. This strength has been much needed now that she has left her nest and is out traveling the world alone. Her practice provides something consistent and familiar while everything around her and within her is changing all the time. It is through that platform of consistency that she is able to observe the changes and integrate them fully into her being. Jasper is very grateful to have found Te Aro Astanga yoga to practice at during her time in Wellington.
Baxter: “When I am not doing yoga I am reading comics, hanging out somewhere on Cuba St and/or a youth worker with the team at BGI (Wellington Boys’ and Girls’ Institute) I practice yoga because I appreciate how it strengthens my body, calms my mind and spirit, setting a tone for the week. I have been practicing at TAAY for 8 years. The people/music/films/books/things I find inspiring: The artist/author Oliver Jeffers, the singer Sharon Jones, and virtually anyone who has remained committed to a community and vocation for a long time. I am grateful to inhabit this creative and connected city, full of familiar, friendly faces and feel a sense of responsibility to contribute to our collective well being.”
Glen: “I first heard about Astanga Yoga 15 years ago. At the time I thought it would be too hard. Five years ago I decided to start. It was the best thing I have ever done. I have a labouring job so it is very good for me. I have been practicing with Mike for three years. I am inspired by people who push themselves to the limit. I like watching rugby, rugby league and pottering around home.”
Jamie: “I practice yoga to connect with my body. I think most people use their bodies tools to accomplish tasks in their day to day lives, but yoga really opens up the possibility to create a meaningful relationship between mind, body and spirit.”
Mike: “When not practicing yoga I am trying to be the best father and husband that I can be. I also play music, tend my garden and hens, am the director of 2 small companies and of course, manage and teach at Te Aro Astanga Yoga. I am inspired by my wife, Victoria, and my beautiful daughters, Holly and Isla. I also look for inspiration in all the people I come in touch with, the ordinary and the extraordinary. I think that everyone has the flame of inspiration in them and that if you get to know them well enough you will come to feel that. Part of my job is to give people the tools to discover that flame within themselves.” I practice yoga because it makes me feel good in every way and have been practicing since 1992.
Camilla: “I have stepped on the mat for 4 years, at varying degrees of intensity. Different aspects of your life draw on different bits of your energy – when I step on the mat it is a moment where I bring my life to my practice, and my practice to my life. I get a sense of how I am doing mentally, physically and spiritually. I am still amazed by the therapeutic power that comes from approaching yourself through deliberate breath and movement. You leave the mat with a smile. During my pregnancy the time on the mat has been particularly important. It has felt good to have that time to find space and lightness in my mind and body to create room for these profound changes at all levels.”
Joel: “I came across Ashtanga Yoga in 1998 when studying Musical Theatre. Although a brief introduction of a year, I resumed the practice in June 2008 and have been attending ever since. When I am not doing yoga I cycle, solve cryptic crosswords, work as a butcher and perform on stage – when I get the chance. I practice yoga because it irons out all the “kinks and creases” of the day. It helps me to connect the breath with the movement and helps me to think and slow down. It also gives me a sound nights sleep. I enjoy yoga because it helps to tame the ego while giving me an increasing awareness of self. Inspired by: Books: “Animal Farm”, “1984”, “A Short History of Just About Everything”, “Birdsong”, “Ice Master”, “Three Swans”, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”. Films: “Requiem for a Dream”, “The Fountain”, “Gattica”, “Contact”, “Gloomy Sunday”, “Sunshine”, “The Reader”, “Starsky and Hutch”, “A Royal Affair”, “Les Miserables”. “
Lucie & Duncan
Lucie: “When not doing yoga is living life to its fullest. Practices yoga to stay mentally and physically strong as she gets older/wiser. Has been practicing almost a year now. Inspired by David Suzuki the Canadian scientist/writer. “Life is too short; you never know when the hearse will pick you up. So, be good to yourself and those surrounding you: it is all about giving and sharing at the end! Have fun!” Duncan: Obviously took this to heart. Well worth the read!! “When not practising yoga I enjoy restoring classic road bicycles as well as a classic mini, playing the didgeridoo or percussion instruments. I also work fulltime at a vehicle dealership as a parts consultant. I enjoy practicing because of the many benefits accrued physically and mentally. Initially I couldn’t even touch my toes. I’ve been lucky enough through my working career to witness how peoples life choices have physiologically affected there longevity, these experiences were very insightful and resulted in many alterations to my way of living. Finding a traditional authentic yoga practice was part of that process and is a decision I will never regret, it is without doubt the best system for keeping the whole body and mind in shape. The neurological benefits are outstanding and are what keeps me going back for more. Have been practicing for one year. Inspired by my grandmother Audrey aged 89 years. She has been widowed twice, first when my Father and Aunty were less than 10 years old, she raised them alone, without help or complaint in 1950s NZ. She went out and found a fulltime job, something unheard of for most women in the 50s, remained a single mother until both her kids left home before getting married a second time. Her independence and attitude to life is inspiring. A very stoical woman who lived alone in the tidiest house I have ever seen it was always spic and span and ready for an open home in an instant. She always says “As long as you’re happy that is all that matters” and “Every day you wake up your lucky”. What really struck me was at 89 she decided by herself she could no longer live independently, packed a small suitcase with some clothes, a photograph of her second husband Ivor and a painting of One Tree Hill and checked into a rest home, a place in society she had always resented. She walked away from all her possessions collected over a lifetime, and house she had owned and lived in for 30 plus years. She is still happy as ever and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Forget stereotypes about yoga, yoga is a gift for everyone, it does not discriminate. Get out and try new things and never be afraid to live in the moment. All we have is the present moment, not the past, not the future, material wealth cannot help you at the end, Get out and live life.When not practising yoga I enjoy restoring classic road bicycles as well as a classic mini, playing the didgeridoo or percussion instruments. I also work fulltime at a vehicle dealership as a parts consultant.”
Philip: “When I am not doing yoga, I work on arts festivals. I enjoy yoga because it stretches my body and keeps me flexible – and it’s a great group of people. I have been practising yoga for more than 20 years!”
Maggie: “When I am not doing yoga I am usually listening to live music somewhere in this cool little city of Wellington. I practice yoga because I love the feeling is gives me and the beautiful flexibility. I have been practising for over 30 years. Often the most inspiring people are the little people who we actually know like this 55 year old woman who built her own straw bale house in Central Otago recently. Her electricity bill is $9.00 per month. Express yourself, breathe, be calm and seize the day – carpe diem.”
Michele: “I started yoga with the unforgettable Gwendoline Hunt sometime in the 1990s.The breathing of Astanga is good for many aspects of each day. I live up about 165 steps and breathing the Astanga way makes the ascent a bit of a breeze. When I am not doing yoga and clambering up and down steps I am being a flax weaver and a teacher of English to refugees and migrants to NZ. I enjoy both a lot.I have worked at many different things, from menial jobs when I was young to grape picking, mural painting, house painting and living in communities overseas, being a rousie in shearing gangs here, to office work and teaching. I found I often preferred the outdoor jobs. I also like to paint, read and work in the garden as well as spend time with friends and my mother, who is over 90, at Raumati South. When I was young I liked to travel to exotic places overseas.. I often go to stay with a friend in Golden Bay and like to go to different places in NZ. Now that I am no longer young, some of my old injuries [ eg broken shoulder] have developed arthritis, so sometimes I have to adapt my practice a little to accommodate the situation. I still love yoga and appreciate Mike saying not to put pressure on the sore parts of your body.”
Olivia & Bryant
Olivia: “I am 7 months pregnant and it has been interesting to adapt my practice to my changing body. I started yoga when I was a University student and working a full time job. My roommate in Florida told me that I seriously needed something to help me relax. I really enjoy how Ashtanga allows me to be inside my own head and totally challenge the ego. Plus, I like the energy that can happen when you are practicing with others. I’ve moved around a lot the past four years and I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing teachers, students/ friends through this practice. It’s really helped me feel grounded.” Bryant: “Yoga is a multifaceted enigma for me. It’s practice was essentially brought to my attention by my father who’s back at the time was in dire straits and he wanted me to practice ‘damage prevention.’ Though the real reason I actually started was because of my wife. I wanted us to have something we could share together from younger years into old. Sort of like an independent but tandem life adventure that would be ours. The aspect that resonates the most is the prospect of deeper meaning and understanding of ones self. It’s a methodology of understanding that teaches on many levels and all that is required is honesty and patience. Strong foundations for anything.”