Today I would like to introduce you to Helen Noakes, who will be sharing her practice of Scaravelli Inspired Yoga at this year’s Barcelona Yoga Conference. After this interview, I can’t wait to experience her classes! Read on to find out why.
Hi Helen, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your Yoga journey so far?
Yes! I began my journey into Yoga back in the early 90’s in Australia while leaving my old career as a wig dresser for theatre. During that same 2-year trip I decided to change direction.
After taking massage training in London, I found myself in India where I also took another training in Chavutti Thirumal (Massage by foot pressure).
So I set up a practice and met up with Gary Carter in the UK. I loved this unusual approach to Hatha Yoga and decided to train in ‘Scaravelli Inspired’ yoga. It was during this programme that I met my mentor Elizabeth Pauntz.
During my 20 years of visiting India every winter, I found myself teaching Yoga and Chavutti at Brahmani Yoga in Goa. From there my nomadic lifestyle became full time and now I travel Europe in the summer in my mobile home teaching workshops.
I have the great privilege of co-directing the Yoga Health Mandala LTD with two old friends and fellow Yoga/martial artists. We host Teacher Training’s in Goa over the past 5 years.
Love my life ! Love my job !
Sounds great! What would you say to someone who wants to begin a Yoga practice but feels intimidated by all the Yoga photos splashed across social media these days, with people doing some rather extreme poses?
Yes this is a great question.
Yoga has evolved in interesting ways and social media and Yoga magazines can be quite intimidating for us mere mortals. I believe that anyone can do Yoga. So I suggest that if a person wants to start moving their body to create more connection and optimal health that they try out a few local classes for beginners. Keep it simple. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed or forced into poses. Bend your knees in standing forward bend and down dog. BREATHE the way feels natural to your body. Listen to your body as only YOU know what feels good. Be a slight rebel !
Choosing the right teacher for you is tricky and your needs will change as you progress. I would say that the most important thing is to enjoy and like your teacher so it’s a joyful and light-hearted practice.
There are some wonderful online Yoga mediums to tune into. EKHART yoga is my recommendation. They have a wonderful mix of all sorts and sizes of teachers. I do teach on it so I am biased !
Can you tell us about Scaravelli Yoga and what our readers can expect from your sessions at the Barcelona Yoga festival this year?
The Matriarch of this approach to Yoga Vanda Scaravelli never encouraged it to named after her. She was an advocate of asking her students to teach from their personal interpretations of her offerings, which changed and evolved on a daily basis. This style is what I would call musical, as Vanda was an accomplished musician herself.
Her teacher was Iyengar so those are the roots of the teaching.
There are no set methods or sequencing. People are invited to be aware of what’s happening behind the skin. There is a strong emphasis on feeling the spine and how we can strengthen our relationship to the earth and the breath. It’s based on listening to
Intuition and responding to our environment. Deep relaxation and alertness can be enjoyed in the natural waves and spirals that occur in the body when joints release or when there is an expansion in the body.
It is dynamic and deeply releasing in a way you least expect.
Each class is completely unique and unfold in the moment.
The postures and breathing exercises are offered as frameworks to get to know your body.
The closest description in modern terms is a Somatic experience!
You mention Gabrielle Roth and the 5 rhythms dance, Jo Cobbett and Elena Tonetti’s Birth Into Being as some of the influences on your teaching. Can you share a little bit about them and how they influence your teaching?
What I have learned from Jo is how to BE with going out of your comfort zone. She brought home to me that our biology and our biography are the same. Our body knows. Our body tells. It helped me comprehend that Yoga helps us unravel and let go of old stories and patterns.
Elena taught me that how we were born recapitulates in patterns during our life. I learned techniques from her how to accept and dissolve birth trauma.
It taught me how to lovingly deal with some emotional releases in class and to create a safe space.
What in your view are the 3 most essential qualities of a Yoga teacher?
Loving kindness, humility and safety.
If you’d like to know more about Helen and her wonderful work, do have a look at the links below: