Teaching from Your Guts: An Interview with Helen Noakes

Wonderful news for all Scaravelli-inspired yoga lovers -and all yoga lovers: Helen Noakes is among the presenters for the BYC this year. I’m thrilled! Helen is a very unique kind of yoga teacher; her spontaneity and lightness of spirit turn her sessions into a truly expansive experience.

Since she started coming to Barcelona in 2010, I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in her yoga sessions and Chavutti Thirumal (Indian rope massage with food pressure) trainings. Helen radiates a contagious kind of joy, and her intuitive way of teaching can skilfully guide you into deep inner places.

Read on to know more about Helen and her approach to yoga before you go to one of her juicy sessions at the BYC this year.

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Q. You host online yoga classes at Ekhart Yoga, where you describe Scaravelli-inspired yoga as a approach  that “encourages the practitioner to create a strong relationship to the ground, to the breath and to the spine”. I’ve also heard you saying that you enjoy “teaching from your guts”. How do these two things come together?

A. When you turn inwards and give your body a chance to feel, then you can sense your brain in your gut. Your ‘gut feeling’ can be trusted and operating from this space is deeply satisfying. This gives you a gateway into connecting directly into the Source. In other words you can ground yourself by feeling the earth beneath you, tune into the sensations of the breath, which is a direct link into the core of your body …. the spine.

Ground, breath and spine are all intimately connected and all effect one another. The joints in your body which can be  felt as organs then open in response to gravity and the wave that resides within us often in fluid form can be felt physically. This union is bliss with a sense of safety and deep knowing that has no ambition or goals. Delicious.

Q. When we consider yoga beyond Asana practice and self-improvement, how do you think it can help us and our communities in this day and age? 

A. Great question . In this technological age yoga in its many forms in the simplest sense helps us to FEEL. The teaching is Know thyself. That is the joy of unwinding and unfolding out of unwanted tension into moments of relaxation and presence. Undoing NOT doing.

Q. How do you feel your personal yoga practice has changed you/is changing you?

A. It’s helped me to enjoy responding to my body’s wishes and to honour the miracle of who we are and how we function. I enjoy this methodless, somatic exploration which has brought softness and acceptance into my body and permission to be playful and experimental. It’s brought a silent trust into responding to my intuition. I could call it freedom however a more resonant explanation is re-connection to the magic of our humanness and one-ness.

Q. Do you find that there is a question your students tend to ask again and again? If so, which one and what is your answer

A. Yes. How do I get my spine to express the waves of the body? My answer changes every time depending on the focus of the class. However the essence is to let go into the ground and relax into the breath. Listen, wait, feel and imagine your spine is a snake. It’s a whole body event!

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These will be Helen Noakes’ Scaravelli-inspired workshops at the BYC:

By Elena SepúlvedaElena is a  Yin and Vinyasa Yoga teacher, a Chavutti Thirumal body worker and the creator of Yogagenda. Follow Elena on Facebook or Instagram.

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