Susan (Sadhana) is one of the skilled yoga teachers that the Yogacara community feels honoured to have. This week, she has been featured in our yoga teacher spotlight in the hopes that you can get to know her and the connection she has to yoga.
Do you have any favourite mantras/meditations/spiritual practices?
I am fascinated with mantra, the Sanskrit language and the effects it has on not only those chanting, but all beings, plant and animal life in its proximity. Mantra is a daily practice that has become effortless and brings so much joy. It’s a very powerful tool to bring things back into balance and perspective. During extended poses when I am not cueing, I am often chanting silently, helping to raise the frequency of the room. Favourite mantra? Guru Stotram. You can listen and download here: http://rikhiapeeth.in/audio-gallery/ It is a shortened version of the Guru Gita. One of my dreams is to go to an ashram in India where they chant the Gita each morning.
What’s the one thing you wish students knew?
I wish they understood that the aches, pains, injuries and illness were not happening TO them. Every one of these experiences, no matter how seemingly insignificant, are happening FOR them and through the practice of yoga one can begin to disentangle from the drama and learn to look at life from a wider perspective. All students will benefit from introductory alternate nostril breathing practices to help dial down the mental chatter and take steps towards discernment.
Are there any books/movies etc. you would recommend for yogis?
Light on Life (BKS Iyengar) I love his anecdotes and honesty.
Autobiography of a Yogi (Paramahansa Yogananda) Quite a hard read if Indian names and yogic terms don’t roll off your tongue, but worth the time. There is one chapter that I read over and over. Truly enlightening.
Kundalini Tantra (Satyananda Saraswati) If you are interested in chakra psychology and chakra practices, this is the yogic perspective. Many people use Anodea Judith’s Eastern Body Western Mind as a go to book, but this is the book I teach from and refer to most.
Yoga and Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization (David Frawley) Great reference.
Have you experienced any challenges along the path of yoga? (injuries, obstacles etc.)
Of course. Pregnancy. Breast feeding. Menopause. Death. Divorce. I feel inspired to write and teach on these experiences now that they are not so raw, well maybe not divorce as it is the most recent obstacle. Over the years, I have come to understand that the obstacles placed in our path come for many reasons. A road closure or a cancelled flight may keep us safe. A fall or injury may awaken us to an issue we have been avoiding. Never resent these obstacles. They are a gift.
How has your practice (or teaching) changed over the years?
My practice used to be very physical, almost aggressive. I was a perfectionist. Now, I feel the asana, breath the asana. I take time to land in every posture, then expand. I find that cueing breath for students is crucial. In order to deepen the asana practice, one has to let go and surrender to the practice. I don’t teach the yamas and niyamas in class as I choose to teach breath and focus on energetic cues instead. However, committing to a yogic lifestyle and embracing these teachings has changed both my practice and my lifestyle. If there are students interested in a satsang on the yamas and niyamas, I’d love to lead the discussion.
Connect with Susan in one of her classes at the studio! View our upcoming schedule for more info.