We have been teaching Yoga now for over 20 years. In the beginning, we were naturally drawn to more challenging classes and postures and our daily practice was Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga – a very dynamic, physical routine that was typically 90 mins of continuous movement, holding each posture only for 5 breaths. The dynamic nature of this practice generates a lot of heat, and as a result, toxins are released through sweating (although that doesn’t happen too much in the depths of Winter here in Ireland!).

yoga asana - another attachment?

Ashtanga in this form is a tough practice that demands a lot of the practitioner. As teachers, we noticed how difficult it can be for students to get past the desire for physical achievement with this style of practice.

For some, the posture sequence can become almost addictive, to such an extent that it reinforces rigidity rather than flexibility of mind. There can be such a strong attachment to the physical results, that the other more subtle aspects of Yoga are often overlooked.

Looking back, our own personal practices and teaching for these first few years were quite black and white. From an Ayurvedic perspective, our Pitta was in overdrive!

pranayama - a turning point for us

In 2009, we went on a residential retreat with Paul Dallaghan and his pranayama teacher, O.P. Tiwari, from Kaivalyadham Institute in India. This was a major turning point for us – O.P. Tiwari is one of the leading experts in pranayama in the world today, having been steeped in Vedic wisdom traditions from birth. Over time, we experienced first-hand the benefits of daily pranayama and noticed the impact on our nervous systems and clarity of mind, compared to doing only the vinyasa krama sequence.

Our teaching changed to incorporate these breathwork practices for many of our students. We also began to modify sequences tailoring practices to meet the needs of individual students who required a more therapeutic approach. And as our own personal practices softened, so too did our teaching.

integration of ayurveda

Consistent practice of Yoga engenders a sense of responsibility for one’s own health and exploration of Ayurveda happened naturally for us. What started out as an integral part of our own lifestyle turned into formal study, and eventually the opening of an Ayurvedic clinic at the Shala. Ayurveda has taught us so much about self-care, spanning daily routines, lifestyle, diet, detoxes and herbs. It has literally changed our lives and our teaching.

yogaveda living was born

It became increasingly clear to us over the last number of years that “Ashtanga Yoga Dublin” no longer accurately described our offering. After long deliberation (believe me, there has been a lot of discussion and soul-searching on this topic!!), we decided that a complete rebrand was the best way forward.

We wanted a name that would accurately reflect how we have evolved over the years, and “YogaVeda Living” was born. Our Yoga teaching is now underscored by the wisdom of Ayurveda. Balance and moderation are emphasised in both of these sister sciences. Over the years, we have come to realise that these are absolutely key to making progress on this path. We have introduced more balance and moderation into our own practices and lives, and as a result into our teaching.

Asana is so necessary to keep the body healthy and the channels clear. Pranayama is wonderful help to help balance the nervous and endocrine systems and help settle the emotions. Sitting in stillness is the most challenging practice and yet this is where we reap the greatest benefits. A posture practice that involves constant movement can be very attractive to us – especially when we are used to busyness in all aspects of our lives – but for that very reason, it can often become just another form of distraction. Yes, it has physical benefits but often when we are busy by nature, we would benefit more from a very calming asana practice – one that also has physical benefits but leads us into a deeper sense of stillness. So, check in after your practice – do you usually feel a deep sense of relaxation and ease? If not, it might be time to change how you are practicing.

forever students

We are very grateful for all that the Ashtanga method has taught us over the years – it is wonderful in terms of instilling discipline for practice. These days we still practice asana but in a different way – a combination of dynamic routines combined with more yin style to support deep rejuvenation in the body and keep the connective tissue healthy. We also practice pranayama, meditation and yoga nidra, and this is supported by an Ayurvedic daily routine (most days!).

We are by no means perfect in these practices but we are open, enthusiastic students on this path ourselves, and as we continue to learn, go deeper and hopefully keep growing, we aspire to authentically live in alignment with these wisdom traditions for modern day living, and to pass on to others what works best for us.

Remember, there is no “one size fits all” approach that works in terms of practice. The key is in developing deep self-awareness so that we can tune into what we need based on any current imbalance as well as cultivating a practice that supports our underlying constitution, and this is really the essence of what YogaVeda Living is all about.