With over 12 years experience teaching yoga, Emma is passionate about achieving a balanced life and helping others to do the same.
Emma, what inspired you to get into yoga and become a teacher?
I spent the first part of my working life as a Psychologist, working in a corporate environment. Although I loved my job, I felt there was something different that I needed to be doing, and a piece of the puzzle was missing. After the birth of my first child, I knew I didn’t want to put my baby in childcare and do the morning commute, work the long hours and so on. When she was around 3 months old, I joined a gym and discovered the wonderful and inspirational Patrcia (Trish) Stone’s yoga classes. Yoga ‘sang’ to me immediately and I ended up taking about 3 classes a week, never dreaming that I would one day be teaching. Then I started a Masters in Education to become a School Psychologist and working with a good friend, I completed the exercises in Julia Cameron’s’The Artist’s Way’: This opened my eyes and heart to other options. When I was pregnant with my second child, Trish announced in class one day that next year she was going to commence her first ever year-long yoga teacher training course – and was anybody interested? As I sat in class, I had a lightbulb moment and thought “yes, that’s me”. Usually I take a long time to make decisions, but I had no doubts: it just felt right!
What do you love most about teaching?
The look of peace and relaxation on student’s faces at the end of the class once they’ve sat up from the meditation; and sharing student’s ‘ah hah’ moments, when they’ve had a big shift in their thinking, such as the moment they finally figure out what that niggling lower back pain is trying to tell them.
How often do you practice yoga yourself?
Keeping in mind that ‘yoga’ encompasses so much more than simply asanas, I practise every day. Some days may be pranayama focused or restorative yoga, but yoga has a habit of infiltrating your life.
What’s your favourite yoga pose and why?
It has to be Downward Facing Dog. You don’t need to warm up to do it (as long as you are conscious of moving into it slowly); it works so many muscles, soothes the mind and never fails to make me sigh with pleasure at the feeling of being inverted and open through the heart and upper body.
What are the best benefits of yoga and why?
In the first Australia-wide RMIT survey on yoga a few years ago, the researchers found that most yoga practitioners started yoga for the physical benefits (toning, flexibility, injury management etc) but stayed for the mental and spiritual benefits. I have found this to be true, not only personally, but amongst my yoga students over many years. I have found that yoga tends to find people when they are ‘good and ready’.
How can yoga help to change our mindset?
The mark of an experienced or advanced yoga practitioner is not their level of flexibility, but their ability to be consciously aware of what is happening in each part of their body and breath at any one time. For example, in Warrior II pose, they are as aware simultaneously of what their left little toe is doing and feeling as they are of their right index finger, and back of their neck.
I have found that it’s rare for an experienced yogi/yogini to not develop greater insight into their own behaviour and ways of being in the world.
Yoga is only one path to awakening yourself: a good complete path encompasses balanced physical, mental and spiritual aspects (this last one only if you wish it and are ready). People have to find their own way.
What is the greatest challenge yoga has helped you overcome?
Moving away from perfectionism and the need to control, leading to being more in flow with life. Practising and teaching yoga does not make you perfect with a life free from suffering and full of wine and roses, however it leads to exploration of what life really is about: we are all souls having a human experience.
Emma’s Top 5 yoga tips for beginners:
- Try out different class styles and teachers to find the one that suits you and your stage of life.
- Go slow and do less. If you are an achievement-oriented go-getter, your yoga lesson is likely to be to pulled back by trying to do and be too much. However the opposite applies to more laid back people!
- Don’t discount the benefit of the end of class relaxation/meditation – one day it will be your favourite part of the class.
- After class, take note of what felt great (mentally or physically) so you can incorporate it into your home routine (check with your teacher first to ensure it is safe to do unsupervised at home).
- Listen carefully to your teacher once you find one you are comfortable with; they can help you get the most out of the class in a safe manner
Connect with Emma Janetzki on Facebook.