My interview with Emma Spencer-Goodier of Yoga With Emma
1. What first made you want to take up yoga and how long did you practice before becoming a teacher?
I went to my first yoga class fifteen years ago after the birth of my first child. I was seeking a physical exercise that I could do easily within the home and unknowingly a practice to empower and strengthen me at a deeper level. I felt an instant connection with the practice of yoga and began to seek a greater understanding. I did my teacher training in 2000 with little intention of teaching, however friends and colleagues were curious and I was asked to teach at work. That was nearly 14 years ago and now I work full time teaching and sharing yoga in classes, workshops, one to one and on retreats and holidays.
2. When you have mastered every yoga pose there is to master, what happens next? How do you continue to develop the practice?
Yoga is so much more than just the physical path of asana or the poses. No-one masters all of them and each time you come to a pose you learn something new about your body’s and mind’s relationship with it. Hatha yoga incorporates a whole science about the breath. Learning to breath properly is the one key discipline that can transform your health by reducing stress and all of the subsequent symptoms of it. When the para-sympathetic nervous system comes back into balance, then the mind becomes more centred and a lifetime’s work of meditation and personal transformation can be enjoyed. Ultimately, yoga asana, pranayama (breath) and meditation are the powerful tools of mindfulness and an ongoing intention to become free of the mind and awaken to the delights of this lifetime. Why would you not want to work and develop this potential?
3. Can you tell me about the health benefits of yoga?
The biopsychosocial benefits of yoga are far reaching. For the beginner of yoga, the main physical benefits are structural, they will become balanced. The asana’s promote strength and flexibility around the major muscle groups of the body, ensuring that each joint can work efficiently and as intended. Psychologically practitioners work with mindfulness which works to alleviate anxiety, stress and depression. Socially, most practitioners enjoy the yoga community and often enjoy the support that comes with working with a group of like minded friends.
4. What is the funniest thing which has happened in one of your classes?
We have a lot of laughs, often at my expense. I tend to have random song lyrics that invade my head as I talk people through a class, and whilst I can often resist sharing such nonsense, sometimes I can’t. I have a friend who brings her dog to retreats, this is what I turned round to yesterday.
5. Do you prefer to do yoga on a stand up paddle board or on dry land and what is the benefit of practicing yoga on the water?
The work that I do with yoga buddies on the water using the SUP’s is fun, liberating and inspiring, however it is not the basis for a serious yoga practice. It is a sweet introduction to yoga for the newby or a delicious diversion for the established student, but it cannot really be maintained through out the winter months in these latitudes. There are additional benefits of teaching on a stand up paddle board like the necessity of working from your core to ensure you stay balanced. For me however, the main advantage is getting outside to practice and enjoying the delights of being on the water. As a teacher I love it when students realise that their yoga can happen anywhere. It doesn’t need a gym subscription, a fancy outfit or a stuffy studio and it can even happen whilst bobbing about off Bembridge harbour. To study yoga and really deepen your understanding, you need a regular practice on dry land with a teacher and times of delving deeper by retreating for a weekend or week occasionally.