Yoga is practised across the globe and the number of people practising it is increasing by leaps and bounds. We chat with two yoga teachers who are way too amazing – Claudine and Honza, who run a yoga institute by the name of YogaBeyond. We were amazed at how Claudine still continued doing yoga even while she was pregnant.
TT: How long have you been practising yoga? Share your story with us.
Claudine: My yoga journey began at 15 in Bali when I was invited to an Iyengar class in a home garden. I recall my curiosity at the beautiful, mysterious chants and smiling from ear to ear at the end of the practice. I went back every day for the next five weeks and by the time I got back to New York, I knew that teaching yoga would become my life’s journey. I sought out every opportunity to study and practice and once I finished my degree in the performing arts, I knew that I was meant to pursue this path of yoga.
TT: Tell us more about the form of yoga that you practice.
Claudine: Honza and I both teach and have been practicing vinyasa and restorative yoga for years. More recently, we are passionate about inspiring playfulness and community, as we teach adults how to reconnect with the child within. We are all searching for deeper connection and our goals are based strongly around encouraging this opportunity to connect the global community. ACROVINYASA™ takes yoga from earth to air. Uniting elements of vinyasa, acroyoga and inversion training, this practice cultivates trust and community in a powerful way. The core of ACROVINYASA™ is focused on synchronizing breath in movement, building strength and finding balance. Inspired by traditional yoga asanas and L-based acrobatic flying, this progressive yoga system includes both solo and partner practice. The aerial part revolves around one partner (the base) supporting the other (the flyer) in flying through the air in a sequenced series of yoga postures. Bringing a refreshingly playful approach to an ancient tradition, ACROVINYASA™ feels more like a dance with gravity than physical exercise. Getting inverted with a partner is very empowering especially for people who may be fearful of supporting or being supported by others.
Our practice in particular is designed to bridge the gap between the world of yoga and L-based flying in acrobatics. Within the world of yoga there is a greater connection to breath and meditation, therefore to consciousness and compassionate connections. Both practices are about working on the individual to be a stronger part of a team or community so the two practices compliment each other in a beautiful way.
TT: Was yoga the connect between you and your husband Honza to meet?
Honza: No, we didn’t meet through yoga. Our love story began from opposite corners of the world. True to our life philosophy of ‘following your bliss’, overcoming 10,000 miles apart simply meant another exciting adventure on our journey toward finding each other. We finally met in New York in 2007, and currently call Sydney, Australia our home away from home.
Claudine: Honza and I physically met in NY though we had been introduced by godmother from 10,000 miles apart. I was running a yoga studio in Queens and Honza had a full time business as a personal trainer. When Sherri, my fairy godmother as I now call her, sent me an email saying that ‘if there were two people in this universe that had to at least meet, it was Honza and I, well I knew that I had to pay attention.” I wrote him a brief message about who I am, where I’ve been and where I’m headed and when he wrote back within hours sharing so much more of the same, I knew we were on to something.”
Honza: After many personal journeys and self enquiry, I knew that I was ready to call in the love of my life. So when we began to communicate, I knew Claudine was the person with whom I was going to spend the rest of life. As we got to know each other more through email, photos and phone calls we realized that this love was written in the stars. A few months before we ever knew of each other, I had made a painting and finished faster than I ever had before. The image was of two figures, a man and a woman gazing at another woman with curly hair in the distance. I didn’t know what the painting was about at the time. I named it Cosmic Imagination and wrote my favorite quote from Albert Einstein on the back of the piece. ‘Imagination is everything, it is the preview of life’s coming attractions.’ As Claudine and I were talking, she told me about her meditation teacher in India giving her a sanskrit name, Kalpana, which means Cosmic Imagination. I bought a plane ticket to NY the next day to meet my woman in the painting, the love of my life.
Claudine: After an incredible and surreal month in NY, Honza invited me to move back to Sydney with him. At the time, it felt like the next logical step. So six weeks after he left, I bought a one way ticket to Australia! This was almost eight years ago and it has been an amazing ride, ever since.
TT: People usually shy away or are scared of doing extreme workout during pregnancy and you have tried such difficult postures during your pregnancy. How is yoga helping you?
Claudine: I would not recommend that women begin any new workout routines. If there is a prior history with yoga, running or anything else vigorous, it is fine to continue but each pregnancy is so unique and I would exercise great caution and sensitivity, particularly in the first and third trimester. For me, yoga has helped to keep me calm, focused and aware of the subtle changes in my body. Gentle or prenatal yoga can be of great benefit for mothers to be, particularly if there is an emphasis on breathing techniques.
TT: Are there any yoga postures you would recommend pregnant women for easy delivery and for less pain?
Claudine: I would recommend viparitta karani (legs on the wall) and malasana (yogic squat) to relieve pressure on the lower back and to keep the legs and hips strong and supple in preparation for birth.
TT: Do you have any plans for to India and conducting a yoga workshop here?
Claudine: We don’t have any plans for the near future but we would love to eventually run an ACROVINYASA teacher training in India, as well as teach workshops whilst connecting with new communities.
TT: Lastly, how do you think yoga has improved your quality of life?
Claudine: We always practice the gifts of yoga in our daily life. We constantly practice patience, mutual respect, contentment, non attachment, surrender and compassion. It is so important to be honest with yourself on and off the mat. In a relationship, this is paramount and we do our best to do our work and practice our yoga every day.