In this interview with Juli, Clelia asks some questions about teaching and yoga.
1. Why are you teaching yoga, rather than just practising it for yourself?
I’m passionate about teaching. Everything I love to do, I want to share with others and help them learn how to do it too. I’m also a filmmaker, and I love teaching filmmaking. When I was learning to play the piano as a young teen, one of the first things I did was show the other neighbourhood kids how to play piano too!
2. How did you find your way through the ancient tradition of Yoga? Why Vinyasa yoga and not another yoga?
I’ve tried a lot of different styles of yoga, and many different teachers with different styles within the same practice. Most of the studios I’d attend classes at had a wide-range of styles and teachers that I could try out – from Iyengar, Astanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Anusara, Jivamukti to Bikram / Hot, Acro, and Kundalini. I tended to get more out of the Krishnamacharya-influenced flow classes, so I spent more time practicing vinyasa. The dance-like movements work better for me than static poses in reducing the muscle-tension pain I get from endometriosis and fibromyalgia. My first teacher training was a 200-hour intensive one-month training in Mexico, at a place called Yandara. The style is influenced by Anusara, and more flow-based, but it was very open. Everyone brought their own style to the training, and then learned the basic history and philosophy of yoga, and how to teach, not just a specific style of postures / movement, but about the different aspects of yoga. The advanced teacher training I’m attending now is Svastha yoga therapy (yoga for physical and mental health), founded by A.G. and Indra Mohan, who were students of Krishnamacharya, and taught by their son, Ganesh Mohan. What I learn with this training influences my yoga teaching as well as my daily life – how to manage the stresses of a contemporary western lifestyle, how to manage pain and chronic illness, and recover from and prevent injuries.
3. What is the relationship between tradition and development in your practice as a teacher?
Yoga has always been about being adaptable to new situations / people. The ancient yogis never intended for any kind of yoga to stay the same, static or rigid. Patanjali writes about this in the Yoga Sutras. Yoga was intended to be passed down from one practitioner to another and adapt with each person and their community or environment. That is one of the beautiful things about yoga, is that it’s such a diverse practice, different wherever you go, whoever you meet. The things I learned from my teachers that resonate with me, I hold onto, develop further and adapt to my community. For instance, yoga practitioners often use gendered language that I find sexist and transphobic. It’s not necessary, so I use non-gendered and more inclusive language in my classes. I came to yoga from a very westernized viewpoint, but I’m on the path now to learning as much as I can about honouring the history of yoga, as well as respecting the contemporary south asian practices, as they evolve to be more inclusive to poorer communities, women and trans folk, and people with a variety of abilities. And as I keep learning more and more about the philosophy of yoga, I realize that there is nothing in it that cannot be adapted to my communities.
Juli offers Community Yoga classes at English Yoga Berlin, with an emphasis on creating a space for those who feel marginalized in other classes but still want to discover the yoga benefits. You are invited to join Juli in creating an atmosphere of alliedness by recognizing our privileges and creating space for others (queers, transfolk, sex-workers, b&pocs, differently abled, abundant bodied, low/no-income).