June’s Yoga Teacher of the Month is the bubbly, happy and energetic Helena Crismani. Helena and I actually trained together in 2012 when we were both completing our 200hr Freestyle Yoga Project Teacher Training courses. Back then, as an amateur photographer, I took a few photos for Helena. But more recently we had another quick one hour shoot down in Tunbridge Wells & we decided to be really playful and use only natural light so that Helena could bounce about the studio whilst I followed her with my lens… and bounce is exactly what she does – from her curly hair to her exuberant personality. So read on and be energised by this lovely, curly, happy soul.
When and why did you start doing yoga?
I took my first yoga class at the very end of 2007. I had been using gyms and going to various exercises classes but I always hit a ceiling when it came to long-term interest and physical benefits. One of my friends was doing yoga and looked great..I decided to give it a go and I fell instantly in love with it.
Tell us about where you trained or whom you trained with as a yoga teacher?
I trained with The Freestyle Yoga Project in 2012. Mark Freeth gifted me the training. I had previously had very hard few years and was particularly unhappy in my job…his generosity literally changed my life, l absolutely love teaching! I love how much physical satisfaction and mental well-being it gives my students and It has helped me stay positive and happy throughout some challenging times. The Freestyle Yoga Project rocks! It is my haven! I am always happy when I am there and I regularly attend Mark and Anna’s classes as are phenomenal teachers ever finding new and innovative material to inspire us with.I love to practice and teach their style.
What’s been the most valuable lesson yo have learnt since training as a yoga teacher?
To understand that one size does not fit all! After I had an injury I really learnt to stop and observe what each of my students needed and I really got that our bodies are all different and we should work them to our own individual needs. Some people will need a gentle form of yoga, others a more dynamic, but our bodies will benefit from whichever form we take if we are true to what we need,
If you could choose only yoga 5 poses to practice every day, what would they be and why?
I love things that strengthen my wrists, feet and legs, challenge balance, work hamstrings and release shoulders so I think these 5 would cover those:
- Standing forward fold, as my hamstrings are tight and I love the way it releases them
- Downward dog, as I love love it to centre on my core, shoulders and ‘hams’ again but also to practice breathing
- Upward facing dog, as I love the delicious stretch it gives me across my stomach and back and in particular in recent times I am loving the stretch on my throat!
- I adore balancing poses, to strengthen my legs focus, on my balance and core and to give me a feeling of lightness so
- I would choose’ Dancer’ pose for this as holding onto your foot also rolls back and opens the shoulders too.
- The last one would be a side balance as I love lifting my own wieght and the challenge of it.
What’s the most challenging yoga pose for you?
Handstands! I so want to perfect them but somestimes I get a little scared!
For physical health, do you only do yoga, or do you participate in other sports and activities?
I only do yoga, it gives me all I want and need. Oh and walk my dog daily for at least an hour! We both love walking and fresh air, which is also why I teach outside when I can, and the dog joins in too!
Do you make a living from yoga teaching? If yes, how do you do it, if no, what else do you do? <
Yoga is my main job. I teach my own classes at various venues, I teach in schools to both the teachers and children and I also teach in nursery schools. I have 1-1 clients that I visit in their homes and I also teach in gyms and health clubs and cover classes in yoga studios.
I also do talks to children on Drug Education part time.
What is it that keeps you practising yoga?
A feeling of well-being physically and mentally. I literally feel taller after my practice and always happier!
Do you prefer a more traditional style of yoga or an evolved modern style? and what do you think about how yoga has evolved?
I love a more evolved, modern practice that incorporates other physical backgrounds particularly those with lots of movement and rhythm. I feel a modern approach is more forgiving for those of us who struggle in certain yoga positions as it gives us alternatives without pain!
All in all, I think it’s great that yoga has evolved, its the reason so many more people are practising.
If you could give only one piece of advice to a complete beginner walking into a yoga class for the first time, what would it be?
Don’t look at what anyone else is doing, listen to your body and enjoy what you can do!
Could you share with us an important/touching moment you have experienced as a yoga teacher?
One of my beautiful students was very tall and maybe sometimes stooped just a little. She came into class one day, a year or so after having been doing yoga, and said she had been to the doctor and now measured a whole inch taller! She now through her practice stood proudly tall celebrating her gorgeous height! She was glowing and I was so moved by this and so happy for her.
Please give us details about where to find you online, where you teach and how to contact you.
All photos © 2017 by Hanri van Wyk www.hanri.co.uk
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