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YAA Interview: Cassandra Collins

March 30, 2012

1. Name:
Cassandra Collins

2. DOB:
Let’s just say I celebrate my Earth Day every year and I am a Virgo with an Aries moon.

3. What style of yoga do you teach?
Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan as well as Vinyasa and Hatha.

4. Where do you teach?
At my beautiful studio in Bryanston Johannesburg. In the heart of our incredible urban Forrest. In addition I have a weekly class in Chartwell at the Matopia Family Lifestyle Centre.

5. How long have you been practicing yoga?
All my life! Yogi Bhajan stated that we have done all these yoga postures whilst in our mums womb! Then as a child I found Gymnastics and the connection to my breath developed naturally from there onwards. Whenever I needed clarity in my thinking or release from tension I would turn my focus to my breath and I found my inner strength and calm to face whatever adversity was in my way, but formally I have been on my mat for almost 12 years now.

6. How long have you been teaching yoga?
Since mid 2008.

7. Who have you trained with and where?
I first did my Hatha teacher training with Living Yoga and qualified as a RYT 200 Vinyasa Hatha teacher. I felt though that I had just scratched the surface, there was so much more I wanted to understand and absorb. The depth of knowledge is quite astounding and my questing led me to connect with Pritam Khalsa and I jumped at the opportunity to do my Level One Kundalini Teacher Training with her and Har Bhajan. The more I learn and discover the more I realize there is to learn so I guess my journey is not ending any time soon! I am truly happy to be a student of Yoga for the rest of my life!

8. What lead you to teaching yoga and at what point did you decide that you wanted to teach?

After my first ever yoga class I knew this was something worth doing to enhance my life. The answers I had spent years searching for resonated at a deep level within me and I felt this sense of purpose and destiny slowly surfacing through the smog of my mind with every class I attended. I had been a typical Type A personality forging a career path in a job that gave me little personal satisfaction yet taught me many valuable life lessons. It suddenly dawned on me that when I left school I had chosen teacher training as my career path but ended up desperately unhappy and uninspired by the methodology and flunked out after my first year. Discovering yoga and the thought of helping people find their balance in our fast paced society and gain health and strength in the process totally inspired me to become a yoga teacher. So I accepted that my early foray into the teaching profession was my calling.

9. What do you love most about teaching?
Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing someone’s life improve because of this incredible wisdom and gentle discipline that has been passed down through all the ages.

10. Is there a focus in your teaching style?
I am of the belief that we are far too hard and demanding of ourselves. Our souls are gentle beautiful and peaceful and we forget this in the daily toil of physicality so my teaching focus is to stay soft and fluid and let your body respond in its own time to more challenging asanas. My style is heart centered and chakra balance oriented and so coming to a Yoga Odyssey class is therapeutic as well as gently challenging on all levels.

11. What do you love most about yoga?
Mmmm this is a difficult one……there is so much to love about yoga and just incredible stuff happens once you develop a regular practice. I think for me it’s the realization that we are all so interwoven and connected to EVERYTHING. Nothing happens in isolation and you gently come to this realization the more you practice and get into the experience of yoga. The universe is truly supportive and fear comes from our own shadow. Yoga is love in full flight just as work, (action), is love made visible!

12. What is the greatest challenge you have overcome with the help of yoga?
Ironically it was yoga that caused this challenge for me and yoga that healed it too!
Just after the end of my marriage I found myself in a kind of limbo and risky sexual behavior was my outlet. I suffered a severe adductor tear during a Bikram class which put a huge halt on my ability to move or do yoga without excruciating pain. My lack of faith in allopathic medicine found me choosing to allow my body to heal itself. I was forced into a long period of celibacy and relative inactivity so this led me to explore the other 7 limbs of yoga. This resulted in a build-up of scar tissue which further restricted my flexibility and my pelvis and lower back became totally misaligned. Gentle walking and hiking helped me get to a point where I was able to get back into a regular yoga routine but for 7 long years I have lived with incredible pain. The gift of this injury has been a personal journey to really understanding how our bodies function. I am a way better teacher today than I could ever have become without the insights I gained from my injury. My mantra was always ‘ my health is my wealth ‘ and I realize now that this I had to deeply experience in order to become the teacher I am today. Oh and it’s still my personal mantra!

13. What advice do you have for people who have never tried yoga?
What have you got to lose? The sooner you begin the faster you will feel the benefits! Yoga is about the experience so trying to explain it in words does it no justice…just do it and feel the difference in your life!

14. Do you have a regular practice?
I am a yoga addict! My day starts with sadhana and right now I am part of a 40 day global meditation to release fear and become a conscious leader. It’s a Kundalini Kriya accompanied by the most beautiful chant:

Aadays Tisai Aadays

Aad Aneel Anaad anaahat

Jug Jug ayko Vays

Being a part of a world wide effort to effect change on such a subtle level is a highlight of my day, the connectedness, the energy and the inspiration is phenomenal. To know that more than 10 000 people from around the world are doing this Kriya at some or other time during the course of 24 hours is an amazing realization that we are not alone – ever. Check out www.spiritvoyage.com for more.

15. Favourite Asana?
All the twists and heart openers are way up on my list of favorites but Savasana is the most fave of all. The peace and release that comes through truly letting go and letting be is very powerful. It’s such a deceptively simple pose but to really master it requires an enormous amount of awareness and sensitivity.

16. What are your other interests?
I am an earth mother and a nature lover! Whenever possible I escape to the mountains to play, breathe and be inspired.

Music, animals and flowers soothe my soul. They all feature in my daily life!

I recently completed my Kahuna Massage training and love spoiling friends and family with this beautiful experience.

17. Any thank yous?
Yes absolutely, to my precious family and dear friends, my tribe of fellow yogis and all the beautiful teachers and masters who led the way before me.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2012 12:32 pm

    this is nice post

  2. BA Graveley permalink
    April 1, 2012 8:21 pm

    Inspirational …. yet so gentle!

  3. Evert permalink
    June 23, 2012 4:44 am

    You are beneficial to all of creation!!

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