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YAA Interview: Kathy Schwager – Yogasarita

May 4, 2012

1. Name:

Kathy Schwager – Yogasarita.

2. DOB:

21/11/1957.

3. What style of yoga do you teach?

Integral Yoga, (Sivananda, Satyananda inspired).

4. Where do you teach?

From the Cape Town Satyananda Yoga Centre in Claremont.

5. How long have you been practicing yoga?

Since 2004.

6. How long have you been teaching yoga?

Since 2005.

7. Who have you trained with and where?

I qualified as a Sivananda Integral Yoga Teacher at Ananda Kutir Ashram, Cape Town in 2005 and after further 4 years post-graduate studies with Swami Parvathiananda, as a Level 2 Integral Yoga Teacher. In 2008 I attended a Yoga Nidra Teacher’s Training Course with Swami Pragyamurti of the London Satyananda Centre and further courses at the Bihar School of Yoga, Munger India, on Prana Vidya & on Ajapa Dharana. My inspiration comes from the Satyananda Tradition, and this reflects strongly in my teaching. I’m currently doing a one-year mindfulness course with Rob Nairn.

8. What lead you to teaching yoga and at what point did you decide that you wanted to teach?
I was very interested in meditation from an early age, which I explored from many traditions. After a scare with cancer I attended retreats as Sediba Mountain Retreat, Hartbeespoortdam with a Spiritual Director, Prashant. He was a catholic priest who lived in India for 12 years. On my first of several visits he suggested Ananda Kutir for yoga which for some reason I avoided. On my final visit after a 10 day retreat I couldn’t move due to a slipped disc in my neck. This finally led me to the Ashram where I had to begin with remedial yoga until I was able to attend classes. This inspired a need to know more. I never intended to teach yoga but did the course solely for my own benefit. That I now teach full time, predominantly one-on-one sessions was never planned but somehow my need to nurture those in need created a wave that has swept me along.

9. What do you love most about teaching?

The healing aspects of yoga. My 6 years of teaching groups at Crescent Clinic and two years at Valkenberg, have given me a hands-on, broad experience in Yoga Therapy. After an hour of yoga to people in great discomfort either physically or emotionally, who have often never heard of yoga, seeing their transformation and seeing how they experience greater comfort and ease within themselves. I share tools by giving them practices for their vulnerable areas, body, breath and relaxation. Things that they can take into their lives and share with their families as most people don’t have the luxury of yoga centers close at hand and if they do can often not afford classes.

10. Is there a focus in your teaching style?

As I have been initiated in the Satyananda Tradition and this is where I get my inspiration my focus is based on their teachings in all aspects of Integral yoga. Gentle mindfulness practices that develop an attitude of loving compassion and acceptance towards oneself.

11. What do you love most about yoga?

Yoga referring to inner balance and the ripple effect this creates into the world. It is the most complete system for self-discovery and you meet yourself exactly where you are. I have learnt so much about treating myself kindly and when there is no longer the turmoil of constant judgment there is an acceptance that makes me much more understanding and compassionate of others.

12. What is the greatest challenge you have overcome with the help of yoga?

I had no contact with my body. My remedial teacher for two years had to tell me where to feel the postures or breath. I am now so sensitive to my body inside and out that I immediately feel when I’m out of balance. My fear around cancer and death has changed due to yoga. I do what I am able to by listening and responding and the rest is part of the mystery and I no longer lose any sleep over it. I used to have a mind that didn’t switch off and as a result chronic insomnia. Now on the odd occasion that I’m awake in the early morning due to Menopause then I welcome the time for my yoga practices.

13. What advice do you have for people who have never tried yoga?

So many people have experienced the benefits of yoga so why not give it a try. Anyone, any age, shape or size can practice yoga. Just find the right style and teacher for you by trying a few different ones.

14. Do you have a regular practice?

Absolutely. A wise teacher once told me ‘when your own practice ends stop teaching’. My day would begin with chanting mantras, yoga asanas, pranayama and meditation and later in the day with Yoga Nidra.

15. Favourite Asana?

Halasana.

16. Strongest Asana?

Urdhva Dhanurasana.

17. Least Favourite Asana?

Sirsana due to being defensive with my neck.

18. Any religious affiliations?

Although my foundation was originally very much from the Christian tradition as I was reared by nuns, the longer I continue on my journey the more I realize that all roads lead to and from the same source. Spirituality knows no division.

19. What are your other interests?

Walks on the beach or in the forest. Family meals. My husband, children and grandchildren. Travel.

20. Any thank yous?

To the teachers that have inspired me and led me to my gurus, Prashant, Swami Parvathiananda, Mother Yogeshwari, and Swami Pragyamurti.

Sri Swami Sivananda Maharaj, Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati and my Guru, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati for the lanterns that they have lit through the wealth of knowledge that they have made available into the world, that guide us on our journey.

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