You might hear Ayurveda called Yoga's sister science. Some Ayurvedic purists (and possibly Yogic) would be aghast, preferring the two to remain seen as separate. I have personally become quite intimate with prana and the incredible effects of learning how to tap into the vast amount of vitality it provides - breathwork is kind of like fracking natural energy for the body. And in my personal opinion, and practise, I see the invaluable benefit of working with the body to find balance so that the practise of tapping into this prana through yoga can be made a lot easier.
I have determined that most digestive issues are stress related but manifest differently according to body type or the hosts natural tendencies. I have seen hypoglecemia calm down with learning how to breathe well, I have seen constipation cured after decades from learning relaxing techniques including yoga, I have seen spirits lifted and motivation returned from the right kind of yoga practise. During a recent Ayurvedic conference in India, I went to a local doctor in Kerala for a head cold and wanted to see how they would treat mind disorders, so I feigned a tendency towards anxiety and panic attacks. She started showing me how to do alternate nostril breathing.
When the mind is calm, there is opportunity to see someone else's side, work at an even pace, digest food better, do something in less time, take the time to say hello to someone in the street, walk through chaos wondering what all the fuss is about. I have also found that regular yoga practitioners find working with Ayurvedic practises a lot easier to implement, since both require a practise of self awareness.
When I arrived in Castlemaine I was blown away by the range of teachers we have available. When asked by a client who they should go practise with in Melbourne I expressed the very need to support local, not because of the exceptional talent but they know what life is like here in Castlemaine! If you want to eat local, yoga local.
Right here is one of our most passionate teachers, merging life as mother, householder and yoga teacher. I've taken Jacqui's classes and know that her style is thorough and achievable but by no means simplified. She can offer instruciton from beginner to the more advanced. She's also really nice and I am always so pleased to meet her socially - she makes me smile.
There is so much evidence citing the life enhacing benefits, I cannot imagine my own well being without it. Go forth and yoga daily folks.
1. What is your personal practise in yoga? How have you noticed your practise change over time?
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 21 years. My personal practice in yoga has certainly changed over that time, especially after birthing babies - I just didn’t feel inclined to do a lot of the stronger poses I’d done before having children.
Because I teach yoga most days of the week (& I’m doing the poses as I teach) I often feel that I’m getting considerable ‘stretching’ time for my body. Yoga of course is much more than the poses, so in my personal life I prioritise my meditation practice. Most mornings for me begin with 30 minutes meditation. Because I have 3 children (2 of whom need to leave the house early), I need to be in the kitchen by 6:30am each morning. Any personal practice needs to be done before this time. In an ideal world, I’d love more time for an early morning personal practice, but I do what I can within this phase of life.
2. How does yoga feed into your family dynamics?
Yoga keeps me sane! It allows me to keep centred within the busy nature of family life. Because my husband works in Melbourne, I’m responsible for organising our 3 children (all of whom attend different schools). Aside from bus, train, school, sporting & social drop-offs and pick-ups, I also maintain the running of the household. My teaching hours are dotted throughout the week and the family has got used to me coming and going during their ‘down-time’. It does mean I need to be well-organised so that I can maintain family life and also teach in a calm and steady fashion, but I see this too as part of the practise. The children are used to seeing me practice yoga and meditation. If they are joking around and mimicking me they will often sit in lotus position, with their hands in a mudra gesture and chant ‘Om’…and then laugh hilariously. Most of the time though they are either asleep while I’m practicing or they just know to leave me alone until I’m finished.
3. Was there a time in your life when things felt challenging and did you see the benefits of a yoga practise during this time? Basically what does 'yoga off the mat' look like for you?
Yes, like any human being, yoga teachers have challenges in life also. And without a doubt yoga and meditation help me cope with what life brings my way. There have been distinctly stressful periods in my life where yoga has supported me through these times. And to be honest, my personal practise has never felt more important than it does right now. Between managing a household, cooking a gazzillion meals each week, running everyone around, looking after myself, teaching classes, growing my business and spending time with my family, my personal practice is the thread that holds it all together.
I also view ‘yoga’ (the Sanskrit word for ‘union’) very broadly. Studying yogic philosophy has given me a wonderful lens to view life with. Yoga informs pretty much everything I do in life; how I relate to people, my connectedness with nature and my surroundings, and seeing the ‘bigger picture’ in life more clearly. One of my favourite quotes is:
“True Yoga is not about the shape of your body, but the shape of your life. Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; yoga cares about the person you are becoming. Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose, and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.” – Aadil Palkhivala
I try to live according to this on a daily basis.
4. You've noted your background working in the corporate environment - what do you see that we've created in our corporate culture that might miss the aspect of well being?
I think our corporate culture is a reflection in many ways of our ‘Western culture’. We value drive, determination, achievement and success… and often at the expense of our own well being. Saying that, I do believe things are slowly beginning to change. I am increasingly invited into workplaces to teach meditation because the health and well-being of staff is becoming more of a priority. Even if the motivation from executives is to increase staff productivity, there is increasingly an understanding that people work most efficiently and have their most innovative ideas if they feel less stressed and are more balanced, alert and ‘switched on’. It’s early days, but I see the rising trend of corporate meditation classes is a sign of our changing times.
5. Talk about the connection of breath to movement. I have personally noted a lack of teaching people how to breathe well in classes and find, in working with people from an Ayurvedic perspective, how closely linked bad breathing is to stress and anxiety.
The breath is such a vital part of a yoga practice. I generally approach breathwork in two ways: 1) as a set pranayama (breathwork) practice in class. This is time to learn, practice and spend longer with a breath technique. And 2) An awareness of breath as we spend time in each posture; breathing into the parts of the body that we would like to feel more open and spacious. When people feel stressed, it’s very common that the breath will become shallow and will move only in the upper chest area. In class I like to emphasis diaphragmatic breathing - that deep belly breathing which is so restorative for the nervous system.
6. Do you notice the energy shift in your classes depending on the season?
Yes, very much so. During summer, although hot, people are generally feeling more energised and strong…& their enthusiasm for practice is great! Winter can often see some classes decline in numbers as people elect to stay home by the cosy warm fire. I do have to say though, I am blessed with some very committed students, many of whom are unwavering through the year. They value the benefit a yoga practice provides and they stick at it all year round.
7. What is your vision in bringing yoga to the goldfields?
My vision in sharing yoga within the goldfields has changed over time. 13 years ago when we first moved here I was delighted to escape a household of young children and share my love for yoga with like-minded adult company. As my children have grown and time opens up, my vision has expanded substantially. I particularly love teaching yoga to the people of Castlemaine as we have a community of such interesting, committed and self-enquiring people. I also offer weekend Yoga Retreats in Castlemaine where I look to invite visitors to the region to experience a weekend of yoga-based activities along with time to explore our vibrant town. I love Castlemaine and I feel so proud to showcase it to visitors from Melbourne and elsewhere.
Jacqui Bohuslav-Andrews, founder of Yoga Harmony, is a Yoga and Meditation teacher with nearly 20 years’ experience. Jacqui holds a Bachelor of Arts (Criminology) and completed her yoga studies with Gita International Yoga School in 1999. She has post-graduate qualifications in traditional Meditation, Mindfulness Based Stillness Meditation (MBSM), Progressive Yoga Relaxation and Esoteric Philosophy.
Jacqui’s generous and clear teaching style has allowed her share yoga and mindfulness not only to the people who attend her yoga school, but also with large organisations such as the Department of Justice, Commonwealth Bank – Institutional Banking & Markets, ANZ Bank, Department of Community Services as well as with smaller workplaces, community groups and youth in juvenile detention.
For more information on classes and workshops check out http://yogaharmony.com.au/