Interview with Liz Lark
Creative Yoga Practice & The Art of Sequencing
Saturday 18th April
2pm 5pm
£30 pre-book (£32.50 drop-in)

Tell us a little about your yoga journey and how you came to teach vinyasa flow?

liz lark yoga kula leedsWith a childhood brought up as a vicar’s daughter, I was exposed to singing, sacred ritual, and questioned a materialistic approach to life, leading me to spend a gap year in Pakistan in the Himalayan foothills in a school.  With a love of movement and art, I was drawn to theatre and expressive arts, studying these, yet still felt unanchored and searching for a sense of stability.

When attending a yoga class at art school in my early twenties, after experiencing two yoga classes at school with a novel PE teacher, I felt ‘connection’, ‘oneness’, ”balance’, and sought to cultivate these feelings of integration. In my first job as an artist in residence in a school in the Lake District, where I drew, made ceramics and taught art, I trained with BWY (1992), to become a yoga teacher.

In 1995, I travelled to Goa (a month training in Astanga Vinyasa with Derek Ireland), Mysore (to Sri K Pattabhi Jois, Astanga home), and Thailand (Thai Massage course in Chiang Mai), which enabled me to begin Yoga Teaching in London, where I moved to study part time an MA in Performing Arts. Yoga took off, I taught cover in many health clubs (enjoying their swimming pools in the gaps!). For 20 years, self employment has guided me to teach and travel, as a lover of nature and wild beauty, I sought to bring these passions together, running yoga retreats with Jilly at Free Spirit, and with my Masters Friend Jean Hall, firstly in Tobago. Vinyasa Flow is a evolution of structural learning (The Life Centre, Godfrey Devereux), Teachers including Rod Stryker , Richard Freeman, and learning a humble approach to gentle sensitive tailored practice with the teaching of Vini Yoga. Writing helped me explore different styles, and love of movement choreography has given me permission to be a magpie, to glean from these styles and cultivate an ongoing movement practice.

Do you feel vinyasa flow as still connected to the Ashtanga tradition?

liz lark yoga kula leedsI honour the Astanga Base, as a foundation from which all the vinyasa styles have emerged, so I respect it, it is my base. It is athletic and intense, and the rebel in me always questions set order, so I have enjoyed bringing other approaches into the mix. As all Art Forms which evolve, such as painting, singing, of course it can be seen as a bastardization of the pure method, but to grow we must change, so I honor the roots, but grow the tree and find different fruits!

What does vinyasa flow mean to you?

Connected, Step by Step, movement towards a special place, as it’s definition implies : However, the journey needs to be to calm the mind towards peace and presence. Desikachar said ‘the goal of yoga is peace, not power’.

Why do you think vinyasa flow is one of the most popular styles today?

It is engaging, creative, immediate, harnessing our attention and training the body, in a holistic way (hopefully!).   It can be seen as a work out. That’s fine, because as we practice, if we work with the breath and mindfulness, the practice reveals a holistic approach to living (mind, body, spirit).

What do you get out of teaching vinyasa flow?
A great sense of fulfilment, when people engage and travel with the sequences. I enjoy the jig saw puzzling of creative steps (Breathing stepping stones), as an exploration to deeply unfold out inner tensions and allow them to dissolve in the process. I like the childlike quality of restoration o’ ‘divine curiosity’ (Einstein), as we practice and teach. I enjoy the authenticity of the practice.

How do you see vinyasa flow evolving as a style?

As it continues, we realise the 21st century biggest killer is stress, manifesting in many imbalances (depression, lack of meaning, diabetes, blood pressure). Movement of vinyasa needs to address these problems and bring them into the practice. Therefore, a class needs many variations and modifications within it : some students may need restorative postures using props, whilst others can be challenging their balance with variations on other sequences. A sun salutation can be modified for the individual. I always offer, ‘Dog pose, Cat or Child’, so no one is on pain or gets injured.