Earthyoga classes are taught by myself, Nadia Rosenthal, BSc, BA, Hons (Psychology).
I have been teaching for 16 years. I came to yoga at the age of 14 through a book. Instantly hooked, I sensed the magic, the potential of yoga to take me beyond my little self – that part that felt awkward, different, self-conscious, that pulled back from the world, to come into a beautiful relatedness and a desire to give. For me yoga has always been something beautifully essential, and taking us to learn from the power of our experience, so universal and self-empowering. Amidst my caution around the sectarian nature of religion and dogmatic voices, yoga offered me a tool that I trusted for spiritual development.
Hatha yoga (the discipline of the physical postures of yoga) takes us to live into the beauty and possibilities of our bodies, into vibrant health – but it also offers us so much more. As we journey through our experience in our bodies, we learn so much about ourselves and our potential. We learn the power of challenging ourselves and tackling different situations in a way that we can handle – step-by-step. We learn to find enjoyment and the positive in each part of the journey so that suddenly we find ourselves sitting at the top of the peak that once felt was so impossible and daunting, that was once the mark of our worthiness. The true power of yoga is the way it brings us to discover how valuable and beautiful each moment, each part of the journey, can be. It is this joy that bites us in yoga, and that draws us deeper into our practice.
My yoga journey has been informed and guided by the following influences and teachings:
Having grown up in a beautiful part of the world, in a small town called Maclear, in the foothills of the Drakensberg, and having spent my childhood outdoors, nature is central to myself and my work. For me yoga is a way of keeping in touch with what is natural and essential. I am also lucky to live in Cape Town with nature and magnificent scenery all around. I draw powerfully on the imagery and principles of nature to guide us deeper into our practice. In yoga we experience nature in our bodies to come to a fuller experience of our inner nature.
My discovery of yoga at the age of 14 was through the books of the books of Richard Hittleman and Lyn Marshall, pioneer teachers from the USA and England in the 60’s and 70’s. I was fascinated by how their gentle, non goal-orientated approaches would take me so much deeper than anything goal-orientated or forceful. I also attended classes at the Ananda Kutir Ashrama in Rondebosch East, Cape Town. To this day I return to this wonderful ashram that draws from the lineage of Sivananda and Ventkatesananda as well as Viniyoga, the therapeutic style of Desikachar, always enjoying the authenticity and depth of their gentle practice. I finally did my teacher’s training at the Vivekananda Kendra in Bangalore India, embedding myself in the cultural source of the teachings.
Astanga and Iyengar
I have explored and studied other schools of yoga including the more physically challenging and regimented Iyengar and Ashtanga styles. I was drawn to Iyengar to learn about the alignment of the poses and to Ashtanga for the challenge that it offers and the way that it connects us to our core. Though these styles have informed my own, I have always seen my home in the practice of generic, unstructured Hatha yoga, the creative exploration of poses and experience based on the foundational teachings of awareness, acceptance and working from a comfortable place before all else. It is my philosophy that sometimes we may push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, to explore our boundaries or to manifest different parts of ourselves, but it is always important to know how to come back and work from that space of self-acceptance and self-nourishment.
I like to teach from basic principles so that they can be clearly applied and built on. Though I looked to Iyengar yoga to understand more about alignment, I also found myself somewhat distracted by the thousands of instructions that can be issued in a class. To me it seemed that this might cultivate a reliance on the voice of the teacher and could be disempowering to a student in terms of owning their practice and being guided by the to the deep response of their bodies. I then came across the work of Orit Sen Gupta, author, with Donna Holleman, of The Body of Light. I studied with Orit in Jerusalem and discovered in her style a way to grow the alignment of each pose out of a very refined awareness of our connection with the earth. I was deeply influenced by this, what I found to be, very grounded, style. For me it has a simplicity that is clear and beautiful. Finally my approach is also influenced by existential thinkers and philosphers – whose work for me affirms and informs so much of the yogic journey whilst also powerfully emphasising our need to follow our individual paths. Yoga for me has always been about coming into contact with and being guided by our inner voice and truths. I don’t believe in dogma, in the ultimate authority of an external voice over our own. I see engaging in a discipline as a way of opening ourselves into new experience. Sometimes we need to be guided by discipline to go beyond our deeply-entrenched habit patterns. and also fears. Once we have moved through into a new expanded perspective we can choose and feel once again into where we want to go. Ultimately I believe in the Self, in choosing from our unique perspective, our individual truth and joy. And so does yoga in the way that it talks about the most subtle and highest aspect of the self as being the bliss layer, the anandamayokosha. In the famous words of Roy Campbell, we must follow our bliss, because that speaks to the highest part of ourselves.