Susanna Finocchi var en av mina allra första yogalärare för mer än 12 år sedan (!). Härom veckan fyllde denna vackra kvinna 50 år och jag blev nyfiken på hur yogan har varit en del av hennes liv under alla dessa år och hur yogan har förändrats med henne under åren. Så jag ställde några frågor till henne:
How and why did you start with yoga?
The first person from whom I have heard “I am doing yoga” was my mother, so it was natural for me to try what she was doing and was passionate about. However, it didn’t last too long that attempt, it was too slow for me. I was in my twenties, physical active, interested in outdoor activities, dance, tai chi chuan and also some meditation techniques which I was finding very interesting but unable to practice on my own.
Then in my thirties I started Astanga Yoga out of curiosity as one of my dearest girlfriends was talking so much about this “special” kind of yoga which makes you sweat a lot and there is an actual Guru who is teaching in India etc etc. It happened 19 years ago in Rome and from that first day I never stopped.
I guess I found combined in one thing all what I was looking for, a joyful combination of physical, mental and spiritual practice plus I also had an interest in the well-being as I was an herbalist back in my italian previous life.
How would you define Yoga?
So far I would define Yoga as an inner space which gives the possibility to observe what is going on inside and dealing with which is coming up with self acceptance, and most of the time with no judgment.
Stilling the thought waves of the mind I find a very difficult state and honestly far but clarity of thinking, self confidence, inner stamina, strength in dealing with life with a serene look is what I can see happening by pracitsing yoga as well as the importance of cultivating self discipline as a way to nourish the talents that each of us has .
And most of the time during or after the yoga practice to experience joy, the joy of beeing alive, of beeing able to breathe and move freely . And as a byproduct a decent body to cope with :-)
Personally Yoga means also Love
, through yoga I met Jens
, my life companion and together we share the practice and the teaching in our shala in Copenhagen
, where I moved 11 years ago .
What kind of style do you practice and teach?
I practice and teach Astanga Yoga according to what I have understood studying with Sri K.Pattabhi Jois and now Sharath Jois and Saraswati Jois, in Mysore with several trips during all these years.
Primarly I teach yogasana which I still consider the foundation of this spiritual practice as often Sharath says in his talks. I am also cultivating other aspects of Yoga, especially studing chanting, Sanskrit and the philosophy behind the Indian thought. I am introducing some of these other aspects of Yoga in my teaching in some special classes or workshops .
For me it is very important to be in Mysore in contact with the source of this beautiful practice, every trip I do there is always something new to work on both for my own practice and the teaching and I like to see Sharath, my teacher.
What are the key principles of your teachings?
What I like to say when I teach is that “I see possibilities” !
I think that this practice has such a power and depth in itself that the only thing I have to do is to teach it and each and every person will find out what he or she is looking for . I am encouraging, supporting the students in seeing, looking for their potentials, building a yoga practice which is safe, focused and why not, challenging according to where they are ! Possibly I am helping them on the way with care and firmness and practical advices.
I think that the body has a natural intelligence that has to be awaken, listened and respected, and the teacher has to help this process of awareness. It is not about which series we practise, if is the first, intermediate or advanced, what matters is that we do our best, which attitude we have towards the practice and eventually how we act in the world.
“To do our best” is very individual and can be different at different times of our lives and is valid for both teacher and student.
Eventually we should be good, serene people acting in the world.
What does your practice look like these days and what challenges do you have to face?
The yoga practice I have these days is a good, solid one which is still strong and compassionate.
Time is passing, body is aging, energy is diminuishing but still I put myself on the mat every day and doing my best and
actually with becoming little more stiff some asana have improved ! There is always hope to experience something new in life.
And as we teach out from our own experience I would say that the challanges I encounter in my own practice makes me a better teacher in order to understand, feel the students and help them through the way, at least I hope it !
Then Life in itself is challenging me as any other human beeing with its ups and downs and what I have learned so far is to stay calm, to breathe and facing one thing at the time keeping in mind that as good is fading away also bad is going away !
How has your practice changed over the years?
The asana practice has made me curious about the other aspects of indian thought, philosophy, the other limbs of the Astanga Yoga. So I started to study the Yogasutra taking several courses in Mysore with at beginning Lashmish, then Dr. Jayashree and Prof. Narasimhan and here in Copenhagen with Prof. Kenneth Zysk.
I am also practising Japa, repetition of mantra, as much as possible after beeing in contact with Eddie Stern and attending his workshops.
A year ago after beeing advised by Prof. Kenneth Zysk I started to study Sanskrit at the University of Copenhagen, taking exams as I was inspired to understand better the language of Yoga and more in general of Indian thought, a way for me to come closer to the source.
You have studied with Pattabhi Jois. How was he and what skills did you learn through your relationship?
Isvarapranidhana ! Surrender, surrender to something bigger than ourselves. To me Guruji was Yoga embodied in a human being and even though I wasn’t that close to him, only being in his presence it was like touching the sacred source of Yoga. I feel very fortunate of being able to practice with him back in the old shala, in Lakshmipuram and then again in the new shala, in Gokulam.
Guruji had a special skill to “put you” in any asana ! You just had to let go ! When Guruji blessed us with his visit in Copenhagen in 2006 together with Sarasvathi and Sharath, for both Jens and I was like the dream came alive and I still remember the emotion we felt when Gurujii at his first class, entered the room and almost 200 people stood up spontaneously as a sign of respect to the man who was inspiring all of us and transforming our lives with Astanga Yoga .
I hope to have learned from him the respect for Yoga.
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