What, when and where was your first experience of yoga?
I was 24, living in Washington, DC and went to a local shala in my neighborhood. It didn’t grab me immediately, but something resonated on a deep level so that when I found the Iyengar practice a few years later while living in Amsterdam, something about it felt familiar and clicked more suddenly.
What made you decide to move from student to teacher?
I got to a point in my practice when yoga overtook the other aspects of my life, and I questioned how I was spending the rest of my time, outside of my yoga practice. The yoga teachers in my life made such a difference in how I perceived the world that it seemed like a worthwhile profession.
I decided to quit my job and move to Kosovo to be with my boyfriend who was working there for the UN. There was virtually no yoga there. But there was a need for it! So I began teaching the UN staff and local ethnic Albanians first, prior to having any formal training.
What teaching tip has had the biggest influence on the way you practice? And the way you teach?
One idea that has definitely stuck with me is that just showing up is enough. By that, I mean being present, being aware; observing what is taking place without judging. Listening to where I am today and not pushing or struggling to do the same practice as the day before, or the practice I expected myself to do.
The second is that when I get off track in whatever way, I can begin again with each new moment. Every breath is a chance to reset my intentions and get back on course if I’ve lost my way.
What does your own self-practice involve?
Meditation, asana and chanting. Generally a warm up with some kind of sun salutations, standing postures, backbends, seated postures and inversions. Since I’ve been recovering from a major surgery, pranayama has become a more essential aspect of my practice.
If you only had 10 minutes to practice, what would you do?
A few shoulder opening warm ups, 3 rounds of sun salutations, 1 or 2 standing postures, a seated twist and a headstand. 2 minutes of meditation and either a round or two of kapalbhati at the beginning or a few rounds of nadi shodhana at the end.
Who/what is the biggest inspiration on your yoga journey at the moment?
I suppose my son keeps me going more than anything else. I had a liver transplant in September after many years of being ill with an auto-immune disease. My will to be alive and to be strong mentally and physically, to live my life to the fullest, comes from wanting to enjoy his company and witness him growing up and making a difference in the world.
What role does yoga play in the way you live?
It provides a framework for all of the important decisions I make in my life, including what foods I eat and products I buy, what media I consume and how I choose to spend my time. I guess you could say it plays a pretty big role!
What do you hope your students to experience when they practice with you?
I hope someone would come away from my class feeling more embodied—feeling more alive in their body. We all are blessed with a body, but it’s what we do with it that can truly make a difference in the world.
If someone were to walk away from my yoga class and feel more loving and love-able, I would feel that I had done something worth while.
Which yoga text could you not live without?
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Describe the meaning of yoga in 10 words or less:
Yoga is the act of seeing ourselves in all other beings.
Lizzie teaches Jivamukti for all levels every Monday 19.30-21.00 at our Islington centre.
View Lizzie’s teaching schedule.