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Teaching and Learning with Dedication says Sylvia Garcia

In this interview Sylvia Garcia tells us about her journey from vegan restaurants to handstands and the circus.

What attracted you to yoga?

I first started yoga in my teens with my mum. It was something we thought would be fun to do together and I thought at that time in my life that it would help me meditate. I did a beginners course in Sivanandana yoga which I enjoyed but knew that that particular style was not for me. I then quickly found Ashtanga which I enjoyed hugely and found to complement my dance career very well. I continued to practise yoga for many years as a dancer and continued to do so after having to stop dancing due to injury. My life then took a completely different turn and I ended up starting my own business which was a vegan restaurant in an old route master bus on brick lane. I enjoyed this but it was hugely stressful and I was practising yoga twice a day just to cope better with the stress. When I closed the restaurant I looked back on the past 10 years of my life and realised that through everything the yoga had always been there. That was when I decided to do my first teacher training and I haven’t looked back since.

We often see videos of you on your hands, how much time of your week do you spend upside down?

I love handstands and inversions and being upside down is something that I do every day. I started practising handstands about 6 years ago and will do them at any given opportunity. I often get requests on Instagram and Facebook from people of places they would like to see handstands. I have a great London series of photos which I am posting up over the next few weeks. For me learning to handstand was a long and slow process which involved lots of falling over. It still does to be honest, I fall out of handstands every single day. Even if they are a strong part of your practise it’s still possible to fall. I also have days where I find them a lot easier than others although that’s true of most asana for me! My first handstand teacher was Jason Nemer who created/co-founded Acro Yoga. He taught me so much in just an hour and learning acrobatic technique was so new to me but really helped transform my handstands. I have been training for the past 6 months with Sainaa and Sammy Dineen who are both amazing circus trained artists. Circus skills again are very new to me and the handstand technique is very different to what I practise myself. I’m really enjoying learning new things and changing the way I invert one handstand at a time!

What would you say makes a good teacher?

I think what makes me a good teacher is my dedication as a student. I practise twice a day 6 days a week. I try to have one rest day but the reality of that is that I teach 3 classes on that day and need to be warm for those. It’s still a rest day as I practise a lot less. I put what I learn from different teachers and different styles of yoga into my classes. Currently I practise a lot of dharma yoga, acro yoga, vinyasa flow, Ashtanga and yin. I think the diversity of these styles means I am able to cater for a wide range of people from those who enjoy a strong, fluid practise to those who want something more restorative and meditative. I also like to share yoga nidra with my students as it’s something I love to practise also. I think any teacher who loves what they are teaching is able to convey that to their students. I certainly hope I do!

What do you hope your students to experience when they practice with you?

I hope my students leave my classes feeling better than they did when they arrived. For me its that simple. I’m not promising enlightenment of life changing realisations. I think it’s about creating something that people want to keep coming back to. Most of the deep work comes from within the individual, if I can inspire people to keep coming back to my classes then I’m happy as they are on the way to doing that themselves.

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