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.
View Sylvia’s teaching schedule.