Spotlight on… Rachel Whitehead
1. Describe your yoga journey. Why; who; how?
My yoga journey started when l was about 10 years old. I was fascinated with my own body and how l could move it in different shapes. At that time there was not much yoga around and so l was exploring on my own in my room and with a few books. Then l got more interested in boys and left my yoga practice for many years until it came on my path again. l was acting in a play in Holland and we would do a yoga “warming up” session before every play. It was the best thing that ever happened to my life. Again yoga was at that time not very popular so when the tour came to a end after 4 months, l had to find a yoga class, which wasn’t easy, so l decided to become a teacher myself and went to a yoga teacher training course in Austria with Sivananda Yoga. I spend 3 months living in that Ashram and came back to holland to teach classes. I loved every part of it and was so keen to learn that l also trained in New York with Jivamukti yoga and later, Iyengar Yoga.
2. Which is your favourite class to teach?
I love to teach the Reflect and Refine class. This class is an experiment for me and hopefully for my students as well. I feel that we can get stuck in our ways, that even a yoga practice can become a “dead” experience or just another thing on the “the do list” and what l teach in this class is fresh, alive and challenging. I aim to bring a practice that is fun, grounded, and at the same time informative.
3. What’s your favourite pose?
Downward dog, l love this pose as it stretches so many muscles and at the same time strengthens them. It also has a positive effect on my mind, as it is calming. This pose covers a lot and so l always say: “if you don’t have time or if you don’t know what to practice, just practice downward dog 3x for 5 minutes each day, and feel the difference.”
4. What do you bring to your class that makes it’s unique?
The way l teach is about “being” and not “doing” an asana. What l offer in my classes is about being present in your body and learning to listen. I challenge students to become intimate with themselves and discover areas in their body, mind and soul that goes beyond just the asana practice. What I offer is not a mainstream yoga class but more a deep dive into the core of your being.
5. How often do you practice?
I practice everyday, but my practice is focused on what my body wants and needs. So one day l might lie down for 30 minutes and that’s all l might practice. The next day l might dance around the living room and l might do a sound and breath practice and then another day l might do a intense asana practice and the next day l might hang out in the yoga ropes. It all depends on where l am on my monthly cycle and how l feel on the day. You could say that my practice is about listen to what is needed in the moment.
6. Top tip for a mindful practice?
LISTEN. PAUSE. BREATH. ALLOW
7. What would your advice be to beginners?
When you begin a yoga practice it is good to try out a few different styles and also try out different teachers. Look at the experience the teacher has and what certification they have so that you make sure you go to someone who is qualified and has experience. Once you have found a style or teacher you resonate with stay with that for a while. It is much more helpful in the beginning to stay with one style to ground yourself in a solid yoga practice.
8. How do you relax at the end of the day?
I have a bath and lie down for 20 minutes after that. I have a cup of tea and read something inspiring.
Want to find out more about Rachel’s style of teaching? Come & join her on the mat! Click here to find her teaching schedule for this week.