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Interview: Elaine Clark

Teacher Interview: Elaine

Elaine teaches many of our Flow, Core Flow, and Classic Yoga classes, and her distinct style is a favourite for many of our students! She is also directing the upcoming Iam Yoga Teacher Training, which begins in April; send your questions to elaine@iamyoga.ca.

Tell me about your yoga background.

My very first experience of yoga was on a spontaneous trip I took to India in 2010. I was volunteering in an orphanage and overheard about a free yoga class in the local Indian community. I remember speaking to the yoga teacher before attending his class and I was completely captivated by (but also equally sceptical about) his enthusiasm for yoga and its healing benefits. His class was an extremely gentle, slow-paced, and grounding practice. I remember feeling a tangible shift in the state of my nervous system. It felt almost like a temporary “re-wiring” of my nervous system. And that’s when it began for me.

What started as one yoga class on a cluttered rooftop in the middle of a bustling Indian city turned into practicing daily in my home city and then traveling back to India in 2011 to be certified as a yoga teacher. I remember being handed my yoga teacher certificate and being asked if I had plans to teach. I was so shy and timid (like red-faced and heart-pounding-shy to speak my voice). All I could say was, “I dunno, but I think so.”

Six months later, I started teaching classes in my home-based studio. I took on public classes and what once started as 2 classes a week turned into 4 and then 16+. I taught in Ottawa for a year before moving to Toronto. I have taught in hospitals, corporate settings, community centers, at an Indian ashram, in various underprivileged communities in India, and at a retreat in Italy. My teaching experience has really pushed me to grow beyond what I thought I was capable of. I often realize that my fulfillment comes from the continuous growth I seek in teaching, speaking, and creating opportunities for others to benefit. I’m really excited to now take this next step in my journey as the director of the yoga teacher-training program at Iam Yoga.

What does your ideal practice look like?

My practice changes depending on where I am in the world, what I’m working on, and what my schedule looks like. When I’m feeling uninspired and lethargic, I look for intensity and vigorous movement. When I’m feeling stressed out, I like more grounding practices. Just before I tackle any creative project, I like to practice a combination of Vinyasa movement, breathing exercises, meditation, and chanting. My practice changes daily, but I do some form of personal practice every day.

Can you tell me about something you have learned in the past that changed your practice in a significant way?

I’ve struggled with all kinds of hormonal issues. For a long time, I didn’t realize that over-exerting myself in vigorous movement was feeding into my hormonal imbalance. Now, I’m a lot more mindful of the kinds of movement I engage in, the time of day I practice, how much I exert myself, and even the kind of yoga I practice according to my menstrual cycle. This has helped me tremendously to balance my hormones and improve my personal practice.

What do you find is the most rewarding part of teaching yoga?

There is something in me that just simply can’t settle for anything less than an exploratory life of the mind —a life of creativity and of service. Teaching has given me the opportunity to express myself creatively through language and movement everyday. There is always something new to learn and I live for that. It keeps me on my toes and quite literally, fills me up.

As the teacher-training director, what is the biggest thing you want students to take from a TT besides the ability to teach?

Clarity, in my opinion, is like the golden sauce to everything. The teachings of yoga can help us find clarity about our past, what we want, and where we need to be. It’s my hope that anyone who decides to take the yoga teacher training, regardless of whether he or she wants to teach or not, does so with an open mind and a level of receptivity towards cultivating clarity, which will spill into every aspect of their life.

What one word would you use to describe yourself?

#Creativefem. This is a word I’ve been resonating really strongly with for the past few years. Without an opportunity to be creative, I think I’d be completely miserable.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Time travel. How cool would that be 😉

You can learn more about our upcoming Yoga Alliance-certified Yoga Teacher Training here or reach out to Elaine at elaine@iamyoga.ca with any questions you have. If you’re new to Iam Yoga, try attending a class or two and asking your questions in person – many of our teachers are also on the Teacher Training faculty. Happy practicing!

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