A Chat With Lisa Smith of St Davids Yoga
This week we've caught up with Lisa Smith of St Davids Yoga to talk all things, well, yoga in St Davids!
How did you get into yoga and what made you want to teach?
I went to my first yoga class when our son was 6 weeks old because I was suffering with a big dose of what was then referred to as ‘baby-blues’. It’s only 19 years ago, but post-natal depression wasn’t talked about as it is now, but fortunately someone told me Yoga would help and when I got home from my first class, I clearly remember feeling different, better. I knew that I’d found something that would sustain me, in body, breath and spirit, possibly for the rest of my life. Really! From my first class I was hooked. I didn’t ever plan to become a yoga teacher, but the deeper my practice became, the more I wanted to learn about the theory and yoga philosophy. I did a few weekends and short courses, and, like many, started a teacher training course with no intention of actually teaching! However, having spent 24 years as a ‘real-world’ teacher in post-16 education, I guess the transition was inevitable. It’s certainly not a decision I regret!
For you, what are the benefits of yoga?
For me, yoga has never been just about my body, although it has kept me strong and flexible for 19 years. Without any doubt, the effect the practice has on my mind and spirit is most profound, it’s my faith, and it keeps me grounded. Yoga is (or should be) about holistic wellbeing – it touches everything. It opens your mind and your heart to all the possibilities life has.
What is Viniyoga?
Viniyoga is the legacy of the great teacher Krishnamacharya and his son Desikachar, who carried on his father’s teachings. Desikachar called his method Viniyoga, and we have him to thank for Yoga’s dissemination to the west in the 1970s. Vinyoga is a Sanskrit word which literally means ‘special application’, i.e. it’s how you apply your knowledge. In fact, you could have a Viniyoga of anything i.e. the viniyoga of making an omelette. It’s not Vini–Yoga, it’s the viniyoga of Yoga! So, Viniyoga is not simply about mechanical, bodily movements or postures. You will perform many of the classical asana (postures) in a Viniyoga class, but with special attention to the breath. This draws the mind into the practice and helps move towards the goal of Yoga, which Patanjali describes as “stilling the activity of the mind” in chapter 1 of the Yoga Sutra.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of trying yoga?
Check out the teacher’s credentials and experiences, and try a few different styles of Yoga to find one that suits your needs. There’s so much out there, so talk to teachers, ask them about their approach, their training and the content of the class. I’d also say sign up to at least 1 term before you decide whether it’s for you or not. My experience in my first class is unusual, Yoga is a slow-burn, there is no quick fix.
Is there something special about practising yoga in St Davids?
Yes! This place is deeply spiritual, it’s in the earth and the air we breathe, it’s infectious and inspires me on a daily basis. The people here are special too, the community is vibrant, eclectic, and I have recently been feeling that there is a real shift, a drive and an energy, towards creating a healthy, wholesome hub here, and I love being part of that. St Davids should be the UK’s no.1 wellbeing destination - we have it ALL.
I am very lucky that my ‘job’ is teaching yoga in St Davids. From early childhood I came to St Davids on holiday, and when our children were little we came here every year wondering what we would do if we lived here! ...and here I am! Dreams DO come true.
What appeals to you about selling through STDAVIDS.WALES?
I think STDAVIDS.WALES ties together all the brilliant places, activities and produce that locals work hard to create, and it’s fitting to have a one-stop-shop for visitors to find these innovative, healthy projects and businesses in St Davids.
Of course, being the mother of 21 and 19 year-old children, the idea that STDAVIDS.WALES will provide funding for youngsters to live and work in this dynamic community fills me with great joy.
What workshops/classes have you got coming up?
As well as 3 General Yoga Classes per week in St Davids Wellbeing (+3 in Haverfordwest!) I also run workshops on Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth, 1:1 Yoga Therapy and have an Art of Viniyoga (70hr Yoga Foundation Course) starting in September. I'm also running various workshops throughout the summer, the next of which is on Friday 29th June.