Monday, October 19, 2015

Local beauty: yoga teacher Constanza Causa


Every Sunday evening(all going to plan) you’ll find me on the mat at The Centre, taking part in one of yoga teacher Constanza Causa’s Sunday Bliss classes.
The perfect way to seal the week and prepare for another, it is an absolute joy and she a living treasure. The Chilean-born instructor’s lilting voice takes the pain away during more challenging poses, whilst her beautiful tales and anecdotes to accompany the more restorative series of moves lull you into the perfect Sunday evening vibe. To say the classes come highly recommended would be an understatement, and I fear I’ve just given away my best kept secret!
When we meet on a Monday to talk about life, yoga and the universe, it’s the day of the Great Auckland Hailstorm, and we are hunkered down in Wilder & Hunt sheltering from the weather bomb. As always, Connie is calm, collected and cool as a cucumber, relishing an afternoon watching a movie with her three-year-old daughter, Luna.
She begins by telling me that as well as her classes at The Centre she teaches aerial yoga at a studio in Ponsonby (which I have since tried and am hooked on) and hot yoga in Britomart, and she is a qualified Bikram yoga instructor. She says she began with Kundalini practice when she was really young, “followed by Astanga before my sister forced me to go to a Bikram class. I thought I wouldn’t like it but I absolutely loved it, really, really loved it!” She says that the first thing that hooked her on the style was “the simplicity, and the fact that it works. Whatever is your reason for being at that yoga class, it works. My sister was right – she is my inspiration still today.” She was then sponsored to do her teacher training, and then moved into the aerial yoga arena, “which I then started teaching at festivals. It is so much fun…” I make a mental note to try it myself, despite a fear of being turned upside down and instability in general. “That is why you need it,” she says with a laugh, “we go easy on you!”
The most recent training she undertook was in Bali, and involved studying the art of sequencing. “It was all about how to create a sequence with your teaching practice, and move from a hatha style to a viniyasa, or perhaps a more restorative style,” she explains. This directly informed her Sunday Bliss class, “but I still allow it to be a little spontaneous as well because it is sometimes full of people all at different levels of fitness. I have a sequence in mind but then I tailor it a little as well, it was a co-creation with (The Centre founder) Rebecca, and it was always designed to be very flexible and go with the flow.”
She says that the pair wanted to create a Sunday late afternoon practice that was still based around energy, as opposed to “just coming in and saying ‘it’s Sunday, I am done with this week’!” says Connie. “I wanted to give people energy for what is coming next, like a transition that helps raise their energy levels and then gives them some restorative practice at the end. It will keep evolving, I am sure.”
As a person she is also constantly evolving as well, arriving in New Zealand originally in the role of a canyoning instructor. “I was sponsored to stay here by a canyoning company in the Waitakeres and I love it, but now yoga is my path,” she explains. When I say that the two professions seem quite opposed she says no, “they are actually very similar. When you are working with people canyoning for the first time you are telling them physically what to do but also to think about mentally the best space they could be in. Both can be physically challenging but you give people the technique to be safe and then remind them to breathe and consider the quality of thoughts they might have… they really are very similar.”
She teaches private and group classes, and says that most of all people seem to come to yoga seeking some peace of mind, as well as space for themselves. One of her favourite statements is “I don’t get what I want from a class, I get what I need”, and she describes yoga as “like a magical recipe, it has given me abundance. It keeps me grounded and connected. If I’m injured, it gives me healing. If I’m confused, it gives me clarity. I surrender to the class because I know it will give me what I need.” She says that witnessing the growth of yoga within the New Zealand community has been incredibly invigorating, “especially when I see people who have had a busy, crazy day maybe and instead of just going home they are saying ‘I just want to be on my mat…’” She loves the fact that Kiwis are up for practising all styles of yoga as well, “and I think they all great as they each give you something different. I am pro all kinds of yoga and won’t say one is any better than any other, and I think a lot of other practitioners in New Zealand support variety too.”
She asserts that with yoga, you become more aware of what your body wants. “Sometimes your body wants water when your mind wants coffee. The body always talks, and with yoga we can listen to it.”
You can find details of Connie's wonderful classes here: http://www.vimana.co.nz/ and http://www.the-centre.co.nz/ and http://www.bikramyogabritomart.co.nz/

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