Hatha & Vinyasa Teacher from Dorking, Surrey.
The spotlight is on Amy Miller today. We chatted about her love for Yoga and how she became a teacher. We also discussed the benefits of Yoga and Meditation for both mental and physical wellbeing.
Amy has been practising Yoga for 23 years and has been teaching for just over 5 years. It took her a long time to trust that she wanted to take the leap from hobby to career. However, since making the decision she’s never looked back. She teaches small groups her local Village Hall and also at a brand spanking new beautiful studio space in a vineyard. Both are located in Dorking, in the heart of the stunning Surrey Hills countryside.
Read our interview below:
1. Why were you drawn to Yoga initially? What inspired you to keep practicing?
I started taking yoga classes in my first year of university, mainly because I was trying as much new stuff as possible at the time! I think a LOT of people try their first class and for whatever reason they don’t like the teacher and then quit. Finding the right teacher is SO important – you have to click. Luckily my first teacher was really inspirational in the way she held the room and captivated everyones attention. After I left I found a class in my dance studio and I kept going back because it was really helping me advance with my flexibility. That was important to me at the time because I was dancing, but I’ve come to realise that being flexible is certainly not a prerequisite for doing yoga, and is definitely not the main benefit.
2. How did you start to practice? What effect did it have on your life, both mentally and physically?
I was all about the physical when I first started. Again that was because of the teachers. I was being taught in a setting of performance so that’s what led my practice. It wasn’t until about 7/8 years later – interestingly, after I moved out of the city – that I found teachers who were much more spiritual in their teaching and I really had an AH HA moment. I had a few really profound moments on the mat that made me realise that yoga was so much more than a physical practice. That’s when I got into meditation too.
3. How did your mind and body change when you started a regular practice? Was anything a quick change, did anything take a long time?
When this realisation (re: meditation) came, I started to be injured less. The physical practice was still dynamic and I was still going deeply into postures, but in a completely different way. I was starting to leave my ego behind and not have to be the most bendy person in the room. Nowadays I am very far from the most bendy person in the room because I’ve realised that that doesn’t at all matter and I’ve lost my flexibility a bit. I began to treat my body with much more respect and questioned everything I did on my mat before I did it. I try to remember what a life changing process that was back then, and pass it on to my students.
4. When did you decide you wanted to facilitate and teach classes? What drew you to teaching?
Teaching wasn’t something I even thought about until many many years later when I had my first child. People would say to me ‘why don’t you teach yoga? It would fit so perfectly into raising a family’. I was like….’naaaaa’. I didn’t see myself as a teacher and I was worried I would turn something I loved doing into a ‘job’ and it would start to lose it’s appeal. But slowly slowly I started to change my thinking. Until one day, the universe literally aligned in a way that enabled me to move forward and that was it….BAM – decision made!
5. Where did you do your initial teacher training? What other trainings have you done? What effect did training have on your teaching style and on your own practice?
I did my teacher training locally which was necessary for me to carry on with being a mum of 3 boys under 7. I had been practicing with a teacher I loved and had a connection with and so knew that her training would be the right one for me. Since then I’ve also done Face Yoga teacher training, which I love – mainly for it’s relaxation benefits (and it can’t help to get rid of a few wrinkles at my age!) and also a diploma in Ayurveda. Starting to teach and learning the philosophy and spiritual lineage behind yoga came at the same time as I started to leave behind the idea that yoga was only a physical discipline so the two came together to change how I practiced for myself, and also the kind of teacher I wanted to be.
6. How to people benefit from Vinyasa & Hatha Yoga?
I teach a mix of Vinyasa and Hatha for a very specific reason. I love vinyasa. I have a background in dance and choreographing vinyasa flow gives me the space to be creative and introduce movement that is maybe slightly ‘outside’ the traditional set asanas that you would see in hatha. However, I feel that a vinyasa class is often too fast paced. Yes that’s great for the body but it doesn’t allow you the time and space to observe what’s happening in the body on a more subtle level. There is no interoception. There is no time to ask yourself…. what do I actually FEEL here, besides just my hamstrings! What is my energy? What am I learning about myself? Do I have space to go further? Or is where I am right now the best place for me to be.
Combining the two modalities means that students get the physical benefits whilst practicing internally. Balancing and gaining the meditative benefits from the practice. Improving strength, flexibility and mobility combined with calming and stilling the mind have an amazing effect on wellbeing.
7. Do you practice any other modalities or do anything else that is positive for mental and physical wellbeing, to compliment your Yoga practice?
YES! Everyday. I’m a little obsessed with ritual. I am a self care and wellness advocate so I try and practice what I preach as much as possible. Rituals help us keep on the right track mentally and physically. Making small changes daily and sticking to them help us improve our physical and mental health. Plus I practice modern witchcraft which is all about natural healing. I start my day with 20 minutes of meditation; I go outside into nature everyday; I use diet for medicine; I make my own natural remedies…(which I sell btw!)
8. What would you recommend for people looking to practice Yoga and Meditation, but don’t know where to start?
One good thing about lockdown is the current accessibility of yoga and meditation. The amount of free content on the web, social media and via apps is wonderful and gives anyone who has never practiced before to try different classes, teachers, styles etc for free before they commit to anything. I currently teach on Zoom, till we can return to the new form of normal.
Find out about Amy and the services she offers on her website.
Thank you so much Amy, for being in our Yoga Spotlight today!
About The author:
Aimee is a Yoga, Meditation and Move It or Lose It! teacher in located in Middlesbrough, England, UK.
To find out more, visit www.amalateesside.com