Adelene Cheong and Lizzie Lasater: Glorious Savasana


Our restorative yoga experts, Adelene Cheong and Lizzie Lasater, join forces in this unique interview where they reveal how their individual journeys led them to the mat.

What, when and where was your first experience of yoga?
Adelene 
Having lived with scoliosis since my teenage years; discomfort and weakness in my back was a daily affair as a young adult. It did not help that I was working an 80-hour week in a full time job either. My sister-in-law introduced me to that popular thing everyone talks about called ‘yoga’ in my early twenties. It was an Ashtanga Vinyasa class in a health club. My back felt good after the practice, it helped me sleep better, relaxed me from my stressful job and responsibilities. Just like many others, with all the benefits experienced, I went back for more and persisted…

Lizzie 
I sometimes joke that I’ve been practicing yoga “since the womb” because my Mom, Judith Hanson Lasater, has been teaching yoga since before I was born. Yoga was a constant presence throughout my childhood, but I began practising for myself at age 18, on my first trip to India.

What made you decide to move from student to teacher?
Adelene

For the first few years of my yoga journey, I did lots of ‘yoga shopping’, attended many workshops, experienced various styles of yoga, studied with many teachers. Excited and overwhelmed, I allowed myself space and time in exploring ways to practice and live with scoliosis, and I am grateful I did so. The positive experience and visible result of my physical condition, the greatly improved sense of wellness and the observed lifestyle changes inspired me to share this work. With the encouragement of my teachers (Donna F. and Judith H. Lasater), I embarked on sharing this practice. I realised that the more I taught, the more I learnt about my practice, my life and myself. Compassion supports me as a teacher.

Lizzie 
I took my first teacher training in order to deepen my relationship to my own practice. At age 22 I felt too young to start teaching, but Yoga Works and the gym at my college both offered me classes. The universe offered me a cliff, I jumped, and magically the net appeared.

What teaching tip has had the biggest influence on the way you practice? And the way you teach?
Adelene

Influence on my practice – to cultivate an inner reference system through deep listening and curiosity in asana practice. Influence on my teaching – the pedagogic model as expressed by Donna Farhi, with full comprehension that my role as a teacher is to guide and facilitate the growth and full potential of every individual, with respect and healthy boundaries.

Lizzie 
I once shared with my Mom that I’m afraid of running out of things to say when I teach. She looked back at me and said, “That’s not a very realistic scenario: you started talking at 12 months old and haven’t stopped since.” And then she said, “Besides, you can always give the students dog pose - then they stop looking at you. It gives you time to think of the next pose.”

What does your own self-practice involve?
Adelene

My daily practice feeds and nourishes my needs from moment to moment. It often starts with connecting to my being at that moment, deep listening to inspire the practice to come. With the intention to establish harmony within my body and mind, at times it may be a flowing vinyasa; at other times, a sequence of restful restorative poses; or somatic enquiry explorations. This often ends with being seated stillness, with space and time for reflection and meditation.

Lizzie
My goal is finding silence. My methods include asana, restorative, meditation, solo hiking, and reading Osho.

If you only had 10 minutes to practice, what would you do?
Adelene

Practice STILLNESS. I would assume a comfortable position (supine / recline / seated / standing), bring my awareness to the breath, observe the state of mind, check-in with my need(s), and settle into stillness. When I re-establish connection with my inner being, almost always in stillness, I am more likely to make choices that I enjoy. Yes, stillness it is.

Lizzie
A chair shoulderstand sequence with a supported backbend and then Viparita Karani with my legs on the chair.

Who/what is the biggest inspiration on your yoga journey at the moment?
Adelene

My main inspiration is LIFE itself. Living my yoga continues to challenge my beliefs, to negotiate a deeper reflective inquiry, and to renew my practice and teaching. All that said, I was very fortunate and ever grateful to have met both my teachers Judith H. Lasater and Donna Farhi during my early teaching years, who continue to inspire my practice, my teaching and my living. My deepest gratitude for their generosity and love. At the moment, the word that inspires me is GRATITUDE.

Lizzie 
Sangha; or the community of yogis around the world. For example, I look at yoga_girl’s Instagram every day. With two million followers, it means that yoga is resonating globally. I love knowing that wherever I find myself, whenever I climb on my mat, other yogis are practising with me. At that moment, I am not alone.

What role does yoga play in the way you live?
Adelene
Yoga is interwoven in every practitioner's consciousness. Yoga is the centre stage of my conscious functioning of my physical body, my choice of words and speech, my thoughts and beliefs, and my life as it manifests. What do you hope your students experience when they practise with you? Empowerment, that they always have options and are free to make choices in their practice (and in life) to serve their needs from moment to moment. To re-connect to their true nature, peace and stillness.

Lizzie
For me, it is self care in action. I sometimes wonder how people live without the pleasure of yoga. It’s such a joy to have time and space for practice. But…I suppose someone could wonder how I can live without playing golf!

Which yoga text could you not live without?
Adelene
I have referenced various texts, modern and ancient. All has contributed a nugget or two in my practice and life. They are sacred and dear. I believe that it is not a single text that I could not live without, but until I studied, reflected and integrated the teachings from these texts that I feel my ownership to this timeless wisdom.

Lizzie 
Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar.

What’s your favourite yoga pose to do and to teach?
Adelene

Savasana. I, we all need stillness in our lives. Savasana is conscious stillness where one is free from Vritti.

Lizzie
Savasana!

Describe the meaning of yoga in 10 words or less.
Adelene

Yoga is compassion in practice to all sentient being, including myself.

Lizzie
Yoga is finding silence.

Join Adelene and Lizzie on 18th and 19th February for a special weekend on receiving support as a yoga teacher. Read more on Teaching Yoga: An Inside Job.