Sarah Scharf: teaching people, not poses
Sarah Scharf explains how Yoga helps her to disconnect from consumer culture and reconnect to being enough as she is.
Sarah Scharf (MFA) is a yoga teacher and teacher trainer using movement practice as an avenue to create resilience, freedom, creativity and self-knowledge to improve quality of life. She holds a BA in Dramatic Arts and an MFA in Physical Theatre, she has worked as an actor, director and movement director. This theatrical background allows her to connect with groups both large and small. She leads international retreats, mentors new teachers, is a senior assistant to Judith Lasater and has taught for Yogacampus, The Life Centre and Triyoga among other international studios. She has worked in collaboration as a teaching artist and director at The Barbican, Soho Theatre, RSC and The Young Vic. Originally from California, she is now based in Vienna and teaches regularly in London. She creates yoga sequences to give a sense of rejuvenation, whether from strong vinyasa flow or peaceful restorative styles. Attention to detail and safe alignment are key elements of her teaching, as well as mindfulness and adapting poses for various levels and individuals. For upcoming retreats, workshops and to purchase DVDs visit http://www.flowandrestoreyoga.co.uk/
What, when and where was your first experience of yoga?
I took a group drop-in class in Boise, Idaho (my hometown) at the age of 17 in the basement of the YMCA.
What made you decide to move from student to teacher?
The jungle in Costa Rica! I was travelling on my own in Costa Rica and had a spiritual re-awakening in the jungle there. I realised yoga made me happiest and that I wanted to share that to bring more positivity to others.
What teaching tip has had the biggest influence on the way you practice? And the way you teach?
Both tips are from Judith Hanson Lasater and I’m going to paraphrase (sorry Judith).
My practice tip, “sometimes not doing Yoga is your Yoga”. This has helped me to accept that as a new mom I have very little time to practice and that sometimes sleep is a better way of taking true care of myself these days. If I tried to keep a strict physical practice while breastfeeding and being sleep deprived as I’ve been, I’m sure I’d be ill. Being flexible enough to see this and no longer beating myself up internally if I can’t do an hour of Vinyasa has made me a better person. This helps me as a teacher because I have more compassion for people who struggle to make time to practice, or are working with injuries and illness and struggle to accept the limitations that require them to modify.
My teaching tip is “teach people, not poses”. It’s good to remember, it’s always true and it helps me get out of my own way and teach authentically.
What does your own self-practice involve?
I am 6 months post-natal so it is specific and most importantly GENTLE. I do a lot of Constructive Rest, gentle flow, bandha/core awakening (Kapala Bhati and Uddiyana Bandha), Yoga Nidra and Restorative chest openers.
If you only had 10 minutes to practice, what would you do?
Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall pose) with lots of props.
Who/what is the biggest inspiration on your yoga journey at the moment?
Judith Hanson Lasater.
What role does yoga play in the way you live?
It keeps me sane, and helps me to disconnect from the consumer culture we are surrounded by and reconnect to being enough as I am.
What do you hope your students experience when they practise with you?
Reconnection to self and a sense of being guided while remaining free to follow their inner teacher.
Which yoga text could you not live without?
It’s actually a Buddhist mindfulness text, by Pema Chödron- “Comfortable with Uncertainty”
What’s your favourite yoga pose to do and to teach?
Headstand using 20 blocks (yes, 20!). The combination of inversion, weightlessness, and shoulder tension relief is unbeatable. Students who struggle to invert can usually manage this easily, it eliminates neck strain, is fine for contraindications due to upper body injury and is really fun.
Describe the meaning of yoga in 10 words or less.
Uniting body, mind and spirit through breath and awareness. AAAAAAHHHHHHH.
Sarah is teaching her Finding Your Authentic Voice: Practical Performance Skills for Yoga Teachers workshop on Sunday 2nd April 2017.