Meet February’s Yoga Teacher of the Month : Tarryn James

The Yoga Journey all began back in 2013.

Tarryn walked into a Vinyasa class at her local gym with the aim of gaining flexibility, and instead, when she walked out she had gained something else. ( Not weight, keep reading)

She left the studio with much more than a stretch – she left with a sense of discovery, a drive… a curiosity, so she continued to practice yoga through her days at the University of Pretoria, at the gym and following YouTube videos. After years of playing sports such as provincial touch rugby and university hockey, she knew her body needed a change, and Yoga gave her that sense of change.

Tarryn found comfort in the practice of yoga.
It was the only place I could turn to in difficult times, when anxiety struck and when I didn’t quite feel like myself.
It was the place where she could find herself, yet lose herself at the same time.
Tarryn completed her Yoga Teacher Training in 2016 and has not stopped learning since. As a qualified Occupational Therapist, her knowledge of injuries and anatomy has helped her to treat every student as an individual..
One of Tarryn’s many other passions lies in Musical Theatre. As a singer, dancer and actress, she is always fascinated by how yoga has helped her grow; in her physical, mental and emotional self. The holistic approach of mind, body and soul is always the focus.
She has a passion for developing the yoga community and started the initiative Yoga South Africa to build awareness within her country. Yoga South Africa has grown tremendously and she couldn’t be more proud to be involved with this community.
And I think I can speak for us in the community, we are super proud to have YOU in it! I mean damn! ( I think I need to diversify myself a bit, clearly i’m slacking! )
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Lets see what we spoke about?
Trust, you’ll be as blown away as what I was!
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1. Tell us about your practice style and how you chose your Yoga method.

My practice is mostly in the style of vinyasa. I like to keep a strong basis on alignment as well as bring a bit of playfulness through arm balances and inversions. I think my style is largely influenced by my first yoga teachers, who presented a strong yet thoughtful flow. I really focus on bringing in creative sequencing that allow my students to become completely mindful when they move through the postures. I have always liked to try different styles and have practiced ashtanga, bikram and yin yoga. I do believe there is an importance in bringing variety into your practice – mixing it up between strength and flexibility, fast and slow etc. Some days I like a very challenging power yoga class and some days I just spend it in longer yin yoga poses. Variety is key and I think it is important to allow your body to experience those different styles of yoga.

2. What is your mind-set when you step onto the mat?

It varies so much. Most of the time when I DON’T feel like stepping onto my mat, is the time I usually do. While teaching yoga and balancing the other demands of life, it becomes tricky to dedicate time to my self practice. There are days when I am super motivated to practice, to learn and to challenge myself. But on other days I need something a bit more restorative, a place to just breathe and relax. Stepping on to my mat is like coming home. I have always said that yoga is a way of finding yourself, yet losing yourself at the same time. Whenever I feel worries, or stressed, or overwhelmed; I practice. When I am happy and excited, I also practice. There is never a non-yoga moment, and that’s what I love about it.

3. What led you to become a Yoga Teacher?

I had been practicing yoga since my varsity years, while I was studying Occupational Therapy at the University of Pretoria. While completing my community service year I had the drive to keep learning, and I knew a natural progression would be to do my teacher training. I was interested in developing my own personal knowledge when it came to yoga, but I also wanted to share my passion with others. At that stage, I was practicing yoga with Eon Swiegers, who I regard to be one of the best teachers in South Africa. When I found out he was offering a teacher training it was as if the universe had just aligned 😉 I signed up immediately and I am so grateful to have done my training with someone that I have the greatest amount of respect for. I look forward to advancing my knowledge and skills and hope to complete my 500hour teacher training one day.

4. What was it like teaching your first class?

When I was completing my teacher training, Eon (my trainer) had suggested we started teaching as soon as possible. I started offering free classes in my house for some of my friends. It was such a wonderful way to learn. The environment was so supportive and welcoming – and fun being with all my friends! To see them grow in their practice was so motivating and that is when I knew that being a yoga teacher is such an honor. After I qualified, I started teaching at studios and that’s when I started becoming nervous! Although intimidated, I was confident that I could offer something new to the students. I always strive to be approachable and welcoming in my practice and have found that that has led to me connecting more to my students. I have only been teaching for 18 months and each day I learn. I still make mistakes in a class but that’s how you grow as a teacher.

5. What insight have you gained whilst teaching yoga?

Wow – so much! Each day I am learning. I consistently try to attend classes in new styles, with new teachers. The best way I learn is from experiencing. Cape Town has some of the most amazing teachers and by simply attending one class, there is so much you can take from it. I also do a lot of YouTube yoga videos with international teachers and it is interesting to note how they teach differently or what they offer. When I am doing self-practice, I try to be more mindful about what my body is doing – and I use that to instruct and cue when in a yoga class. On more than a physical level, I have learned the importance of meditation and mindfulness. As someone who gets easily overwhelmed, I look forward to those moments of stillness where I can just turn inwards. Meditation is something I really only became comfortable with once becoming a yoga teacher. It is a skill I am still working on but it is so rewarding.

6. Has Yoga changed the way that you connect with your body?

Yes. Yoga has taught me a lot of self love. It has taught me to appreciate the space I am in, without any judgement. I am in aware of all the amazing things my body can do, that I try not to waste time on thinking about the negatives. Yoga teaches you to honor your body, your breath and your mind. For many of us that is a challenge. I struggle with it too and that is why it is such a long journey. I am constantly working on self-awareness and acceptance and yoga is a big part of that.

7. What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching Yoga?

The release. My favorite part about teaching a yoga class is seeing everyone come out of savasana with those look of complete rest on their face. Every now and then you might catch a little smile. That look of complete joy, ease… release. I live for that moment at the end of the class. I also enjoy the little moments of progress in the students. I love watching how each person grows in their progress- whether its achieving a new pose they never thought they would be able to do. Or even just the belief that they start to develop in themselves. People arrive on their mat each time to honor their journey. Whether its something physical, emotional or spiritual – there is always something that they are learning and I am so grateful to be a part of their journey,

8. Has Yoga changed your day to day lifestyle?

Definitely. Since becoming a yoga teacher, I practice a lot more. Sometimes I teach 3 classes a day and will still try to include a self practice. The feeling that I get from spending time on my mat completely changes my attitude for the rest of the day. Some days I get to start the day with a 15 minute meditation, other days I only squeeze in a practice in the afternoon. For those moments in between I try to bring yoga into every day moments; deep breaths, practicing patience, being mindful… I try to live yoga on and off the mat.

9. What advice do you have for students who are intimidated by difficult Yoga poses?

Patience. These days it is so easy to get caught up in the idea of “what yoga is supposed to look like”. We are constantly seeing instagram photos and yoga videos of amazing bodies doing all kinds of weird and wonderful things with their body. It is important to note that that is not all what yoga is about. Yoga is about doing what YOUR body is able to do. It is about challenging yourself within same parameters, in an environment that you feel comfortable in. It is important to find a studio or a teacher  that you really resonate with. By starting off with a beginners class, you will learn the basics and start feeling comfortable with Sanskrit (yoga terminology), your body, as well as a class environment. I started yoga on YouTube and found that was great for me. Some people need more guidance and that is also OK. It is important to highlight that yoga is not a spring, its not even a marathon, it is a way of life. Postures will happen when your body is ready for it. So while you get there, breathe and enjoy it.

10. One piece of advice do you have for aspiring Yoga Teachers?

Self Practice & Give your all. In each class I strive to give my very best to those students. Even when I am tired, or frustrated, those students have taken time out of their day to practice. In respect of them, I try to give them the best teaching I can. Focus on each student as an individual and guide them through. That is why they are coming to your class – to learn, to be guided, to experience your teaching. I try my very best to meet each person on whatever level they are at and work through their journey with them, at their pace. Self practice is so beneficial to you. Once you start understanding your body in yoga and build up your observational skills in a class, then you will be able to incorporate this into your teaching. Self practice facilitates learning, and continuous development and stimulation is important for a teacher.

11. What is your favorite food?

Peanut butter for sure!! Since becoming vegan about 2 years ago I live off of this. Peanut butter on toast, in smoothies, by the tablespoon… everywhere. I cant get enough <3

12. What is your favorite Quote?

“You will get there when you are meant to get there, and not a moment sooner. So trust your path, breathe, and be patient”

“Happy teachers will change the world” – Thicht Nhat Hanh

“Always be a work in progress”

“Everything you need, your courage, your strength , compassion and love, everything you need is already within you.”.

AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT?

This woman is bloody amazing!

Oh and Tarryn has the cutest Doggo ever!

 

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One response on “Meet February’s Yoga Teacher of the Month : Tarryn James

  1. Manish Yogi

    Thanks, for sharing with us. Really this is a very important for us, and i am sharing with you best yoga teacher training program in Almora, India. Which is known Yoga The Essence of Life Foundation. Here you can learn 200 and 500 hours yoga teacher training program.

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