Martina’s yoga journey
….when the student is ready the teacher appears…
Martina has practised yoga for close to 30 years and been teaching for 25.
These days her personal practice is solely in the Shadow Yoga method developed by Shandor Remete. Martina began exploring Shadow Yoga over 7 years ago. She practises regularly with Shandor & Emma Balnaves (Shandor’s wife, director and co-founder of Shadow Yoga Method).
Since June 2018, Martina has begun introducing the Shadow Yoga practice to students. In Auckland she teaches regular weekly public yoga classes, offers private tuition and hosts workshops.
Always a student… Shadow Yoga
At the end of 2013 I attended a Christmas Class for Auckland Yoga Teachers, put on by Katie Carter at the Yoga Ground. It was taught by Natalie Smith and based on the Shadow Yoga system created by Shandor Remete. I loved it and it highlighted some areas that were missing in my practice at the time.
The following Easter I attended a workshop with Shandor in Auckland, and was mesmerised, listening to Shandor seemed to be like sitting at the feet of a Guru. I only understood half of what he was talking about yet it had the ring of truth & wisdom to it, this ignited a spark in me to learn more.
Over the next four years I practiced regularly with Whangarei based Jaymin Gansell, in Northland, Bali, and Auckland where she taught a few workshops a year at the studio I am based at. She was my first Shadow yoga teacher providing a solid foundation with her teaching, delivering superb technical detail and break down of the movements in the Preludes, and she had the ability to take me to my edges & hold/support me there, a great skill in a teacher.
When Natalie started regular classes in Auckland in 2016, I also started attending these and still do. She has created a lovely local community of Shadow yoga students in Auckland, which I enjoy being part of and help develop.
I am grateful to have been able to practise with Shandor and his wife Emma Balnaves regularly since May 2016, both in New Zealand and Australia. They provide the guidelines for my personal practice and teaching, and each visit with them provides a wealth of information and transformation on many levels, giving me much homework and inspiration for my practice as I work to assimilate their teaching in to my practice.
Since October 2018 I have also visited Mark Bouckoms, a couple times in Christchurch and hosted him here in Auckland a couple of times a year. He is an experienced practitioner and teacher of Shadow yoga, and his gentle approach has helped open doors for me to go deeper into my practice.
First gurus… my parents
One of the greatest blessing of my life is the family I have been born into, who support me all my ventures. My parents met through gymnastics and continue to be deeply involved in this community. This has given me a rich foundation in movement and strong sense of community.
Initial Yoga Inspiration
My yoga journey began in my late teens when I was seeking a movement form which could be practiced for the rest of my life, yoga meet my needs and the deeper dimensions of this ancient disciple have continued to motivate my practice.
First Yoga Class
After the recommendation of a friend I attended my first class with an icon of the Auckland yoga scene, Mandy White. Not really knowing what to expect I unwittingly attended an advanced Iyengar style class (generally static poses held for a period of time with attention to detail and the use of props to aid body alignment). I loved it, though it was an intense experience and knew I had found what I was looking for, though the style was not quite the right fit for me.
Early Experiences of Yoga
As I was driving home from my first Yoga Class, along a road I’d travelled many times I saw a sign for Stress Less Yoga Centre. How had I missed it before? This sounded a better fit. I pulled in and though the centre was closed, was perusing the timetable, when Julie Emerson, the director of the school appeared, she just happened to be there. We chatted and the following week I started attending regular classes. Julie become my first teacher, she taught a contemporary Vinyasa style (smoothly connecting one pose to the next with the breath). After a couple of years Julie asked if I wanted to train to be a teacher.
Initial teacher training and teaching
In an apprenticeship style setting I did a one year Vinyasa teacher training with Julie and begun teaching. Soon after completing my training, Julie moved to the U.S.A and Stress Less Yoga closed. I was on my own for a few years, continuing to practice the sequences I had learnt and teaching them in local gyms including Mainly Women in Newmarket, Onehunga and Mt Roskill Aquasport.
New Millennium and The Yoga Academy
With the dawn of a new century people started asking more and more of me as a yoga teacher which I didn’t feel I was capable of, so I started exploring how I could develop my practice & teaching. Initially looking at the Iyengar yoga scene in Auckland for about 6 months, practicing mainly with Melodie Batchelor at Herne Bay Yoga. Then one day I was at the Auckland Yoga Academy, buying some yoga equipment and enquired if they did any teacher training, Peter Nilsson the director suggested I attend one of his classes. I attended his class that Sunday and the same afternoon he called me to offer a Hatha Yoga apprenticeship at his school, I didn’t hesitate it was one of those special moments when you just ‘know’ it is the right choice on the path. From 2001-2004 I did apprenticeships in Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga with Peter.
For over a decade the Yoga Academy was my yoga home base, where Peter and his wife Jude Hynes created a beautiful space, in which I developed my daily practice, grew as an emerging teacher and formed many rich friendships in the vibrant community there.
India and the Jois Family
During the week of my 30th birthday, Pattabhi Jois along with his daughter Saraswathi and grandson Sharath held a workshop at the Yoga Academy, which was my first experience with the Jois family. The following July, I made my first trip to India so I could study with them again in Mysore, and from then on India was in my blood.
From my first trip to Mysore it seemed Sharath Jois took me under his wing, though Guruji (Pattabhi Jois) was there and brought a special energy into the room with his presence, it was Sharath who guided my practice. I returned several times over the following decade, making almost annual pilgrimages generally for 2 months at a time, culminating with a month long teacher training with Sharath in July 2010.
For nearly 15 years I was lucky enough to practice for at least a couple of weeks a year with Peter Sanson, a bedrock of the Ashtanga Yoga community in New Zealand. His style of delivery resonated deeply with me and transported me back to India in spirit. He was always encouraging and I felt an internal softening when practicing with him.
Dena Kingberg, a senior Ashtanga teacher from Australia has been a regular visiting teacher to New Zealand, and her influence is seen in the teaching here. It was always a pleasure to practice with her when she visited Auckland, where she inspired me as an experienced female practitioner. She delivers her wisdom of yoga with great eloquence and I loved the slowly deepening connection with her, which excited and comforted me at the same time as it seemed to have no end to it’s depth.
I studied and practiced Matthew Sweeney’s work for several years before finally spending a 1 month with him in Byron for my 40th birthday, and then continued for the next few years to study with him for 1-2 months annually in New Zealand, Australia & Bali. Along with being an accomplished Ashtanga teacher, he also teaches alternative and complementary Vinyasa sequences which I found supported my practice and gave new dimensions to it.
His open-minded, enquiring approach was liberating, and I was delighted to host him in Auckland on his first teaching visit to New Zealand, at the beginning of 2014 and again for a 10 day retreat on Waiheke in January 2016. He also provided the rare gift of mentoring both as a student and especially as a teacher, of which I am most grateful.
I have enjoyed the teachings by the late Desikachar, in particular his depth of philosophical knowledge and accessible delivery of this information. Along with a lecture with him in New Zealand around 2000, and work with one of his senior teachers here, Bernadette Rae, I was inspired on my first trip to India to visit the school he set up in his father Krishnamacharya’s honour, located in Chennai, India. I had a couple of one on one sessions with the teachers there and attended another lecture with Desikachar. I returned a couple of years later for a 2 week Chanting Course at Vedavani, a division of KYM.
I continued with primarily philosophical and chanting study with local teachers in this lineage, in particular Bernadette, Ann Brice and Rachel Lander. In New Zealand I have also been able to attend a weekend chanting workshop with Menaka Desikachar (his wife) and other senior ladies from Vedavani, and a week long workshop with Kausthub Desikachar (his son).
Start your yoga journey with Martina
Whether you are new to yoga or an established practitioner, there is something to suit everyone at Stillness in Movement:
- If you are new to yoga or Shadow Yoga, our Beginners class is a great place to start.
- For individual attention if timings don’t work for you, or you have any particular needs that may not be able to addressed in a group setting, private tuition may suit you.
- If you have an established practice already, contact Martina to see what class will suit you best.
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