Meet Our Yoga Teachers
Natasya Yusoff - Chief yogi
I have had an on again off again relationship with yoga since my late teens when I found a VHS tape in a bargain bin at a local supermarket while living in Malaysia.
The tape was my first real introduction to yoga and it kicked my butt, but I loved it, I discover muscles I never knew I had, a new found strength, flexibility, confidence and freedom to just be me.
After a few years of following that one VHS tape (Kathy Smiths New Yoga Challenge). My mum introduced me to a new kind of yoga practice; The Cosmic Fountain of Youth, a series of 3 salutations that was available via cassette tape.
This is the program that has stayed with me and I still teach it regularly to my students today.
Over the years I had a few requests to teach yoga and always politely declined, knowing that I didn't have the right knowledge to teach safely and effectively. But the thought stayed in the back of my mind.
As the years passed friends started to take yoga teacher training courses, people I had never even guessed would be interested in yoga let alone train to become a teacher, and that little voice in the back of my mind ignited, "if they can do it, so can I!"
I now have a NZQAdiploma in teaching yoga asana and philosophy from Wellpark College. This was a year long teacher training course that fully immerses you in the art of living a yogic life.
I am constantly up-skilling and looking for ways of improving my practice, but I know that this is a lifetime journey with still so much to learn, yoga is not just a physical practice, it's those deeper aspects of the practice that draw me in and hold my curiosity.
If we all just had a little yoga in our lives, the world would be an immensely better place for all.
I love teaching, be it dance or yoga, or a combination of both, I love seeing that light switch on in my students eyes, and the transformations that take place are truly amazing to watch.
It is an honour and a blessing to be part of such magic in peoples lives.
Natasya is the founder of The Yoga Pantry as well as an accomplished dancer, actor and artist.
You can visit her personal website at www.natasyayusoff.com
Francesca Tomasetig - Yoga Nidra expert
Yoga crept into my life when I was living in Dublin in my twenties. Like for many others, it was something else I did to improve my physical body, along side the gym, the running etc. I wanted to be strong and flexible.
My first teacher had become one to change her life; at the time I thought that odd, why getting out of the office, where money could be made much easily?
The second one was an Aikido Sensei: his flexibility and lung capacity were far superior than mine; he was 70, I was 25 and the intensity of his presence was inspiring to say the least. What was it that people found in Yoga beside the Asanas?
Many years after that, a friend invited me to a Kirtan at Ashram Yoga; no thanks I said, that’s not for me really. I loved the classes she had brought me along to, but I didn’t need that side of Yoga in my life. It was for people more spiritual than me, less practical.
That was 2005 and I was moving from Auckland to live in the Bay of Islands. My luck, I have to admit, is that life brings me where I need to be to keep growing.
I graduated from the Ashram Yoga Teacher Training in 2012. Seeking relief from my inadequacies as a new Mum and a tired book-keeper, I immersed myself into weeks of 24/7 Yoga and discovered that teaching Yoga brought unexpected joys. And so off I went to teach for a few years in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Trained more, and learned to teach children, mums to be, and senior citizens in order to better served my community.
I thought I was living in perfect balance, with many questions finally answered, fully Zen.
Life however had other plans and brought me back to Auckland, trashing my perfect balance and challenging my Zen being.
That is what really got me beyond Asanas. I found myself in classes with people needing effective methods of relaxation that would last well beyond their time on the mat.
I completed another level of the Teacher Training and learned to teach Yoga Nidra, with its beneficial restorative support to our city life.
I delved deeper, explored past the relaxation aspects and along the way, learned about devotion through my own personal practice and its infinite benefits to the practical, less spiritual person I was, I still am.
Yoga Nidra is a technique adapted by Swami Satyananda from the traditional tantric practice of nyasa; it is scientifically proven to deepen relaxation, aid stress management and lower high blood pressure, to name just a few of its benefits. It can harmonize the deeper unconscious and awaken inner potential, but overall, it's a spectacular method to release yourself from your habitual patterns. It's suitable to all practitioners, without previous experience required.
I am an Ashram Yoga Graduate, with 3 levels of Yoga Nidra training. Also, available to me is the support of my own teachers, who have years of experiential practice in tailoring Yoga Nidra to therapeutical requirements.
Stuart McEwen - Hatha Yoga Happy Place
Stuart began doing yoga, for reasons like many others. Improvement in flexibility being one of the major ones. As a junior level athlete he noticed drastic improvements in his physical body and continued with the inclusion of the physical practice to his training regime as he built towards achieving his goal of playing college basketball in the US.
After a 5 year career in the US Stuart decided not to pursue the professional sports pathway.
It was always a goal of Stuart’s to investigate yoga further than just a few classes a week. He took an opportunity to complete a Yoga teacher training as a chance to fully immerse himself in all aspects of the practice – it turned it out to be a life changing experience for him.
Stuart now teaches yoga to help people along their own unique paths in life.
Russell Gill - Yin aficionado
I was steered towards yoga after major eye surgery ended my decade long Martial arts practice and found the body mechanics to be the other side of the same coin. The body likes to move in certain ways and the mind likes to seek stillness which I found true of Hot, Acro and Aerial styles of yoga.
Stumbling upon Yin yoga after a few years of Yang styles was a revelation with its slower approach reinforcing patience and lack of attachment to depth in poses but still complementing and balancing my yang activities to form a complete whole.
I knew fairly quickly that I wanted to find out all I could yin yoga’s principles, and what better way to learn than to teach a subject? Diving into teacher training after several years of Yin, the scientist in me fell in love with the strong anatomy based practice which tries to answer how and why the poses work so well, from the physical body of muscle, bone and blood to the subtle body of breath, thought and energy.
Teaching Yin lets me try and impart these lessons of slowing down our busy lives and finding balance in enjoyable class sized bites.
Whenever I’m not on my mat in various styles of yoga or studying further into the body’s fascial layer mysteries, I’ll found be found seeking to improve my distance running, photography and dancing.