YogaOnCrete teacher Victoria Karipidou introduces her work and journey at YogaOnCrete, offers practical tips on how to cope with the challenging emotions that may arise during these transformational times that we are all experiencing, and closes with a short and sweet de-stressing breathing practice from the Kundalini yoga tradition.
Ten years in the life of a yoga centre
I was still a contemporary dance student in Scotland when my ingenious mother came up with the idea. She had read an article about a celebrities' retreat including detox and yoga and thought that this would be an excellent use for the family holiday house now that her daughter was getting quite serious about something that did not seem to have the best career prospects: yoga.
My friend from uni, Nikos, made the website in April, and in June we held the first course together with a teacher friend, Marcos. My greekified Australian mum cooked delicious veggie dishes, following my instructions for the use of novel and somewhat obscure healthy alternative incredients, and for her own, imposed by me in my new convert's enthusiasm, "spiritual practice" of mouna (silence) quite diligently! There were four guests: a dancer friend from Scotland, two lovely ladies from Paris, and a woman researching retreat centres for a soon to be published book. What beginner's luck!
Eugenia teaches yoga at an idyllic guesthouse on Crete and describes her journey of self-growth that led her there.
By Alexandros Diakosavvas
Yogis (and yoginis, which as I found out from Eugenia is what women yoga practitioners are called) radiate a sense of peace that is transmitted during a yoga class, as well as just a short chat. I must, therefore, say that I felt overly peaceful on that evening, after a two hour class at Eugenia's yoga studio in Psirri, and around two more hours that we spent together for the interview and a relaxed drink. And I admit that there are very few persons and situations who can nowadays alleviate my stress and slow down the fast rhythms of everyday life. It seems that Eugenia (“evgenia” in greek also means politeness, and it seems that she embodies the meaning of her name) is doing something well.
Psychologist, dancer, yoga teacher, business woman. Can all this be combined? Eugenia Sivitou begins to tell the story of her journey and the transitions from one field to the next, changes which, as I will soon understand, were neither smooth nor without their toll. "To be honest, I do not remember much from my first encounter with yoga. I was on an exchange programme as a psychology student in Germany and wanted to try different physical activities – trampoline, ballet that I had also practiced as a child, yoga. I remember being surprised that this form of exercise took place on the floor. This experience left an unusual impression on me. Yoga had not yet become well known in Greece at that stage, 14 years ago. Next, I did a postgraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology, but finally decided I wanted to become a dancer. We had yoga on our curriculum, in my 3 year dance training course in Scotland. I loved the physical aspect of the practice of yoga, and this is what initially won me over. A little later, I thought of taking it more seriously and decided to look into becoming a teacher. There were even distance training courses that I came across in my research, which do not require any physical attendance. Traditionally in India, one learned yoga from a teacher, with whom the practitioner would have to stay for several years. My first teacher training was in Spain and lasted a full month, from morning at 6 am till night at 9 pm daily. It was a course run by a large worldwide organization, Sivananda, which has taken its name from the great Indian teacher who instructed a student of his to bring yoga to the West in the 60s. One of the main visions of this tradition is to cultivate peace in people, in order to bring peace to the world. Quite ambitious! But, in reality, it just takes learning to relax and breathe correctly, for a change to begin”.
At the beginning of July last summer, and for three days, although life continued as normal at YogaOnCrete, an advertisement filming crew gave a different, exciting feel to the place, behind the scenes.
One of the highlights of their visit was a 5.30 am boat-trip to Sweet Water beach to catch the soft morning light, following the commands of the director, a now new yoga enthusiast! I had the pleasure of showing them my favourite diving spot, from the Three Rocks outside the village harbour, as well as the beautiful architecture and serenity of the abandoned Aradaina village. We took a boat trip to the nearby village of Loutro and experienced the area's magical turquoise waters up close, and once their work was done, they had a taste of some, much needed it seemed, yoga.
Special thanks to George Chorevas for coordinating the project, director Thanasis Tsimpinis and the rest of the team for their beautiful work, and all the joyful beings who patiently and happily took part!!
Here is the final product of this project:
"Physical health is not a commodity to be bargained for. Nor can it be swallowed in the form of drugs and pills - it has to be earned through sweat. It is something that we must build up."
B.K.S. Iyengar was the founder of Iyengar Yoga and is considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. He lived to the age of 95, and over his 80 years of dedication to yoga practice he refined and perfected the technique of doing yoga poses that is widely taught throughout the world. Iyengar began life as a frail and sickly child; in contrary, in his 90s, the yoga master would stand on his head for 30 minutes to start his morning yoga practice.
In his book, Light on Life, he explains how physical weaknesses led him to take up the ancient practice of yoga: "My poor health was matched, as it often is when one is sick, by my poor mood," he writes. "A deep melancholy often overtook me, and at times I asked myself whether life was worth the trouble of living. Seeing that the general state of my health was so poor, my brother-in-law recommended a stiff regime of yoga practice to knock me into shape and strengthen me up to face life's trials and challenges as I approached adulthood."