I had a fascinating conversation with Katina Pallaras last week about what Yoga means to her and how she sees the power of Yoga to change the world. Katina is a graduate of Tribe Yoga’s Teacher Training Program, and not your typical yoga teacher training graduate, either.
Katina is 57. She has a background as a teacher, a relationship counsellor, a psychotherapist, a social worker and lectures at the College of Natural Medicine in Melbourne Australia. She also brings a Buddhist perspective to her yoga practice and a deep appreciation for the human side of life. She is passionate about the essence of yoga as being able to truly connect with one’s self so as to be able to then connect with the rest of life and create a positive energy in the world.
Her own journey to yoga was triggered by grief; in short order she lost both her parents and a close personal friend. She found her heart was ‘starting to feel a bit shaken and broken by the whole human experience of it’ and a friend took her to yoga to help her relax and maybe deal with the grief. She started with Ashtanga Yoga, but it was ‘such an active and dynamic approach that it didn’t really allow me to connect with a lot of the pain I was experiencing at the time’. She then moved in to Hatha Yoga and found that a welcoming approach to what she was experiencing emotionally for a period of time until she was ready to return to Ashtanga Yoga again. After a few years, Katina felt that she needed to learn the technicalities (‘Ashtanga is quite a complex and demanding form of yoga’) so she went looking online and found Tribe Yoga. She had already done one Teacher Training program with Hatha Yoga, but she signed up for the Tribe Yoga Teacher Training program.
She says that as a society we often misunderstand yoga. We can think it’s about physical fitness or being fit or about the techniques of alignment and the postures. None of which are bad, but they miss the key point. ‘Yoga is really about your appreciation and understanding of who you are in the world and your relationship to the world and particularly to other human beings. Once we start to recognize that, the spillover affect of that appreciation is amazing. We learn how it can minimize conflicts on a small scale as well as a large scale and start to recognize how we can truly create change – within ourselves and on a broader scale. It’s about really getting our heads around who we are and our direct impact on the world.’
‘If we are unhappy it’s because of ourselves. When we can take responsibility for what we’re creating and see how yoga can impact that, then we have a better way of being able to show the vitality and value of what yoga is.’
‘We’re just starting to recognize the physical attributes of what yoga can do for us, particularly in the area of stress relief. Yoga is starting to unfold itself in the broader consciousness, but curiously it’s via the body rather than by understanding the essence of the heart in the world. The body is a tool to be able to access the metaphor for the heart.’
‘We get ourselves into illnesses so quickly because we’re still coming from the perspective of the body, but from the head – we need to learn compassion for who we are and what we have been born with and what our gifts are and how we can work with those gifts. When we have appreciation for ourselves, then we don’t have those deep internal conflicts and the illnesses that arise from the deep internal mind struggles. If we can have a much kinder approach to who we are, then we may not need to end up with those illnesses.’
Katina offers yoga courses, she has been back to Tribe to help with one of their teacher training programs as her form of Karma Yoga (i.e. giving back what she has received) and she is in the process of organizing a Yoga retreat to India for those who want to create some space for themselves to experience the transformational effects of yoga, but who want an experience created for older people and who want something different. ‘A lot of the way it’s marketed attracts certain students; yoga can have a bit of a hippy young image, which can be intimidating to an older student. As someone from that mindset myself, I say that you don’t necessarily have to be 25 and able to twist into a pretzel and have dreadlocks to do yoga. If you’re at the stage where you have time to reflect on yourself and your life, maybe through yoga you can have the opportunity to recognize and value the many levels of what yoga offers; the relationships, the life view.’
If you’re wondering about yoga and its power for change, Katina says clearly that ‘Yoga is about understanding your own heart so you can give it to others and allow it to spill over onto others.’
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
If you're looking for the type of Yoga Teacher Training that Tribe offers, until June 21st, you have the opportunity to try to win a scholarship to their Yoga Teacher Training Program. Click here to learn more, click on 'Select Tribe' and write an essay about why Tribe would be right for you. You could be taking your yoga teacher training at this amazing school!