To see Ann, part 1 click here. Below is part 2, my interview with Ann.
How long have you been doing yoga? And how long have you been teaching?
I’ve been practicing yoga since 1991. I took my first classes with a teacher who had been stricken with arthritis as a child. By the time she was twenty she had to crawl up and down stairs in her home. But when I came to study with her, when she was in her 50′s, only her feet showed signs of the disease. Her poses were limber and graceful, and she said she owed her recovery in large part to her yoga practice. She was my first inspiration. I taught my first yoga class in England, back in 1992, when I subbed for my teacher who was out of town. I took my first official yoga teacher training in the spring of 1994 and have been teaching yoga ever since.
How many times have you been to India?
I’ve traveled to India to study yoga with yoga master, BKS Iyengar, several times over the years (read about “guruji” here). When I go there, I rent an apartment and stay for a month or two and practice about five hours of yoga a day. It feels incredible. Immersing myself in the yoga and the vibrancy of the Indian culture is a liberating tonic. I love India’s raw beauty and chaos. My ethnic roots also hale from there, so it’s a homecoming of sorts.
Where are you teaching at this time?
I teach my group classes and trainings at the La Jolla Yoga Center, in La Jolla, California. I also own a small studio there, where I teach one-on-one classes to students with therapeutic needs.
Look at Ann’s lovely website here!
How do you know when you are seeing something beautiful?
When I see something beautiful, my face softens and my body relaxes. The object or the experience engages and absorbs my attention, and I feel inspired and grateful, happy to be alive.
How would you describe your beauty?
Physically, I guess I’m lucky to be well proportioned. I’m small and sturdy. Good peasant stock, which matches my earthy nature. My inner beauty comes from my strengths and sufferings. Strength-wise, I’m determined and rise to difficult occasions with gusto. As for sufferings, I lost my first husband when we were both quite young. His death broke my heart devastatingly open, but it also awoke a level of compassion in me that I had never experienced before, and which has only ripened with age. Teaching yoga to thousands of different students over the past 20 years has also taught me a lot about patience. Kindness, consideration, and being non-judgmental are all beautiful traits that I aspire to.
When do you feel most beautiful?
As a child I was raised in the English Roma culture. We’re a wild and unruly tribe of people, with little regard for authority and a disdain for being told what to do by others. Through life I’ve had to learn to develop self-restraint and discipline, and to cultivate myself enough to conform and survive in regular culture. But at heart I’m still untamed. When I’m in touch with that untamed part, is when I feel most alive and most beautiful.
What/who taught you about beauty?
My mother is my role model for all things beautiful. She has lived her challenging life with strength and courage. She’s also more feminine than I, and has an elegant European flair to the way she carries herself that I admire. Ultimately though, the sometimes ecstatic and sometimes jarring experiences of life have been my greatest teachers. Beauty resides in the magnificence of nature, and in inspired art and music. In love and happiness and laughter. But grief and loss and pain can also lead to beauty in the end.
Name one beautiful thing that makes your heart leap.
My husband, Arnold.
Here’s to the tamed and untamed parts of all of us! And here’s Ann in a twist (bharadvajasana) and the sweetest child’s pose (balasana) I have ever seen.
Thank you Ann, my untamed gypsy friend.