Close to 20 years ago I started my very tentative yoga journey. My intention was to get a relaxing stretch after a full day of work, the reality was that I got so much more. Over the years I returned again and again to the practice slowly coming to the understanding that it was not a fitness program (I already had that) but a way of connecting fully to my life.
In my 40’s part of this chosen path brought me to the understanding that to be fully on this journey meant I needed to start teaching the very thing that had brought me so many benefits and joys. To live what you love can only open the door for others to do the same.
My biggest learning moments came through the loss of a parent to cancer followed not long after by 2 separate ambulance trips of my own to emergency accompanied by a stay on the cardiac care unit. (most likely from not fully dealing with the stress of the loss of my parent) I was told I had not only an arrhythmia but also tachycardia. The definitive conclusion was that I required an ablation (burning out a piece of my heart - How's that for metaphor?). I left the doctors to the long process of trying to book operating time while I took myself back to the yoga mat. My practice shifted from seeing how far I could wrap myself into a bind to connecting on a very deep level to my breath and how it moved my body, energy and emotions. The operation never happened. Meanwhile I continued (along with my asthma, repaired wrists, shifted pelvis and various other old injuries) to hike and cycle, to paddle board and sail and live my life.
From here it wasn't a large leap to arrive at the understanding that really living meant sharing what gave me so much joy, health and growth. My savings went into training with teachers who inspired me and who were very open to sharing all that their teachers had gifted to them. The journey has never ceased. In fact the more I find to share, the more I realize I will be learning for the rest of my life.
Yoga allows me a place to be within each of my experiences, moving away from reaction and shifting towards being in each moment as I live it. Through my teachers I have connected to the importance of breath and finding a way to be at peace within this chaotic thing we call life while still opening space for laughter and joy.
You already have what you need to find the places that allow you to move beyond your supposed limits (mind and body). Believe with each breath, follow your heart, and allow humour and playfulness to light your practice.
Remember it will always be a practice so enjoy learning from the imperfection of everything.
Thank you to all my teachers; especially Jeffrey Armstrong, Max Strom, Janet Stone, Saul David Raye, Bernie Clark, and Paul and Suzie Grilley. Also Dawn Cartwright, Seane Corn, Dr. Ray Long, Rod Stryker, Rolf Gates, James Bailey, Mark Whitwell, Niki Doane, Gahl Sasson,Shiva Rea, Ara Cusack, Nathalie Keiller, Kia Miller, Cameron Gilley, Gurumukh Kaur Khalsa and Gloria Latham. (Online and by book Donna Farhi and Anodhea Judith) Everyone I encounter is a teacher and the lessons of my life are innumerable. Thank you to each and every one of you. I promise to forever be a student. ~ Beverly Akhurst
A simple 20 minute yoga video, in 1998, rescued and restored my desk bound body. The practice first connected me to the joy I felt when I was a gymnast and it bloomed into much more. Yoga continues to remind me how important it is to care for our three layers of being (body, mind and spirit).
My own practice, 1000+ hours of training and leading over 20 teacher trainings has humbly taught me to find a yoga for every body that is natural and non-obsessive. Over the last 17 years of practice and teaching, I have learned to listen to what the “layers” are telling me, to slow down and to find stability and strength first. When the body and the mind feel supported, they open with greater ease. In this way, we can practice yoga for life.
I enjoy teaching hatha, flow, restorative and yin. In all of my classes, I weave in breath work, mudras, mantra or visualizations to connect us to our present experience and to support our beautiful journey.
Ara has the highest level of accreditation with the Yoga Alliance (E-RYT 500) and has studied hatha, flow, yin, restorative, anatomy, kundalini, and prenatal.