Name: Cathy Gamba
Studio: Pause Yoga, Days Bay
Years teaching: 3
Years practicing: Technically 10+ but really starting to get it, 2
Favourite yoga style: I don’t have a favourite, they are all appealing – Astanga, Vinyasa Flow, Yin, Hatha, meditation …

What do you remember about your very first yoga class?
I thought … what the heck? Are we just going to lie down here for much longer?

Who would you love to train with that you haven’t yet?
This is a tricky question. There are so, so many good teachers out there, I don’t even know the names of half of them. So yes, there are a lot of teachers I would love to train with that I haven’t yet.

How does yoga feature in your life off the mat?
Awareness, mindfulness and meditation are a huge part of my life. For me, it’s not about sitting in the lotus position for five minutes and then getting on with my day, what it is about is trying to apply mindfulness, meditation and awareness in as many aspects of my life as I can.

It is about learning to be present when I play with my kids, when I hang out the washing, being present in my life as often as I can remember. It is about switching off the “thinking” default-mode of my brain to replace it with the “being mode” and “being aware” mode as often as I can. I’m not very good at this yet and this is why I do a lot of yoga. The physical practice keeps me mobile and physically healthy and also helps me with my back problems (I had surgery on my back about seven years ago).

When is your favourite time of the day to practice?
It depends what I’m practicing, really. There is not a favourite time for me. If I’m practicing awareness, mindfulness and meditation there is no set time. I do it all day long; any time is the right time. I’m trying to capture these little pockets of “now” when I can just remember to simply “be” for a moment. I’m a mother of two and a business owner so time is a bit of a luxury for me but I’m pretty good at freeing up time. I usually try to set aside 45minutes to an hour a day for my physical practice and it’s not necessarily yoga. It can be walking, running up the bush, body-weight training, calisthenics, Vinyasa Flow, meditation or Yin.

Is there a style of yoga you’ve yet to experience or explore?
To be honest, most of them. I’ve only just started. I’ve enjoyed Vinyasa Flow, Yin, Hatha and Astanga so far. There are so many other styles of yoga, most of them I don’t even know about yet.

Any yoga or meditation books you’d recommend?
Oh yes …These are not necessarily yoga books per se but some books I have found interesting and useful: Any books on meditation by Osho, John Kabat-Zinn (Wherever You Go, There You Are), Ruby Wax (A Sane New World), any books written by Thich Nhat Han, the Ray Long books on Yoga anatomy. The brain’s way of healing from Norman Doidge (about neuroplasticity), The brain that changes itself (Norman Doidge).

What pieces of advice do you always give new students?
Try different styles of yoga, try to find a teacher you relate to, slow down and bend your knees.

What do you wish your students to take away from one of your classes?
I want them to experience what it feels like to be aware of each breath, to be aware that they are breathing. When people switch their focus back to one of their senses, the thinking “auto-pilot” mode automatically switches off. You are back in the now, you are present. If my students can even, for a very short amount of time, focus on a few breaths from beginning to end, then I’m happy.

Share something people might be surprised to know about you:
I’m currently studying to become a clinical psychologist at Victoria University. I’ve started this year and it is going to be a long journey. I also don’t Om, it is not something I’m comfortable doing and something I don’t relate to. I’m French but I don’t drink wine or coffee. 

What do you love about your part of Wellington?
Oooooh, don’t get me started on Days Bay! Days Bay is a little piece of paradise: the bush, the native birds, the people, and the proximity to the sea. It feels like a holiday resort, it is far enough from town that we feel completely remote but close enough (20 minutes by boat) that we are not missing out on all the great things Wellington has to offer.

Thank you so much, Cathy! Love the pic!

Would you like to be a Featured Yogi? We’d love to know more about you! Or is there someone you’d like to nominate … another teacher, a stupendous student? Getting to know our fellow yogis creates connection. We like that. Get in touch here.

© The Yoga Connection 2016

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