Featured Yogi: Cushla

Name: Cushla Sheridan
Studio: Te Hine Ruru Retreat Russell
Years teaching: 10  
Years practicing: 20+
Favourite yoga style: Asthanga is my personal practice; this tradition lends itself well to my mostly home-based practice in rural NZ. However I like to teach a more gentle style of vinyasa flow yoga that allows me to teach, and focus on the needs of the students I have in the room at any particular class.

Do you have a favourite posture at the moment?
Yes, one of my favourite asanas is Dandasana or Staff pose. It is so simple to look at, yet when I go deeper into it I realise it involves every part of the body and is great for alignment, it allows me to be fully present with the breath, plus it teaches me patience.

What time of the day do you prefer to practice?
I prefer to practice in the dark before sunrise, but really any free time is a good time for yoga when you have two children.

What do you hope your students take away from your class?
I hope my students take away a greater awareness of themselves. A greater awareness of what is happening in their own body at any given moment, of where their thoughts are and of how they are feeling. It is from this place of awareness that I think change naturally occurs in your life. I guess, in short, an increase in consciousness through the beautiful tradition of yoga.

What makes you happiest when you teach?
I love the softness and the glow that surrounds students as they come out of Savasana, this is one of the things that makes teaching worthwhile to me.

Favourite mantra or quote at the moment?
The quote, “Every time I judge someone else I reveal an unhealed part of myself” is on a post-it note on my bathroom mirror at the moment. It might be there for a while!

How has yoga influenced your life off the mat?
I am not sure where to begin or end with this question, there are so many ways, some obvious, some subtle. My personal yoga practice usually always reflects what is happening in my life in the moment, so it is a great teacher. One way that comes to mind immediately is how yoga gives me the ability to pause between the emotion I am feeling and my outward reaction, a bit like the pause between in breath and out breath. This is a wonderful tool I put into much use when parenting.

Having yoga as part of my daily life now for so long, it kind of spills over into every aspect, how I speak, my relationship to myself and others, how I eat, where I go on holiday … the list is endless. Oh, I also met my lovely husband on a yoga retreat, that definitely had a big impact on my life off the mat!

Is meditation part of your practice? 
Yes meditation is a part of my spiritual practice. For a seated meditation, I practice the Vipassana technique which is a felt sense, somatic experiencing. I also regularly practice shamanic meditations that have a more transformative, healing approach. I like both a lot – together they are a good balance for me.

Who has inspired or encouraged you lately?
Within the yoga community, Seane Corn and her dedication to sacred activism, and Hala Khouri’s work with Trauma Informed yoga practices.

Beyond yoga, Brene Brown (everything she speaks of resonates), Teal Swan on forgiveness, Jean Shinola Bolen on awakening the Divine Feminine and Goddess archetypes, Marianne Williamson and  Bernie Saunders.

What’s the best yoga or meditation book you’ve read that really resonated with you? 
One book that does resonate with me is “Breath, The Essence Of Yoga – A Guide To Inner Stillness” by Sandra Sabatini. It is like yogic poetry and when I read it I am instantly transported to the feeling of doing yoga. It also has very fluid, graceful illustrations of yogic postures that inspire my practice and remind me of the lines of energy I can create in asana.

What do you love about your part of town? 
I live in Russell, a small, very beautiful town by the sea in the Bay of Islands. There is much to love, but possibly my favourite is walking Long Beach after I have dropped the kids to school in the mornings.

Thank you so much, Cushla!

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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