Featured Yogi: Brooke

Brooke Cowsill

Yoga Collective

Years teaching:
On and off for 18 but as a proper ‘job’ for 5

Years practicing:

Favourite yoga style:
Vinyasa/Power, Bikram/Hot and Kundalini

Where did you train to become a yoga teacher?
USA initially but constantly partaking in yoga trainings.

How did your teaching journey begin?
I worked as a Fitness and Personal Trainer at the YMCA and moved into Group Training. How I became a studio owner is a bit more exciting. I travelled to Mt Everest in 2018 but unfortunately had to be emergency helicoptered out with hypothermia and altitude sickness. It was at that point I decided I was going to fulfil my dream of becoming a studio owner. Initially I wanted to open one from scratch. However, I looked on Trade Me one day and saw that YogaTech (former name) was for sale. For me it was love at first sight … and it still is.

Is meditation part of your daily routine?
Six days/week. I tend to not differentiate between ‘yoga’ and ‘meditation’. I believe yoga is a form of moving meditation.

Best and hardest part of being a studio owner?
Best – teaching yoga as your ‘job’ (what’s not to love about that!).
Hardest – no days off and saying goodbye to teachers and yogis who are moving on.

Any yoga or wellness books you’d like to recommend?
Too many! I think it is our responsibility to be constantly researching and learning. I have enjoyed delving further into Accessible Yoga with Jivana Heyman and the AY crew the past year as yoga teachers.

My most recent read, which I THOROUGHLY enjoyed, is titled, Seva – The Memoirs of a Modern Day Yogi. It follows the life of Sistashree (Regina French), an African-American ‘army brat’, yogi and musician. This book is not a traditional Yoga book and very little is said about asanas. It’s a book about the gift of social awareness and the responsibility we have to each other.

Sistashree was born in the 1950’s. As a child, she grew up horrified and saddened by the U.S. policies on racism segregation and discrimination. Seva shows how the fusion of yoga, civil rights and music reconstructed the shattered pieces of her heart and soul. It follows her life’s work: teaching yoga to AIDS patients in hospices, women in halfway houses, senior citizens and children in the inner-city schools of California, New York, Boston and India.

What changes (if any) would you like to see within the yoga and wellness community?
I would like it to be more diverse and accessible/welcoming to people of colour and those with financial struggles.

What do you hope your students take away from your classes?
A smile! My classes are always lighthearted. One of the best compliments I have had is, “I tried a different class because it was an easier time for me to get to, but I came back to yours for the entertainment.”

What’s one thing you do on a less than awesome day to stay positive?
Unfortunately there have been quite a few less than awesome days the past 18 months with COVID-19 and lockdowns. I simply allow myself the permission to ride the wave of emotions. I do a lot of my best work when I feel ‘pushed into a corner’, so I don’t always see bad days as a negative.

What do you love about your part of NZ?
Parnell, Auckland, is a wonderful place to experience quite a polarising view of society. On one side we have a mecca for the well-to-do and on the other we see people without homes and struggling in society.

Somewhat recently I had a lovely conversation with a man who was down on his luck (homeless, jobless and suffering a mental illness). In just a few minutes of talking he explained to me veganism, mental health, unemployment and gratitude. Here is a snippet of what I learnt:

“Thank you. I may not do yoga but I am vegan so we are one of the same. I have been trying to get a job for a year but no one understands my mental health. I used to eat junk food all the time and I was constantly depressed. Becoming a vegan has changed me. I may look scruffy on the outside but my insides are now healthy.”

It is these sorts of conversations that need to be had more often.

Thank you so much for sharing, Brooke!

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 2021