Name: Gitavali Devi Dasi
Studios: The Loft Yoga Lounge and for the Veda Club (Auckland Uni)
Years teaching: 7
Years practicing: 18 but more seriously 12
Favourite yoga style: Hatha flow

Do you have a favourite time of the day to practice?
Mornings when I have a chance, but I do enjoy an evening practice.

How would you briefly describe what Hatha means to someone who is new to yoga?
Hatha means “breath” so in Hatha yoga we focus on connecting the breath with our movements. It’s the connection between mind and body. Since our mind flickers at every moment, our breath is our tool to measure how present we can actually be. Listening to the sound of our breath is very soothing.

What does a regular yoga practice look like for you?
I usually start off with some grounding poses, warming up to sun salutations, then the warrior series, to standing, balancing poses, to core strengthening and hip openers, to back bends and finally floor poses and finish off with a generous savasana.

Do you meditate? If so, how long has it been part of your life?
Yes, I’ve been practicing mantra meditation for the last 12 years. The maha mantra for me is my shelter. I chant for the pleasure, for the peace of mind that it brings but more deeply, it’s a part of my lifestyle that I don’t want to ever give up.

What advice would you give a new student in your class?
Be gentle with yourself. Don’t compare yourself. Just be kind and accept the level where you are now and be open to change in the near future.

What mantra or affirmation resonates with you at the moment?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” I’m striving to practice and implement qualities that I want to see around me and in the world like compassion, kindness, empathy, and environmental mindfulness.

What’s one thing you do on a less than awesome day to stay positive?
I use my awesome essential oils in my aromatherapy diffuser. Scent is a powerful tool to uplift our spirits. I love Frankincense, Lavender, and Myrrh amongst many.

How has yoga changed your life?
As a young child I was diagnosed with scoliosis, a severe curvature of the spine. Not knowing anything about yoga at the age of 12 I had a major surgery with stainless steel rods inserted to straighten my spine. At the age of about 19, I started a regular practice with a teacher and I realised I wasn’t just a stiff skinny girl but I could move and feel great again. Now that I practice yoga a few times a week, I feel more supple, energetic and I definitely feel younger than I am, without pain, or stiffness. Yoga is a real gem in my life. It also really helped me while I was pregnant with my son and the delivery was pretty easy as I already knew how to stay relaxed and breath releasing tension. It was an incredible,
pain-free experience thanks to my yoga practice!

What do you hope for all your students to take away from a class with you?
Yoga is fun, enjoyable and it doesn’t have to be painful.

What do you love about your part of town?
I live in Otahuhu, 15min south of Auckland’s city center, where lots of different cultures and types of people coexist happily. Yoga is even coming here too!

Thank you so much, Gitavali!

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 2017