Featured Yogi: Raquel

Raquel Minh

Kanuka Yoga Space

Years teaching:
1.5 years

Years practicing:
10 years

Favourite yoga style:
Trauma-informed, vinyasa-influenced dynamic flow – I love how we’re blending the traditional yogic philosophies and modern intelligence to be more inclusive of where people are in their personal journey in today’s real world.

I also enjoy connecting through acroyoga – and especially love Jane’s acroyoga updates!

What do you remember about your own very first yoga class?
Oh wow… My first yoga classes were in Washington, DC with Faith Hunter, a beautiful black American woman who owned a studio in a really culturally diverse part of the city. I went to one of my first classes, literally, right after a boyfriend broke up with me on the street. Even after that heartbreaking moment, I still committed to going to the vinyasa yoga class. In retrospect, the breath and movement gave me a tool to find some peace through the heartache… but I also remember laying there in savasana with tears streaming down my eyes. Although I’ve moved on from that relationship, little did I know then that yoga would continue to bring healing and empowerment to my life.

What has been the biggest challenge in running your own yoga studio?
I’m lucky to have a co-creater and teacher, Stu Larsen, supporting my vision for Kanuka Yoga Space. He’s the man-behind-the-scenes that keeps the studio logistics and operations flowing smoothly while I work a corporate 9-5 gig alongside managing and teaching at the studio. We couldn’t run the studio without each other!

My biggest challenge at the moment is being at peace with balancing my corporate sales role in a software startup with teaching and sharing yoga. The measures of success for both are so different! However, I’m glad my corporate role reminds me of the perspective needed to run a yoga business and my yoga practice reminds me to find some peace in the havoc of a start-up environment.

Who would you love to train with that you haven’t yet?
I’ve had my eyes on Kara-Leah Grant’s tantra teachings for a while… I’m hoping to make it to one of her immersions or retreats sooner than later!
I’m also keen to keep diving into trauma-informed yoga training, perhaps with the Trauma Center for Trauma Sensitive Yoga.

Any yoga or meditation books you’d recommend?
I constantly refer to The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele.
The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker – this book has helped me think about how to shape classes, retreats, workshops, and festival events.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel A. Van Der Kolk is a must for anyone who wants to understand how trauma affects us.
I’m also making my way through Tantra Illuminated by Christopher Wallace… and suspect I will keep coming back to this book for the rest of my life.

What piece of advice do you always give new students?
Let go of what you think you should be doing, and allow yourself to feel into the shape in a way that works best for you, even despite what the teacher is doing or saying. Be kind to yourself, add props, pause, explore a different variation – make your practice yours.

What advice do you give your teachers?
Kanuka Yoga Space was created differently than most studios. When Stu and I opened our doors, we were students, not teachers. And we were lucky to select the teachers which we resonated with – those who had foundations of being trauma-informed and creating safe spaces.

There has never been a “head teacher” at our studio. We aim to create an environment without power dynamics, where all our teachers are empowered to teach with their own unique flavour. We share experiences openly across the team so it’s a collaborative effort.

How does yoga feature in your life off the mat?
The yamas and niyamas is the framework I use in my relationship with myself and others. I’ve found these principles to be incredibly grounding while I navigate polyamory and non-monogamy in my 30s. If that peeks your interest – you can read more here: https://www.nak-ed.co.nz/home/a-guide-to-navigating-non-monogamy-with-care-and-kindness or listen to my Authentic Connection podcast here: https://www.honeypotculture.nz/authentic-connection-podcast/raquel-minh

What’s your favourite after class snack?
I recently discovered Kombucha lollies… nom nom nom.

Share something people might be surprised to know about you:
I thought it was funny when some students who attended my acroyoga workshop at Splore, found me roaming around between dance floors with my LED lightwhip – boogie-ing up a storm. They offered me a drink, and then took it back because they assumed I might only have been interested in hot chai… I declined because I was already double-parked with gins in my party pack.

What do you love about your part of town?
I live in Hobsonville Point and the studio is in Hobsonville. There really is no community like Hobsonville Point – there’s a vibrant energy in the neighbourhood and I love being a part of it every time I walk my bulldog, grab a coffee at a local cafe, or LOL at the community Facebook memes and complaints.

Thank you so much, Raquel!

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