Yoga in the Garden
I love practicing Scaravelli inspired yoga outside in the garden, in the open air, listening to the birds squabbling and chattering. Whilst the garden looks peaceful and inviting, it has its distractions. The buses, for instance, which arrive and depart just beyond the walls in the street outside.
Sound can be distracting but it's also a great teacher.
I've found it helpful to treat noises like a piece of music I'm listening for the first time. Noticing the volume, tone, pitch and rythm and seeing if I can avoid labelling it as intrinsically pleasant or not.
Simply to notice it as sounds, passing across the screen of my practice.
And then there are my cats, who are a bit more challenging. If they're not climbing on/up me, they're demanding their share of the mat or food. Or a stroke. Or all of the above.
What is Scaravelli Inspired Yoga?
The style of yoga Catherine teaches has been inspired by the pioneering approach of Vanda Scaravelli. This is a gentle yet demanding form of Hatha yoga, which focuses on developing core strength through releasing tension and creating length in the spine.
Scaravelli inspired yoga is a stress-free yoga that benefits everyone. Classes are suitable for all ages and all levels, from beginners to those with many years of experience. Regardless of your level of fitness, you will discover a longer, stronger and more flexible spine, a calmer mind, and begin to enjoy increased energy and ease of movement.
It uses the breath and gravity to allow the spine to unfold like a wave, allowing the uninhibited opening and energising of the whole body. As Vanda explains in the opening page of her book “Awakening the Spine”:
“There is a division in the centre of our back, where the spine moves simultaneously in two opposite directions: from the waist down towards the legs and the feet, which are pulled by gravity, and from the waist upwards, through the top of the head, lifting us up freely”.
Vanda’s teachings are miraculously simple. She encouraged her students to do less, feel more. To unwind, release unnecessary tension, and begin to simply be. “You must only undo. The more you undo, the more you are and the more things come to you. Don’t try to become; you are.”
About Vanda Scaravelli
Vanda Scaravelli was born into an artistic, musical and intellectual family. Her father, Alberto Passigli was involved in creating the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino as well as the Orchestra Stabile. Her mother, Clara Corsi, was one of the first women graduates from an Italian university. Her early life was very much a musical one and many world class musicians such as Arturo Toscanini were frequent visitors to the family villa, Il Leccio.
Vanda Scaravelli was a concert standard pianist herself, and maintained her involvement in music throughout her life.
She married Luigi Scaravelli, a Professor of Philosophy, with whom she had two children. Tragically, Luigi died suddenly, shortly after World War II. It was around this time that she was introduced to BKS Iyengar by the violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Iyengar taught daily classes to Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom Scaravelli had known earlier in life through her father. Thus she took up yoga in her late 40s.
Some years later, Krishnamurti invited Desikachar to the Scaravelli’s Chalet Tannegg in Gstaad, where he taught them about the importance of the breath (pranayama), which became one of the principle themes in Vanda Scaravelli’s teaching. After this, Vanda Scaravelli continued to study with Iyengar and Desikachar for some years as she developed her approach towards the breath, gravity and the spine.