What is Scaravelli Inspired Yoga?
A beginners' guide
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.
Scaravelli inspired yoga 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.”
All photos of Vanda Scaravelli are with kind permission of Pinter & Martin, publishers of
“Awakening the Spine: Yoga for Health, Vitality and Energy”
Scaravelli Inspired Yoga
Releasing unnecessary tension - the importance of gravity
One of the most important revelations about Scaravelli inspired yoga comes with the discovery of release. Some of the most pleasant sensations we feel during yoga are the lightness and lift – the feeling of grounding and release that happens when we unravel the body and release unnecessary tensions. Vanda understood this, and focused much of her attention on simply using the positions to allow tension to fall away from the body, surrendering to the pull of gravity. Although this is an incredibly simple idea, the practice is more complex, bound up, as it is, in our body histories, the way we inhabit our bodies, the work we do, and the way we react to physical, emotional and psychological stimuli.
If we can follow her advice and at least begin to recognise where we hold on, we may begin to release tension away from the body, let go, and unravel established holding patterns. Once we set this process in motion, our structures will naturally begin to move with more ease and fluidity, as they did when we were children.
Suitability – postural and spinal issues
This Scaravelli inspired yoga approach is gentle, yet demanding. We work deeply, but with intelligence, so that the practice raises our awareness, helping us to make sustainable, healthy and nourishing choices, which will affect us and those closest to us, at all levels – physical, psychological and emotional. Scaravelli inspired yoga, is particularly helpful for those who are working with postural issues, lower back pain, stiff necks and shoulders and for those who are stressed, and need some space to learn how to deeply relax.
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.
Awakening the Spine: Yoga for Health, Vitality and Energy (Paperback)
B.K.S.Iyengar (forward), Vanda Scaravelli (Author)
This is a long awaited reprint of this classical work, revised by Vanda’s daughter and based on extensive notes left by the author enabling the book to be published for the first time as Vanda intended. Even if you have the first edition, it’s still worth investing in this one to see how Vanda’s ideas subtly changed. Superbly illustrated with iconic pictures of Vanda as well as inspiring photographs and images to set the tone. A book to treasure.