Johanne starting coming to classes online during lockdown, and has been a regular mysore student ever since. She arrived with an already accomplished practice, almost entirely self taught with the help of YouTube! Having recently completed a teacher training course she now joins us at the studio to teach a level 1 class on Monday evenings and the Beginners’ follow up course on Saturdays.

Here she is chatting to me about her yoga journey so far…

Johanne Porter, yoga teacherHi Johanne! Tell us a bit about you

Where are you from, where did you grow up?

So I live in Inverkip, in Inverclyde. I grew up in Gourock which is just next to it,  then moved to Fife, stayed there through high school and then I moved back!

How long have you been practising yoga?

For 5 years – I started in 2017. I started off doing some different types of yoga on YouTube and through that found Kino McGregor’s Ashtanga videos a few months in. I remember at first seeing it and thinking “ Oh no, that looks really hard I’m not going to do that!” but it drew me in, and it kept drawing me in until I eventually moved away from the other types of yoga..

What was it that drew you to yoga in the first place?

Well, I used to do a lot of HIT workouts like Insanity , Kettle Bells things like that, then one day I couldn’t really be bothered doing them so thought I would try a nice wee yoga class online  – I looked on YouTube and found the ‘Boho Beautiful’ channel. I really enjoyed the classes so I kept it up.. but it was only 20 minute classes and after a while I decided I wanted something longer, more challenging,  so that’s when I found ashtanga – I followed Kino McGregor’s course on Omstars  – it built up from the standing sequence, to half primary to full primary with tutorials all the way through, so that was my introduction to ashtanga..then I started following various other ashtanga teachers until I eventually found you and started coming to your classes!

And you stopped doing kettle bells?

I stopped doing Kettle Bells and Insanity, ha ha  yes.. I did actually try and do all of it together, to keep everything going at first, but I eventually realised that I couldn’t keep all that up and I wanted to dedicate more time to yoga. Especially if I wanted to make progress with the yoga I knew I just needed to dedicate a wee bit more time to it

What did you like about it?

I liked that it was a strong practice, that there were all these things to work on, there were goals.

What’s your favourite part of the sequence?

I quite like that middle part of the primary series – Bhujapidasana, Kurmasana, Supta Kurmasana – those are really tricky postures.  It was definitely a challenge to learn them so I think I maybe enjoy it now because I’ve made progress with it and overcome the challenges – at the beginning it was really hard .. but I enjoyed trying every day regardless.

What have you found the hardest?

Backbending! backbending is the hardest for me. I’m not very open in the front body, so it’s been a work in progress ( still is!) trying to build a deeper backbend.

Are you quite a disciplined person ? Because you really do get up every single day to practice don’t you ?

Yeah.. I like the routine..  getting up at the same time, doing my practice. I mean it definitely takes discipline.. I could stay in my bed every morning when my alarm goes off, for sure, but something always makes me get up.

What benefits have you felt from having kept up a disciplined practice over the years? What difference has it made to your life?

For a start I think my breathing has changed, my breathing’s got better. It helps me feel calm in different situations.  I’ve definitely noticed in situations in every day life you can use your breath to calm yourself down and I think that comes from the practice, whereas before I would have got myself all panicked and agitated in certain situations now I can tap into my breath and stay calm.

I think your body stays strong with ashtanga.. even within your practice you notice yourself slowly building the strength as you move through the postures, with the daily practice..

So you feel healthier? Stronger and healthier?

Yeah! Both physically and mentally. And then you start thinking about your food choices and life choices and everything as well so..

Ah! Has that changed since you’ve been practising?

Well I suppose I’ve always tried to have a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables..but I’ve maybe thought about it more since I’ve started ashtanga because you notice if you’ve eaten something not quite so healthy the night before  – you notice that in your practice the next day… you feel heavy, sluggish, more tired – whereas if you eaten healthy with lots of fruit and veg the day before you feel much lighter, stronger, more energetic….the food you eat definitely impacts your practice so it drives you to eat healthily.  Likewise you start going to bed earlier too in order to get a good night’s rest to get up early for practice!

You’ve recently completed your teacher training  – what impact did that have on your practice?

Yes the yoga teacher training ( with Jo at Yogajo’s ) was an amazing experience, I gained so much from it.  I particularly liked delving deeper into yoga philosophy, and the meditation and breathing practices.. I think because the physical practice is strong, I really appreciate all aspects of yoga ‘beyond the asanas’ now, the opportunity to be quiet, and still… I originally enrolled on the training to deepen my knowledge and understanding for my own personal practice, but the course was quite transformational, and having equipped me with practical teaching skills I’m now inspired and excited to be able to share my passion with others!

Are you looking forward to teaching at Ashtanga Yoga Glasgow? What should students expect when coming to your class?

Yeah I’m really excited to start teaching, I can’t wait!! I  just want to help other people learn what I’ve learnt, and practise what I’ve practised!  And I would want everyone to feel welcome regardless of where they are in their practice, I would want everyone to feel welcome, safe, that they can do the practice without judgement or expectations – just you know, come in and have fun with it and build their own practice in a safe environment.

Johanne teaches Ashtanga Level 1 on Mondays 6.15 – 7.15pm, and Beginners Plus 4 week course Sat 10.15 – 11.15am starting Nov 12th



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