This is my love story with a unique and intuitive way to use the body and breath!
I don’t remember the exact moment when I started practising Vanda Scaravelli-inspired yoga. This intuitive and effortless approach just appeared in my life, challenging my more dogmatic Ashtanga and Vinyasa daily yoga practice.
I remember hearing about Vanda’s approach during my teacher training years ago. I was intrigued but didn’t have much information to go on. There were hardly any books illustrating her method, and no schools advertised that they taught her style. Later I came to understand that she didn’t want her practice being taught in training and schools. She preferred to pass on the knowledge traditionally, from teacher to student! She invited a select few to share her discoveries, expertise, and wisdom privately in her home in Italy with no yoga studio and fuss.
My teacher Sandra Sabatini, one of her rare direct students, told me that Vanda was very reluctant to teach anyone her yoga at the beginning. Through decades in Italy, she taught only a handful of keen lucky students who followed and worked with her for many years. Later, those students quietly spread her unconventional ways of teaching yoga to the world and to a new generation of teachers!
I continued searching for more Vanda-inspired practice; hard as it was in London, I eventually found John Stirk, who changed my practice and offered me a taste of Vanda’s work. I fell in love with this way of exploring the body, the breath and the mind liberated from the traditional yoga rules and demands. It was like being reborn and finding something that genuinely resonated in my bones.
Over the years, I’ve continued to explore Vanda’s philosophy by studying privately with Su Sareen and Sandra Sabatini, who gave me different tastes of her legacy – Sandra is still my mentor nowadays.
The other day after one of my classes dedicated to Vanda’s yoga, one of my students sent me a message articulating how they felt in response to her philosophy. “This practice is like coming home – it is beautiful, it really is. It feels so right; it was a long time coming, and I feel so welcomed”.
This heartfelt feedback summarises the way Vanda’s work questions and makes us rethink our usual yoga practice. We don’t need a ton of paraphernalia; we need to go back to our roots. Simplicity, spontaneity, humility, and honesty when we practice. This can be challenging work because we have been conditioned by ‘yoga methods’, which do not usually allow freedom and intuitive intelligence in our movements and bodies. Coming into Vanda-inspired practice allowed me to cleanse and simplify my practice to the minimum and start again, hence my feeling of being reborn!
The key to Vanda Scaravelli’s style is to learn to do less and to feel more.
Letting go and releasing tension are crucial in her work so we can feel and notice a deeply felt sense of freedom and space in the body. This is only possible using the essential tools of gravity and breath. When used with intelligence and patience, there is a deep sense of groundedness and a strong connection with our feet, unleashing an authentic movement in the body and freedom in the spine that Vanda called the ‘wave’.
This way of practice can be relaxing on a cellular level and teaches us how to soften our bodily and mental tension without fighting it. The most powerful thing about this approach is that we can immerse ourselves in our sensory experiences, pay attention and discover something new each time we step into our practice. The excitement is genuine every time – a lot of inspirational Aha! moments are guaranteed!
Vanda Scaravelli-inspired yoga is becoming increasingly popular because of the universal need to slow down, fight the effects of stress and become more resilient. It is a soft, gentle yet unmistakably challenging practice which asks us to develop a particular type of concentration that becomes more accessible with time and dedication.
It is excellent for anyone with health issues who is setting out to plan their healing journey. Because of the slow pace and the gentle physical exercises, the body and the mind have the time to utilise, absorb and understand the practice and invite changes and recovery.
This is yoga accessible to all!
New online class:
Although her legacy is infiltrated into all my classes and events, from July 2022, I have dedicated a weekly special online morning class to explore and experience her work:
Every Thursday morning at 7:00 am – Scaravelli Yoga – online class
“When the abandonment to gravity comes into action, resistance ceases, fear vanishes, the order is regained, nature starts again to function in its natural rhythm, and the body is able to blossom fully, allowing the river of life to flow freely through all its parts.” – Vanda Scaravelli.
If you like to read more about Vanda Scaravelli – she is on Wikipedia!
Thank you, Vanda, for giving us this gift, and I like to thank all my teachers, John, Sandra, and Sue to show me the way into this marvellous way to embrace yoga. I am ever so grateful!