When did you first start to practise yoga?
I started when I was 18 years old! My father was practising yoga and I was always watching him. When I moved out I became curious about yoga and started practising from a book. In this period of my life I was studying arts and painting and my body was asking for some stretching after hours and hours of sitting or standing in the same positions.
What inspired you most when you first started to practise yoga?
The most inspiring was the sensation that I felt when I practised, discovering parts of the body that I didn’t even know exist. During this time I was very anxious, and I realised the breathing helped me a lot.
Was there a sudden point when you realised you wanted to be a teacher or did it happen gradually?
I was practising yoga on the beach and my friends were joining me so I showed them some asanas. We started to do this regularly and the group was getting bigger so I decided to do a teachers training course.
What has been your biggest challenge with your yoga practice?
What are some of your favourite yoga experiences/memories?
There are so many. I am learning every time I practise yoga. This is why yoga never becomes boring.
Who has been your most inspiring teacher?
The first inspiring teacher was Swami Durgananda. She is an old lady with a lot of wisdom. She was guiding me into the spiritual world of yoga.
Do you have a favourite pose or type of pose?
Every pose is nice. Actually you should work on the ones you don’t like so much. Every period of your life you body is asking for different postures and movements. Actually I am really into postures that are training your inner muscles, tiny movements to come into a certain pose. I am very interested in the way you come in and out of a pose. I think that everybody practising yoga should put a mark on this.
What inspired you to move from hatha to vinyasa?
After 15 years of modifying the sivananda hatha yoga class every time a little bit more, I was searching for more details and how to proceed. And I was not satisfied with the ‘belly breathing’ anymore. So I found the ashtanga way of holding the bandhas and the thoracic breath is a better way to train your inner muscles and stability. The ashtanga yoga practice has the same long tradition in India as the sivanada yoga.
You are very involved in yoga for surfers and have recently collaborated on a book covering the subject. How does yoga help surfers?
If you are surfing a lot you are very likely to do harm to your body because you are putting a lot of tension on your neck and back and sometimes you are sitting for hours in cold water and wind. Surfers need to strengthen their abdomen muscles and stretch their back muscles because they have a misbalance between back and core! Nearly all the yoga exercises help to improve your surfing. A lot of famous surfers practise yoga regularly.
What is the most important lesson that yoga has taught you?
Stay calm and focused in a relaxed way, love yourself and love the world you are living in.
You are running a special vinyasa flow retreat week at Villa Azul from 17 – 24 March. What can people expect?
I want to share my passion with my students and I want each student to feel a big difference after the workshop, not only in their yoga technique but also in their attitude towards the whole theme. And I want to laugh with my students! Laughing is a way of letting go of tension and blockages.
What’s next for you and your practice?
Teaching in different places, with different kinds of people, doing a lot of workshops and so on. My own practice is always in transformation. I am excited about what’s going to happen next.
Annie teaches for Azul in our Corralejo Yoga & Pilates studio, Fuerteventura and is running a special vinyasa flow retreat at Villa Azul, 17 – 24 March.