A Journey Into Excellence
Meet Paula, a.k.a. Parvati, a young woman who decided to listen to her calling and make yoga teaching her life’s career.
Parvati is a Sanskrit name and means ‘The Universal Mother and Great Goddess’ and that’s true for Paula who is moving into her greatness both personally and as someone who shares the profound teachings of yoga with others. She has completed her yoga teacher training course with the Himalayan Yoga Institute in April 2014 and has been teaching yoga in London ever since.
Embarking on the yoga journey at the tender age of 14, she shares her beginnings, her courageous decision to travel to India at the age of only 18 and to make yoga the central focus of her life.
When I was 13 I had an amazing teacher at school. She taught us world religion and was one of the most creative and inspiring teachers I have ever had. From all the years of education I have been lucky enough to receive, I think she taught me the most valuable lesson: Meditation. She used to guide us through relaxation at the end of class, and somehow got a class full of noisy 13 year olds to focus on mud slowly sifting down through a glass of water in total silence. Looking back, I think this was my first experience of yoga.
At the age of 14, I went to an asana class with my sister who at 16 was already a dedicated yogini. I did what I could, giggled in secret when the chanting began and found the experience amusing and intriguing. After that, I played a little with poses and copied my sister who sometimes taught me bits and pieces. At 17 my parents separated and I moved to a boarding school to finish high school. There happened to be a weekly yoga class running, and I never missed a class. The practice became a wonderful refuge to be with myself, to strengthen my body and to get glimpses of peace of mind. From here I became very dedicated to my practice and soon started developing a personal practice.
When I finished school at 18 I went to India on my own to take part in a volunteering programme and attended yoga classes in the small village I stayed in. It was a completely new experience, I remember the teacher being very serious and strict and not letting me do poses I thought I could do! After a month in the village I travelled around the country and found a yoga teacher in Kerala who I only practiced with a few times but whose classes I will never forget. He seemed so happy to sit in meditation for what felt like forever with an expression of complete calm on his face whilst I counted the moments till he said it was over!
Yoga and Capoeira – Happily Married Ever After!
After my trip to India, I started university in Bristol studying theatre and Spanish literature, and became a student of the beautiful Nicole Aarons of Soma Yoga. I have been practicing under her guidance for almost a decade, and no matter how near or far she is I can always feel her guidance! My years at university were mainly dedicated to the practice of Capoeira which I discovered there, and yoga. I think I spent more time training than in any lecture hall…
I spent summers in Brazil training capoeira and practicing yoga on beaches, and through studies and work went to live in Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, Tanzania and London. In some of these places there were no yoga teachers around and I developed a very strong personal practice because I had no choice! In a way it was wonderful to have that time to really explore yoga for myself.
The Difficult Task Of Choosing A Teacher Training Course (and how I found bliss)
Over the years, friends and teachers started encouraging me to start teaching. I started teaching friends informally in my early twenties and since then it has become clearer with every year that passes that my calling is to share yoga. When I am teaching yoga it feels like I am in the right place, doing the right thing and following my Dharma (calling). This felt very clear for a few years but I was unsure about the yoga teacher training options, I felt I really wanted something authentic, and I wanted an intensive course over a month so I could immerse myself in the practice. I was searching, but I didn’t click with the curriculums and trainings I was reading about online. I was never quite convinced about the trainings I saw.
When I came across the Himalayan Yoga Institute, I immediately connected with what I was reading. I loved that it was a school of yoga rather than a style of yoga, that would give me a broad and thorough base in not only asana but all of the other practices in yoga. I loved what Ganga had written on her website and I went for it. It was a gut instinct and I followed it. I spoke to Ganga on the phone and felt assured I had made the right decision.
So, almost 10 years after my first visit to India, I returned, this time to the Himalayas to spend one month in the still mountains learning from a master. Bliss!
I can’t describe the breadth of information that is passed on in the course, I just let myself be a sponge and soaked up as much as I could each day. The training went so far beyond my expectations in terms of yogic philosophy, biology and energetics and has given me a deep understanding to base my teaching on personal experience and traditional teachings.
The most challenging aspect of the training for me was the twice daily meditation which was difficult at first. However, as Ganga said – it takes 21 days to make (or break) a habit, and sure enough, regular meditation has become a really important part of my practice now. Ganga is an exceptional teacher and an inspiration, who I feel so lucky to be working with closely now. Having learnt from a classical approach, I now feel I can make informed choices and be creative in my approach to my practice and my teaching, and my classes are flowing, playful classes that explore diverse asanas and include pranayama, relaxation and meditation.
I am now setting myself up as a yoga teacher in London. I have weekly group classes, teach privately in homes and offices and whenever possible teach outdoors in parks, fields, beaches, heaths etc. I recently ran my first retreat and I am honoured to have been assisting Ganga on one of her teacher training courses last year in the beautiful Kullu Valley.
I am so grateful to be moving towards living a life where I feel I am following my calling and sharing the path of yoga with as many people as I can whilst continuing on my personal yoga journey with the support, love and encouragement of my teachers.
The Principal Teacher At The Himalayan Yoga Institute
Ganga Devi is a spiritual teacher and the founder/director of the Himalayan Yoga Institute. She has been practicing and teaching yoga and meditation for nearly 30 years and has been the prime disciple of a Himalayan yoga master, who passed away in 2009. As the successor of her teacher, a highly advanced yogi, she was given the task to continue his work and legacy at the ashram, which he had started in the 1990’s in a small, traditional village of Kullu Valley, tucked away in the Himalayan mountains of India. The Himalayan Yoga Institute is dedicated to the life and work of Ganga’s yoga master with the purpose of serving the many people who are flocking to the practices of yoga and meditation in order to find peace, health, fulfilment and a deep sense of joy. Read more…
We accept only a very small number of students per intake in order to provide maximum personalized attention. In India we accept a max. of 20 students while in Croatia we accept only 8 students.
What Our Students Are Saying:
“Ganga’s classes were excellent and her personalized feedback was very useful so that I know how to improve my teaching. The schedule was good for resetting my internal clock to a more conducive one.
Thank you so much for all of your kindness, love, energy, and wisdom that you imparted this month. It was an amazing experience with many positive physical and spiritual rewards! I know that there are many more to come as well.
I am excited to return home to be able to continue practicing, learning, and planning classes. Several of my friends and family are ready for the physical and emotional healing that yoga brings.
Thank you Ganga for a lovely month. You were a pleasure.”
Mechelle Sanders, Arkansol, USA (YTT Croatia, June 2015)
For further information about our yoga teacher training courses in India and Croatia email us:
or call: +44 7969157994