11 May Meet the practitioner: Yoga therapist Theresa Venz (Perth WA)
Location: Wembley in Perth Western Australia
Yoga therapy and pain-friendly yin classes
Theresa, you started out as an anthropologist. How did you come to teach yoga?
Yoga has helped me through some pretty difficult times, and the peace I found on the yoga mat led me to become a teacher and share this with others.
Is there a yoga teacher who has particularly influenced your teaching?
I have a soft spot for B.K.S. Iyengar, because he introduced props into yoga. This meant anyone could practice the postures, no matter their physical condition. I’m not an Iyengar teacher, but practiced for many years with teachers who are, and have seen how bolsters, blankets, blocks and straps can make yoga more accessible for people with injuries and illness.
BKS Iyengar was actually very ill as a child, and very weak as a result. He learned yoga from his brother in law, T. Krishnamacharya, and over many years his strength and stamina built, he became one of the most influential teachers of the 20th century and lived to the ripe old age of 95.
A real testament to the healing power of yoga.
How can yoga help with pain?
As Shri T Krishnamacharya says, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga”.
Breathing efficiently, with awareness, benefits your nervous system and may even start to change your experience of pain.
The pain may not go away, but you can learn how to cope with it better.
Did Yoga for Pain Practitioner Training change the way you teach yoga for people with pain?
I learned the importance of inquiry, really unpacking what someone says and trying to understand their experience rather than assuming I know.
If someone says they are in pain, really understanding what this means for them, or if they say they are OK in a posture but have a grimace, taking time to try to make them more comfortable.
What can we expect in your classes?
I really enjoy teaching people how to slow down, relax and tune in to their breath and bodies. Our society is so fast paced, it’s important to take time out to nurture ourselves. My favourite part of the class is at the end when students come out of relaxation with a sleepy look about them!
What difference do you want to make in your community?
I want to teach people yoga to help them cope with life’s challenges. Yoga has so much to offer those who suffer from physical and emotional pain.
Yoga is a resource to draw on, no matter what is happening in your life, not something you just do when you feel good with nothing better to do.
Where can we find you?
I teach a pain-friendly yin class on Tuesday mornings in Wembley Downs. It’s a slower classes with props, and plenty of time to get you settled comfortably in each posture. I also teach at the Cancer Council in Shenton Park during school terms.
What advice would you offer people with pain who want to start yoga?
Start small and simply, and begin where you are.
How do we get in touch with you?
0402 676 329 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Theresa is an accredited level 1 teacher with Yoga Australia and accredited Yoga Therapist with the Australasian Association of Yoga Therapists. She has been practicing yoga for over 20 years and teaching for 5 years.