An interview with Yvonne O’Garro

Curiosity, relaxation, courage, community, inclusivity and balance: six key words that provide a foundation for the life and yoga practice of Yogamatters Community Leader Yvonne O’Garro, and a framework for this inspiring interview. Some of you will already know and love her from the Yogamatters online community classes and will appreciate this opportunity to know her better. As for the rest of you, you’re in for a real treat.

Curiosity

“Next week, I’ll try yoga for a laugh.”

This is where it all began. One Sunday afternoon back in 2006, while doing her regular routine of machines and free weights, Yvonne O’Garro decided to try yoga for a laugh. She’d never intended to do a yoga class, but she’d witnessed the same people following the same instructor into the same room week after week and she was intrigued. Curiosity got the better of her. As she reflects now, she can see it was the community that draw her to it, the same people going in each week. 

In that yoga class that first week, everything changed for Yvonne as she explains, “When I went into Child’s pose, coming in for a laugh was gone. Something in that posture made me switch to ‘Oh, this is not what I expected. Oh, what’s happening here?’” At that moment. Yvonne started paying attention. Every week she went back and then started other local classes, connecting with the practice, feeling calmer and more at ease with herself. Her curiosity led her to triyoga, Primrose Hill in 2007, where she happened upon Anna Ashby, who became her teacher. For Yvonne, there was something special about Anna – “She explains things with a depth of knowledge with no arrogance” – and she soon connected with Anna’s style and her honour for the roots of yoga. 

One week after class, Yvonne noticed some people weren’t leaving and again her curiosity was ignited with the question “What’s this that she’s saying get all these props for?”  So she stayed and in this restorative yoga class, she couldn’t quite believe all these purple (her favourite colour) props with little coloured Yogamatters labels – her first connection to Yogamatters as the brand that “has given me all this rest”. She came out of this grounding, calming, deeply relaxing practice feeling like she was floating… 

Relaxation

It sounds appealing, doesn’t it? And yet how many of us often see rest and relaxation as a luxury and an indulgence, that we never have time for and never make a priority of? Yvonne sees her role as a restorative yoga teacher as a privilege, as she helps people to understand that you can function better and be more productive if you have regular pauses. It’s in the name ‘restorative’, she points out. Restorative yoga restores the body.

“Even before the pandemic, society was always ‘on’. We’re conditioned to be ‘on, on, on’, ‘do, do, do’, ‘go, go, go’. I feel privileged to help people deal with all the different emotions that arise from the pandemic.”

Courage 

“I would rather try, than wonder what if.”

As Yvonne turned 50, she took the decision to leave a long career in retail and HR to dedicate her life full time to yoga. It was not an easy decision to shift careers and she thought long and hard about it. It was her yoga practice that gave her the space and the clarity to make the decision to move. Her P45 is dated 10th March 2020  – and we all know what happened the week after. Having organised a timetable of in person yoga classes, all the gyms and studios closed. As the news of cancellations came in, Yvonne sat there and cried. Thankfully, because of Zoom, the yoga world was able to shift onto Zoom and deep friendships led Yvonne to Yogamatters MD Twanna Doherty and to this platform to share her love of yoga. 

No what ifs, no wondering.

Community 

The Yogamatters online community classes have been an absolute delight for Yvonne, proving time and time again that yoga is truly for everybody. She considers it an honour to represent this established brand providing offerings and spaces for everyone for free, wherever you are in the world and to be able to feature guest teachers on and guest studios.

“That 15 minute Q&A after the practice makes this class extra special,” she enthuses, “and it’s so wonderful that people can come together with that common connection of the yoga. It does really warm my heart that every week, people are there.”

That’s the beauty of connection.

Inclusivity 

Many of the teachers that Yvonne invited for the Yogamatters community classes were teachers of colour, did you notice that? She remarks that the yoga world is still not always as inclusive as she would like, although there are steps being made. She doesn’t want to discuss it, more to allow the classes to speak for themselves.

When asked about inclusivity, this is her response: 

“All I would ask is for people to remember what they said they would do after George Floyd was killed. Have you done it? Because it’s ongoing. Buy and read – or even better listen to – ‘The Good Ally’ by Nova Reid. The more people get comfortable with the uncomfortable and are aware and are choosing to make that step – slowly, slowly, that’s how the difference is made.”

Balance 

Balance, alignment, grounding, comfort, nurture…many other words are rising to the surface as we speak, but Yvonne brings us back to one of Patanjali’s sutras that she’s really influenced by in her teaching and practice.

“Your posture should be steady and comfortable.” Patanjali

‘Find your comfort’. ‘Your practice is your practice’. ‘The other mats are not your concern.’

Yvonne’s regular students will recognise these prompts as invitations to be themselves, be at ease in their own space, find their expression of the pose. Yvonne elaborates, “If I’m not comfortable, I’m not going to be balanced, because my mind is going to be coming away from where I’m meant to be. You don’t have to worry about looking different because you are an individual. This is why Mr Iyengar created the props – so you take a brick and you find your comfort.”

Through a slow, grounded practice, Yvonne takes her nurturing role of granting people permission/licence to be themselves very seriously. It’s what we all long to hear. For her, the practice is the bedrock of her life, a foundation, something to come back to and regroup and reground after a long day or a difficult experience. She wishes that for every student and member of the online community and will do all that she can to create that space for each one of us.

Final thoughts as we look forward to 2022…?

“I’m not sure what the new year will hold, but I love the journey and I’ll carry on sharing the practice.”

One thing is for sure, Yvonne is deeply excited that her teacher Anna Ashby is doing the final Yogamatters Community Class of the year. She sees it as a beautiful circle to have Anna closing this series and is certain that her sharing her offering with the Yogamatters community will be really special. 

Why not join Yvonne O’Garro and Anna Ashby for this free online community class on 21st December – to book click here.

The post An interview with Yvonne O’Garro appeared first on Yogamatters Blog.

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