Sonja Appel: Founding Director (ERYT 500, YACEP, PPNCT, Mindfulness Educator)
Sonja started her journey in yoga 20 years ago with the late Shri K Pattabhi Jois from Mysore, learning the authentic Mysore self practice of Ashtanga - Vinyasa. From whom she has his blessing to teach. Sonja is certified by the 'British School of Yoga' in Hatha & Meditation & also certified as a 'Vibrant Living Teacher' in Hatha Flow and a pre + post natal, children + teens teacher with Santosha Yoga in Bali.
Having studied intensely, mainly in London, India and Bali she believes that 'living yoga' in its essence helps to impart her knowledge better and more succinctly.
Sonja started practicing yoga and mindfulness many years ago and has intensive years of experience teaching yoga. She is also registered with Yoga Alliance, E-RYT 500 and has taught over 60 000+ hours of Yoga & Teacher Training. Sonja has devised her own practise in yoga called ‘Sushumna Yoga' which is a carefully worked out vinyasa flow, meditation & pranayama, that encourages mindfulness and in the process, this helps to unleash all of our innate kundalini Shakti. The flow is spontaneous and she mixes up the asanas in interesting ways, with the help of inspiring music, always ending with a deep relaxing meditation (Yoga nidra). As in Ashtanga - drishti, bandhas, ujjayi breath, counting & vinyasa is always employed.
"I believe in an holistic approach to the study of yoga, giving people a well-rounded yoga education. I combine alignment techniques of the body, with breath techniques for calming and balancing the mind. I also use focus and visualization to balance the body and brain with chanting and music for inspiration and concentration. This helps to enhance Meditation (the ultimate reason for the practice of asana (postures). "My philosophy behind the practice of postures has to relate to a wider content including all the 8 limbs of a proper yoga practice."
Many do not understand the concept of yoga. Some think it is just physical exercise for health, some think it is a religion, and some think it is a psychological system. All this is based on a misunderstanding of yoga. Yoga is simply a relationship that harmonises our mind, body and souls. The word yoga originated from the root word in Sanskrit yuj, and also comes from the biblical word, yoke. Both mean joining together or to unite. Yoga is the union of an individual consciousness with Infinite Consciousness. A yogi or yogini is a person who leans completely on the Supreme Consciousness, God, or Universal Energy, until they have merged their individual self with the Infinite Self.
Yoga is a technology that expands one’s awareness. It begins with the reality that every human mind has both Infinite and Creative potential. However, this unlimited potential can be limited according to one’s level of awareness. Awareness varies and gives one a variety of choices. To break the unconscious limits one needs a technology.
This technology must expand the calibre and capacity of the mind to establish equilibrium, to control the physical structure and experience the Infinite Self. The techniques of Kundalini and Hatha Yoga; with its various off-shoots i.e. Ashtanga, Iyengar, Sushumna Yoga etc, create an owner’s manual for Human Consciousness. It explores your dimensions, depth, nature, and potential as a human. This is all that yoga means.
According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the classical text on yoga, ‘the purpose of yoga is to lead to a silence of the mind’ (1.2). This silence is the prerequisite for the mind to be able to accurately reflect objective reality without its own subjective distortions. Yoga does not create this reality, which is above the mind, but only prepares the mind to apprehend it, by assisting in the transformation of the mind, full of noise (like an army of frenzied and drunken monkeys) to a still, serene mind.
Sonja keeps up with a daily Mysore self-practice as taught to her by her late Guruji, Sri K Pattabhi Jois of Mysore and her own practice of Vinyasa Flow. Sonja's teachers are from all over the world and have greatly helped and influenced her, they are: Shri Pattabhi Jois, Sharat Rangaswamy, Saraswati Rangaswamy, Shri Sheshadri, Gabriella Pascoli, Cathy Louise Broda, Leela Miller, John Scott, Edward Clarke, David Swenson, Claire Best, Anna Ashby, Daniel Aaron, Simon Borg Olivier, Rolf & Marci Naujokat, Emil Wendel (yoga philosophy), Yat Malmgren (movement psychology), Mercia Hetherington (Ballet) and Imogen Claire (Ballet). She has a B.A. in Classical Theatre and Acting and an M.A. in Contemporary Dance.
Sonja comes from a professional performing arts background and has found yoga disciplines to be invaluable in balancing and maintaining calmness in her life. Sonja is a writer and has a certificate of Yoga Philosophy from Oxford University. Read her blog here
Sonja also conducts workshops in Mindfulness (adults, parents and children), Ashtanga, Sushumna Vinyasa Flow, Sushumna Restorative Yoga with gong healing, Mysore self-practice and Sushumna Pranayama & Meditation and opening of the chakras (energy centres).
Sonja does not believe in organised religion or the dogma that goes with it.