10 QUESTIONS WITH TERESA MURPHY, OF YOGA SACRED SPACE
1. What led you to practice yoga?
My first class was when I was 14 years old, I got the feeling then. Then many years later, it was Valentine's Day in New York. I was a flower event designer, I was busy with celebrity clientele, Madonna was a client for ten years. Business was booming and I absolutely loved working but I injured my back and the New York lifestyle was getting too much. I found myself walking down 24th street that day and noticed a sign for sivananda yoga meditation. For some unknown reason I went in, saw a pile of shoes and a room of people sitting in silence. No one said anything so I just sat down and ended up staying all afternoon. I went home that evening to my flatmates and they said 'Where have you been, you look amazing!' It was the first time I felt peaceful in a while and the natural essence of it obviously was shining through.
2. Why did you decide to teach?
I got married and had a daughter in New York, Twiggy, and I suddenly wanted to go home. I also found out around that time that I was suffering from a serious illness. So I came back here in 1999 with my family and my flower business. We settled in Wicklow town and there was no yoga there! My dear friend Emma Stafford of Emma Power Yoga said 'come to do yoga with me'. I fell in love with Vinyasa Flow. Because of all the change and the illness and the relief and awesome sensations I got from yoga, I woke up one morning and said 'I have to go to India'. I had two children, one a baby at the time!
3. What was training in India like?
It was the year of the tsunami and my friends were like 'Are you still going to go?!' I was. So I spent two months in an ashram there training. It reminded me of that place I'd come across on Valentine's Day in New York. It was 400 miles from Mumbai and built at the base of these mountains. I shared a room with a Canadian girl and had a scratchy blanket on my bed! Yoga was so different there. They have such a different tradition to us. The west are obsessed with the physical body, youth and beauty. The east are obsessed with spirituality, the divine feminine and accessing the inner beauty. I was away from my two young children so it was hard, usually you're not allowed contact with the outside world in an ashram but they allowed me to ring home to check up on them all!
4. What was the best experience while there?
I was hiking across the mountains with Marlene, my roommate at the ashram. In the distance we saw a farmer smoking a cigarette. He is taking a break from digging the ground next to his wife. His wife is in full sari - kurti, saree, bindi, dress hiked up as she dug. We went over to him and chatted while he smoked his beedi. Suddenly his beautiful wife came over and lifts up my arm and puts bracelets on it. She said in Hindi (my Canadian roommate could translate!) that you should always look beautiful. Her way of saying that feminine beauty should be expressed in every single way. Even when digging! That's why the poor wear beautiful colours. Honouring themselves at all times.
5. Did you bring these learning home?
Well the day I came back my father died. And then my mother died three months later. I was the mother of two young girls and I suddenly needed a way to present the world to my children as my world had fallen apart. I suddenly turned to what I had learnt in India. The Indians look at death very different to us. They have a very striped down, raw, honest look at everything dark. The Indian yoga way is they embrace all parts of life, they don't hide it away. They don't say 'Sush, don't tell the children'. Disfigured people in the streets, bodies in gutters, bodies floating by you in the river! India doesn't hide from death - the colours, smells...it's extreme. I decided I would be very open with the children. We talked about it. I felt I dealt with my parents deaths well after that.
6. Has yoga touched your children's lives?
I watch my girls and I encourage movement but I don't force yoga on them. Girls have such a hard time these days. Indians feel sorry for us. We're obsessed with our bodies and material stuff. I'm interested in teaching my girls to be kind to themselves, their bodies, cultivate loving kindness and awareness of the body. But mostly try to cultivate loving kindness in them towards the world and care for others. Yoga is there for them in life when it's their time to practise it. My 18 year old is a vegetarian by choice since age of 6 years.
7. What's your connection with The Dalai Lama?
I was lucky to spend a few days in his presence in New York in 1999. He doesn't have much English but his presence radiates peace, humility and simplicity. He said 'I'm not here to convert you, if you're Christian, stay Christian. All I want to do is teach kindness'. I felt those days were the turning point in my life and my spiritual path. As you can see I have a few quotes of his in and around the studio. 'What is love? Love is the absence of judgement'...Sogyal Rinpoche, author of 'The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying' inspired a temple in Co Cork called Dzogchen Beara. The Dalai goes there once a year. He's often seen in Limerick bombing around in a Fiat Punto! Maybe we'll meet again.
8. Tell us about someone who really changed your life?
The Dalai Lama :) but my yogis changed my life everyday. Im so grateful for my yoga community, they support me, uplift me daily as I teach them I receive so much for this is transformational life changing daily.
9. What's unique about you as a teacher?
Well it's my experience. No one else has my journey...I'm interested in people and I see a great sense of loneliness in this day and age. I love to help people connect to themselves through breath, body and movement and tech them to get intimate with themselves so the no longer leave class lonely. Instead they feel safe, warm and peaceful...Oh and there's my music! People might know me for my music. Last night I played Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. I play the music loud a certain points. Whatever song is resonating with my life you often hear it played in class. 'Stairway to Heaven' has been played on repeat recently ;) ...I teach my classes based on my daily experiences in my life, I teach the technology of yoga, the science of yoga, the technology for life, tools and skills, as my contribution to humanity. To raise the vibrations in my own simple way and it works both ways, luckily for me!
10. What's next for you?
I'm in the flow of my yoga life. I developed www.yogasacredireland.com, you could say it was the first online yoga classes from out of Ireland, blending celtic wisdom with yogic spirituality, the common bond being nature. I also train people to become teachers of yoga, it's my passion. I love teacher training and teaching at this level to those who are deeply interested, it keeps me expanding. I love to continually teach retreats/workshops to help people heal, shed the layers and go into the depths of themselves to see their beauty, the riches inside. It's endless. It's a life long endless flow ever changing ever evolving journey adventure.
More about Teresa:
Teresa Murphy has been a yogi most of her life without even knowing it! From the first class at 14, yoga became a predominant part of her life. Following a serious illness and a back injury, Teresa committed wholeheartedly to the practice of yoga over 15 years ago, and decided to go to an Ashram in India to obtain her teacher training qualification from the Masters of Yoga at the Yoga Vidya Dham Gurukul Nasik (Yoga University), India. There, she immersed herself in the discipline of yoga and its philosophy and continues that journey to this day. Teresa believes it is the duty of a yoga teacher to actively participate in upgrading and refining her own skills and deepening her practice and by so doing, this benefits her students and those in her Yoga Sacred Space Yoga Teacher Training Program. Therefore, over the years Teresa has returned to Mysore, India, to study with the renowned Pattabi Jois, among other noted teachers, to further her practice and teaching skills