Featured Teacher: Felisa
Based in Singapore, a true nature lover and ardent fan of Japanese culture, Felisa has been teaching for 7 years but acknowledges she is still learning every day. One of her greatest inspirations is the creative teachings, music and moving meditation of Shiva Rea. She has always been physically active and loves that yoga enhances mental focus as well.
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Calgary, Canada, and consider Vancouver home now.
How long have you been teaching?
I am in my seventh year of teaching.
Who was your very first yoga teacher and what was he/she like?
My first yoga teacher was a lovely lady in her 60s who taught at my university in Edmonton. My first Indian teacher was Bikram Choudry - a passionate, energetic, attention pulling man from Calcutta who has made a career of teaching teachers in Hollywood, California.
How long have you been practising?
I was drawn to yoga first because it attracted other people interested in alternative lifestyles. Like vegetarian, bike-riding, animal loving, gentle sorts of people. I later found Bikram yoga very engaging physically and enjoyed what it did for my health.
What motivates you to practise today?
I am motivated to practise today because it feels great. The more I practise the more energy I have, and I love that.
How would you describe your personal practice?
My personal practice is varied. I enjoy exploring the ideas of other teachers, and I love movement. I am inspired by Shiva Rea's creative ways of teaching and by her music. I love moving meditation and find still meditations very difficult.
Before you became a yoga teacher, what did you do?
Before teaching yoga I figure-skated for about 12 years. I raised and trained horses and got a degree in Psychology in Edmonton where winter temperatures can dip below -40°C. I became a travel agent for 7 fun years before opening a yoga studio in Vancouver.
What do you love about teaching?
What I love most about teaching is watching people transform, become healthy, and build confidence in themselves. I practised counselling for several years and found myself frustrated with what I thought was such hard work and slow progress. Teaching a class gives energy to the teachers as well as the students, the work can be fun, and the results are easy to see, and come reasonably quickly.
What do you find challenging about teaching?
I find it difficult sometimes to stay in touch with how a beginner feels in practice. I need to keep working on this to be able to give instructions well. I also find working with moms and babies chaotic - at the same time I love it!
Describe your ideal class (as a teacher).
My ideal class is focused, nurturing and challenging, and has a family feel to it.... meaning a variety of ages and abilities.
Describe a class that you would find challenging or difficult (as a teacher).
A challenging class might be one where attention to the practice is lost or not focused.
What teacher has had the biggest impact on your practice?
What is your most embarrassing moment in the studio (as a teacher or student)?
There have been many embarrassing moments. From students knocking loudly on our locked studio door and yelling to come in late. My friend picked me up in floor bow one class, my grip slipped and I crashed, embarrassed because I felt we were both showing off a little. Once I had to leave a 90-min hot class because I was giddy.... for those who understand giddyness in hot classes..... I was only teaching! The students were understandably confused when I said I had to get some air and would be right back.
Where is the strangest place you've practised yoga?
I tried practising on a cruise ship. There is no possibility of balancing work. I do not recommend yoga cruises if they are asana-based.
Aside from yoga, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
I like Japanese art and design, visiting onsen, or hotsprings, and spending time in nature.
Describe your most profound yoga experience.
My most profound yoga experience was a workshop with Shiva Rea - in the mountains near Whistler, 7 hours of yoga a day in various forms. I have also had many memorable moments practising alone or in groups where something moved well, or energy flowed in a beautiful way.
If you weren't a yoga teacher, what would you be?
If not teaching yoga I would perhaps practise ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), or run a beautiful lodge, or rescue whales on a Greenpeace boat, or invent something... there are so many wonderful things one could do.