Lara Dwyer, yoga instructor, philosopher, comic and um…. really, really nice girl. At least that’s how I have come to think of her.
Attending one of Lara’s classes is not just a journey in downward dog, backbend, warrior pose or…. (my personal favourite)…. savasana. Lara always leaves me thinking about life. Her classes are not always conventional… you might laugh out loud, you might jive, you might ponder or think, or you might just do some yoga. Whichever way the class goes, Lara usually manages to bring a whole lot of positivity into your universe.
You did your teacher training with Laughing Lotus in NYC. Tell me about their philosophy and what made them so special
Laughing Lotus prides itself as a studio on strengthening community and providing a fun and safe space for people to move and ultimately be themselves.
The first impressions when you walk into the studio are immediately uplifting with brightly coloured graffiti walls covered in deity’s, friendly and welcoming front desk crew, the disco ball and glitter in the dance hall (main studio); it just feels like coming home.
I used to practice downtown at another studio and a friend said to me one day “you should come to Laughing Lotus with me, I think you’ll like it” – one class and I was hooked! The classes are filled with music, lightness and laughter, encouraging a playful environment to get out of your head and into your body! Dana Trixie Flynn (co creator of Laughing Lotus) and the teaching faculty are abundant with inspiration and creativity.
They all share Lotus Flow in their own passionate and unique way which makes up a very rich offering of 100+ classes per week to choose from. I chose to study with Lotus as they inspired me to fall in love with this practice of Yoga and teach and share it authentically. One of my teachers, Emily Stone, is coming out here in July for a workshop.
You say that ‘yoga is for everyone’. Expand on this for the benefit of our readers.
Yoga IS for everyone! There are so many styles of Yoga available at the buffet – it’s about choosing the right practice that resonates with you at this point of your life. You may be needing a practice that is more energised to get things moving or perhaps you are needing to move a little slower to nurture and restore. We have many teachers sharing many different offerings so “shop around” and find a practice that fills your cup. The main thing is that once you have found what makes your mind and body sing, keep showing up to the practice. Only with practice we find freedom in the movement.
You teach lotus flow. Tell our readers what they can expect from a lotus flow class.
Lotus Flow honours Yoga’s rich lineage while incorporating innovative sequencing, mindful alignment, breathing practice and meditation. The shapes are linked fluidly like a dance and we play music to celebrate this unique personal expression of movement. I also love to draw inspiration from the many wise teachings and teachers we are blessed with from all over the world as well as music, poetry and writings – there is inspiration everywhere!
How many hours of yoga have your practiced in your lifetime? Take a wild guess
Impossible to recollect! I’ve practiced Yoga for 12 years now and 5 years ago the practice became a ritual and a bigger part of my daily life. A Yoga practice is so much more than the physical practice, asana (physical movement) is just one limb of yoga and there are another 7 that make Yoga an 8 limbed practice and way of life.
If you had to name just one thing that would improve our health, wellness or happiness, what would it be?
Do you believe yoga has something for everyone? What type of people cross your path for yoga instruction?
Absolutely. Yoga offers so much to help improve health and wellbeing. It teaches us breath awareness. We all feel better for taking a deep breath and Yoga reminds us to practice this in situations where we need to gain a clearer perspective. It also teaches techniques on how to breathe deeply which can be used in in other forms of physically demanding exercises. It teaches us how to move so we can stay agile and comfortable in our bodies, as well as recover and heal from other physical activity. It teaches us to be more mindful and to practice being really present, enjoying and appreciating what we have right now.
I have and have had all sorts of people practicing with me from 70+ year old individuals looking to maintain strength and stability, middle aged men with self proclaimed “concrete hamstrings” looking to gain a little more flexibility as well as cyclists, triathletes and endurance athletes who find this practice essential for recovery and restoration.
What is the most compelling reason to incorporate yoga into one’s hectic Western lifestyle?
In Sanskrit there is the word Svadhyaya which means self study or self enquiry. It’s so easy for us to get caught up now in being busy and justifying our worth by being busy. Through Yoga inviting you to practice Svadhyaya, you start to look at what is/is not serving you and making a few decisions on how to live a less hectic life, enjoy being present and appreciate what we have around us. My teacher Dana would say to us “Yoga will ruin your life”. You’ll change the way you eat, the people you hang out with, possibly change jobs, relationships, where you live and what you do. It will ruin your life – but for the better.
You have mentioned to me that the bringing together of people and encouraging ‘community’, is one of the main reasons you love your job. Tell me more.
When I was living in NYC it was at times hard going trying to survive in the city. Working long hours and living amongst 8 million people and 16 million rats really could be overwhelming and surprisingly isolating at times.
When I would walk into Laughing Lotus, all of what was worrying me would melt away as the community, which is really like a extended family, would be so uplifting as we practiced and reconnected with one another.
When I returned home to Perth this aspect of community was what I really wanted to encourage within my own classes. I love watching people meet one another in class and make connections and friendships, creating an inviting and uplifting atmosphere for everyone involved.
Community (known as Sangha in Sanskrit) is like the fertile soil that surrounds a seedling, you are the seedling and the community nourishes you and encourages you to grow. We thrive on gathering together to live more fulfilling and connected lives. Thich Nhat Hanh says “community is the next guru” which means community is our teacher and I couldn’t agree more. Gather together, support and learn from one another.
One of the amazing things you do in your yoga classes is offer up a reading while yogi’s are in relaxation mode. Please share with our reader’s one of your favourite readings.
It acts like love – by Rabia
It acts like love — music,
it reaches toward the face; touches it,
and tries to let you know His promise,
that all will be okay.
It acts like love — music,
and tells the feet; “You do not have to be so burdened.”
My body is covered with wounds this world made,
but I still longed to kiss Him, even when God said,
“Could you also kiss the hand that caused each scar,
for you will not find me until you do.”
It does that — music. It helps us to forgive.
Burn & Learn’s themes are food, fitness and fulfillment. Share with us your tips.
Food – whole food diet with lots of fresh vegetables (especially of the leafy green variety). Care about what goes into your body.
Fitness – find something you enjoy and do it often. Invite a group of friends to join you or get out there and join a new community. Play your favourite music to inspire you to move.
Fulfillment – Cultivate an “attitude for gratitude“. Practice it daily and make it a ritual. Travel and see the world, there is so much beauty, cultural richness and diversity out there just waiting for us to discover.
Enjoy a Sukha Yoga class with Lara at Swanbourne, South Perth, Applecross or North Perth, or by private appointment. Lara also runs regular retreats, so be sure to subscribe to her page for regular information.