Kiara Boch shares with Jenna Lynne Roberts about learning flow, pranayama, and new perspectives from renowned yoga instructor Shiva Rea.
Shiva Rea is an earth shaker, fire keeper type of teacher. She’s very powerful, without rigidness. She’s always flowing, very feminine, and very strong.
My first yoga class with Shiva Rea, at the Yoga Journal Conference in 2004, she went to the center of the room and honed everyone in to talk about getting on a ship together, and how we were going to move it together with our breath and intention. She had a live sitar player and incense. The class’ Vinyasa thread of connection was perfect for me, and I thought, “Who is this woman?”
What did you initially like about Shiva Rea?
She helped me find my free spirit again with free flow movement. Shiva cultivates sound and movement rhythms to help everyone to find their ecstatic spontaneous expression from the structure of yoga.
How did you decide that Shiva Rea was your teacher for yoga instructor training?
I knew that I needed to learn from a woman. I loved the way that I felt from Shiva Rea’s yoga classes. Shiva is really creative and intuitive. It seemed like when we moved, everything made sense.
I was living in Colorado and Shiva Rea led yoga teacher trainings at the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts, near my family. I would save up my money, go to Shiva’s teacher training, come back, integrate it, teach it, and do it all again. I went through my yoga teacher training modules with her this way.
At one module, Shiva gave us drums for our teacher training intensive. We’d all create a beat, then stop and write down what immediately came to us and then present it to the group. Shiva established a creative environment to encourage and help teachers to discover their voice.
What do you most appreciate about Shiva Rea as a teacher?
Shiva Rea’s on an evolutionary path. She has very strong traditional yoga roots, but she’s also willing to create a bridge with dance. Shiva is also a bridge to the oldest martial art of India, which is called Kalari payattu.
What I like about Shiva is there is a sense of maturity to get what she does. Shiva Rea helped me to get to know myself in offering that there’s not this one strict way of doing things. She provided me the space to look back into myself.
What has Shiva Rea brought to you around pranayama?
Shiva Rea taught me so much about breath being the life force that we are connecting to. This life force is known as Prana. She taught me how to follow the flow of breath with body.
For instance, when I breathe in, I lift my arms up to my heart, mirroring the energy of prana vayu or the rising energy of the inhalation. When I breath out, I release my hands down by my sides to mirror apana vayu, or the downward flow of Prana.
Those are the two main forces, but some of the subtler ones are more challenging to grasp for people, because they have to feel their breath through their body, not just in their lungs. As they breathe in, their energy can be pulled up from the fingertips into the heart, or drawn out into the extremities.
How does that integrate into your hot flow classes?
With the breath, there is always a beginning, middle and an end. In lifting a leg, instead of just winging it up into the air, we can feel there is a beginning, middle, and end with that movement, by moving with the breath. There is a process. There is a sense of muscle stabilization to slow down, so body and breath are in harmony. We utilize the whole breath as a wave that starts low and rises to a peak and goes down.
I use this to help people to follow their breath and create their own orchestra inside themselves. This is a large piece of what Shiva Rea has taught me.
You can practice building your prana with Kiara Boch in Hot Flow on Wednesdays at 5:30pm. See the Yoga Union Schedule
You can also learn more about Shiva Rea on her website: shivarea.com
Or, check out Shiva Rea’s newest publication, Tending the Heart Fire