Amy Butler – Inclusive Yoga

Last week I had an interview with Amy Butler. Currently she is working with Stopgap Dance Company and as well being a dance specialist she also has a history in Yoga. Because of working with Stopgap and teaching reguarly for the company she has begun to develop an Inclusive Yoga practice.

Amy began practicing Yoga when she was 19 and then in 2008/2009 she began to take it more seriously and was often asked to share some of her practice with others through her work with various dance companies. Inspired by one of her close friends Manuela Berndt, who had recently completed her Integral yoga teacher training, Amy decided to travel to India to complete a teacher training course also in Integral yoga. India was always where Amy intended to train as it is the home of yoga and through her professional dance experience she had become interested in Kathak, traditional North Indian dance. Therefore Amy was wanting to experience and absorb the culture and history of India whilst studying in the home of yoga. Although she wanted to learn more about delivering yoga classes she also wanted to develop her own practice. ‘Yoga is a brilliant way to condition the body and calm the mind. As well as a spiritual journey it is also an amazing technique to unwind and focus. Doing it every morning wakes me up and prepares me for the day.’

Due to being awarded the Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship she was able to go to India for five weeks as the scholarship covered all travel expenses. It was the perfect time for Amy to deepen her knowledge and practice and begin to learn more about all the aspects of yoga. Sir Swami Satchidananda is the guru that developed Integral yoga and although he is no longer alive, Amy was Iucky enough to experience one to one teaching with some very experienced practitioners. On her return from India she began to teach more regularly, providing classes for the general public as well as dancers. Amy found that certain restrictions put in place by the fitness/dance houses employing her prevented her from being able to teach exactly how she wanted to. ‘Within the practice of yoga there is lots of freedom to be creative; although the origins and traditions surrounding yoga should be respected there is always room to develop a practice that is more suited to the individual or specific group you might be teaching.’

‘Developing an inclusive practice for non-disabled and disabled participants helped me to discover a new way to approach the asanas and sequences of movement. Often I see students copying me, however, its not about recreating a shape; in Integral yoga we are taught that you should perform steady and comfortable asanas. It does not help your body and mind to force yourself into uncomfortable positions and experience pain. Yoga should not be competitive, it is about listening to your own body. Everyone has a different journey and it doesnt matter where you are on that journey, therefore the classes I facilitate provide a variety of options vocally as well as physically, and I am always looking to evolve my teaching through observing, analysing and communicating with my students.’ Discovering new versions of the postures is about creating a dialogue between the teacher and the participants.

‘I am still at the beginning of my journey in Inclusive yoga and am constantly finding and looking for new translations and adaptions. I know so little. But if you work with an inclusive group on a regular basis you can begin to understand the different bodies and provide more useful solutions. Sometimes it takes a little longer to find a different way into the posture, however, in class everyone is important and therefore you have to find a balance, juggling the needs of those that are confident and more mobile with those that require more time and support, when teaching I try and be as generous as I can and consider the entire group.’

Below you find a movie of Amy’s Inclusive Yoga. On theĀ Replay channel of Stopgap you can find much more information. Enjoy the practice and many thanks to Amy Butler.

Best, Joop