WONDER WOMAN: VICTORIA ENGLISH, ASHTANGA YOGA PRACTITIONER
Victoria English is a Wonder Woman.
A dedicated Yoga Practitioner for over 20 years, Victoria estimates that she has completed more than 40,000 sun salutes as part of her daily Ashtanga Yoga practice.
Victoria first began practicing Yoga in the early 1990s in Sydney, before embarking overseas to learn more.
It was in 1994 when Victoria traveled to Cologne, Germany to continue studying with her Australian teacher that she became immersed in the local vibrant 'Sannyas' (OSHO) community. Of that time, Victoria explained that ‘Cologne has the biggest OSHO Centre for meditation and therapy outside of the ashram in Pune, India. It was incredible. What I learnt there about myself, the people I met, the ethos - the determination to be clear and to livefully. I've never experienced anything like it since. It blew me away and gave me a foundation for my life that I think without I would have faltered.”
These days Victoria continues to practice and teach in the Mysore tradition, and also runs a blog and super unique Ashtanga Yoga inspired tee-shirt label in between taking care of her 3-year-old son Casper.
Victoria, and her Architect partner Tim Hill now live with Casper in a converted 1880s stable which Tim redesigned into a modern urban cottage. Being a truly radical woman who likes to move and be moved, for this amazing photo essay shot by Yes! Journal Chief Photographer Breeana Dunbar, we met with Victoria in her amazing home and asked her to select and style her favourite toe tappers from our new 'Let's Dance' collection.
Tell us a little about your work, what do you do? Why do you do it?
I’m an Ashtanga Yoga practitioner trained to teach in the traditional method called ‘Mysore Style’. In a Mysore Style classroom each student receives individual tuition and guidance from the teacher. It’s like a private class in a group format. Poses are learnt, refined and added over time, all depending on the personal needs of each student. I suppose like any work you do it for lots of different reasons but essentially it’s for the love of it and the faith I have in it to change things for the better.
Tell us about your creative process. Do you have any work rituals or habits you follow?
Over the years I have developed, discarded and reinvented ways to maintain consistency in practice. It’s mostly mental - altering the way I see and approach it. Often this is inspired by teachings or sometimes just ideas I pick up from here or there. Diet and sleeping / resting routines are important too. The Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says that you have to associate your practice with something bigger than the day to day and I can say that’s very true from my experience. And then it’s simply easier as time goes on - eventually you get up enough momentum and the whole commitment to daily practice comes more easily.
Describe your work environment. Do you work from a studio, office, café or at home? How does the space influence you?
For a time I had my own studio and naturally enjoyed decorating it with lots of flowers and all that kind of thing. I think beauty as a rule is important and it’s definitely enjoyable to practice in a lovely space although it isn’t a cornerstone of the tradition. To go long term with this stuff you actually must drop a lot of ideas and ideals about how it should look and move into your internal experience. I knew a guy who did super advanced practice in his tiny kitchen while his wife and toddler watched kids shows in the adjacent living room. That’s some pretty awesome focus. Anyway, these days I mostly teach privately (out of students homes) so happily enjoy the décor of other people’s spaces. I really love this actually – people’s homes reflect them so there’s something quite fascinating about it.
What is one thing in your life you are proud of? This can be anything, professional or personal.
Hands down it’s my practice. Not what I can do – not the fancy shapes - but the longevity of it. I’m the kind of person who is interested in everything – I have this rambling creativity and curiosity about things. So to stick for so long with one thing has been enormously difficult and beneficial and balancing for me. I’ve been fortunate to have a teacher that has guided me. Truly, some things are gifted to us in this life and I’ve had the tremendous good fortune to have her there for me for many years.
What does being ‘radical’ mean to you?
Practicing presence and self awareness through patience and kindness and at times brutal self reflection! (aka parenting). To pause and look and see the task that’s right in front of me and right now that’s teaching my small person about the world. How much more radical can it get?