Bio Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Eleanor Dawson
Eleanor first started practising yoga in the 1990s, and enjoyed the calmness and tranquillity that the yoga brought to her everyday life.
A few years later, Eleanor begin studying with Hanne Gillespie, following the teaching of T.K.V. Desikachar, which is designed so that ANYBODY can practise yoga. Each of the postures and practices are tailored to suit each individual person and is suitable for all ages and all levels of fitness.
This approach places a large emphasis on the breath and bringing awareness and mindfulness to one’s yoga practice. Eleanor found that this approach helped to deepen her understanding of yoga, and begin a regular home practice.
She found the regularity of the home practice brought a huge support into daily life – the body begins to “remember” and readjust to new patterns, allowing old patterns of tension and holding to be released.
And for this reason, Eleanor tries to give each person the skills to have the confidence to take the practices home with them, and to put them into daily practice themselves.
Eleanor firstly completed two preliminary yoga teacher training courses of yoga using soft gentle awareness with Hanne Gillespie of Clonlea yoga studios in Dublin. After this she completed the 750 hour Sadhana Mala Teacher Training and Yoga Therapy programme with UK-based teachers Ranju Roy and Dave Charlton, (2007-2010)
The 750 hour yoga teacher training is long, rigorous and thorough, enabling the teacher to draw on a wide range of tools and techniques, and to apply them to each individual. This allows for an enormous flexibility and creativity when planning a class, so that there are variations for every person so that each person will have the practices adapted to their own needs.
Eleanor began a regular twice-daily meditation practice in 2007, having worked with various meditative practices along the way.
I immediately felt the peace and calm that meditation can offer, allowing the mind and nervous system to settle. I found it gave me a sense of space and rest, and also greater clarity after the practice
In Mindfulness breath-focussed meditation, one brings the awareness to the breath flowing through the nostrils. Instead of the mind being carried away by a train of thought, instead one simply watches the thoughts and stand back from them.
In time this practice trains the mind, and one’s awareness gradually begins to rest in the space between the thoughts.
And it is this aspect of the training of the mind during our sitting practice actually spilling over into our normal daily lives, that is a very important aspect of Mindfulness.
It is important to engage in the Mindfulness practice with honesty, and to be present to what is in every changing moment. Whether we feel radiantly happy or boiling with rage, we allow that – though we don’t feed it!
The process of entering into a free relationship with whatever we are meditating on is the meditation.
Mindfulness is the result – the fruit- of that practice. Like a fruit it comes naturally and spontaneously. If we try to impose ” positive emotions ” on our practice, we just end up pushing our reality further beneath the surface.
Instead, we train our mind to Being, in the moment.
Meditation remains the core of Eleanor’s practice: the seated practice brings us into a stillness where we meet Life in all its teeming fullness, with the opportunity to integrate this way of being into our daily lives.
Eleanor brings this Mindfulness into her physical yoga classes too, and this further helps train the mind to tune inwards… instead of being caught up by thoughts.
Eleanor has also worked with Paul Lambillion, a teacher of subtle energy, and is indebted to him for his insights, and for opening doors into the subtler worlds of perception, especially chakras.
Eleanor’s work with yoga has been deeply influenced by all her teachers, but particularly by the late Peter Hersnack. Peter’s teaching was steeped in the wisdom of yoga philosophy, especially the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, which “comes alive” when we work deeply and very subtly with body, breath and mind.
This way of working allows us to connect deeply with the innate wisdom of the body.
Yoga is about waking up – about being fully present to each moment as it is NOW.
The Mindfulness practices help us to train the mind to let go of the layers of complexities that our mind has actually invented, and instead allows us to get more in touch with a simpler more real pristine awareness.
When we bring this pristine awareness to our physical yoga practice, we can also begin to feel how asana and pranayama can become a meditation, when our focus is fully present.
Eleanor’s classes are based on a sharing her love of the potential of a yoga practice with anyone who wants to learn. Her classes are designed so that students of varying degrees of physical fitness and experience can benefit from the same class.
We work with the standard postures from hatha yoga, but in a Mindfulness way with a strong emphasis on breathwork, both within the asana practice, and as a separate pranayama practice.
We often work with a particular theme or focus, designing practices that will explore, say, opening up energy, working with the ground, opening the heart. The weaving of a meditative focus within the postures and breath, ensures that all aspects of our being are nourished and grow together.