kundalini rising

Interview of a Yogi: Gillian Breetzke

Photo: Shazia Omar

1. How did you get interested in yoga?

I have always been interested in spirituality, and wanted to understand more about life and our existence here on earth. My own journey on the mat began when I was teaching in a Primary School in Ireland, when I was invited to join a 6 week Ashtanga. From that first class, the practice really resonated with me and I was hooked. It offered such a wonderful space for quiet reflection and personal growth.

2. Where did you learn yoga? What kind of yoga do you teach and where?

After a couple of shorter courses, I discovered Ashtanga Yoga Dublin, a wonderful studio in Ireland, and with David Collins and Paula Herbert, my practice truly began to grow and flourish under their sincere, supportive guidance. This is where I met Paul Dallaghan, the owner of Samahita Retreat in Thailand, where I am now based. Ashtanga has formed the base of my practice, and now, I teach a variety of styles of yoga at Samahita Retreat. I've been teaching for ten years. At Samahita, we teach the dynamic core vinyasa, which incorporates many elements of the ashtanga practice, and really brings in the elements of breath and teaches people to move safely with awareness. I also teach restorative yoga, meditation, and pranayama.

3. In what ways has yoga benefited you?

There are so many small ways that it has shaped my life, and continue to do so each day. Consistent, sincere, and dedicated practice has taught me so much about myself, and has allowed me to really breathe and move through all the joys and trials that life has brought me. I feel like I can see more clearly now. I have a greater sense of awareness of my own body and of my surroundings. There have also been so many physical benefits, which I am so grateful for every day, simply being able to breathe completely, moving with awareness.

4. Describe a typical day in your life.

I wake up before sunrise to practice, always just before my alarm, which is a blessing in itself (this was definitely not always the case). Doing my own practice is such an essential part of sharing these practices with others. Most days, after practice, I come to Samahita to teach. The rest of the day is spent with various tasks around the centre, and interacting with our wonderful guests. Each day is different. There are many advantages to working in such a stunning location, right on the beach, and days often end with an essential beach walk — clean air and space.

5. What advice do you have for someone who has never tried yoga?

Give it a go! You've got nothing to lose. Small steps can lead to something greater than you ever imagined. Often, the first steps are the hardest to take. I meet many people at Samahita who have never done yoga before, and come for a full immersion. It's a beautiful experience, watching how mesmerised they get. Often, in our minds, we make things seem so complicated, but once we allow ourselves to take the leap and move into a new space, it's incredible what unfolds.

6. What advice do you have for yoga practitioners?

Practice consistently, and with sincerity.

7.  What are some of the things you do to take care of the world or yourself that you have learned along your journey?

It's the small things; being aware of the food I'm eating, trying to eat local, organic produce. Looking after my immediate environment through recycling, consciously making decisions to reduce my own carbon footprint wherever I can.

I always try to be aware, supportive, and compassionate to those around me in whatever way I can.  I feel really blessed to be in an environment where these opportunities arise every day.