Yoga with Gemma
Founder/Director of Still Flowing Yoga Teacher Training, Registered as Senior Yoga Teacher with UK Yoga Alliance.
Teaches somatic and Scaravelli inspired yoga, Buddhist mindfulness, complementary embodied practices and facilitates open process.
Since 2011 I have been inspired by the work of Italian Yogini Vanda Scaravelli, which honours the body’s intelligence and has creative, intuitive and enquiry based feel to it, I find that this works beautifully alongside the therapeutic work of Dr Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing) which greatly informs and inspires my approach to Yoga.
In a broad sense, my invitation in Yoga is to re-awaken the natural intelligence of the body, that has an innate healing and organisational capacity within it.
Instead of stressing and straining the body into shapes and breathing patterns that may override this innate intelligence, this practice invites us to listen and to feel inside, so the body can find its own voice – its own “song” or in Peter Levine’s words the unspoken voice.
“The feeling is more interior, because the motion is inside, the feeling is inside. It’s a feeling of well-being while you do the poses not to achieve. You must never have in mind what you want to do but what the body can accept.” Vanda Scaravelli
By encouraging the body to undo and let go of habitual tension patterns and old habits that fragment and distort the body and its energy, the body is gradually offered new movement choices outside of old habits. This unexplored movement potential offers rest, regulation and deep internal release. A gradual awakening may take place, as new ways of approaching movement through asana pave the way for new ways of being and experiencing life. At a feeling level this may be experienced as freshness, wholeness or just being deeply and simply happy in your body.
By deepening our embodied understanding of core/ peripheral balance through a curious approach to asana, we start to experience greater degrees of safety, wholeness, connection, containment, and nourishment from inside of ourselves, within this, we cultivate our innate capacity for self regulation at the level of the nervous system, providing safe ground from which to gently explore further awakening and release of the spine and deep core structures of the body.
My approach has both a structured side to it and also playful free-form side to it, always seeking to balance stability, fluidity and spaciousness. By attuning to the elements of earth, water, fire and space within the body, gravity and its rebound play through the body with ease, affecting our shape/structure, our breath, our feelings, our relationship with ourselves, others, and the environment around us.
One of Vanda Scaravelli’s great gifts to our Yoga practice was freedom. She gave us permission to follow our own inner teacher, liberating Yoga practice from the restriction of rules and traditions. She encouraged students to understand that, ultimately, we are our own best teachers – all we have to do is listen deeply.
“Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose. Do not look at your body like a stranger, but adopt a friendly approach towards it. Watch it, listen to it, observe its needs, its requests, and even have fun. To be sensitive is to be alive.” Vanda Scaravelli
I extend a heartfelt invitation for you to come and share the intuitive, creative, and liberating power of this work with me.
“Yoga is based upon absolute respect for the individual, absolute devotion to the infinite potential within each of us.”
Gemma’s Yoga Story
I first came across Sivananda Yoga in 1998 in Kerala, South India whilst studying Ayurveda. It felt like coming home, the calling was profound.
Around the same time a close friend, Sid Peckman, undertaking a silent 7 year retreat introduced me to the Buddhist Mindfulness Teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Master; his teacher.
In 1999 I met Danny Paradise who I studied with until 2007 (Ashtanga Vinyasa). His emphasis on non- dogmatic practice, Shamanism, evolution and community still inspire me.
During this period and under Danny’s influence I co-founded and directed AshtangaOm Yoga Retreats and El Convento Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Mindfulness Eco Centre (Andalucia, Spain) with my ex-partner Nic Freeman.
In 2004 my family and I were hit by the tsunami in Sri Lanka. We all survived, however every aspect of life, and everything that we had built to date, was blown apart as a result of the massive wave.
In 2005 quite soon after the tsunami I met and practiced with Steven Smith who had met Danny in Thailand. This meeting transformed my meditation practice and re-affirmed an unwavering commitment to the Teachings of the Buddha.
Emerging from a very dark period, in 2008 I founded Still Flowing Yoga Teacher Training, integrating the practices of Yoga and Buddhist Insight Meditation.
In 2011 still suffering from undiagnosed complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and searching for ways to cope with my unresolved tsunami trauma, I was introduced to Dr. Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing; (body orientated trauma healing) by my yoga colleague, friend and mentor Aki Omori.
I have been training for 5 years to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. I now work in the field of healing trauma particularly with yogis and meditators.
During this same period I have been practicing Insight Meditation under Martin Aylward.
Since 2011 I am inspired by the work of Italian Yogini Vanda Scaravelli, and I continue training with Yoga teachers from her lineage. Her intuitive, revolutionary, stress free approach to working with the body from the inside out, blends seamlessly with the Buddha’s teachings on Mindfulness, and is highly compatible with the principles of Somatic Experiencing.
The Yoga that I share integrates principles and practices from these people and these systems in an emerging field I call Embodied Yoga Somatics.
Gemma’s Professional Yoga/Therapeutic CV
Since 2011 to Present:
- Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP)
- I have completed Somatic Experiencing Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Training.
- I have completed a Post Graduate Somatic Experiencing Module on Developmental Trauma with Dr Peter Levine (July 2015).
Since 2008 to Present:
- Founder / Director / Principal Teacher on Still Flowing Yoga Teacher Training
- Senior Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance UK
- Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with the US Yoga Alliance
- Registered Yoga School 200 hrs with the US Yoga Alliance and European Yoga Alliance
Since 2001 to Present:
- I have facilitated, organised, and taught on yoga intensives, retreats, workshops and yoga trainings worldwide
- Co Founder, Director and Teacher: El Covento Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and Mindfulness Eco Centre, Andalucia, Spain
2001 – 2003:
- Co Founder, Director and Teacher : AshtangaOm Yoga Retreats
1998 – 2000:
- Ayurvedic Massage, Panchakarma Therapy, Sivananda Yoga
- Kovalam, Kerala, South India
1992 – 1996
- BA – Hispanic Studies 2:1 – Queen Mary College, University of London.
Yoga is a journey that leads us back to our true selves. Yoga facilitates the realisation of this great intimacy and acceptance of ourselves, as we are – human beings first and foremost – within this mysterious/unfathomable world – only from here can we even start to contemplate matters of Spirit