interview conducted by Kate Prince
Liz Lark is a yoga teacher, specialising in Vinyasa Flow inspired by Astanga, and has been teaching since 1995. Through her work she aims to reach people of all levels, in the spirit of Vini Yoga, by adapting sequences to suit individual needs. Liz works with the Monteverdi Choir and the conductor Sir Jon Eliot Gardiner, the Indian Dance Company and English National Ballet School, she teaches ‘yogadance’, freestyle movements seamlessly linking postures together as well as working with trainee teachers. She also runs retreats and workshops in the UK and abroad.
What is the first thing you do in the morning?
I look out the window at the garden, observe how I am feeling and stretch out like my cat (Timmy Quezlet); then I make some Earl Grey tea and go out into the garden to let the hens out and notice the still stillness of the trees.
What do you eat for breakfast?
I ear porridge, sprinkled with cinnamon to help stabilise the blood pressure; I have Greek or live yoghurt and an apple.
What is your work place like?
I have a studio with wooden floors, where I lay out my yoga mat. Above are wooden beams and below is under-floor heating. In one corner there is a pink velvet sofa and a weathered table from an antique shop for writing my books, emails, planning retreats and, as I am a keen artist, for drawing.
What do you eat for lunch?
I call it ‘Blunch’ because of the time I eat it but it includes fresh laid eggs from my hens (I live in the country and it is such a treat to have my own eggs), soda or rye toast with hummus and avocado, spinach, or quinoa and vegetable stew.
Do you snack, if so what on?
I love roasted almonds, oatcakes and goat cheese, or homemade lavender biscuits, natural yoghurt and fruits and a purple smoothie because purple skinned fruits boost collagen production in skin. I also like ‘teecino’, made from roasted vegetable roots which I use as my coffee but sometimes I do have a decaf coffee as a treat.
What is the healthiest thing you do every day?
Yoga practice! I do an hour; combining deep relaxation over yoga blocks to open the heart and extend the thoracic spine, and active, energising deep postures which flow together, including handstand, backbends, forward bends, side angles, twists and balances.
What do you have for supper?
Supper includes vegetarian protein variations of quinoa, wild rice, bulgar wheat, lentils; tasty warming stews or risotto, in winter months with garden herbs. I eat fresh fish once a week with steamed greens, in summer months, ‘otto lenghi’ style salads with eggs. I avoid cow products as I do not find it easy to digest, so I tend to opt for goat or sheep cheese or Oat milk.
What do you snack on?
Almond/ vanilla yoghurts/ fruits, toasted nuts, and Dark chocolate……which I love.
Why did you become a yoga teacher?
Yoga teaching has given me a fulfilling, meaningful career, with humanity and warm contact with people. It teaches me compassion, patience and professionalism. For me, teaching is another form of yoga; I have found that touch breaks down barriers; it is a form of self exploration and body-mind psychotherapy. It is poetic. I share what I am exploring myself. My art work and yoga increasingly merge together and I hoping to write more, using art and imagery with bodywork yoga.
What is the most interesting thing about teaching others yoga?
Finding a unique connection with each person, and seeing their own connection with the process to become absorbed and in a timeless experience, where ego and ‘self’ dissolve. It is a body art and creative exploration which is wonderful to witness.
What is your favourite pose and why?
Headstand. I love handstands and inversions to give strength of upper body and the playful courage it brings. Inversions boost fresh circulation and ultimately refresh the whole body and mind.
What is your least favourite pose and why?
Lotus. I am cautious with lotus because of the potential knee strain. I had a skiing injury 10 years ago which humbled me to not practice lotus pose. I do cross legged (Sukhasana) and kneeling (Adho Mukha Virasana) on blocks, instead.
Which three celebrities (dead or alive) would you invite to take your yoga class?
I have had the good fortune to teach Alan Rickman, Peter Gabriel, Ralph Fiennes and actress Mariel Hemingway….. And I am grateful for having been in their presence but I would love to teach Javier Bardem, Kate Bush and Fiona Shaw.
What is your biggest luxury in life?
Access to Amazing bodywork such as Oil massage and water therapy and, of course, access to swimming in beautiful ocean or pools while I am teaching workshops and retreats in places such as Bali and Ibiza where the nature is wonderful and where I gain balance and help others find their bliss. (Details at www.lizlark.com)
Which three things can’t you live without?
Affection, purpose, fun (and creativity)
What gets you up in the morning?
Curiosity and a further search for connection.
What do you go to bed thinking about?
I go to bed thinking about ‘not thinking’, aiming to process the day and let it dissolve, and get into ‘being ‘ mode with the teachings of the great yogis in mind…. To be happy with what I have. I often think of a quote: ‘Sow a thought and reap an action, Sow an action and reap a habit, Sow a habit and reap a character, Sow a character and reap a destiny’.
What is your motto for life?
‘Suspend judgement and live with a freedom from extremes…..’ I think that is summed up in the following line: ‘I gained it so, by climbing slow, by catching at the twigs which grow, between the bliss and me’, by Emily Dickinson.
Liz is running an Easter retreat in Seville from March 30th www.destinationyoga.co.uk