Interview with Seasonal Hatha Teacher Tina Hedren
Tina is based in Sweden and teaches Seasonal Hatha, a type of yoga that flows in harmony with the seasons. She is a Yoga Alliance affiliate and offers trainings, workshops and retreats. Together with her colleague, Sue Wood, she has created two unique Body Clock Yoga DVDs as a medium for sharing more information.
ON THE PERSONAL SIDE…
What brought you to yoga initially and when did you first fall in love with it?
I started teaching movement as a child. I gathered other children and cousins and made them ‘perform’ wherever we found a space. I gell in love with gymnastics as I started school and started assisting the coaches. When I was 12 I finally got my first Diploma to teach gymnastics. I was actually too young to join the training but was given permission due to my enthusiasm and experience. So it has given me 44 years of teaching experience already.
I fell in love with yoga when working in the fitness industry in the 90ties. I passed a studio biking to the gym and was drawn in. I noticed quickly how yoga helped me stay balanced. It taught me to breathe and keep relaxed in a stressful environment and avoid tensing up despite many intense aerobic and spinning classes every day.
Where do you live and why?
I live in Uppsala, Sweden. I have worked in many countries and had the opportunity to travel a lot. I feel at home wherever I connect to kind and passionate people. Sweden offers fantastic nature, seasons and we have had peace in our country for a long time.
Why do you think yoga is becoming so popular in the West?
Yoga for me is about the joining. On all levels! Every practice brings me a gift of love and presence. I think a lot of people are looking for a path to follow. Yoga can offer peace and harmony as well as nourishment to the body and soul. Many are so busy making a career and looking forever young but why are we here and where are we going? The yoga mat can be the place to work on fulfilling the journey of your soul, since the practice can offer an escape from the chattering mind.
What does your personal practice look like?
My personal practice starts with feeling the Prana or Chi and moving it. I choose Sun or Moon salutations depending on seasons or hour of the day. The asanas that I choose are the ones I know are good in various seasons or just what my body asks for. I often add Chi Kung to accumulate more energy in to my energy pathways. I focus on awareness in every moment. The meditation at the end always tells me if I have moved well.
In your own practice, what’s your favourite / least favourite asana and why?
I’m very fond of Paschimottanasana and Uttanasana – there’s something about them that makes me feel close to myself. I feel energy builds up and they make me stay true to myself. If I feel resistance ever in an asana I adapt it so it shifts to pleasant. I’m not a friend of struggling and a pain body.
In your classes, what’s the asana you like to teach the most / least and why?
Always been attracted to variety when it comes to teaching! Teaching adults, kids and seniors and sometimes seated classes. It’s not so much the actual asana but the moment when someone ‘eases into it’, understands it – that’s a moment of joy. I love teaching where there’s an atmosphere of curiosity and willingness to change. There’s an excitement in sharing different qualities with different yogis. Some need empowering others need to focus on rooting or breathing.
Whose teachings have been a major influence for you?
Many fantastic teachers have inspired me! Most teachers have something they are passionate about and good at so trying to always learn from them and their experience. B.K.S Iyengar has to be mentioned! Never met him in person but followed his work, he’s a Special Star in Heaven.
My grandmother was my first role model or yoga teacher (though she never spoke about yoga) with her ‘never give up mentality’ and her great sense of humour. She always smiled and stretched her body. When there were challenges in life she cried and the tears transformed into laughter sooner or later. It’s quite easy to become too serious or caught in life’s dramas even as a child, she knew exactly how to clear that energy. She was the first person to teach me that you have to keep moving and be kind to yourself!
What style of yoga do you teach and why?
I’ve chosen to share hatha yoga since it offers something for everyone. It’s easy to adapt to different needs. My idea is that the person is always more important than the form, vinyasa or concept.
What has teaching taught you?
We’re all unique souls on a journey. Never try to be someone else.
Do you find that there is a question your students tend to ask again and again? If so, which one and what is your answer.
Common questions are about how to strengthen ‘weak parts’ or modify when it’s uncomfortable for wrists, knees, hips or the back. Answer depends on the person.
For people who are on your TTC, what qualities do you think it takes to become a good teacher?
Becoming a good yoga teacher is work in progress. First learn the drill. Know the basics and practice and practice. Be humble and get your ego out of the way when you start sharing yoga with others. Teach what you practice yourself so you know it well. Be a guide to make people make the important shifts themselves so they feel empowered rather than corrected. Observe what your participants need. Stay in touch with your teachers or find a good mentor that can offer continuous support and guidance. Adding another training as a ‘practitioner’ in massage, shiatsu or something involving touch skills is helpful when you want to be successful with ‘hands on’.
Develop good communication skills and share yoga with Love and Compassion!
In which direction is your yoga teaching heading?
My yoga practice is becoming deeper, more and more a spiritual practice for myself – a journey home. The stillness in meditation after a good hour on the mat is Bliss!
If you weren’t teaching yoga, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t teaching yoga I’d probably be teaching young children in school.