I met Carolyn at a shoot for Indica Yoga in Bangalore, and talking to each other, we found we shared common spiritual experiences like our association with the Sivananda ashram and being inspired by the spiritual energy in Tiruvannamalai. Her practical approach to practising and teaching allows her to bring yoga to busy urban city students and give them space for inner personality development despite a hectic lifestyle. In conversation with Indica Yoga…
Sophia: You recently studied Ashtanga Yoga at the Sharath Yoga Centre in Mysore. Tell us about the experience?
Carolyn: Mysore has a charm of its own and practising with Sharathji was a dream come true. I started my Ashtanga journey back in 2017, with a hope that someday I would be able to go to the source and learn the discipline, grace and intensity of the Ashtanga practice. Sharathji has preserved the practice and he’s extremely welcoming and patient with every student that practises at the shala. Moreover, after having to continue my self practice for 2 whole years, the energy at the shala during our led classes was incredible. When I decided to apply to go to Mysore,I thought I would come back having mastered some of the asanas, but my journey to Mysore has been a lifelong lesson on discipline and surrender.
Sophia: How did you find yoga and when did you decide you want to teach?
Carolyn: Yoga found me, at a time when my life was operating on autopilot and nothing seemed to be working out. I also lost a few of my dear friends and that triggered something within me to explore the deeper aspects of karma and our purpose in this world. My first teacher was from the Bihar school lineage and on seeing my yearning to learn more about these concepts that are so ingrained in Indian philosophy, he recommended that I visit the Sivananda ashram. So I started yoga mainly to understand a little more about these aspects, and at that time I didn’t enjoy asana practice as I found it very slow, although I still practised asanas at some level. The one month I spent at the ashram gave me a more holistic approach to the practice and I knew I wanted to share the sweetness of what I had tasted. Moreover, all my batchmates and teachers at the ashram also told me that I had a knack for teaching and should give it a shot. Post that, just listening to students' stories on how every class has helped them transform - I knew I had to continue being the vessel/messenger for this transformation and also sharing all the information I had access to by practising with some of the best masters from India.
Sophia: Tell us about your interest in and practice of Ayurveda. How has it affected your living habits and diet?
Carolyn: Ayurveda has been a huge part of my life from my younger years. Being from Kerala, my grandmother always has a very integrated view on health and we would always turn to Ayurveda for common conditions. The belief that everybody in Kerala has on Ayurveda is very inspiring, my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and she resorted to Ayurveda during that time, which gave her much relief from the complications of many of the modern treatments. Practising Ayurveda helps me get a better understanding of my physical or mental states and it also gives me an insight of how certain small changes in my routine can have an impact on my health. As I gain a better understanding of Ayurveda, it also helps me understand and connect with the others around me a lot better. I’ve learnt to eat more intuitively and live with awareness.
Sophia: What have been your most memorable spiritual travel experiences?
Carolyn: All my trips to Tiru or Tiruvannamalai. Everything about the place has a very different vibration and for it's the first time I understood what a consecrated space is and my interactions with some of the devotees who are working towards a higher state of being gave me a glimpse of the illusion we live in.
Sophia: How do you inspire your students to use yoga techniques to tackle busy urban lifestyles?
Carolyn: Through the years I’ve understood that there is no better teacher than experience. Most of my students who have experienced the benefits of the practice, ensure that they continue to practice, or always come back and restart when they feel they’ve gone astray.
Sophia: Name some of your spiritual inspirations.
Carolyn: We are blessed to have so many living masters and resources from masters who have graced this planet - Sadhguru has transformed my life in so many different ways and he continues to transform the lives of many.
Sophia: What are your favourite books on spirituality?
Carolyn: Some books that I have enjoyed reading are The Book of Mirdad, Karma and Autobiography of a Yogi.
Sophia: How do you apply ancient yogic philosophy to a modern lifestyle?
Carolyn: I’m currently doing a Masters in Psychology and the yoga sutras are just that, from a millions years ago - there is so much that can be applied to everyday life. Another concept of illusion and karma, have helped me try and be more aware of my actions and patterns everyday.
Sophia: Any advice for practitioners who want to teach yoga?
Carolyn: Find a great teacher or master who can guide you on this journey. Share the best of your experiences with students and they will love it for sure. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, teach what has helped you in your experience of the practice and they will love going on this journey with you.
Sophia: How has yoga transformed your inner personality?
Carolyn: I think this question is best answered by people around me. Many of them have told me about how I am able to manage so many aspects of myself better — with patience, joy and acceptance. Also, yoga has helped me understand, uncover and unlearn the patterns that have been with me through the years.
For further information on Carolyn, follow her Instagram account on @yogacaro