We begin a series of Contemporary Yoga Training graduate interviews. We love hearing how our grads venture out into the community to teach, we hope you enjoy their journeys too.

Our first graduate interviewee is Madeleine Lifsey.

Contemporary Yoga Graduate, Madeleine Lifsey

Madeleine completed her Contemporary Yoga 200 hour teacher training during 2020. She offers body-positive, rainbow-inclusive, inquiry-based children’s Yoga over Zoom on Outschool.

Talking with Madeleine …

Contemporary Yoga (CY): How did you first come to practice Yoga ?

Madeleine: I found Yoga in my late teens during a musical theatre workshop. A Vinyasa Yoga flow was offered to us as a rejuvenating practice between rehearsals. While I had always felt out of place in athletic programs, I felt welcomed and grounded in the asana practice and sought more.

CY: What made you decide to become a Yoga teacher?

Madeleine: As a philosophy major in uni, I got to explore the roots of Yoga and knew I wanted to deepen my practice and study of the eight limbs as a teacher trainee.

CY: Why do you teach Yoga ?

Madeleine: When I first started practicing, I was stunned to find that no matter how frustrated or anxious I was going into a Yoga class, I would emerge somewhat more calm and grounded. I always wanted to be able to offer that kind of peace to others. Finding Yoga was a real turning point for me in my ability to self-regulate, organise my priorities, take risks, and nurture my relationships. I can only imagine what a positive impact a body positive Yoga practice could have had on me as a child, so I am excited to offer this to my young students. It is a lovingly selfish act, too; teaching brings me joy, helps me continue to be a lifelong learner, and keeps me consistent with my personal practice.

CY: What do you remember to be the most challenging as a new Yoga teacher?

Madeleine: It took me a while to become comfortable structuring a class around just a few shapes, rather than trying to cram as much as I can into one session. Now I relish in going deep into each shape and movement, repeating them throughout the practice, taking care to maintain alignment and to get the most out of each one.

CY: Who/what has been an important influence on your teaching practice? Why?

Madeleine: Neal, Karla, Haidee, and Sam of course: Their teaching and mentorship in inquiry-based, body positive Yoga has been invaluable and truly transformed my relationship with Yoga . It was in the Contemporary Yoga training that I finally truly released my inhibitions around using props to support my practice, realising that my ego shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of my reaping the most benefit out of each asana. Furthermore, through rolling, navel radiation, and other practices, I have begun to see a much wider variation in movements and improvisation as part of my Yoga practice.

I also learn from Dianne Bondy, Arundhati Baitmangalkar, Susanna Barkataki, and Maiga Milbourne, among other leaders.

We invited Madeleine to complete the following statements

Since completing my CY teacher training, I am … studying to deepen my understanding of how I, as a white Yoga teacher, can offer the practice in culturally-affirming, culturally-competent, and respectful ways.

To me, Yoga is … a whole body, whole mind practice that we can bring into our daily lives. It influences how I interact with and care for others and myself.

The most rewarding aspect of being a Yoga teacher is … when a student shares they have been taking elements of what we did in the Yoga practice into the rest of their life and that it helps them feel calm.

What I’m best known for (i.e., what your students might say about you) … I remind students often that this is their practice and they choose what works best for their body today. One of my seven-year-old students recently pointed out, “You said that already!”

To conclude Madeleine’s interview we suggested she provide a favourite quote … She provided us with three:

The quality of light by which we scrutinise our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives.
Audre Lorde

Perform all work carefully, guided by compassion.
The Bhagavad Gita

Tell me what is it you wish to do with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”

To contact Madeleine

Please email or send her a message on Instagram before enrolment for a free trial class. She also offers some adult community classes to benefit animal sanctuaries. Please visit her Instagram for details.

Instagram @inquirylearners
Facebook @madeleinebella
Children’s classes at Outschool.com/Teachers/Madeleine

Upcoming children’s Yoga classes:

Yoga for Everybody
Slow Flow Weekly | Ages 7 and up
Ongoing series twice a week, start or stop any time with no commitment

Animal Asanas
Ages 7 and up
One-Time class with movements and breath work inspired by a number of different non-human animals

Cat Asanas
Ages 5 and up
One-Time class with movements and breath work inspired by cats, with corresponding cat images on the screen to help guide and engage in a playful way.

Sanctuary Asanas
Ages 5 and up
One-Time class with movements and breath work inspired by the personalities of and using photos of a number of different sanctuary residents from a Kiwi animal sanctuary.

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