Yoga Therapy

Scaravelli Inspired Yoga

Yoga means union and was originally a practise created to enable cessation of the kaleidoscope of thoughts that occur in the mind. There are different components to yoga including attitudes in dealing with self and others, working with the body breath and mind. Aspects which form the core of human experience.

It is not a religion.

This approach to yoga is revolutionary in relation to the way yoga is being taught in the West.

It refuses to push the body into more and more extreme positions, against the body’s wishes.

It acknowledges the body/mind as part of nature permeated by an intelligence that runs through all living things.

It empowers the practitioner to become their own teacher and opens up a journey of discovery without end.

headstand with Diane Vanda

Yoga is something that happens in the moment and through the creation of appropriate conditions freedom of the spine, in relationship to gravity and the ground, is available.

To find this requires attention and presence and in this relinquish our habits. We do less and feel more.

An understanding of our living anatomy and physiology can help us on the road to understanding by creating a language to describe. However, at a certain point the cerebral portions of the brain must be let go of.

The poses, and movement in general, are a framework through which we explore the potential space and freedom of the body, breath and mind in the moment. The focus is on undoing, letting go of what we think we know and beginning each time without preconceived ideas. Over time our practice brings us to a place of greater simplicity and clarity and asanas occur spontaneously, without force. This is a fundamentally different approach to the body than most approaches to yoga and exercise. Yoga in this approach helps us to develop awareness on many different levels, which permeates through into our lives.

The body has evolved over more than 4 million years and we have to let go of our modern mental and societal constraints to re-build a relationship based on wholeness. This reawakening process is where the yoga resides.

Vanda Scaravelli

Movement is the song of the body… the body has its own song from which the movement arises spontaneously.

(V.Scaravelli. Awakening the Spine. Harper: San Francisco, p28.)
Vanda's book cover: Awakening the Spine

The lady responsible for the development of this approach, Vanda Scaravelli, came to yoga later in life. She lived in a privileged setting in Italy in which she was inspired by many things including modern science, the beautiful nature of the Tuscan Countryside, Tai Chi and a musical education.

Vanda was taught directly by B.K.S. Iyengar (Iyengar yoga) for many years, and later on she trained with T.K.V. Desikachar (Vini yoga). All of these well-respected teachers, as well as Pattabhi Jois, were taught yoga by Desikachar’s father T. Krishnamacharya… recognized as the main influence of most of the yoga in the west. In addition she was a close personal friend of the radical philosopher, J. Krishnamurti.

Having spent so many years being taught by the world’s finest yogis in a 1 to 1 environment, Vanda had accumulated a rich understanding of the principles of yoga and how to practice. In the years that followed when these teachers no longer came because they were traveling the world, Vanda moved into the next stage of her practice. Through her own explorations she became aware of the potential simplicity of using the force of gravity and the corresponding force of levity to generate balance.

As this balance takes hold, a wave like motion of the spine occurs as the spine elongates, which can be used to find lightness, strength and the ability to contact the ground simultaneously. One is rested and anchored into the earth and at the same time free to move from above the centre of gravity. With refined awareness acquired over time, this intuitive approach opens the vision to wholeness and harmony, guided by this intention and concept which becomes a way of being, a form of meditation.

She took on very few students and worked with them in the same way her teachers worked with her, 1 to 1. Diane Long her longest student studied with her for 23 years.

Towards the later stages of her life, Vanda wrote a beautiful book called “Awakening the Spine” as a way of sharing her experience. Through this has inspired many and her serious students who worked with her in a 1 to 1 capacity, who are very few in number, have slowly and diligently passed on her work as she would have wished. In a modern culture in which naming has become helpful for differentiation, the name Scaravelli Inspired yoga has emerged.

Vanda may have been horrified to hear it described as Scaravelli Inspired yoga. She writes in her book “Yoga cannot be organised, must not be organised… it is a living process that changes moment by moment.” In systematizing yoga, it loses its essence.

The way to do Yoga is for it to be relaxing, without the slightest effort. Going with the wave, with the movement, with the breath…. Without strain, from an “intelligent heart”.

~ Vanda Scaravelli