Interview with Idit Hefer Tamir
Photography by Virginia Venn
Idit Hefer Tamir - Yoga Teacher
I couldn't be happier to introduce you to my incredible teacher, Idit. Originally from Israel, she leads highly regarded teacher trainings each year, teaches vinyasa, and runs her studio Sukha Mukha Yoga in Bronte. I first got to know Idit during my 200H Yoga Teacher Training, which she led alongside some other amazing teachers. It was a life-changing experience, and Idit's presence, humour, and sense of community were a fundamental part of making it so. I remember her saying to us on our first day, “Take your Yoga seriously, but do not take yourself too seriously”. I thought yep - I get this woman. I think you will, too. Thankyou Idit!
What do you do? I teach yoga, I teach on yoga teacher trainings, I run Sukha Mukha Yoga with the help of my teachers and studio manager, and I am a mother of two young kids. Can you describe your first impressions of yoga - your first class perhaps? My first class as a practitioner was in Rishikesh India and I loved it pretty much straight away. I had never followed any practice for an extended length of time but there was something in this practice that was calling me for more, and so I kept practicing through the years. My first teaching class however, was terrifying!!! All my fears and self doubt came up and through me. I had a nightmare the night before that I was coming to teach and that no one was doing what I was asking of them to do, and I suddenly realized I was talking to them in Hebrew... Obviously the class went much better than this (I spoke English and they did what I asked of them to do...) but the fears and self doubt stayed with me for more than six months until I managed to work through them and to start enjoying teaching. Do you practice the same style(s) of yoga as you teach? How has your own practice changed through teaching, and vice versa? Yes. I practice mainly Vinyasa and currently teach only 1 class a week which is open level Vinyasa. Having said that, my practice has changed a lot as I have changed through the years. I had two kids, I had a time of recurring miscarriages between the births, I had some injuries, I went through emotional challenges, and as such the practice has kept changing and evolving. I am a big fan of Restorative yoga and see it as a complimentary practice for any dynamic yoga practice, and for our lifestyle these days. In the last couple of years I got into Iyengar Yoga and feel it challenges me and helps me grow in ways different to the Vinyasa practice. I feel personally, that it has always been for me more about meeting the right teacher rather than a discipline or style. The Vinyasa is my passion, my language, my love... And the other systems and practices support me on this journey and help me explore elements that are sometimes compromised in the Vinyasa practice. It has been almost two years that I have had a daily Meditation practice which is the Vedic Meditation. I was trying many different meditation techniques through the years but none seemed to stick, but this specific style really resonates with me.
From your own perspective, what is your strength as a teacher? This is a hard question. I am not sure there is one strength. I somehow feel it is a combination of qualities and skills. I believe authenticity is important. Meeting your students where they are without judgements. Knowing how to hold the space while challenging the students to grow and expand in a safe environment. Empowering the students. What does yoga mean to you right now, and has this changed over time? Yoga means everything to me. IT IS A WAY OF LIFE. It is Life itself. It is how we think, feel and act. How we challenge ourselves to keep growing rather than sticking to customs, beliefs and patterns that are no longer ours. It is much more than Asana and Pranayama. These are just the tools to reach its deeper dimensions. It is our relationships with ourselves and others. It is a practice to come to know ourselves as we truly are.... To see things as they are. To remove the many different layers of tinted glass and barriers we have built through the years. This is not to say that I have done it all, but I feel I am on the path... Yes, I believe it has changed. When I started Yoga I came to it as I had anger issues... I thought I would become this super relaxed person that never gets angry at anything. I wanted to become this person who never gets angry. I wanted to be someone else.. someone who was not me... Now I don't see it this way. I don't even want it to be this way. I don't wish to be an emotionless person. Anger is energy. How we channel it is a different story and I feel yoga allows me to manage it better than before. It allows me to accept myself with my shadows and my light as the two sides of the coin. Not judging so much one as good and the other as "bad"... But how can they co-exist, hopefully in more peace and harmony, with less friction and disturbances. And a big part is self acceptance. Describe your experience of studying yoga. I started practicing in Rishikesh, India about 20 years ago. I then continued practicing everywhere I went. When I moved to NYC I met Jasmine Tarkeshi, from the Laughing Lotus, who has become one of my main teachers up until today. I fell in love with the practice of Vinyasa, incorporating music and yoga philosophy. I couldn't believe how deeply it affected me. Every time I went to class I felt as if Jasmine was talking directly to me. Directly to my heart. For many years I thought I was not a spiritual person. And suddenly everything she said made me intrigued. I wanted and needed to know more, as it made sense on every possible level. So I was getting more and more into it; I started buying books and reading more. Life moved me around and so I somehow found myself in Sydney after a few years, and took my first Yoga Teacher Training in Newtown, with Katie Manitsas at Samadhi Yoga. Since then Katie has become the other main teacher, influence and guide in my life. After graduating I signed up for the advanced 500 hours certificate of Yoga teaching, at Nature care college. I did many different workshops and conferences but I believe the main teachers that influenced me (aside from Katie and Jasmine) were Donna Farhi, Sharon Gannon and David Life, and Seane Corn. I recently completed 150 hours of yoga therapy with Nikola Ellis and 20 Yoga for Trauma with Esther Van Der Sande. I feel I keep learning and growing through my practice and life. What facet of teaching yoga brings you the most joy? I love your questions!!! They make me pause and think. I don't know if there is "one" ... It is so hard to put this into words. But possibly the connection. The spirit connection with those who come to classes and even more so those who take the yoga teacher training. Who (or what) do you look to for inspiration as a teacher? I believe I am drawn to honest and authentic people. To those who represent hope and light. Jack Kornfield has always been one. In the past few years Maya Angelou has become a great source of inspiration in my life. Frida Kahlo is another one. People who had all the right reasons to become victims of life and chose differently. I believe that both Katie and Jasmine, my main yoga teachers, represent the same to me. They are human beings who use the wisdom and knowledge of yoga to make the most of life. they do not pretend to be any more or any less than who they really are. This encouraged me to do and live the same. To rise up over what I believe my limitations are. To challenge my beliefs. To keep moving forward. What is one facet of the yoga industry you would like to see change? Or is there an area of change you see as a positive one? I believe there are lots of positive changes. Yoga is becoming much more mainstream. More and more people are trying it out and adopting it as a way of life. More GP's recommend yoga to their patients. I am excited to see it grow and excited to see where it is going to go next. Many of us resist change and this applies to many fields in our lives. I hear a lot of conversation about the "negative changes" but I personally don't see it this way. It is not good or bad... It is just "change". We often cling to how things used to be, how Yoga used to be taught, how yoga used to be practiced... But it is what it is, and I think it is wonderful! Can you share a piece of advice to new teachers starting out, or to people who are interested in studying yoga teaching? I think it is important that they teach from their practice and from their heart. Not trying to please their students but trusting that the right students will come to them because they share a practice that resonates with them. We can project and assume what people want, but this is based on our own mind and perception and is always limited. And to always keep up their own practice!!! Are there some Yoga resources you recommend? Fire of Love by Aadil Palkhivala is one of the most beautiful yoga books and books in general ever written. I love A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield, even though it is not a "yoga book" but it is a spiritual book and has been my guide for the past 20 years. Eastern Body Western Mind by Annadea Judith Yoga in Everyday Life by Donna Farhi There are so many! I am quite "old school" and stick mainly to books! Where can we follow you and your work? Sukha Mukha Website Sukha Mukha Instagram Sukha Mukha Facebook Who would you most like to answer these questions next? Katie Manitsas or Jasmine Tarkeshi, my teachers!
Photography by Virginia Venn