‘Insist upon your yourself. Be original.’- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Put simply, Vanda Scaravelli was an exceptional woman; a pioneer; a revolutionary. She was extremely courageous; she allowed herself to appreciate and develop a deeply profound way of working: a way of working that could not be taught as competition to achieve a pose or as a formula for following a guru. Such was Vanda’s belief in the beauty and integrity of this new way of working that she worked in isolation thereby effectively renouncing the fame, fortune and recognition that might otherwise have been hers. Vanda couldn’t have cared less; she didn’t want a guru and she certainly didn’t want to be a one.
Vanda was not prescriptive, neither was she vain. She had no interest in having this approach to yoga named after her: Vanda knew that her subject matter was much bigger than her, much bigger than any of us. She recognised that the beauty and complexity of the body could not be owned, explained, reduced or directed by formulae, set instructions or any over-arching method.
Vanda had first been introduced to yoga by BKS Iyengar and had taken private lessons with him for a number of years for which she said she was ‘really grateful’. She was also taught by Desicachar from whom she learned much about breathing –
‘But it was only when I remained alone that I discovered a new world in this field, a world without aim and without competition, where the body can start again to function naturally and happily, allowing expansion to take place in space.
Iyengar and Desicachar were no longer coming to Gstaad, therefore I was stimulated to find a different approach that would permit those around me to continue their practice without becoming exhausted. Gravity seemed to be the answer; and from there started a new way of doing the asanas.
It is not so much the performance of the exercises that matters, but rather the way we are doing them. We have three friends: gravity, breath and wave (connected with the supple movement of extension along the spine). These three companions (fused in one) should be constantly with us.’