I first tried yoga because I had an extremely painful lower back and was desperate to try anything to sort it out. Over a period of about fifteen years I went to various yoga classes, sometimes as often as five times a week. In these classes, my aim was not so much to achieve this or that pose, although I tried my best, but rather to rid myself of the crippling pain in my back. Despite my dedication I knew I was getting nowhere — even if I often felt physically better after a class. It never lasted. I was trying to force my body to do what I thought I wanted or what my teacher thought I needed. The result was that I wasn’t paying any attention to what my body was screaming to tell me; that it hurt even more, rather than less.
It was only when I started working with Diane Long and Sophy Hoare in 2005 that I began to understand that this Scaravelli approach to yoga is fundamentally about allowing yourself the freedom to move. It’s about putting in place and cultivating the conditions – both physical and mental – for developing a freely moving body. It’s about making space for the new, the undiscovered, the unknown.
My approach to yoga is now based on the principle that a yoga practice is an exercise in learning to let go of tension and pain in your body and not an exercise in endurance as you try to achieve a set of rigid poses. It means being kind to your body and not trying to discipline it. It’s about learning to work with and not against your body and enjoying its new movement. One way of trying to describe this approach to yoga is that it’s about recognising and then ridding yourself of obstacles to what’s already there.