My name is Theresa. I do yoga. I’m also a Hip Hop Yogi, and the one behind Alchetea Yoga. In the words on Lupe Fiasco— Hip Hop Saved My Life and, as Erykah sings it, it literally is: The Love Of My Life 🧀
My classes are an attempt to share the magical union of Hip Hop with Yoga, which makes for a fun, pretty gangsta-in-an-empowering-way, and sweaty hour.
I’m a Virgo Sun, Taurus Moon, Libra Mercury, Virgo Mars, Virgo Venus & Capquarius* Rising. Under the Jungian influenced Myer-Briggs tests, I waffle equally between an INFJ & ENFJ which explains my seeming polarity. And according to Caroline Myss, I fall under the Mystic, Artist & Poet archetypes.
I was born to a mother who ran away to become a nun and then became a philosopher instead when my Lola refused a nun of a daughter, and a street hustling unconventional hippy-but-not-hippy sort of dad. That union resulting me; I’ve always been a seeker, dreamer and wanderer and officially committing to the Yogic path by way of teaching feels like it’s all coming together and makes sense. So here you go. I’m still forever seeking, learning and wandering and love to share the knowledge my Virgo brain has put together in my 30ish years of existence so far, by way of Yoga. And Hip Hop. Always Hip Hop.
*(ok, cusps don’t apparently exist for Rising signs, but had I been born two minutes later, I’d be Aquarius and I feel I’m energetically both.)
I completed my 200YTT at Yoga 213. The pretty bomb-ass Hip Hop Yoga studio in Richmond. My teachers were Hamford McDonald (Asanas) Steve Ross (Philosophy) & Amelia Schrader (Anatomy.)
I also have Pellowah 1 & 2 in my toolbag which I gained under the tutelage of the divine Andrea Morris of The Emerald Vision.
As the yearn to learn is deep, I’m looking to add more YTT hours soon.
Well, if you gathered from the first section that I’m pretty screwed with my idealistic tendencies, Yoga was my magical solution.
Before I committed to the Yogic Path, I had been living life primarily through my head. I was constantly analysing my surroundings, situations and interactions and philosophising about life and human behaviour, as if it would solve my anxiety/depression. I believed it was how I was to survive life. (And I’m only getting deep with the summary of this because years of Somatic Psychotherapy, alternative therapies and mental self-inquiry.)
My conundrum isn’t unique. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia.
I knew that the anxiety/depression cycle was not the ‘real’ me. Because I had read some Eckhart Tolle, I believed knowing about ‘being present to the moment’ would allow me to arise the vicious cycle that is Anxiety & Depression. I’d get unsustainable glimpses of it through meditation, experiences with some energy healers, my ability to drift off into some pretty awesome daydream lands, and by way of psychedelics. Still, it didn’t really work just knowing about this stuff.
I went through 5 years of Somatic Psychotherapy, which is, psychotherapy informed by bodily sensations. For bazillion reasons that I could write a thesis on, I was not in my body. I just survived in it, and before yoga, I guess I perceived my body as a robotic function to get me from A to B. I was constantly tense and my body just felt hard and unloved.
Committing to the daily practice of Yoga was hard mentally, physically & emotionally. There was a delay in how I’d take on the cues from teachers as somatically, I didn’t know my right from left. I was the kind of person who would have to see which hand made an L shape with the index/thumb to know it was Left.
I feel I’m waffling, so to sum it up nobody explains it better than KRS One with:
‘Hip means to know, it’s a form of intelligence
To be hip is to be update and relevant
Hop is a form of movement
You can’t just observe a hop, you gotta hop up and do it…’
So, I’d been ‘hipping’ all my life and Yoga showed me that I had to hop up and do it by way of Asana. Having to do Yoga every day, allowed me to drop out of my mental intelligence, and into my body intelligence for which I hadn’t trusted to exist. I’d started to tap into the alchemy of Yoga.
Hip Hop makes for a really, really, really, really fun Yoga Class. It’s basically your Vinyasa/Hatha/Ashtanga Yoga Class to some Hip Hop. With a carefully curated playlist, you can get an added vibe of funkiness, gangtsa-empowerment and complete soul-relaxation injected into your flow practice.
My first Yoga experience was at Fitness First when I was 19. It bored me, and so I decided that I preferred Pilates (that was short-lived.) The next Yoga experience was a Bikram class, and after that, decided to never bother with Yoga again.
7 years later, when Yoga 213 first opened in South Yarra, I went. Mostly because it was advertised as Hip Hop Yoga, and the studio was funky. I remember Jill Scott, D’Angelo, Frank Ocean were playing (due to my aversion to working out hard enough to sweat, I’d always book the Chill instead of Hip Hop class) and I loved it. I lasted my 5-class pass and a bit more, before my head convinced me to quit when I CBF. The music was enough for me to decide, I did like yoga. It just had to be in a vibe that aligned with my soul. I’m pretty ADHD if it’s not right.
- Yoga became accessible to me because of Hip Hop
- Hip Hop was born from an energy that sought expression in oppressive states. THIS IS PERFECT FOR YOGA.
- The spiritual journey of self-inquiry is honourable and to be respected; but it doesn’t have to be steeped in a constant energy of stoicism, anguish and a prudish sense of seriousness. I grew up Catholic, I’ve had enough of that shit.
- Bramacharya has taught me that I have no time for elitism and intellectual ego-games. I have more space for love, happiness and compassion instead. Woo.
Just a play on Alchemy. I get called T. And I love drinking tea. My definition and experience of it that I try to explain when asked about symbols I have tattooed on my arm is this; alchemy is the magic in the middle of two extremes. Depression/Anxiety, Lust/Hate, Obsession/Aversion, Light/Dark etc, etc. Yoga is a form of alchemy, as put in my YTT Asana Training Manual by Yoga 213;
‘Yoga is the art and science of resolving the inherent duality in all things to create a union of mind, body & soul.’
I first came across the word in Year 10 when my literature teacher got us reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for a term. I didn’t really understand it then. I’m pretty sure I was more concerned about Tupac coming back from the dead as he was supposed to return in 2003.
I re-read the book when I was 21 and then got it. It articulated my experience of intuition, and following your heart or ‘Personal Legend’ in a way that woke me up to say ‘this is how you see life.’
I became more drawn to the philosophy of Alchemy because it just made life make sense and I guess it’s the thing I could call my religion. The notion of alchemy is what gets me through my bad days, and excites me on my good days and allows me to really, not give a fuck about the small stuff.
If you can’t tell from my mental state revealed through here, I’m an artist. My passion projects that are constantly on-the-go include filmmaking, acting, music-making, writing and painting.
My hustle job is Qi. It’s a new-age indie institution. Check it out. I spent the first 3 years slinging crystals, incense, sage, New-Age Books, making free coffees/teas/chais, running around like an insane person trying to seem sane for the Healing Centre, and building the social media. Now I’m the Web Editor doing computer stuff. The place has taught me so much about Spirituality, the New-Age community and business.
I take the role of Yoga teaching and holding a space for people seriously. I have gone through enough teachers, mentors, directors and wackos in the; New-Age scene, method-acting world, and various creative industries, to teach me the values, boundaries and respect required for a healthy teacher-student relationship
I don’t ever want to come off as a false prophet, or that I know everything. So, as I get on with life, I’m always wanting to be as authentic towards others and myself. Hence the big ass life story. Well done if you read through it all.
As Christopher Pike says,
‘a true teacher would never tell you what to do. But he would give you the knowledge with which you could decide what would be best for you to do.’
And within all of us as individuals; there lives a teacher who wouldn’t exist without the student who also lives within us, and vice versa. I’m a bigger student than a teacher, but I’m sure that balance will alchemise itself out by the time I’m 90.
Pellowah = Google it. After sitting in the unique position of maintaining my Customer Service face within the wobbly boundaries of the new age scene for a little too long, I get cautious trying to explain something unexplainable.
Bramacharya = often translated as celibacy or chastity, but the practice of this fourth Yama encourages the ‘right use of energy.’ Where do you choose to consciously direct your energy for your highest good? Where are you unconsciously losing your energy in a way that doesn’t serve your highest good? Etc, etc…
Highest Good = Your optimal self. The self that sits in a natural bliss state. The self that transcends the ego. The God in you etc, etc…
Ego = In Yoga, the term relates to anything that keeps your separate from the other, and the divine.
Yama = Moral & Ethic codes of Yoga as established by Patanjali.
Patanjali = Mythic sage from India from the second or third centuries. He wrote the Yoga Sutras, an ancient text that describes the path and way to Samadhi, or enlightenment.