Paulina became interested in yoga when she saw Madonna’s arms on TV in 1999! Having been a gym rat for all her life, she wanted the level of fitness that Madonna was reportedly getting from yoga.
Due to the fact that Paulina was living in Libya at that time and there were no yoga studios or classes available, she started her practise with videos. For a few years she continued practicing with videos and DVD’s and once, while she was practicing at her gym (this time while living in Iran), a friend asked her to teach her. Enjoying the teaching but feeling that she should have some instruction and qualifications to be able to do it properly Paulina enrolled in a 200 hour teacher training in Thailand and for the first time in her life she was “out” into the yoga world.
After the course she went back to Iran and started to teach in earnest. This was early 2006. After that summer, she moved to Singapore and seeing the yoga possibilities the city offered she decided to improve her practise and expand her knowledge of what yoga was about with the goal of being a better teacher. A couple of years later as Paulina continued to develop her practice and understanding, she was invited to teach a workshop in Pakistan (where she had previously lived for a few years) and she decided to do another teacher training.
In 2010 she took the plunge and did the 500 hour Como Shambhala teacher training in Singapore. In the later part of the year, Paulina was diagnosed with a SLAP tear (shoulder injury), which she had sustained many years before but was thankfully discovered as a result of her yoga practise, and she had surgery to resolve it. 2 days after coming out of hospital, she was back on the mat with her arm in a sling and started using her practise to help in the rehabilitation process. She continued her training, which she finished and graduated at the end of that year.
Early in 2011 her life took a huge change when she slipped 2 disks (once again not related to her yoga practice) and was immobilised for a week. In rehabilitation Paulina changed her practise and started to observe, through her own body and its response to different asanas and pranayama exercises, that the pose wasn’t the main thing, but it was how to use the body to heal and protect itself. She also came to understand that holding the pose is very beneficial and this is an aspect she uses in her teaching rather than rapid movements from one pose to another.
Her own experiences with healing heightened Paulina’s enthusiasm to train as a yoga therapist, and a yoga teacher for patients with cancer, a course she started at the end of 2011 and finished early in 2012.
Paulina still practises daily and works not so much on the final pose, but on what her body is feeling at the moment and how to protect her body as she develops her practice. She teaches in a hospice once a week and for her this is the best day of the week. Even with all the challenges the patients have, when they are doing their practise the happiness that those couple of hours gives them makes her whole yoga journey complete.
What is your favourite type of class to teach? My favourite class to teach is the class in which the students understand how to make the pose more comfortable so the body makes space and then is able to move. That I can teach all day long. ☺
What is your favourite pose? I used to say that I wanted to do mayurasana and then I could die happy, and you know what…. I don’t care anymore because I’m having too much fun practicing other things and if I ever do mayurasana fine, but my life is not going to be enriched or empty if I don’t.
What keeps bringing you back to your yoga mat? What brings me back?…I guess the fact that I like it, that I have discovered how happy, how free, how light I feel when I practise (in the first few minutes of my practise, my brain is saying “give up” but that quickly passes and when I finish the practise -I usually practise for 2 hours- my brain is saying what?? Is it over?? Do we have to stop? ☹). Even on holiday I practise. I “cheat” sometimes and just do pranayama, and a few poses, but I definitely do something everyday. My day feels “weird” if I don’t.
What is the strangest place you have done a yoga practice/pose? The strangest place I have practised is whilst climbing up Krakatoa (a volcano in Indonesia) as it was exploding…. Just beware of the big rocks coming your way…
What always makes you laugh? As much as life makes you cry, it makes me laugh even more; the silliness of the dilemmas and the dramas we create and how easy many of our problems can be resolved. That always makes me smile.
What is one of your personal quirks/habits/idiosyncrasies? Quirky habits… ask my husband, he calls me a Nazi in the kitchen: “don’t use that knife”, “that is not the right linen”, “oh no, you ruined that pot”…. Poor saint he is. ☺
For a thoughtful, deep and focussed practice, join Paulina’s class.