Artist trained (BA, MA Ceramics & Performing Arts) , Liz draws inspiration from Nature, the Body, Poetry, Music and contemporary Bodywork.
She now fuses Yoga as Art in a series of Mandala Drawings, illustrating sequencing, layered with motifs for visualisation, contemplation and mudra (gesture) and mantra (heartsong). Her teaching draws on these inspirations, with a contemporary interpretation of philosophy (see book: '1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom').
Drawings are available, DVD 'Yogalibre', and a CD of Yogasong is available, along with a number of books (See publications).
Liz Lark has been teaching yoga for almost 20 years, developing from British Wheel of Yoga (Hatha) Teacher Training foundations, Astanga Vinyasa Yoga ( see footage of practising in mid 90's in under Derek Ireland, Vimeo.com: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Practice, Agios Pavlos, Crete), Teacher Training in Goa and Mysore (1995).
She has been connected with The Life Centre London since 1995.
Thai Yoga Massage training in Chieng Mei has informed hands- on adjustments, which Liz teaches along with Creative Sequencing, for the London Teachers Training Course on which she's a board member.
Based in East Sussex, Liz runs classes and special workshops in Tunbridge Wells . She teaches retreats and workshops nationally and internationally.
Clients have included Conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner & The Monteverdi Choir, English National Ballet, Indian Dance Company Sujata Bannerjee, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Mariel Hemingway, Peter Gabriel, Mariella Frostrup,
One of the first teachers to run yoga retreats, Liz leads Courses in unspoilt places of natural beauty, the next retreat being in Goa, India (see retreats).
Liz teaches at our 'Yoga Center' summer of Yoga retreats, usually in the month of August. She also teaches with In-spa Retreats in Marrakesh, Italy and Seville, where she also gathers inspiration to continue to continue her art/drawing.
The Life Centre
A Board Member for The Life Centre's Teachers Training Course, Liz is involved in training safe, competent, creative yoga teachers committed to maintaining a high calibre of yoga teaching in the UK and beyond.
Liz is a member of Yoga Alliance USA & British Wheel of Yoga.
'Yoga Center' Advanced Diploma
Liz will now be part of the AIPYS Yoga Teachers Training Advanced Diploma program. Liz will teach and share ways of sequencing classes, including layers to tap into a holistic practice, enriching our concept of the Koshas (layers of consciousness), which are cleansed through yoga practises. Liz works with teachers and students to re - inspire our vision of yoga. Good revision for teachers and ideas for new teachers.
INTERVIEW WITH LIZ LARK
Question¿Twenty years teaching yoga... How have your teachings changed or evolved throughout the years?
AnswerYoga practice and teaching is a constant evolution, in parallel with different phases of life and meaning. Feeling the holistic benefits of Hatha Yoga during Art School in 1990, I felt drawn to understand the benefits of yoga on mind, body and spirit so enrolled on Teacher Training in 1990, during which I began yearly summer practice of Astanga Yoga in Crete. Astanga Choreography consumed and carried me with it’s all embracing constancy of practice, flow, breath, focus and body sensation. The challenges satisfied my ‘pitta’ drive and calmed my fickle, erratic mind n my mid-twenties. The creative immersion nourished my yearning to be creative, to dance. Getting ‘out of the mind and into the body’ (Bruce Lee) encapsulated the Astanga practice, reducing existential questions which induced fear and anxiety. Frozen by questions such as ‘what am I here for?’. I was able to melt the mind and mold the body into a daily practice.
A knee injury (from skiing) changed my practice to restorative, viparita karani, pranayama. and more ‘being’, freeing me from attachment to asana practice. During this time I wrote a book ‘Yoga for Life’, seeing the value of different styles and paths of yoga, and taking the wisdom of Desikachar , that ‘all yoga is the same’, and let go of comparisons, just as in religions. Whilst teaching in London from 1995, I interwove astanga sequencing with my own sequencing, as I was studying an M.A in Performing Arts, appreciating interdisciplinary Arts, I feel the same about Yoga - it is not wrong to integrate different styles, if they have integrity and authenticity. I now teach creative sequencing on a teacher training course, with much inspiration from Nature, Color, Elements, Music, Song, Poetry. It is liberating to nourish the soul/ inner life with any form of creativity. Primary influences are my animals, dog, cat and music, singing.
Q.¿You know several Yoga styles; how do you create your classes? Are there elements from each Style you know? How do you select those elements for each class?
AI follow templates, to hang a practice on. Like a cake with segments or slices, the first slice is - becoming present, feeling proprioceptive awareness through breath, with floor work to limber and oil the joints. Pawanmuktasana (joint freeing series) of Satyananda schools will be part of this, preparing for weight bearing poses, with yielding release stretches, inspired by release dance technique. The second segment or slice will ‘grow’ into all fours, cat pose and creative cat variations, inspired by the beautiful creatures. How to move the spine is another template: flexion, extension, side bending, twist, extension, inversion - this is a base I use for all classes, to include all these patterns of movement. The next phase is ‘growing the dog’ pose, with beginner’s mind, and this may weave into ‘variations on a theme of sun/ moon salutations. There are myriad sun salutation versions and we can create our own. Now I am ready for standing poses, which I always respect the standing Astanga Series. Balance Backbends, Twists, Seated poses, Return o floor, Inversions. relaxation. mediation.
This is my basic template which will vary in how much focus I give to each segment.
Q.¿Do you have a “favorite” style? If so, which and why?
AI love to combine restorative - to surrender, and strength practice of standing astanga to stabilize and connect. The somatic approach is central for me now, using the sensory, proprioceptive awareness to release - I learn which parts my body and spine need, more from the contemporary dance world. I endeavor to cultivate sattwa (balance).Most of us need to release and extend our thoracic spine, so backbends which target upper spine are focused, to open the heart and cultivate a strong ‘open heart warrior’ quality. Yoga Nidra, relaxation is a wonderful tonic, to unglue attachments (and therefore relinquish suffering), and gain a less controlling way of living. I learn from the ‘klesha’ of Patanjali, reflecting on the five ‘trip - ups’ which entangle us in life.
Increasingly, I practice restorative yoga, using props, in order to practice a deeper mental surrender and acceptance, with Yoga Nidra, from the Satynanada school.
Q.¿How do you prepare your classes? And your workshops? What about your retreats?
AI hope to have time to be able to play - to walk the dog, in nature, to listen to music, to roll around on the floor, to contemplate life, and take poetry or writing, where I hand write ideas down for themes, and like a piece of art, build ideas like sketches. I draw mandalas, with a central image, such as a bridge, or tree, and write a poem around the tree. I look in yoga books for mantras or mudras which will relate to the theme, such as element earth, or rooting tree. Currently I am investigating the spices for kapha dosha, to war and balance us in the winter months. Trust my artistic interpretation to develop. The next retreat in kerala, I am taking the spice vinyasa with me - zinger vinyasa based on ginger, for example! You’d better come and see!!
Q.¿What is the most important element in your classes?
AInvoking peace. Creative space to allow receptivity - to step away from control.
Q.¿You are an artist; how do you combine art and Yoga?
As said above. I draw ideas, I write a line of poetry. I tie these with a theme. I sense the teaching of the tree - what is the message? I go to sources to inspire, such as The Tao The Ching, Chinese wisdom, on the teaching of Water and nature……. I look at mudras, to relate to the theme. I make a dance, a sequence, which is safe, accessible, in order to share this with people, who I hope will be enriched and touched by this.
Q.¿Where does inspiration come when you create your classes and your Yoga crafting’s?
AIf I can allow space, time and trust, the ideas will come. In my background, I grew up in a vicarage, so the emphasis was on spiritual discipline, singing, worship, …this will have had an effect on me.
Q.¿How much is there of preparation and how much of improvisation?
AThis is a very good question! I would say in equal measure, like two banking spices in a meal! Too much planning and the thing will not be alive and with spirit. Too little planning and the thing can be a chaotic mess!! A fine balance of both. The trust that something will happen in the mix….
Q.¿Classes, retreats, books, workshops... How do you manage to do all of that?
AThank you, that is touching. I have been prepared to give up some classes at time, to allow space for something else to come. I live by intuition. I moved to the countryside, which was not a commercial, sensible move, but a move for the nourishment of the inner life and to build a sense of community.
Q.¿Do you have time to practice Yoga with such a busy agenda? How do you do it?
AIt is a lifestyle. I do not measure the hours spent ‘on the mat’, but rather see yoga as life, not determined or judged by time. I control my diary, I am self-employed, the yoga practice can be restorative, meditative ponderings, with some movement to free the body of tensions and strengthen the body.
Q.¿How do you integrate Yoga in your daily life, beyond your classes and workshops? Yoga filters into everything. Dancing, Meals, deciding what to watch as a Film - censoring what will hurt me and choosing what will free me. I aspire to learn dance, and do not limit toga to be defined only as a practice on the mat. Nutrition is vital - yet without rigidity or strictness. My view is the ‘middle path’ - lighten up where possible!! I may practice in the woods whilst walking my dog. She sits beside me and watches, as if she is my teacher.
Q.¿What is the greatest thing Yoga has gifted you?
AFreedom. Empowerment (oh, that’s two!). Go with the first….
Q.¿How do you experience Yoga? Could you describe what It makes you feel? If I can follow the breath, and movements with ahimsa (kindness), it feels spacious. I perceive it as a return to purusha (‘energy’). An ungluing from prakriti (‘’matter’). It cannot be grasped or taken from granted, nor bottled…….it is a constant, ongoing process of release, awareness, and so it keeps me humble…….in touch with the inner child.
Q.¿Has your relationship with Yoga changed over the years? How?
AYes, less force, more yield. Gradual melting of ego, inshallah!
Q.¿You like to use inspirational quotes; how do you integrate them within the Yoga context? ¿Do they inspire you to create a specific class or a drawing, or is it more like a general feeling that inspires different creations?
AI will have to think about this question, a good one! We all learn and are inspired in different ways (note the ten intelligences). I learn and feel kinesthetically, visual and feeling. So, it may start visually. Then I ask the question, ‘how does it feel’, and follow a path of what brings peace…….and draw on the different yoga tools that I have. But I am a beginner, and so am always learning.
Q.¿How did you start collecting these quotes?
AI always kept journals, artist sketch books, and would write words and paint images, and weave them together too - I am a big fan of graffiti, and like to photograph it wherever I find it (Portobello Road Graffiti for example)
Q.¿Regarding these quotes, do you draw inspiration from every field of knowledge or do you have any particular interest in a specific field (literature, philosophy, science...)?
AI am not a scholar, or a purist. I am a magpie and I have gradually freed myself from the guilt of being so. I used to feel guilty and confused for not going to church when I discovered the church could be in the woods … we have to keep freeing our self from conditioning, don’t we?
Q.¿What would you recommend to any Yoga practitioner?
AFollow your feeling. Trust yourself. Be kind to yourself Learn from anything and everything.
Play whenever you can!
She has written several books, published by with Carlton Books, which include stunning photography by Clare Park, and two books with publishers Carroll and Brown.
Her recent book is a visually inspiring yoga wisdom book by Duncan Baird Publishers: '1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom'.
Her first DVD is called 'Yogalibre', a Creative Vinyasa Practice, with sections for all levels and safe use of modification/props. It is available online or email firstname.lastname@example.org for copies.