Meet the instructor: Margarita Houllis (Scorpio)
When did your yoga journey start? And why did you start?
My yoga journey started in 2002, a good friend dragged me along to a yoga class and I had no idea what it was all about the pending effect it would have on me – I just thought it would be something different and fun. My friend spoke so highly about it and because she is such a centred person in the face of everything and takes everything all in her stride – I wanted to emulate those qualities. She believed most of that was due to her yoga practise so it was a Harry met Sally moment for me – ‘I wanted what she was having’ – and that was the beginning.
‘I wanted what she was having’
My first class was an Iyenga class, in a massive warehouse in the city. It was a cold, raining Saturday morning; the practise – mixed with the sound of the rain beating down on the tin roof – absolutely seduced my senses and – BAMM – I was hooked!
I remember the seed to being a yoga teacher was planted way back when I went to that first class. I just felt amazing, my monkey mind began to tame and this energy of wellbeing was constantly with me. I started to notice how I was becoming more resilient in the face of challenges and so many more benefits and I was desperate to share this with others. I wanted to help them along with their own journies on, and off, the mat.
What do you find most rewarding about being a yoga instructor? And most challenging?
I love seeing the students give it their best, watching them honour themselves on the mat, watching them grow in their practise, finding their next edge within a pose, learning themselves. It is such a privilege to witness their growth, see their smiles as well as their inner strength. The way students show up for themselves is truly amazing.
Admittedly, the most challenging thing is showing up to teach when I am not feeling the greatest, when all I want to do is hide away and when I have had a most challenging time which has tested me to my core.
Do you have a life strategy or a personal philosophy that rarely fails you?
Yes! I stop for a moment, take a deep breath, tell myself ‘I have got this, I can do this, there is no such thing as failure, just lessons learnt making me all the wiser and that I am exactly where I am meant to be and experiencing exactly what I am meant to be experiencing, feeling exactly what I am meant to be feeling’. I make my peace in that, graciously accepting of myself, everything and everyone around me and that constant exploring and having self awareness on and off the mat.
Do you have any long term yoga goals?
To keep learning, practising, sharing and teaching yoga. I will always be a student along my journey.
Margarita’s other life:
When I am not in the studio, I am a full time clinical nurse at the RAH working in the trauma operating theatres.
I also enjoy reading philosophy, love cooking, love to paint, hanging out with my dog, DJ, at the park or the beach, love going out for breakfast with my friends and love tasting wine. I’m currently learning to play guitar and I love to sing. A real treat is to soak in the bath with candles lit, music playing, good book to read and a sneaky glass of red wine nearby. Oh and I love travelling! Off the beaten track immersing myself into another culture is my idea of bliss.
What is your favourite yoga pose and why?
Ustrasana (camel pose). I love the surrender it takes to completely explore this pose, to not react and pull out of it but just surrender. I love what it represents to me – those times in life when we are feeling most challenged, that we are brought to our knees, we can’t see our way forward with our minds and that we have to surrender back and release our heads behind us to find a different perspective and allow our hearts to lead the way. The courage it takes to stay in it and to just keep breathing…
What is the yoga pose that challenges you the most and why?
Handstand! Some days I can and some days my balance is out but it’s all a journey and I just keep working on it.
Describe where yoga has helped you overcome a challenge in life?
I now take life challenges to my mat and work through it during my asana. Yoga has taught me not to run away from myself, to show up, embrace the challenge as if I had chosen it, be resilient and deeply grounded yet resilient. It definitely seeps into my life off the mat with the biggest difference for me is yoga taming my monkey mind. And what a monkey mind it was; simply exhausting! Thankfully, not anymore.
What is your greatest fear?
To let fear hold me back from truly living and sharing what is in my heart. Oh and sharks!
Describe your lifestyle and eating habits?
I have a pretty fast paced lifestyle so when I can I love my downtime, chilling out relaxing with good friends, family, or watching a movie.
I eat whatever my body craves. I don’t follow any diets and I eat everything in moderation and love fresh food, fruits, seafood, I am a meat eater.
If you were a supermarket item what would you be? Why?
Peppermint chewing gum! Small, breath of fresh air, soft on the inside, strong and resilient – just like me!
If you could only instill one thing from yoga to your students, what would it be?
It is a journey, not a destination so go easy on yourselves and let the journey unravel for you instead of forcing your way through! Let go of expectations or needing to be somewhere other than where you are in a pose and most importantly every day your practice is different!
You make the pose the pose doesn’t make you.
What is your favourite thing in life? Besides yoga, of course…
Family, friends, my dog! Oh and hammocks…laying on a hammock..
How would you cure world hunger if you had the chance?
Redirect finances and create sustainable living.
Tell me something that not many people know about you?
I write poetry…