Meet the Director/Principal Teacher – Sue Czuchwicki (Taurus)
When did your yoga journey start? And why did you start?
Sixteen years ago – to complement triathlon and cycling training and to get a good stretch, relaxation and grounding. My first class was a community class run by the local pharmacy in Bendigo, Victoria. The teacher (Sally Downes) was warm and friendly and had a special disposition about her that I was really drawn to and no other past coach/trainer had. The class itself was a nice mix of physical work and relaxation and I remember having the best night’s sleep after that first class. I knew then that there was something in this practise; something deep.
What led you to decide to become a yoga instructor?
Nothing in particular led me to it as it intuitively just felt right. Whilst initially the benefits of practicing yoga were of a physical nature I was amazed how soon yoga began to extend beyond the mat and into my daily life and relationships.
Yoga brought a calming focus to my life, a greater awareness when facing life’s challenges and I wanted to share what I was receiving with others. It was fairly soon after I had started yoga classes that I had already made enquiries to Sally. Interestingly, she said that out of all the students in her classes, she had a feeling I would be the one asking her about teacher training. Maybe it’s Karma?
What do you find most rewarding about being a yoga instructor? And most challenging?
Firstly I would like to make the distinction between yoga instructor and yoga ”teacher”. I believe that yoga is a science, a philosophy and a way of life. An instructor is someone who details physical postures whereas a “teacher” is someone who uses the postures to stimulate awareness and deeper understanding of yoga science. Having said that it doesn’t mean I’m not instructional in my teaching but for me “instructor” doesn’t involve inspiration or understanding. An instructor tells you what to do but a teacher helps you understand why you are doing it.
I love that I am able to facilitate and guide transformation in others be it physically, mentally, emotionally and or spiritually. Ultimately, it is the students who do the work, but I get to ignite the spark within them that shows them they are already powerful and unique human beings and with this innate gift they have the ability to embrace life even in the face of challenge. Teaching yoga never feels like work, it is a gift that I am honoured to share.
The most challenging would be the confrontation that comes up personally from not meeting students’ expectations. Sometimes students say ‘for a yoga teacher you should be like this’. At the end of the day I am a human being on a life journey like everyone else not a stereotype of what one expects a yoga teacher to be.
Being a studio owner I also find the “business” of yoga to be challenging. I created yogafusion to be able to share my passion for the science of yoga. The skills of running a business are completely separate to this and present their own unique challenges especially when there seems to be a perception that having fees, terms and conditions is not considered “yogic”. However, what I have learned is that to have integrity and consistency around business matters and studio policy is actually a practise in Satya (truthfulness and honesty), which is indeed spiritual and yogic.
Describe where yoga has helped you overcome a challenge in life.
There have been so many where does one start? It has helped with grief over the loss of my mum – she was only 56! Yoga has helped with the challenges of parenting, but the biggest challenge I have faced and still face which yoga is the true medicine for is the challenge of dealing with myself. Through yoga I have been able to continously explore realms of myself that might otherwise be left deeply buried or ignored and through that exploration (warning: cliché approaching) grow as a human being. For it’s in that growth that we become enlightened, which is the ultimate goal of yoga.
How do you think yoga affects your parenting?
Often people say I must have really well adjusted, calm kids being a yoga teacher and that they are so lucky to have yogis as parents. Yet, I face the same rewarding and challenging experiences of any other parent. Yoga definitely brings about a calmness, gives me greater mental clarity to handle situations better. But then there are days when that all goes out the window. Usually when I have not been practising or meditating as regularly. Yoga has taught me compassion, to be kind to myself and not so hard on myself. When I take care of myself first ultimately the kids benefit. Aparigraha (non attachment) would be the biggest guide for me in parenting. Trying not to be attached to the outcome of my parenting and to let go of expectations of how they should be. Not easy, but the awareness is there and that’s a start.
What else do you do in life, aside from yoga? Eg, job, hobbies, lifestyle, creative outlets
Running a household and family is my other fulltime job. I have a new passion for zooming around the countryside on my scooter. I enjoy being around nature, the ocean, countryside. Riding alone is kind of like meditation and you truly have to be present in order to not harm yourself! I enjoy dining out (Thai food is my favourite), walking my dog, reading (usually yoga related) and going to the movies.
What is your favourite yoga pose and why?
I can tell you my least favourite as I otherwise truly love them all and that is Sasangasana (rabbit pose). I find it claustrophobic.
What is the yoga pose that challenges you the most and why?
Urdvha Dhanurasana (full wheel pose). The challenge for me is to remain calm in the breath whist not collapsing into my lower back.
What is your greatest fear?
Totally irrational, but I have this fear of driving over bridges which span across water. I always have to wind the windows down when travelling across them just in case the car was to veer off (or the bridge collapsed) and plunge into the water below and then not being able to escape. I figure if the window is already open I have a good chance of getting out. I can’t even watch such a scene of a car underwater in a movie without squirming.
Do you have a life strategy or a personal philosophy that rarely fails you?
I rely on my strength.
Tell us something that not many people know about you?
I love opera – my favourite is Madame Butterfly.
Do you have any long term yoga goals?
Yoga is an abyss, never ending, always something new to learn and discover about myself. I am a perpetual yoga student and I endeavour to regularly attend workshops and trainings around Australia and beyond to enrich my own practise as well as my teaching. I have been recently accepted into Tiffany Cruikshank’s (internationally renown yoga teacher) 500 hour yoga medicine teacher training, which is really exciting!
Describe your lifestyle and eating habits:
I rise early and “try” to go to bed early, I’m a vegetarian, eat two meals a day depending on my teaching schedule and not necessarily at normal meal times. I rarely graze but must have chocolate everyday. Any kind will do. I juice when I can, take a multi vitamin each day and I drink lots of herbal teas.
If you were a supermarket item, what would you be? Why?
Chilli – that way I will always add spice to peoples’ life! Plus I love chilli and spicy food.
If you could only instil one thing from yoga to your students, what would it be?
Only ONE thing?! Love being perfectly imperfect.
What is your favourite thing in life? Besides yoga, of course!
How would you cure world hunger if you had the chance?
Eliminate money spent on warfare and reduce the amount of money/sponsorships in big league sports and use it towards food production and the education of it.