Would you believe when I was younger I had an issue with savasana? It seems reprehensible I know, but I would honestly dread this ‘relaxation time’ at the end of yoga because it meant I had to try and pack up my things and duck out to the car without drawing attention to myself. I tried to lie through the ‘corpse pose’ time and time again but it made me feel physically ill. I’m serious. Nausea and headaches. My mother was convinced it was my “toxins getting a good stir up” from the yoga practice. I decided yoga just wasn’t ‘physical’ enough for me and threw myself into the much sweatier pursuits of boxing, netball, and gym sessions.
Luckily for me my mother firmly believed my competitive ‘type A’ personality was in dire need of regular yoga, and over the years dragged me along to various styles of yoga classes hoping something would eventually click and I’d decide to go of my own accord. As a result I became semi competent in the poses and taking instructors queues, and even started to enjoy the dreaded savasana.
Fast forward to my 30’s and I try and get in a yoga session at home a couple of times a week, with at least 15mins in savasana on a Shakti mat afterwards (essentially a bed of nails – it’s not as bad as it sounds). The only problem with this is that I don’t have the benefit of a yoga instructor to queue me, help me get deeper into postures, and correct me along the way. This is why it seemed like an extremely good idea to head along to visit Sarah Elfvin at Lucky Bodies and Happy Souls for a one on one yoga session. How decadant!
Meet Sarah Elfvin
When you meet Sarah you can’t help but be in awe. She is a picture of health – trim, very toned, and if the eyes are a reflection of your insides, her bright blues scream ‘healthy’. Sarah is the resident yogi at Lucky Bodies and Healthy Souls located in Palma’s hub of holistic health, Santa Catalina. There she holds regular yoga classes’ onsite in their studio, as well as weekly classes at Earth Yoga, and Palma Sport and Tennis Club (both in Santa Catalina).
Today we are having our private session at Earth Yoga, which is just across the road from Lucky Bodies. It’s a beautiful studio. Gorgeous hardwood floors, soft golden lighting, and the scent of diffused oils linger in the air.
An introduction to ISHTA
Sarah and I chat about where I’m at with my personal practice, and she devises a class to benefit me specifically. Sarah is a part of the ISHTA yoga community. ISHTA is an acronym for the Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra and Ayurveda. Using the principles of these concepts, the aim is to incorporate what resonates with the individual, using both meditative and physical techniques, and to find a path where the two meet. Here’s a quick breakdown of each individually.
Hatha – This is the physical practice of asana, or yoga postures. Translated HA means sun, the solar energy, and THA means moon, the lunar energy. Sarah likens this to periods of activity, and passivity to find a harmonious balance.
Tantra – Tantra can be defined as the path that leads to liberation. The practice of Tantra increases our awareness of this state of total liberation through acceptance of ourselves and everything around us. In the ISHTA practice, the focus is on asana, pranayama (breath work), kriya techniques and visualisation meditation.
Ayurveda – Ayurveda is the traditional Indian system of medicine which aims to help a person live a long, healthy life by balancing the constitution (with the emphasis on prevention of disease rather than cure). ISHTA uses the elements of Ayurvedic theory to arrive at the most suitable style of yoga for you. Once you have an understanding of your prakriti (natural form), the teacher can assist in tailoring a physical and spiritual practice to address any imbalance in the doshas (mind-body type). Everyone’s dosha is unique, and your ISHTA practice will reflect that.
The private class
As I begin my class with Sarah the importance of the breath is immediately apparent. She explains that “the breaths are the link between the mind and the body, and we are awakening the consciousness with breath.” We slowly ease into the practice, and Sarah’s soothing voice lulls me into a sense of calm that washes over my entire body. This is a far cry from my usual Ashtanga practice, which dives straight into a quick succession of sun salutations, an elevated heart rate, and profuse sweating!
I needn’t think this is going to be a walk in the park however. Sarah is quietly assessing where I’m at physically as she gently guides me through these restorative poses. Progressively we work our way through to more difficult asana that require intense concentration and balance on my part. As I topple over in a moment of uncoordinated flailing of limbs, I can’t suppress a giggle. Sarah smiles and assures me that even these moments are great for your practice if you can laugh and not take yourself too seriously. She tells me how yoga reveals tensions and shows resistances in the body. When the body releases the tensions through yoga, the mind can follow. The trick is not to force anything. I can see Sarah is a very empathic and compassionate person, and I feel myself relaxing in her presence.
As we continue with the practice I’m definitely starting to break a sweat. Sarah is challenging me just the right amount. This is a real benefit of a one on one session. I can remember many a group class I’ve muddled my way through in a fluster trying to keep up with the person next to me with no clue if my form is correct. Having Sarah all to myself means she takes the time to guide and assist me in each pose, subtly manipulating my stance and form as required, and working at exactly the right pace for me.
As we begin to finish up we slow down again and finish in serene stillness. My body feels deliciously stretched and invigorated. But lets not forget savasana! Sarah dims the lights, and arranges me with bolsters and blankets on the mat. Her calming voice envelops me in a soft cloud, while she holds her hands over my head, which are emitting the scent of essential oils inducing deep relaxation. I even get a wee head and neck massage – absolute bliss!
The after effects
As I leave the studio I feel elated. Like I’ve completely nourished my body mentally and physically. I have identified areas for my personal growth in my practice, namely pranayama – the breath. I am a chronic shallow breather and I can see consciously working on my breath and it’s connection with my mind and body is vital to my yoga progression.
Now that I have experienced Sarah as a teacher I am super keen to try out her group classes. She’s a very inspiring and nurturing soul, with a wealth of yoga practice and teaching experience spanning nearly two decades. I love her philosophy and the way she describes her passion. In her words, “Yoga unifies things, creates equilibrium, and allows one to carefully explore. Be the person you want to be in that moment”.
If you would like to attend one of Sarah´s yoga classes, find or evolve your meditation practice you can find her weekly schedule here. To arrange a private session contact her at:
Calle Caro 56
Santa Catalina, 07015, Palma
Photo by Matthew Clarke
Written by Ché Miller
About the author
Ché has always had a passion for hospitality having completed a conjoint Bachelors Degree in International Business and Hospitality Management. She has spent the last 15 years working in the hospitality industry. This passion led her to working in a premier health retreat in Australia in her twenties. There she found the knowledge she gained there inspired her to start living a healthier life.
Now Ché loves to combine her two favourite things, hospitality and wellbeing. She scours the island for the best nourishing restaurants, products and services. Ché has been living in Mallorca since early 2017, having moved from her home in New Zealand. She absolutely loves the energy of the island and everything it has to offer.
Ché’s other interests include ashtanga yoga, boxing, reading, writing, and really good coffee.