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Upward Flamingo

Interview | Alexandra Sagorz-Zimmerl of bYoga

Photo: Mountain Yoga Festival St. Anton

For the very first installment of this series I was blessed to interview the person I had my very first yoga class with, who led my teacher training and who has become my mentor: Alexandra Sagorz-Zimmerl, the owner and soul of the Forrest Yoga studio bYoga in Vienna.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Alexandra Sagorz-Zimmerl, I am a yoga teacher and studio owner of bYOGA, I live in Vienna with my husband and my dog. I have been practicing for about 20 years and teaching for more than 15 years.

Why did you become a yoga teacher?

Yoga and I first met when I was a student. I’ve always liked moving my body, but I was increasingly missing something indefinable, so I attended my first yoga class at the USI to track down and find this something.

However, I didn’t find it there and ended this unit early because my mind didn’t understand it, my body wasn’t ready and my heart wasn’t ready yet. Yoga got another chance in another phase of life and passed.

I always wanted to be a teacher. However, it took me more than 20 years to figure out what kind of teacher I wanted to be. I became a yoga teacher because the best thing for me is to convey and pass on something that I stand behind. Giving my fellow human beings something that they can use not only on the yoga mat but also in everyday life fills me with joy and gratitude.

How did you experience your yoga teacher training?

The Forrest Yoga Foundation Teacher Training with Ana Forrest in Boston probably shaped me. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. It was physically demanding, yes, but emotionally it was challenging. I renewed myself, found my inner voice and received confirmation to continue on my path as a teacher.

I wasn’t prepared for that. It was the time before social media, Youtube and so on. I only had an audio CD and a DVD to practice with. Actually, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Today I think it was a good thing. I went in with an open mind and came out so much richer in skills.

What is the most valuable advice or feedback you received during your training?

In one of the first days of the FYFTT during the pose “Cobra over the Roll” an assistant (it was my current colleague Heidi Sormaz) came to me to give me a hands-on assist and she said to me, “Alexandra, you don’t always have to be strong”. I burst into tears but it enabled me to let go and thus an important process began. The pain when lying over the roller was resolved. The “battle” in the stomach was over. Since then, my favorite lessons have been those when it’s all about finding the moment of pleasure without fighting.

What advice would you give yourself if you started yoga teacher training today?

Follow your intuition. 

Which yoga style have you specialized in and what makes it special for you?

I specialize in Forrest Yoga and am one of the few Guardians selected by Ana Forrest to also offer teacher trainings.

For me, Forrest Yoga is the yoga style of our century. For today’s stressed people who don’t take enough time to take care of themselves. Once on the mat, however, this person is encouraged to track down what makes their own body and mind so stiff and sick, what it takes to be able to move proudly, freely and easily in the world again.

What is special for me is the combination of the powerful positions, the long holds of the asanas and the constant request to remain present, even and especially when it gets uncomfortable. The well thought-out, intelligent sequencing, core work, working in a pain-free environment, not to forget the basic moves! And despite the physicality, the encouragement to delve a little deeper and allow emotions.

When do you consider a yoga class to be successful?

As a participant in a yoga class, when it feels round. When I feel strengthened and relaxed at the same time afterwards. If I play with the comfort zone, leave it and still stay in my competence zone, strengthening my resilience.

As a yoga teacher, I consider the yoga class to be a success when the participants leave the class beaming. If there was movement – physically, emotionally, mentally. When they feel braver and more connected again. When the pain is less and the heart is bigger than before.

What is the most valuable feedback you have received from a student?

Gratitude is the best feedback.

How do you motivate yourself in your daily practice? When are you going without?

A day without yoga? Not one. Something always works. A daily practice is nourishment on another level. For example, when I have a cold, my daily practice will consist of sitting and breathing consciously, noticing my bodily sensations. A side bend to ventilate the lungs and a very easy variation of “Elbow to Knee” to strengthen my core.

What are the biggest misconceptions or prejudices people have about yoga?

“I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible enough.”

When and why would you advise someone to try yoga? When and why not

I advise everyone to try yoga. Anyone with a body can do yoga. Yoga is so much more than just asana practice. 10 minutes of conscious breathing on the subway is yoga. Listening to a friend with compassion is yoga. Washing the lettuce consciously and with interest is yoga.

The limit for me is that I don’t make any promises of healing.

What is your favorite asana and why?

I don’t have a favorite asana. It depends on the day and on what I need right now. This will then be my favorite asana.

Where or what do you think is the yoga world currently lacking?

To practice yoga not only on the mat and “Instagrammable”, but also in everyday life.

If our readers want to know more about you or practice yoga with you, where can they find you?

My studio bYoga is located at Beatrixgasse 28 in 1030 Vienna.

Here is my website where you find my current schedule for live as well as online classes and also information regarding upcoming retreats and workshops.

You also find me on Instagram.

Photo: privat

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