Eugenia Sivitou Athens and Crete, Greece
Eugenia is the owner of Yoga On Crete, and what is so evident and unique about her is her genuine love of yoga and the happiness that is there for her. She really enjoyed speaking about this and in such a gentle way. So it begins almost as a love letter: Ten years ago teaching yoga really began for Eugenia without thinking about it…it just developed from a natural desire to share with others, the benefit and moments of inspiration and meaning that she had received…a love for life. Hatha yoga brought big openings of awareness in the beginning of her development/journey; feeling that the Sivananda training was the best thing she had done for herself…until she met Iyengar yoga! “I practice and teach Iyengar yoga, because I am fascinated by the exploration of the subtle and intricate workings of the inner body, the inner dynamics that give form to the external shape, and when mastered and put into practice, give the quality of effortless effort and ease to the experience of even the most demanding of asanas. I remember coming across this experience in one of my first Iyengar yoga classes, and although I had already been doing yoga for five years or so, it felt as if a completely new field of experience and knowledge was opening up in front of me.” This would mirror something she mentioned to me that she has learned from yoga…that having a foundation of discipline gives space for contentment to emerge.
She goes on to express her love of yoga as a whole: “I love the fact that by definition yoga, the state of being united with the ever-present now, teaches us to start afresh every moment. We see this in the breath that is ever renewing itself, the dynamic aspect of asana in which constant adjustments need to be made to maintain the dynamic balance of forces, and also in the mental constructs, that if allowed to flow, will sooner or later give their place to something new. This is a most optimistic perspective, because each moment we can choose to let go of what no longer serves us, and choose how we will colour our next moment of experience.”
Eugenia is a person of stamina, which makes her too determined to give up when the challenges of practicing yoga arise…”yoga is one of the most important elements in my life, it keeps me sane so I can’t afford to give it up”, she said with a laugh. But she is serious at the same time, because she admits that sometimes it is really difficult to practice. The flip side of such stamina, is too much self-pressure…she describes the ideal balance of the two as “Tapas (self-discipline) combined with freedom” …she practices freely but needs to remember not to pressure herself. She applies this two sided influence in the practice of meditation as well, as once her meditation discipline is set she actually craves the experience of silence and quiet.
The yogic philosophy gives her a reminder of how magical the process of life is when one slows down and just focuses on breathing; here, in this space, there is always meaning, more simplicity. “A simple life is much easier, we’ve overcomplicated our lives.”
When Eugenia and I were talking about those moments that just gel, when everything comes together unexpectedly but beautifully, she described that as being what yoga is… union…a moment when we’re “in touch with raw reality as it is.” She doesn’t feel that it’s anything supernatural, but says that it seems unique when it does happen because we don’t often experience it. It’s about having all the conditions in place for it to happen, but the moment itself happens when it happens, and always at the right time. She feels we’re always in contact with energy because it’s what moves us, we just don’t regularly take the time to recognize it as that which unites us.
In a final beautiful comment, Eugenia adds: “There is so much that I love about this philosophy and practice! Yoga cultivates a connection with parts of the self that are neglected in modern society: with the unconscious and therefore a profound awareness of our needs, with intuition, and with the wisdom and intelligence residing in the gut and heart. This deep connection can be skilfully used to guide one's daily practice, and make it into a practice that nurtures the unimpeded flow of energy, health and ease; also combined with, rather than overpowered by, rational thinking it can serve us a guide in daily decision making, thus moulding a harmonious life in alignment with our deeper sense of purpose and meaning.”