Pixie Garvey: The Unforeseen Teacher
How did you get into yoga?
I started doing yoga 27 years ago in Wellington because I was sick. I had something like arthritis in various joints in my body but the doctors never managed to put an exact medical tag on it.
So I rang a local yoga teacher called Gwendoline Hunt and said, “Look, I don’t know if I’m able to do anything in your class but I need to do something.” And so she said, “Yes, come along. I can help you.” And she did and it was great. I went to her class once a week for a year.
And did the arthritis-like condition go away?
Yes, it did. Gwendoline did a couple of healings on me which I think really helped. After that I just started to improve.
Did you continue with yoga?
I continued with yoga on and off over the years. When I moved to Auckland I went to some classes at Mande White’s studio. Then I had a neighbour who was learning to teach Iyengar Yoga who needed a student – so I became a willing student. I went once a week, and it was virtually one on one because often I’d be the only one there. I did that for about a year. After that I went to various classes but never found anything that I really liked.
About ten years ago I arrived at Jennie Fenwick’s class. At that time Jennie and Ann-Marie Davison were teaching in a church on St Heliers Bay Road. I started going twice a week. They are Ashram Yoga trained teachers and I really enjoyed their style of yoga. It was very beneficial for me because I’m asthmatic and I can’t do aerobics or go running – I just run out of breath.
I also did the “boot-camps” they taught together, which were blocks of yoga classes three times a week for four weeks.
Did you get a good result from it?
Yes. I remember Jennie saying that my body shape had changed – and that can only be a good thing!
What do you like about the Ashram Yoga style?
I think it’s the linking of the movement and the breath. And the permission to do it your own pace. And that easier versions are given. You can lie down on your back and think about it if you want to.
Why did you do Ashram Yoga’s teacher training course?
I wanted to know more about yoga and I was impressed by the Jennie’s knowledge.
Were you intending to teach yoga?
No, I didn’t intend to teach. But after the course I found that I wanted to. I didn’t expect that!
My underlying desire was to get a deeper knowledge so I could talk about yoga with more confidence. I think that has happened.
I got some nice feedback at the end of the course when I taught my hour and a half class. Someone said I was better teaching without notes – when I worked out of my head. She could see that the knowledge was there. So I guess the training course allowed me to express the knowledge that I’ve gained from my years of yoga.
Was the course fun?
Yes, it was lots of fun. The teachers and the other participants made it fun. The skit Pam and I put on made everyone laugh. (See the video here)
Did you expect that?
I probably didn’t really expect it to be fun. I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up for it.
And now you’re in your sixties, aren’t you?
Yes, I turned 60 in May.
So how did you cope with the course? Were you overstretched or pushed too far or anything like that?
No, I was a little bit daunted by the written work that was required but I just pushed myself and made myself get on with it. Physically I just did my best.
What would you say to your peers who are thinking about doing a course like this?
I’d encourage them to do it. I think yoga will help me to keep my body in good condition for the next 30 years or so.
I hear you are teaching a class at the moment. How did that come about?
It started with Jennie’s encouragement and I decided to give it a go. Everyone is welcome to come along. It’s on Fridays at 11am for one hour at the Kohimarama Yacht Club. Only $10 this year – because I’m still learning!