My passion, dream job, and motivation to keep developing.

I started practicing yoga in 1990 and am now blessed to be a teacher. Teaching yoga is my passion, dream job and motivation to keep developing.

My journey to this dedicated and joyous state was not linear or obvious at the time though. My practice has waxed and waned throughout the years, as will yours if you are starting out. If you are experienced you will recognise the same, dedication can seem like too much hard work sometimes. But it is always a good time to get on the mat. As is said, “practice and all is coming”.

My discovery of yoga was indeed hard work, but incredibly meaningful and rewarding. I grew up in a Soviet military family and I had lived in places from East Germany to far flung places like Uzbekistan. By 1990 we were in Ukraine and it was there that I was diagnosed with scoliosis. In those days I would have been sent to a special boarding school for children with spinal issues. I was given a year for physiotherapy and exercises to avoid this fate. This was some motivation!

I was determined to help myself. I knew yoga could help me, but it was not approved in the USSR and still not popular in post-Soviet Ukraine. There were no yoga teachers, there was no internet, and the only thing I could do was to explore all local bookstores and find some alternative way for me to practice and improve my posture.

I was lucky to come across a tiny book of Hatha Yoga. And this was the beginning of my journey. I learnt all the asanas (poses) in my own way to start with. The instructions were pretty complicated to understand and follow, but I did not give up. I practiced yoga for 2 hours every day after school and spent 30 minutes twice a day standing by the wall, what I would now call tadasana. In total 3 hours each day of concentration on improving my spine condition and avoid being exiled to a remedial school.

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After one year it was time to check the results, to have another x-ray and make a decision what to do next. The result was impressive for my doctor, for my parents and an enormous relief for me. The curvature had halved to become less than 10 degrees, which was considered normal. I had succeeded.

I kept practicing yoga and my body became stronger and flexible, my will too. I then spent years enjoying this capability through dance. I had started ballet at the age of seven but could now try so much more: folk and ball dances, before a passionate engagement with flamenco, and finally smouldering argentine tango.

But I always remembered my yoga and 10 years ago I finally began to attend formal classes in St Petersburg, where I by that time lived. Long gone were the days where yoga was a secret in Russia, and I attended the institute of Iyengar yoga and met my first gurus. A year later I visited India and found myself entirely captivated by the country, its philosophy and art of yoga. I was hooked.

All of these threads came together when I met my husband dancing tango and I followed my heart to London. I was blessed to meet and study with the most experienced teachers of yoga in Europe; whilst I’d started my teacher training course in St Petersburg I then finished it in Maida Vale Iyengar Yoga Institute. The training there is of the highest calibre, I still train with those teachers now.

So, this has been my journey. I look forward to helping you in yours.

Irina Baillie is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher