An institution of the Semperviva community, Bernie Clark’s classes have near legendary status. Whether you want to evolve your Vinyasa practice, explore energetics with his unique Dragon Dance or work on the ‘issues in your tissues’ with a Yin class, Bernie offers something for everyone. Bernie’s two books, ‘Yin Sights’ and ‘The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga’, have become required reading for all Yin enthusiasts and his latest Yin teacher training kicks off on August 20th at Semperviva’s Sea studio.
How did you come to yoga?
My journey into yoga started long ago: back then I didn’t know it was yoga. In my early 20’s I started doing Zen meditation and in my early 40’s got introduced to asana practice, in order to improve my golf game. It did – but now I am so into yoga that I don’t golf anymore! My own practice evolves as I progress through life. My practice today is not as intense or yang-like as it was when I was younger: and my life is not as intense either. My focus these days is on health, not performance.
What aspect of yoga has been most transformative for you, on and off the mat?
Yoga works the mind/body in many ways: it definitely improves physical health and holds back the transition along the arc of aging (at 58 I still do not need reading glasses!) But some of the deepest benefits are the mental/emotional ones: yoga can help us manage life’s transitions and traumas more mindfully: more skilfully.
What was your first/ most memorable Semperviva teaching experience?
I used to travel the world to be with excellent teachers but what I find memorable about Semperviva is the world-class teachers that come here: Sarah Powers, Shiva Rea, Paul Grilley and many others. This is great: I don’t have to travel any more!
How did you come up with the Dragon Dance sequence?
It was inspired by Paul and Suzee Grilley’s work: they famously said, “If I never do another Sun Salutation again, that would be just fine.” They developed some of the basic components of the dance and one day it all just flowed through me: the Dragon Dance was born – not through expectation or design but through just letting it come. I loved the way I felt afterwards so much that I kept doing it over and over: then I decided to try it in a class, as an experiment. Fortunately other students had the same reaction I had, so we decided to offer it once a month. (First Wednesdays at 7:30 pm at City Studio.)
What can yogis expect from your Yin Yoga Teacher training coming up in August?
While the training on the surface is about Yin Yoga, the students will discover that yin and yang can’t be separated: they will learn about the practice, and the purpose of Yin Yoga but what they will learn about anatomy and energy will also transform their yang practice and teaching. Many teachers tell me after the training that they just had their world rocked: when we start to really understand the implications of skeletal variations in ourselves and our students it shines a whole new light on how and why we teach yoga. Intention suddenly becomes extremely important.
What are you passionate about outside of yoga that strikes a balance for you in your life?
I love science, I love psychology, mythology and spirituality, I love sharing with others what fascinates me, I love the fact that I have 3 new grandchildren – more sharing ahead!
“Pause,” Erich Schiffmann.