Meet Amy Atkinson | Sala Studio, Auckland, NZ

Amy is the latest teacher to join us here at Sala on the reg. Get to know Amy below, with how she became a yoga teacher and what inspires her keep motivated.

Sep 10, 2022

Meet Amy Atkinson | Sala Studio, Auckland, NZ
Meet Amy Atkinson | Sala Studio, Auckland, NZ

Whether you follow Amy on Instagram devouring her aesthetically pleasing Piha beach life or have attended her firey yet calming yoga classes at Sala, Amy is the latest teacher to join us here at Sala on the reg. Get to know Amy below, with how she became a yoga teacher and what inspires her to keep motivated.

Hey, who are you? What do you do and where do you live?

My name is Amy, at the moment, I am finding a lot of joy in merging my love of photography, videography and yoga by making cinematic videos on my YouTube channel documenting my practice, lifestyle and journey of awakening. I also post yoga classes, meditations and breath work practices there - it started as a way to share movement and practice during the lockdowns and has evolved into sharing creative and fun classes in a way that is accessible, and building an incredible community of those who share this journey.

Why and how did movement become such a big part of your life?

I remember watching my sister dance when I was 3 years old and she was 7. I knew at that moment that movement lived in my bones. I begged my mum to let me go to dancing classes and she managed to convince my dance teacher to let me start dance classes at 4 years old (she didn’t usually take students under 5). It's been such an integral part of my existence in this life and has transformed and reshaped me through the varying stages of my evolution.

How would you describe your classes?

I take lots of influence from so many different types of movement that I have fallen in love with over my life; Primal, dance, functional, traditional yoga, plyometrics and callisthenics. Mostly though I have an underlying intention behind my entire purpose of teaching - for those moving with me to feel confident in themselves no matter how that takes shape. Confidence to discern what it is that they need and trust their own deep knowing.

What drew you to teach at Sala?

I love that Sala goes beyond asana practice - the workshops and offerings to move beyond asana and allow yoga to permeate into the lives of their practitioners is something I feel is super important to how yoga in the west is evolving. It’s not just a workout. It is the journey of the Self. And It makes me excited to see these more spiritual and mindful pieces of the practice being given the same amount of attention as the asana.

What’s your favourite Sala class?

Dynamic Yoga and Yin! - the balance of yin and yang. Solar luna. Introvert and extrovert.

What’s your go-to movement to elevate your mood?

Inversions, arm balances and handstands always encourage me to be playful and not take life and the practice too seriously and it always just makes me feel like a kid again. Buuuuuuut the poses that always feel the best in my body are Trikonasana, Parsvakonasana, and Janu Sirsasana - can you tell that the tightest part of my body is my QL? ;)

What are your pre-class rituals?

Roll out my mat, cleanse the space with some Palo Santo, light some incense (my favourite in Nag Champa), take a seat on my mat and take 3 deep breaths with 1 hand on my heart and 1 hand on my belly. Somedays I set an intention, other days my intention is to simply show up.

What is movement a conduit for?

Movement to me is the medium by which I can embody my deepest prayers. Connection, Consciousness, presence, Spirit, Self, Source, God - whatever word you want to use to describe the energy that links all things. To me Movement is one of the ways we can fully embrace and embody that divinity that runs through each of us, binding us together in our current human experience.

What other practices do you live by that support your mindset and mood?

The first thing I do every morning is to meditate. Usually for 20 minutes but even if it’s only for 5 minutes, showing up consistently to practice taking the seat of the witness is such deeply anchoring. Likewise breath work, I usually incorporate into most if not all of my yoga asana practices for the same reason, it is one of the most powerful practices at connecting me to source and spirit. I also use sound healing with crystal bowls and vocal toning, journalling and shadow work, and Energy work and healing. I love having a multiplicity of practices that I can turn to depend on what it is I need at each moment.

What’s your favourite song to move to? 

So hard to just pick one hahaha my all-time favourites are; Magic hour by Jhené Aiko, Universe by Teebs, Hu Man by Greentea Peng, A Reminder by Trevor hall and East Forest.

How do you motivate yourself to get moving when you’re low energy? 

Showing up on my mat usually comes from love and devotion to practice, rather than motivation. It feels like a gift to connect with myself through yoga asana and this is what has me returning to my mat most days, even if it’s just resting in a supported child’s pose.

However, part of a recent lesson I have learnt has actually been to honour my low energy. I’m a projector in my human design so my energy isn’t as constant and I require lots of rest and space within my days. My energy comes in highly productive bursts and is followed by periods of pure rest.

When I’m low in energy I try to simply enjoy a period of deep rest and nourishment, read a book, and spend time in nature. Maybe in that space, I feel called to go for a walk or do a juicy yin class but I never try to “trick myself” into moving if it’s not what I need. I know this isn’t suitable for everyone but to me it’s been really healing to sink into my own rhythm instead of trying to compete with the world around me. As a result, rest and stillness have become of equal value to me as movement. Understanding your energy and how to work with it, is gold.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

Technically it wasn’t given solely to me, but its a paragraph from the song "Burgs by Mt Wolf" It reads:

"It takes mindfulness to come to a human life

And then above that, it takes mindfulness and virtue

To come to a fortunate human life

The chance to be part of this happens briefly

The invitation is not to show how inventive and imaginative you are

But how much you can notice what you're already part of

And appreciate it and share it

And care about those that are around you

Look out for their welfare

While you are looking out for your own, that's it"

What are your go-to health and fitness tips? 

Find the movement, practice, and diet that you actually enjoy. Real change comes from consistency and time. The more you enjoy something, the more likely you can stick with it and make it part of your life. If you hate the gym, but love hiking or rock climbing or dancing or swimming - make those your primary movers. You will always get more out of doing the things you love.

What’s your advice to someone brand new to fitness/yoga who wants to get started? 

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Start small and prioritise consistency over intensity. The beginner mind is a beautiful thing; curious and inquisitive. Enjoy where you are and don’t compare your day 1 to someone else’s day 500. Where you are is a beautiful place to be. Be playful and have fun. Don't take fitness, yoga or life too seriously ;)

If you could do anything else for a living, what would it be? 

I have always thought that I would have really loved to study psychology and help others by becoming a Psychologist.

How do you attain happiness in your life - whether through activity, achievements or mindset? 

The closest thing to happiness I have found has been in acceptance of all the polarities of life. A wave must have a trough and crest. We know bliss because its opposite exists... Studying Tantrik text and philosophy has been one of the most profound tools to help me find peace in all things. Knowing that each opposing force is just another manifestation of divine consciousness and being able to witness both joy and grief as but two sides of the same coin. This allows me so much space that even in my deepest moments of grief I can find solace in knowing that it is all part of the totality of the universe.

How can we find a healthy balance between nourishing both our physical bodies and our minds when working out? 

BREATH! The breath is such a gateway to consciousness. The word “spirit” derives from the word “breath,” (spiritus in Latin). The more you can use the breath, deeply in and out through the nose, and consciously breathing during exercise and while at rest, not only will your performance drastically improve but you will be moving more mindfully allowing you to be more aware and conscious with your entire experience during your workout. Breath by James Nestor is an incredible book if you are interested in reading more about the power of the breath.

What’s the secret to a happy life? 

Connection. With yourself, with Spirit, with the world and environment, you inhabit, and with others. Connection

If you could give your 20 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be? 

You are your greatest teacher, healer, and source of wisdom. Trust yourself. Honour yourself. Know your worth and know when it is not being valued. Say No more often. Don’t waste time trying to convince people to love you. Buy the surfboard. And for the love of all that is mighty, stop trying to keep up with others…