Monday, April 30, 2018

Interview with David Rendall

Accessible Yoga Blog: Where did you teach? Who was the population?

David: I taught at two studios in the Roncesvalles neighborhood in Toronto. The populations were mostly millenials who were able-bodied, though everyone struggled with regulating their stress levels and their mental health. I’ve also done some teaching through the University Health Network at Mount Sinai hospital for the hospital staff.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Can you share an experience that stands out?

David: A couple years ago when I was teaching a large group class, an older woman injured her back in a mild pose. She was quite distressed. I approached her and tended to her injury and worry in a supportive way that also helped everyone in the class to enter into the moment as a collective experience. My response surprised me because inside I felt the urge to panic, but a different instinct took over. I also used the moment to deepen the sense of safety in the group. The moment showed me that I could trust myself to respond as a teacher to handle whatever might show up.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Why do you teach this group or this population? What made you choose this specific group?

David: While I didn’t specifically teach people with mental health challenges, that tended to be my approach to teaching, because that has been my struggle. The more subtle aspects of practice that help people to regulate their stress levels and sensitivities tended to be what I emphasized.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Which subtle aspects?

David: Slowing down and really savoring what it’s like to move with your body and breath rather than having aspirations. Also, appreciating a subtle sense of infusing an anxious state with groundedness simply by paying attention to the feeling of the breath. 

Accessible Yoga Blog: What are you excited to do next with your students?

David: I am excited to work more directly with people who struggle with more pronounced mental and physical health challenges. I am on hiatus from yoga teaching as I’m finishing my studies as a massage therapist. I recently had outreach experiences working with clients with cerebral palsy and AIDS. I was trying to get them to be aware of the subtle and gross sensations of their bodies and breathing as I provided massage to them. The experience really held a mirror up to me. Not in terms of those particular struggles, but the similarities to my own struggle with deep mental health challenges and the way in which yoga empowered me in my life.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Does yoga continue to empower you?

David: Yes, it still helps me ground myself in the sensations of my body and breath. A “simple practice” that has been a life raft for me in troubling states and life experiences.

David Rendall began practicing yoga asana and meditation in 2003 at age 17 to ease his depression and anxiety. In 2013, he completed his training at Downward Dog in Toronto and has since taught at Yoga Star, Yoga Village & Mount Sinai Hospital. David teaches slowed-down, gentler, student-centered versions of the traditional ashṭaṅga-vinyāsa sequences and restorative hatha postures. He holds a safe and thoughtfully-sequenced space, guiding students towards inner exploration, balance and integration. David serves as a mental health advocate through public speaking, writing, and visual art – He is currently finishing his studies as a massage therapist at Kikkawa College, where he did clinic outreach with cerebral palsy and AIDS patients. 

This post was conducted and edited by Kathleen Kraft.

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