By Bridie Walsh
After 20 years of Iyengar practice, Cinnamon Evans finds yoga stills a ‘mindy noise’ – the mental chatter you have before you get to class.
Luck brought her to Maghie Mills Iyengar School in Brunswick . (Mills had studied alongside Griffins Hill’s Frank Jesse.) She was working at Melbourne’s environmental park CERES, in Brunswick East, where she’s been for 23 years. She’s now CEO.
She still laughs about the first time she twisted her words when speaking with her partner. Mindy noise became their inside joke. But the mental emotional wellbeing, stress management, and meditation have uncovered another treasure: the idea of union.
Mr BKS Iyengar is quoted saying: “Yoga means union … union of body with the mind and mind with the soul.”
“It took a while for me to really get that,” Cinnamon says. “Now I totally get it. There is no end point to yoga practice. There is only progression.”“I didn’t go to that first asana class looking for a spiritual practice. But I found one,” Cinnamon says.
“It crept up on me. It took a while to cultivate that layer. In the first five years I was just dealing with my body.”
Cinnamon has studied with a lot of teachers throughout her yoga journey, switching schools to Clifton Hill Yoga School because of relocation. “Each teacher brings their own perspective on the bigger meaning of yoga.”
Cinnamon practices her yoga three times a week, finding time between the demands of her job.
“There’s something special about the Iyengar system – its attention to detail, alignment, and props. It’s very sophisticated,” she says. “I haven’t found another style that satisfies me in the same way.
“The nature of the Iyengar form, when I go to class, means I can’t think about anything else other than what is going on on my yoga mat. That is a huge sanctuary from the everyday stuff of life.”
Discovering the subtleties of yoga
Cinnamon discovered so much more than fitness, strength and flexibility. The subtle layers of Iyengar yoga have surprised and captivated her.
“It’s about opening the body; discovering the relationship between the body, the emotions and the mind, consciousness and connection to the divine. All of those layers are present when I bring my awareness to what is going on for me on the yoga mat.
“I get more space and freedom in my body from yoga practice and therefore more space and freedom in my attitude and mental and emotional space,” she explains. “If I don’t practice, I feel congestion in both body and psyche.”
Instantaneously attracted to the beautiful antiphonal sounds of Bhakti yoga, Cinnamon embraces this into her practice too.
She discovered Bhakti at a camp in 2014. It includes Kirtan, a call-and-response chanting of mantras, usually in Sanskrit, to music.
It inspired her to learn a musical instrument for the first time in 35 years, forming a Kirtan band, Bhakti Sunset to practice the devotional form of yoga. Bhakti Sunset will lead a session at Clifton Hill Yoga Studio’s 20th anniversary in September, where Frank will also run yoga classes.
A new challenge
“I feel like I am always a beginner [in Iyengar yoga]. TAhere’s so much to learn,” says Cinnamon. “I’ve been doing Adho mukha śvānāsana (downward-facing dog pose) for 20 years and I went to Griffins Hill [for a recent five-day retreat] and learnt more about that pose from Frank. It’s never finished. It’s never complete. There’s always more to learn about even the most basic poses.”
When a yoga class moves into Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose) Cinnamon inwardly cries “yes”. It’s one of her favourite poses. “There’s something really graceful about it,” she says.
Her other favourite poses include Vasiṣṭhāsana (arm balance) and Janu Sirsasana (head to knee pose).
“I had a big personal achievement at the Griffins Hill New Year retreat – I managed to kick up into handstand – Adho Mukha Vrksasana (head-down tree pose) for the first time by myself against the wall,” Cinnamon says. “That was a long time coming.”
Join Frank and Cinnamon at the Clifton Hill Yoga Studioanniversary in September.
“Yoga means union. The union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit is yoga. But this is too abstract a notion to be easily understood, so for our level of understanding I say that yoga is the union of body with the mind and of mind with the soul.” – BKS Iyengar, Tree of Yoga.
Join over 2,500 of your peers and get monthly articles delivered to your in box.