Contributor: Sandra Fang, Yin Yang Japan Ambassador
I’m Chinese Canadian from Vancouver, Canada. It’s been more than seven years since I first landed in Japan fresh and naive after my university graduation.
As a yoga teacher looking back at my youth, I have so much gratitude for being able to do what I love right now.
The Beautiful Santorini
The island of Santorini in Greece may have conquered a part of your imagination before you even have the chance to see it. Think about the whitewashed and blue-domed houses on a volcanic island which slopes downward to the surrounded indigo Aegean sea in the southern Greece, it’s many people’s dream to visit this world’s most famous island.
I’m one of those people who long to see this Santorini, but I came here with one more question in my mind, “Is anyone practicing or teaching yoga on this small touristy island?”
I found Veronika, a yoga teacher who teaches regular lessons at her own hostel, Caveland. The hostel is a complex of cave houses with amazing views and small gardens. A few travellers relaxing and suntanning by the large swimming pool.
At 6:30pm as the sun goes down, at the outdoor terrace we started the practice. Veronika began the class with a quiet meditation and encouraged us to listen to all the sounds in the surroundings. The pace of her hatha flow is slow and meditative, emphasizing on the breathes and body awareness. It was a quiet time to connect with the beautiful nature of Santorini.
Her Teaching Philosophy
Originally from Slovakia, Veronika now lives on this beautiful island of Santorini with her husband and two kids. You can see the sparks in her eyes when she talks about something she enjoys doing. “I love teaching yoga to everyone, locals and travellers; young and old. I teach a slower hata and therapeutic style, because seeing the students enjoying the movements without getting injured is my first priority.”
I asked her what her message as a yoga teacher is, she gave me a wise answer, “I don’t have a message, if you have kids you’ll know. They don’t belong to you. They are unique individuals. The students are like my kids. I teach them what I know and I try to make sure they don’t fall too often. But I can not control what goes on in their minds. Everyone perceives reality their own ways.”
Giving Back to the Society
Santorini is famous for its sunset, but after the sunset comes the beautiful bright moon. I can not recall another place as beautiful in the moonlight as this island. On every full moon evening, Veronika works with another teacher on the island, Mickey, to lead a full moon class at Caveland. The class is donation based. The collected donations go to Santorini Animal Welfare Association, which is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that protects Santorini’s animals – from stray dogs and cats to abandoned donkeys and mules.
“There are many stray dogs and cats on Santorini, through yoga, we hope to help these animals to find homes in other parts of Europe.”