Jamie Clarke is co-founder of The Yoga People, an experienced teacher trainer in disciplines ranging from Ashtanga to Yin. With a background in Psychotherapy and a client-centric practice in Transpersonal Psychology, he is inspired to help everyone reach their full potential
What’s the one thing OM readers need to know about you?
The one thing I would like to convey is that I’m not afraid to evoke and encourage students to face their most emergent shadow aspects within a transformation process.
I am particularly inspired by yoga as a therapeutic platform for trauma resolution, psycho-emotional integration, and personal actualisation and spiritual growth. The joy for me comes in assisting people discover that the person they thought they were is not in fact the person they actually are or can evolve to be. What’s most important is to cultivate a practitioner’s deepest and most honest expression; whereby self-knowledge, inner integration and a transcendence of all limitations are possible.
How would you describe your teaching style?
My approach to teaching is an invitation to be free, to explore within one’s own body, emotions and mind, and to adjust or customise a practice or technique to achieve an authentic realisation of one’s most truest nature. The way I like to bring yoga’s ingredients together is through asana, breath-work and meditation, Western Transpersonal Psychotherapy and the ancient Eastern philosophies of Shamanism, Buddhism and Tantra’s Chakra & Elemental models.
As a developmental framework I have observed that a phased approach of grounding in traditional Ashtanga and an opening to the creative, expressive practices of Rocket and Mandala, can then lead a practitioner to the stillness of Yin Yoga, where the possibility of meaningful meditation and inner inquiry can unfold. That’s quite a rich mix of course! However, a student should be free to customise their approach to suit their changing needs and then to focus in refined disciplines to drill down into their deepest inner work. If we recognise that all paths are valid, and yet none are complete, this insight allows for the welcoming of all that is relevant to one’s own needs.
As to me, I now specialise in Yin Yoga and functional skeletal anatomy in classes or on development workshops and trainings. These physical disciplines support the preparation for meditation and Eastern/Western Depth Psychology, whereby students can then learn to see what has happened to them (childhood and upbringing) and how they got to where they are now (conditioned beliefs and emotional dynamics), on all layers of their experience.
What first inspired you to get into yoga?
I have been trained and inspired by the best in Larry Schultz (Rocket) and Paul Grilley (Yin Yoga). However, I began practicing yoga when I lost my mother to cancer. I was living in San Francisco and her passing created the initiation to feel what I had repressed from a complicated childhood upbringing, and to step into looking at my conditioned emotional and behavioural patterns, with a clearer perspective. From trauma to transcendence, the yoga practice initially managed my symptoms of grief but burgeoned into personal exploration and an unveiling of my own psychology and personhood.
What does yoga mean to you personally?
To me, yoga has been a source of truth and inner discovery. I sometimes imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t on that day stepped into that yoga class in San Francisco and found my path in yoga. I’m sure my family and friends remember that day because from that moment I was different. Yoga brought me back to my body, back to my deeper feelings and back to the courage that I had within. It gave me the purpose to do what I do today, to offer experiences, knowledge and guidance to serve others on their own path of healing and rediscovery.
How have you navigated the past year of lockdowns?
We moved our teacher trainings online very quickly. Our online trainings kept us connected through lockdown. Embracing technology and adapting quickly to a new medium of virtual learning platforms allowed us to reach people all over the world and expand our community of teachers. We now have a library of on-demand trainings, whereby students can watch the recordings in their own time. The design for 2021 is to expand this format and deliver hybrid (live and online) trainings, until we can come together in the studios again.
Any good life hacks for the rest of us?
To fully accept our circumstances in the present moment and to completely embrace who we are - as perfectly imperfect humans in all aspects.
Jamie Clarke is co-founder of The Yoga People (theyogapeople.com), an accredited 200/500 Yoga Alliance RYS, a registered E-RYT 500 certified yoga teacher, and has studied and trained in psychotherapy and depth psychology.
He is also a licensed transpersonal psychology coach and mentor.
Find The Yoga People on Instagram @theyogapeople
Quick Q & A
Favourite yoga book?
Tao de Ching, Lao Tzu.
Favourite yoga quote?
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own” — Bruce Lee
Go-to health food or drink?
Pomegranates, ayahuasca, kissing!
If you had to take a yoga class, as a student, with any teacher ever, from any time or place, who would it be with and why?
Gautama Siddhartha, The Buddha. The reason? I’m quite certain I would get some ‘insights’ in his class.