FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Thea Tripti Pratt
Interview by Sara McElwain
Thea Tripti Pratt was born and raised in Canada and came to New York City in 1981 for her master’s degree in art. She discovered Integral Yoga in the mid-1990s and began attending many Scripture Study classes with Swami Ramananda and Swami Bhaktananda and taking Hatha I classes. In 2002 she received her 200-hour Yoga certificate and started to teach. Since then her curiosity about all things Yoga has grown along with the number of her Yoga certificates and the number of classes she teaches. She is currently applying for her Yoga Therapy certificate from IAYT.
What is your definition of Yoga?
I think that Yoga is a way of life that leads to peace and happiness. I’ve seen it show up in the calmness and compassion of an airport security guard who helped a woman in a body brace get through security and in the good spirits of a clerk in a packed Whole Foods store. I also think that Yoga is an exploration. I’m an artist, and I find that the artistic and the Yogic experiences are similar in that way.
What do you love about Yoga?
Its practicality. The fact that it works in the world I know. Things like using my body to ground me when I’m feeling overwhelmed by my monkey mind; using my breath in difficult situations with other people; using my mind to keep my body healthy. I also love the fact that I don’t have to strive in Yoga: for instance, the way that meditation sneaks up on you and suddenly you find yourself calm, when you would usually be upset.
Why do you teach Yoga?
Teaching allows me to pass along the tools that help me so that other people can find their basic peace and happiness. Teaching helps me, too. I learn from my students and also from myself as I teach.
What are the particular areas of Yoga in which you are now teaching or in which you have created your own, special offerings? What attracted you to those areas?
I teach Yoga to seniors and people with chronic illness as well as to a class in a college with minority students. Those populations found me. When I started teaching I accepted any class that came to me: children, young adults, seniors. After a while that narrowed down to the populations I’m teaching now. I’d say that’s likely where my abilities lie at the moment, since it was an organic process
What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher?
I hope that my students can recognize their experiences of peace and happiness and use the Yoga tools to make them happen more often. To get there I focus on body awareness, relaxation, laughter, imagery, and singing, especially childhood songs or songs from the students’ past. I also like to build my class into a community, a sangha, so that my students can help one another outside of class.
Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share?
I use the Yoga Sutras a lot in my life and when I’m teaching: the four locks and keys, the eight limbs, Book 1:2, pratipaksha bhavana, and so on.