Why did you decide to take your first yoga class, what does the practice mean to you and why do you love teaching people who have never stepped on the mat? We speak to yoga teacher, actor, writer and director Rachael Coopes about her upcoming Yoga for Beginners series starting Saturday, August 27, 2016 at BodyMindLife Bondi Beach.

Why is yoga so important to you?

“Storytelling is my passion and work. Yoga is my life. It allows me to engage with the world – that is my internal world, and the external world – in a way that is conscious and mindful. It allows me to notice my patterns, let go of what is no longer serving me, and become more compassionate to all beings. What happens on the mat is always, and without exception, a reflection of what is going on for me off the mat. The yamas and niyamas, or ethical practices have been a guiding light in my darkest hours when I feel completely lost. And the twenty year journey of my physical practice has been equally humbling and powerful. I honestly believe we shift stuff physically on the mat that we cannot do in any other way. And fundamentally I want to have a healthy, strong, body and mind, as I get older.”

Why did you first decide to take a yoga class?

“Being a national level rhythmic gymnast, I was already a very physical being. I wanted to find something challenging physically, but that was wholistic. I loved running and found it incredibly meditative and challenging but my knees were basically trashed. I was exploring meditation at the time and yearning for some practices to manage my emotional world. A family friend who was a psychiatrist suggested yoga as an integrated practice. So I gave it a shot.”

Tell us about it – how did you feel before and after, the space, the teacher

“Jessica, the teacher had an iyengar and ashtanga background so it was a very strong practice with a focus on breath. The space was beautiful, very calming. I left class knowing this was the thing I’d been waiting for. I just felt different-  happy, completely altered, in a very intangible way.”

Why did you go back?

“It felt so amazing, I wanted to feel like that all the time.

Why do you love teaching beginners?

I feel like we’re all beginners. That’s the beauty of yoga. I’m a beginner in many ways. There’s so much to learn on and off the mat, always. I’m very passionate about getting the foundations right for newcomers. Because yoga is a process, which will always be unfolding, it’s important to lay a firm foundation. That age-old idea that if you build a house on sand, it will fall. But if you build it on a stable, concrete foundation, it will weather any storm.”

What will people learn or take away from the course?

“Once we start moving and flowing in a vinyasa practice, there’s so much going on with the body and breath. As newcomers we want to feel really confident that we’re putting our body in all the right places and understand the fundamentals so we can come to classes and feel empowered, rather than lost or overwhelmed. That’s exactly what people will take away from the course. A way to modify and practice safely and confidently. As more experienced practitioners, it’s valuable to come back to beginners and essentials from time to time to maintain a beginners mind, and check in with our foundations. I often learn more from beginners workshops than any other classes. “