WELCOME TO THE BUSINESS OF BLISS...
....a series of interviews and blogs exclusive to Tovi Sorga, celebrating those who dare to live by the mantra: Follow Your Bliss.
We introduce you to a wonderful range of creative entrepreneurs - from fashion designers and florists to film makers and award-winning novelists - discovering some of the joys, pitfalls and rewards of turning what you love into a successful business. Expect to be just a little jealous, and seriously inspired!
IT ALL STARTS WITH THE HUMBLE NOTEBOOK
Among our interviews we also be delve deep into the mysteries of The Humble Notebook - that unassuming space where all creators start turning dreams into reality. Which notebooks, sketchbooks and journals from the great minds of history would you most love to get your hands on?
Our latest interview is designed to put you in the right frame of mind for the thoughtful season of Autumn - retreat into warm fires, woollen jumpers, get out your sketchbooks and notebooks, and don't forget to take care of your body with a little loving yoga. Read more...
Meet Amber Scott, Yoga Teacher, Massage Therapist and Guru of Gentle Wisdoms
Tell us about what you do and how you got started.
I teach yoga! I have been teaching in some form for the past 11 years and practicing for 15.
Yoga is something my mother started doing in the 60s and growing up she always encouraged me to try, which I finally did as a teenager. My first teacher showed me something known as ‘skull lustre’ breathing (kapalabhati) which completely changed my notion of reality. I had always thought that yoga was lying around with your leg in a band, but after my first class I was passionately intrigued and dived into self practice and learning. I barely practice kapalabhati anymore but have always been motivated by mind expansion rather than taut abs and greater physical flexibility!
What are your inspirations and driving forces?
My first teachingexperience was in India on a Buddhist meditation retreat. On the first day someone asked if there was a yoga teacher in the room and for some reason I lifted my hand. I spent the next 10 days teaching a large group of meditators everything I’d been practicing and the feedback at the end of the retreat was enough to make clear that this is what I was born to do. Most of the significant events in my life have been ‘for some reason’, not as a conscious decision but one that nevertheless, almost accidentally, changes the course of my life.
My family and I have had a strong connection to India that goes back to before my birth. I spent a lot of time there as a little girl and feel that the imprint on my soul has never left. My experience of spirituality in India is immediate.
The clear speaking voices of teachers such as B.K.S Iyengar and Nisargadatta Maharaj are an endless source of inspiration to me. Whenever I feel lost, or that this path I have chosen is a mere indulgence, I find distilled in their words the wisdom of ancients. I am reminded of the urgency of this inner exploration that yoga is a doorway to. Our human life is precious and without connection, inner and outer, time is wasted. That is something that cannot be renewed.
My teachers are an endless source of inspiration. My teacher Ruth says that as students we “stand on the shoulders of giants”, a phrase that greatly motivated me at the beginning of my teaching career, when I felt ill-placed to teach those I felt had more life experience.
My teacher Tias Little has founded a deeply therapeutic form of practice centred around the exploration of the sensations of the body. He has a very lucid method of teaching, skillfully weaving words to guide one’s awareness around the body on a scenic internal tour. The work he is doing on the yoga front is groundbreaking yet rooted deeply in the teachings of the ancient sages.
My daughters, all 3 of them, are my driving forces, my little gurus. They constantly question, upturn and disorganise the assumptions I hold so precious. They inspire me to seek happiness so that I can share it with them just as they effortlessly do so with me.
What have been some of the biggest challenges of getting to where you are today?
My own mind! The yogic path requires dedication, discipline and faith. If it is treated as a mere ‘career choice’ then one risks polluting not just the sacred space of practice but ones own intention. To practice, or teach, for personal gain is draining and confusing. In the past I have felt demoralised if not enough students have turned up to a class (or none at all!). Financial worries, concerns with status and all the other petty insecurities that plague the child turning into an adult have reared their heads in the course of my teaching life.
I have reached a point where I can give space to all of these feelings without letting them run havoc. I have learnt that it is only by suppressing them that things get uglier still! And a great freedom follows as I begin to no longer identify with the monsters of my ego.
As a result I am less involved with the ‘what if’s and ‘how come’s. I am more present for my students and can feel them and what they’re going through without needing approval. The relationship with the student is something to be honoured and each one is fascinating and precious. I am no longer concerned with how many students come to my classes and am instead open to the magic that each group field can create.
We all hold each other in invisible ways and in a class situation it is a matter of connecting to the consciousness of the group that can mark the difference between a transformational practice and a good stretch.
These are difficult things to articulate which is why the body is such a fantastic learning tool. We embody the lessons we learn beyond words. Our whole existence is upshifted by simply tapping into the body’s wisdom.
Are there any learning curves that turned out to be blessings?
In my early twenties I started studying for a degree in Sanskrit at around the same time I met my current partner. Having always fancied myself academically inclined I nevertheless struggled tremendously with the dry nature of declensions and vowel-fusion. The sophisticated language of the soul was meant to remain elusive. 6 months into the course I found out I was having a baby!
I decided straight away to give up the academic studies in order to focus entirely on motherhood for at least a year. This required trust on the support of others and was a major life change that turned out to be a blessing in more than one way.
We moved out of London in order to be in the countryside with our baby only to discover my soon-to-become guru ran a yoga teacher training in the next-door village. Ruth White was a long-term student of Iyengar and was my first mentor proper, I enrolled to train as a teacher when my first daughter was 3 months old!
Little did I know that by sacrificing the student life and embracing life as a Mum I would be aligning with my heart’s purpose at the same time…
I am now back at University studying for an MA in the ‘Traditions of Yoga & Meditation’; 10 years on from when I started.
What have been the major highlights or turning points of your career so far?
Beginning to run retreats at my family home in Spain, Trassiera. We have a swathe of land in the hills of a national park north of Sevilla. The atmosphere of the place is naturally conducive to yoga and meditation. I started running retreats there 9 years ago and each one has been an extraordinary experience. To share the beauty of the land with people and to seamlessly weave days of yoga practice with this reconnection to nature is such a privilege. I have continued to run 2 to 4 retreats a year and look forward to doing many more in the future.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
I am a great fan of collaboration. Having only briefly worked in the competitive world of yoga studios I know this is not a model that suits what I do. Competition kills creativity rather than powering me on, and I am always keen to link up with like-minded people, not just from the yoga world! My partner Jonathan Quearney is a bespoke London tailor. He is also seeped in a transformative healing practice called Vortex Healing which I feel would greatly complement people’s yoga practice. A collaboration is definitely on the cards!
On a completely different note, Tim Walker is an artist I am mesmerized by. His photography transports me into the watery, hazy memories of childhood and past lives and the dormant right side of my brain is awoken whenever I view his work. I know he likes yoga too so we could think outside the box together on some sort of a collaboration!
Whose notebook or sketchbook from history would you love to get your hands on & why?
Bob Marley, Krishnamurti, Camarón de la Isla, Billie Holiday, Nietzsche, Tim Walker, Edward Lear. All those wounded geniuses whose right side brains spill out easily onto the page are people who convey the bittersweet taste of life. To remember this and remind others of it is one of the main motivations of my work.
Life and its relentless cascade of manifestations is not something I wish to navigate complacently.
Which notebook or sketchbook of your own would you save from a fire & why?
I would be happy for it all to burn. Attachment to words on paper is not something I am comfortable with. The older I get the more thirst I have for reading and the more books begin to pile up around my house that I want to read. Conversely, the less time I have so it is obvious that this thirst is destined to be unfulfilled!
If I had to, there is a book of poetry I wrote in my early adulthood that I would keep. Reading back on it reminds me how much cleverer I was then and how well I understood the universe. It is a common misconception in my mind that older is wiser. Wisdom, unlike knowledge, is not something I believe you can accumulate. Besides, back then I had much less experience but far more brain cells…
What’s coming next for you & your work?
I am looking forward to see! Bearing in mind the mercurial course of my life so far I would say that things could take a very different course from that which I expect. So far I have plans for a busy year ahead. I am continuing to study for my MA, will be teaching for the first time on a teacher training module for which I am travelling to Kosovo and will be continuing to run yoga and walking retreats in Spain.
The flavour of my classes is also changing as I get more drawn into the subtle aspects of practice. Though I still consider asana the backbone of what I teach, there is a need for the more spontaneous rhythms of the human being to be allowed to manifest. Restorative yoga is a wonderful way for people to be able to feel into areas of the body that are in shut down. There is happily more demand for these types of classes.
I have also started writing a book to support others in their self-practice. In between being a mother and all of the above, this is proving a fascinating project.
What are your wildest dreams for the business or your own creative journey?
To become so aligned with the source of my creativity that I can actively communicate the very heart of yoga. Coincidences occur with increasing frequency in my life and I take these to be signs that alignment is underway!
We highly recommend following Amber Scott's beautiful blog where she shares regular fascinating thoughts relating not only to the practice of yoga, but all things health and wellbeing. If you'd like to attend her classes in Forest Row or Trassiera, keep an eye on her website, and you can also follow her on Instagram for doses of nourishment.
If you've got questions for Amber, contributions to make about #thebusinessofbliss or #thehumblenotebook, or just some thoughts to share, please leave us a comment below - we'd love to hear from you!
You can also join our Facebook group The Business of Bliss - a space to explore, support and celebrate creative entrepreneurship.
And finally, if you'd like to treat yourself or someone you love to one of our beautiful personalised leather and recycled cotton notebooks and sketchbooks you can shop the collection here.