Clare Raffety is a beautiful, gentle teacher whose generous heart and grace-filled presence make a student feel truly cared for and edified. It was my honour to host Clare in May 2010 for Wellington’s first ever Anusara workshop (co-taught with Katie Lane).
Clare is UK born, kiwi bred from the age of 8, has lived in the US and currently makes her home in Hobart, Australia. If you’re in the area, get along to Yoga from the Heart for a sweet Anusara experience.
How did you get into yoga?
My mother started meditating when I was in my early teens and something about the mystery of what she did expanded my view and ignited my curiosity. When I was 18 and student in Wellington studying to be a Science Technician a friend and I decided to go to yoga. Not knowing that there was more than one yoga we signed up for a Yoga Nidra course. It was not at all what I had expected and I was shocked that the places we were guided to bring awareness to I could not access. I knew then that yoga would offer me a way to know my Self. After moving to Auckland to do a science degree in 1984 I began practicing Iyengar Yoga with Nicky Knoff who was then teaching at the university. As an incredibly inflexible long distance runner yoga challenged me and revealed my edges in every pose. 1987 -1989 and 1993 – 2002 I lived in the United States and had the privilage of studying with some amazing teachers, mainly from the Iyengar tradition. In 1998 I did my first workshop with John Friend and have been studying with him ever since.
I came to yoga with a strong inner judge and strived in all areas of life to do it ‘right’, even perfectly. In my yoga practice I struggled to attain the outer form I thought I should be achieving, and most of the time I failed. Anusara yoga turned my focus inside out, literally. My body, mind and heart began to open up. One of the very early workshops I did with John Friend he said we are like a unique crystal through which the same light shines and that image invited me to celebrate my life in ways I had never dreamed. The life affirming philosophy of Anusara, the artistry and science of it just feel like home.
What was your certification journey like?
My journey was much simpler than it is for aspiring teachers today. I did my first teacher training in 2001 with John Friend and submitted my first video in 2002. I didn’t pass on the first video and for me that process was huge. As an ‘A’ student throughout my whole education and university career it was the first time ever I had not passed anything. That was the biggest gift of the certification process for me because it had me turn inside and really get it that I am good and worthy despite what felt like failure. I got it at a much deeper level that I am connected and supported. I took two years, studying, refining, working on my language, developing my capacity to ‘see’ students and look for the good, connecting the inner heart quality and the outer expression in form, before I resubmitted a video and in 2004 passed. The certification journey was an amazing gift of expansion on all levels.
Which Universal Principle of Alignment and/or loop challenges you the most? How have you worked with that challenge?
In the beginning of my journey with Anusara the first principle of opening, softening and feeling for the flow of Grace was my biggest challenge. Through time the challenge has shifted as my understanding and integration deepens. Right now I am exploring and feeling the subtle effects of the balance of inner spiral and outer spiral and I am playing with the expressions of the spirals in all poses, feeling how they connect to the core and emanate; spanda of life.
What has your Yoga Inventure revealed about who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life?
Through yoga I have come to know my Self, the unchanging, auspicious, free, pulsing, radiant fullness. Yoga helps me deeply listen to the flow of energy in my life, even when it is hard and scary, so I am more fully engaged and able to stay open. What I want to do with the rest of my life is to keep living wide open and to serve others in their process of expansion and revelation of their own hearts.