Cora has become such a coveted teacher here at Yoga Garden SF for her alignment based yoga classes, teacher trainings and workshops. She doesn’t just bring her anatomy background into her classes but also her funky style and sense of humor which creates a beautiful energy that encourages and nurture her students .We’re honored to have such an amazing teacher as part of our family, and we couldn’t wait to learn more about her journey!
(YGSF) Tell us about yourself! What was your first job? Any fun hobbies or personal interests?
(Cora) I grew up in a traditional Chinese family in Asia and the West, and took refuge in the Buddha as a teen. An international childhood in Hong Kong and Indonesia, Switzerland, Australia and the US, has instilled the spirit of a traveling adventurer.
After a start with Stephen Sprouse in rock fashion in New York City in the 70s for legendary rockers Deborah Harry, the Clash and Patti Smith, I had extended careers in retail and fashion merchandising for ESPRIT and Comme des Garçons and a corporate banking career developing eCommerce for Lockheed Martin and Nestlè International.
Since 1994, I’ve taught yoga, mentored by America’s traditional Yoga lineage, learning and assisting Judith Hanson Lasater, Patricia Walden, Erich Schiffmann and Rodney Yee 1992-2011
When I am not standing on my head, I also love gardening and garden design, am and avid knitter, and sometimes known as the crazy cat chanting lady on Youtube 😉
Since 2002, I have been in support of indigenous culture for exiled Tibetan people and land mine victims.
(YGSF) How did you become interested in becoming a Yoga Teacher?
(Cora) When I was a child in Hong Kong, I saw sadhus and yogis on the streets, and thought yoga was interesting, and tried yoga poses (kapotasana) at home. In the early 90s, I met Rodney Yee at a yoga workshop in the California Redwoods. We hiked all day with yoga practice in the early am and afternoons. Our hikes were led by a barefoot Nepali chanting the Baghdad Gita through the woods.
I fell in love with yoga, and went to 35 workshops in the second year of yoga! After meeting and assisting Erich Schiffmann, he and Rodney encouraged me to teach. As I turned 40, I wanted to study with female teachers who could guide me along the aging process, and began to study exclusively with judah hanson Lasater, Patricia Walden and Angela Farmer.
I spent 9 years teaching yoga while still a corporate banker, and flying back to town to teach my classes. In 2001, I left the bank to teach, after turning down a job advancement in New York City with Citibank in August of 2001. 9/11 happened while I was on a medical leave, and I never went back to the bank.
(YGSF) What style(s) of yoga do you offer? Can you explain what makes this style unique?
(Cora) I teach an alignment based therapeutic style of asana, steep in Iyengar methodology. My Chinese roots and Buddhist training provide a backdrop or Chinese Medicine and Mahayana beliefs in my teaching. My students say that I have a “stealth” effect in class – you wont feel the effects today, but you may open your body or sleep more deeply after class. Expect to use props in my class in creative and challenging ways!
Since I live in an overly mobile body, and went crazy for difficult and advanced poses, including advanced backbends and inversions, I understand the desire and “bliss” of asana. But my post menopause aging body has different lessons of sustainment, nourishment and compassion now.
After practicing like a crazy person for 6 hours a day for years, I learned to balance my life and practice. Iyengar and alignment based practices work best for my body, and challenge my intellectual processes. Years of Buddhist practice and study have provided a foundation to study yoga classics and philosophy. My friend and teacher Edwin Bryant has been an inspiration of Jnana yoga, as well as the deepest influence of my Buddhist Sifu from childhood, Master Hsuan Hua.
(YGSF) What do you feel makes a really good yoga class?
(Cora)The residue or “echo” of a class. It is not the achievement of asana that makes a wonderful experience of yoga, but the deepest connection to our hearts and acceptance of ourselves. The practice of opening and awakening the body can be useful as a pathway into the inspiration and boundless joy available at the seat of our hearts.
Yoga is a practice for a lifetime. After 23 years of teaching and 40+ years of yoga and meditation, I understand this practice is a way to love ourselves, by accepting ourselves.
Asana is fun, but #yogaismorethanposing. It is an inspiration and an awakening to find peace in our heart-mind..
(YGSF) What is your favorite yoga pose and why?
(Cora) I am particularly fond of inversions and backbends. They allow me a different view in my life, and are practices that are critical to women as we age. Standing poses provide the foundation for the body to remain stable and supple in asana.
Inversions and backbends force us to explore deeper parts of our physical and emotional barriers, and can be accessed by everyone with the appropriate use of props and supports.
(YGSF) Wow what an incredible insight into Cora’s background before and after yoga. It has truly inspired us to find our inner acceptance, find that bliss in our asana, as well as to nourish our bodies with compassion. You can learn more about Cora and her practice on Corawen.com