Olivia Johnson - Oxford

Olivia Johnson

Olivia teaches in East Oxford and at Oxfam

Olivia teaches in East Oxford and at Oxfam

Yoga Teacher - Oxford

Olivia is a very experienced teacher who has been teaching yoga in Oxford for many years.

Her classes and approach are 'alignment focussed vinyasa' where movement is linked to the breath. Her teaching style belies a deep understanding of yoga and an intention to help her students to really understand a posture of set of postures in each class.

You can learn more about her approach, her impressions of the ACUYOGA Programme and find out where she is teaching below.

Can you share some thoughts on your experience of the ACUYOGA Programme?

This is a great programme for people who have specific injuries, old or new, that show themselves during yoga or through yoga. James works in a dialogue with you the client to find the root of the pain, stiffness, etc. In my experience, it has been successful on an acute groin injury. This is unique in it’s approach and application.

How would you describe the style of yoga you teach?

Alignment focused vinyasa. Vinyasa meaning linking movement with breath. I don’t tend to go in for really strong vinyasa as a general rule. Sometimes if it’s appropriate for a specific application. I like to take time to figure a pose out, and so my classes usually have a specific pose or a group of poses as the focus. My intention is to teach the student the biomechanics behind the poses so they can make the adjustments that suit their own bodies.

What advice would you give to someone starting yoga?

First and foremost, to find a class that suits you. We are all different. Some people need to be worked hard, some people need to be given permission to work less in order for them to achieve balance. Whatever it is for you, find a class that suits what you need for that balance, with a teacher that resonates for you. A good yoga class inspires you to be the best you can be with a non competitive, non judgemental ethos. If you try one and it doesn’t do it for you, try another one. And then when you are in class, take your time to learn the form and techniques.

It’s OK to be the beginner in the class. Make it ok for you be that person. Once you’ve let go of your own expectations, the learning process will be much more enjoyable and will be more fruitful.

And finally, if you don’t understand something, ask questions. If it’s not appropriate to ask during the class, ask when the class has finished.

What do you love most about practising yoga?

It’s fun. I love learning new poses and watching my body become stronger, more flexible and able to take on poses that once I would have only dreamt of doing. But beyond that, yoga keeps me inspired. Even when I am feeling remarkably uninspired, I know that if I keep breathing and practicing, I will come full circle again.

Mentally it has allowed me to become a much calmer, happier person. I am now able to step back from emotions that used to kick my butt, such as anger and sadness. It’s a lifelong process, but it’s a positive one that teaches me to accept who I am now, and then work from there. If we are always trying to change ourselves, what does that say about who we are now and how we feel about that person? Not a lot. So learning to love yourself, dark side and all is a great lesson to learn.

Finally, practicing yoga has taught me so much about the body, how it’s structured and how it works. This is an area I am very interested in, and so my practice informs my ongoing studies in this area.

How might a student describe you as a teacher?

Passionate, approachable, competent. The ability to teach to various levels, so that the student can modify the class to fit their level and ability. My style is a mix of flow, breath awareness, alignment, with non dogmatic philosophy and inspiration sprinkled in.

“Olivia is passionate about yoga. She is observant during her classes and is gently encouraging and accommodating whatever one's ability or state of mind. A skilled and inspiring practitioner herself, she creates a positive and safe environment in which to practice and develop.”

“I would say you are clear, specific and physiologically knowledgeable, whilst keeping things accessible.  You are concerned with accuracy of the movement reproduced within the capability of the student.”

“accepting/non judgemental - you appear to accept that people come to yoga with different views about what it is and means to them and without imposing your views you do include some thoughts at appropriate moments - eg reminding us in one hard pose that every decision we'd ever made had brought is to just this point...."

"Imaginative and organised- each class is different so interesting"

Gently challenging - I always feel I've challenged myself and you encourage us to try the next stage of pose giving us individualised props and ways to do so but I also feel ok to take things at my own pace"

"Calm/lighthearted - it feels ok to laugh in your class because you don't seem too earnest about yoga practice.”

“friendly, open, approachable, highly competent and yet also easy-going & relaxed.”

“I think you are an inspirational teacher who delivers the teaching with a beautifully calm energy and grace, perfectly befitting of the subject matter. The clarity and timing of your communication about the technical aspects of theposes interspersed with clear explanations of the ‘philosophy’ and heritage of yoga help us make sense of each asana being taught and help us connect mind and body. You are also very attentive to each student so that we feel as though we are being taught as individuals in a one to one class, at the same time as benefitting from being part of a group."

"You are also very good at managing a group of mixed ability so that everyone pushes themselves whatever level they are at. As a newcomer to yoga, I have been inspired by you to bring yoga into my life as a major part of my spiritual practice.  “

“Absolutely brilliant....! For me, and for what is a class of generally newer yoga practitioners, you have the perfect (and I think, fairly unique) combination of a continuous but gentle focus on teaching us, reminding us, about the underlying principles and rationale for each week's postures and approaches; but with real attention to detail, to proper alignment and to a careful, respectful practice. Your sense of calm and ability to inspire us helps to bring real meaning to our practice.

Finally too, I love the sense of enjoyment and humour for a little lightness too.....a huge thank you!”

'Clear, calm and balanced’

"As a teacher, Olivia is just inspirational, because it is evident that she lives yoga as a philosophy of life beyond physical movement or conventional teaching. She leads us with kindness and assertiveness. Very happy to have found her!"

“I'd say you were/are a very supportive and empathetic teacher and very well liked by students.”

“Anyway I just wanted to say that I love your teaching style, as far as I am concerned you're a master of blending all the best parts of yoga practice (or at least my favourite parts) :-) I love the vinyasa flows, the the attention to detail you observe in the different postures which is similar to Iyengar practice and the focus on breathe with the occasional thoughtful input about spiritual development. Every week is different from the previous which keeps it interesting and the way you teach is fun and engaging. “

When, where and how much are your classes?

Mondays 6-7.30pm. Vinyasa Flow Yoga at Wild Honey, 111 Magdalen Road. £12.

Wednesdays 5.30-7pm Yoga at Oxfam Offices, John Smith Drive. £8.

Fridays 9.30-10.45pm Vinyasa Flow at Wild Honey. £12.