I got e-introduced to Sue Flamm by my yoga-loving friend Nouf. Based in Spain, Sue has been practicing yoga for over four decades, and launched the Puja Yoga initiative which offers yoga teacher training, retreats, workshops and classes at an international level.
Sue has worked as a yoga practitioner in Dublin, Belgium, Holland, the United states and Valencia Spain and will be going to spread more on Puja Yoga in Dublin and Barcelona this fall.
Given the popularity of yoga in the UAE, I’m sure it won’t be long before Sue has a fan following in our region as well!
Sue is a full-time yoga practitioner, and author to a yoga manual entitled ‘Restorative Yoga with Assists‘ (available on Amazon). Although Sue is her official name, she likes to go by her yoga alias, Puja 🙂 Read on for more details on Puja Yoga from Puja herself!
Divinity is not something out of our reach it is something that we need to acknowledge in our lives and cultivate and own as part of our birthright. – Sue Flamm.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for more than 40 years. The practice of yoga incorporates much more then the physical postures which are commonly thought of as “yoga” these days.
Yoga is an eight fold path that includes asana (yoga postures), meditation, pranayama (yogic breathing techniques), the practice of non-violence toward self and others and so much more.
So in one form or another we have all been practicing yoga for a long time. Each time we preform an act of kindness we are practicing yoga. Each time we take a deep breath and connect within, we are practicing yoga.
Yoga means union. Yoga is understanding the inter-connectedness of all things and how each of us is a part of that, how our thoughts and actions effect our world and the world of those around us.
When did you start?
My formal “yoga” practice began with meditation at the age of 12. I was babysitting for a family who did Transcendental Meditation and they invited me to take the initiation. They thought I would like it.
When I went for the initiation to learn the meditation technique I was excited. I brought my ripe sweet smelling pear and perfectly blooming pink flower. After the talk and examples of studies proving the benefits of meditation I was ready for the instruction on how to meditate and to receive my mantra.
When I closed my eyes and began my practice I saw a beautiful mandala and then swirling colors and it all felt somehow so familiar, like I had been doing this for a long time. Since that moment I have practiced many different meditation techniques and consider meditation an integral part of my yoga practice.
At 16 I took my first hatha yoga class offered by a woman who was in her 50’s at the time at a local church and loved it. At 19 I was introduced to Kripalu Yoga which I began to practice in Boston where I was living at the time.
You have taken Puja, an Indian name! How did this happen?
I lived at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts for 6 years in the 80’s when Kripalu was an ashram along with being a learning center. It is now one of the biggest training centers for yoga and personal growth in the USA.
At that time, I lived there with 250 others and the resident Guru, Amrit Desai who gave me my spiritual name as part of my initiation.
We did Seva (selfless service) six and a half days a week, had all our practical needs taken care of food, shelter, use of cars, medical care and we each received $35 a month for other expenses. We did spiritual practice daily and lived a humble spiritual life filled with many learning opportunities.
These days I go by several names, Puja is one and I am also called Sue, Susana, Susie and Suki.
Please tell us about your latest book and why we all need a copy!
My latest book Restorative Yoga with Assists is a manual to learn how to relax deeply while resting in supported yoga postures, how to calm the mind and connect with the heart.
It also teaches how to work in partners or as a teacher in a class, to use simple simple hands on assists to facilitate deep relaxation.
It is filled with practical techniques, clear explanations, sequences and wonderful photos to assist the reader in understanding the practices.
Restorative Yoga is becoming very popular as our stress filled lives continue to demand so much of us, this yogic focus of rest and restoring body, mind and spirit is an antidote to our often over busy lives.
Tao Porchan Lynch, a 98 year old yoga teacher who was teaching yoga in Dubai a few months ago, wrote a testimonial for the book!
How is Puja Yoga different from conventional yoga?
Puja Yoga is simply my eclectic form of teaching that encompasses many different styles of yoga and meditation that I have learned over the years.
It incorporates, Kripalu, Iyengar, Anusara, Ashtanga and bits of other styles, plus a variety of meditation techniques including Vipassana, Buddhist, healing visualisations, deep relaxation and fun.
Do you get resistance to this from religious types?
Not really. If I do I give everyone space for their own beliefs. I am happy to speak with them about other possibilities and ways of looking at things if they are interested. If they are not I wish them well and allow them to follow their way.
When you talk about connecting with the divine, does this have a religious connotation?
Simply, no. I will expand on this below.
Yoga is not a religion, it can be a simple physical practice for health or it can be a way of life. So any religion can practice yoga and experience their own religious views being enhanced.
We live in a vibrational world. Everything in our world carries a life force or prana. This prana can be found all around us, we only need to look around us and acknowledge it.
Each of us carries a divine nature inside of us. Like anything where we put our attention that grows in our lives. The plant that gets watered grows, our attention is a bit like a watering can, when we put our attention on our divinity that too can grow within us and come to the surface.
When we look for the good, practice loving kindness and gratitude these are ways to water our divinity, to connect to positive vibrational energies that bring health and happiness into our lives. This is a continual practice.
Divinity is not something out of our reach it is something that we need to acknowledge in our lives and cultivate and own as part of our birthright.
Please give us 5 tips for a yoga novice, and how to ease into making yoga an integral part of daily life.
1. Commit to loving yourself more fully by taking time to develop you yoga practice
2. Decide what you want to do that can fit into your schedule comfortably. That may be one class per week, ten minutes a day or some other variation that you feel you can do.
3. Ask friends or research so you can find a good teacher or a reliable online practice.
4. Don’t delay, start as soon as possible.
5. Be gentle with yourself and listen to and honour your body as you practice.
What do you need to get started?
There are so many ways to start a yoga practice. Find a local class, there are many on line classes too and youtube has infinite choices.
You can do a little research to determine the style that is good for you and then find a local teacher that teaches the style you feel drawn to.
Yoga can be done anywhere that there is a quite space big enough to move in depending on how many people are practicing.
Also depending on the style, clothing can vary a bit. Generally non restrictive clothing that allows you to move freely.
Starting to practice yoga does not have to mean starting an asana practice (physical practice), it could be meditation or another aspect of yoga.
A good teacher is an excellent place to start if you are a beginner so you can be guided as you find your own way within this time-honoured practice that has been here on the planet for more than 5000 years.
Looking for more details on Puja Yoga? Do check out their website by clicking here.