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Iriness Yoga & Wellbeing

Iriness Yoga & Wellbeing

Published on 1st April 2018


Disciples of traditional yoga believe that we are all born with a limited number of breaths, so it makes sense to inhale and exhale slowly.

Inside her modern, purpose-built unit in Horsham, instructor Irina Pashkevich harnesses the traditional meditative components of yoga, even quoting Krishnamacharya, referred to as the ‘father of modern yoga’.“I teach to learn what I don't yet know.”Having studied yoga around the world, from Israel to New Zealand, there’s a focus on peace and meditation during Irina’s Ashtanga Vinyasa classes at Iriness Yoga and Wellbeing in Victoria Street, Horsham. We met Irina and - after she’d turned us upside down - discussed her business and philosophy...

Starting Out…

Irina grew up in Moscow, but it was whilst working in Israel that she began practicing yoga.Upon the recommendation of a chiropractor, Irina picked up a book called ‘20 Days of Yoga’ and committed herself to 30 minutes every day. “I fell in love with it,” she recalls. “I was young, emotional, ambitious and driven, but yoga calmed me down. Initially, I practiced Sivananda, which is a slow and relatively static yoga discipline. But all yoga forms have similarities, as they’re all about mastering the mind through the body and breath

“I then met Shimon Ben-Avi, a teacher of Ashtanga Vinyasa. Shimon is a master of psychology and philosophy and when I first heard him, I knew he was the right teacher for me.“In the West, we intellectualise everything and think that we understand it. But in the East, you cannot form a philosophical connection by just reading. You must practice breathing, meditation and study the scriptures, which I found fascinating.”

Heading to New Zealand…

Irina started to teach in Israel, when afforded the time by a demanding full-time job as an operations and marketing director for an international corporation. But her passion for yoga grew and Irina put her career on hold to travel to New Zealand for a five-week course with tutor John Scott, renowned for his dynamic method of Ashtanga.

“I was so determined to go that I was prepared to lose my job. Fortunately, my employer allowed me to work remotely from New Zealand. It was an incredibly immersive experience and there followed a period of practice and homework, before I returned to John’s studio to complete the tuition.”

Appeal of Yoga…

Irina would go to the gym and ran regularly along the beach, so Irina’s desire to practice yoga was not based on a physical need. It was more down to a state of mind. “I loved the gym and was always running. But when you run, your thoughts are running too. Yoga connects the mind and body, bringing you to a level of awareness where you are very centred. 

“We all have minds which operate at ridiculous speed, with thoughts running from one place to another. Sometimes, it seems they cannot be stopped. But through meditation, thoughts steadily reduce and you feel peace and quiet. I found this connection with the mind mesmerising. It was a magical experience.“Life is complex and people come here with many problems, mainly in the mind and then they are manifested in the body. But through relaxation, you can find peace.”

Moving to Horsham

Irina started teaching small classes in Israel. However, there was no intention of turning it into a business.She was living the life of an ambitious single woman, travelling the world and practicing yoga. Then, while at an EcoYoga retreat in the Scottish Highlands, Irina decided she could live without the constant anxiety caused by work commitments.

Instead, she wanted to spend more time studying yoga.Having met and married a former fighter pilot with the French Navy, Irina settled in England with her new husband, Patrick, and sought a suitable location to establish yoga classes.

Irina said: “We found this space on Victoria Road, close to Horsham town. It was an old bike shed, only half its current size, without proper foundations. When I first saw the site, I thought it was too dark and too small. I couldn’t see any potential, but Patrick had a vision and I put my trust in him.“We created this incredible space, with separation doors and acoustic wall panels. The room can be divided and used for reflexology, hypnotherapy, reiki and other forms of therapy too. Then, the doors open and we have a large yoga room.”

The More I Teach…

Building work was completed last summer and, in September, Iriness Yoga and Wellbeing opened for business.Irina expected it to take time before classes were busy, but they proved immediately popular, even if the two-hour sessions took some by surprise.

Irina said: “When you tell somebody who is new to yoga that the class lasts two hours, they usually tell you that they cannot spare that long! However, we have breathing routines, postural exercises and relaxation techniques. It takes time. We disconnect from the world, so you feel at one with your body, and that cannot be achieved in an hour. 

“Recently, I had to reduce one session to just one and a half hours and the students were disappointed, as they all now appreciate the full two-hour experience. “I love it too, as my passion is sharing yoga. It's a joy to be together and we become like an extended family. I never feel like a teacher, as the more I teach, the more I learn.”

Individual Service…

Irina has space to accommodate more than 20 people, but tends to run much smaller groups to allow time to evaluate every student. Most classes are not teacher-led, although Irina leads a class on Saturdays. This allows students to progress at their own pace and to practice techniques based on individual needs.“Everybody has a different lung capacity, so your breath might be longer or shorter than the person next to you,” says Irina. 

“Therefore, it's better to take ownership, so our sessions are primarily teacher-assisted self-practice.“There is a perception of Ashtanga being super dynamic and only suitable for young people. But my eldest student is 78 and I see many people in their 60s. I will compile different steps for someone young, athletic and with a good lung capacity than I would for someone older. It is personalised to individual requirements.“People are inspired by this type of yoga, as it challenges them. They come in thinking they will never be able to pronounce the various positions and postures, but after a while, they can reel them off easily.”

Yoga Changes Lives

A third of Irina’s students are men, and in some classes men outnumber women. Ashtanga is a school of yoga that suits men because it has many physical elements.And whilst Irina is careful not to become too philosophical during classes, as she would risk “losing the room,” she finds that many students take it upon themselves to study yoga in depth and make positive lifestyle changes.

“After a few months, people are shocked by the changes they have made to their lives. They may start eating differently or introduce different social elements.You start to ask yourself why you are feeling a certain way. You feel content and relaxed, yet at the same time alert and ready to face life’s challenges, be they bad or good. That is the power of yoga; it changes lives in a positive way.”



For more on Iriness Yoga & Wellbeing classes, call (01403) 211103 or visit Victoria House, Victoria Street, Horsham, RH13 5DZ. Visit the website at https://iriness.com