Barefoot Body tutor, Tiffany Thorne, tells us about her unconscious preference for green mats, how a near brush with death at age twelve brought her to the practice, and why we need to stay curious.

Tiffany has been exploring Scaravelli-inspired practices for more than twenty years although her whole life seems to have been lived around yoga: born to an Iyengar yoga teacher and starting classes at age twelve, she developed an unusual interest in yoga philosophy and studied for 12 years at the University of Cambridge.

With this grounding in Sanskrit that she continues to explore technically and creatively, she completed teacher training and went on to qualify in teaching Restorative Yoga, and Yoga for Pregnancy.

Tiffany has spent the last few years teaching embodied philosophy on yoga teacher trainings and workshops.

Do you remember your first yoga mat?

My first mat was that now famous German carpet underlay cut into strips and brought into the country by my mother’s yoga teacher, Angela Farmer. I think she is now credited with having invented yoga mats! The very first ones were salmon pink, then these green ones, and they are much thinner than mats today!

I actually found that unconsciously I have gone for the same colour in my choice of mat, this one came my way left by a practitioner who liked Chinese food by the smell of it, now worn off. It’s been much loved by the cats I have had and is full of teeth and claw marks. I must have had it since 2013 or so, so it’s fairly old too now! I even bought green mats for my yoga classes, unconsciously!

My trusty green mat is pictured here together with the ancient relic of carpet underlay I had back then, from a cupboard in my mum's house!

I was twelve when I started in my mother’s yoga classes. I had just had a terrible accident over that summer involving a too small bike and a big hill, my first brush with death. She reckoned I needed the practice of yoga, but used to get worried that I went “too deep” in Shavasana! Ha ha! I used to sit up after class and see the people in the room as moving souls. Then I found my way to the texts like the Isha Upanishad, and a flash of recognition hit me.

What does your mat practice look like?

Slow and more subtle! Scaravelli inspired practice is where I gravitated, and various magical happenstances presented me opportunities to practice with great teachers, from whom I continue to learn

How has your practice changed over the years?

I guess I started with my mother’s Iyengar style, which stayed with me until I looked it in the eye! My Scaravelli-inspired practice got me to see that, and to let go of the striving, but that was twenty years of releasing and undoing the more external experience of alignment I had picked up.

With my Sanskrit studies, and working with great teachers, and doing the teacher training I undertook much later, I found my own way which relied on a more internal sense of alignment than what I had perceived it was about when I started out on this yoga journey at twelve years old.  

Where do you get your practice inspiration from?

Texts sometimes provide inspirations, yet “there is more wisdom in the body than in your deepest philosophy” as someone once said. Mostly it’s emotional first aid for me, as it always has been, coming back to a centred place.

So, I would really describe my practice as observing the creature me moving through this Life and figuring out through the body itself how I can simplify and find ease.

What’s your top tip for keeping up practice?

Don’t make it a rod for your own back, that’s a cognitive dissonance which takes your soul away. Stay curious about yourself as the subject to be explored. If you find your mind wandering, do something else.

The steadiness of focus is to be tended gently. Little and often. Take it off the mat.

You will find Tiffany's classes here and join her on Barefoot Body's 200 Hour Teacher Training, and our Yoga Alliance accredited CPDs Restorative Yoga Training, and Yoga Nidra Facilitator training.