The teaching of Vanda Scaravelli

Rossella Baroncini – published on The Quarterly Magazine of Yoga Therapy Ireland, issue n.72 Summer 2018

The energy of Vanda Scaravelli’s teaching is still alive.
Her message is full of transformative power and is still expanding and reaching many lives. Her yoga approach with gentleness and kindness reaches to anyone who wants to open their heart to the revolutionary simplicity of her message. Vanda Scaravelli’s approach is very feminine, and like the water it flows towards an empty space. Most of her practice is about making space, letting go all that is unnecessary at any level of our being. Gravity is the life force present in the whole universe, and it also travels like water feeding the flower in your heart. It is clear for everyone that we cannot force the blossoming from inside out of a flower. Vanda wrote in her book Awakening the Spine “You have to learn how to listen to your body, going with it and not against it, avoiding all effort or strain. You will be amazed to discover that, if you are kind to your body, it will respond in an incredible way.” Today many teachers follow the main principles of Scaravelli’s yoga thanks to the work of the few of us that have had the opportunity to meet her and study under her guidance directly. Vanda’s yoga is a “pathless land” (as her friend J.Krishnamurty loved to say) where you are “your own teacher and your own pupil”. Yoga is about observation and no one else could see in your place. But it is so beautiful to find your teacher and walk for while together!
Vanda’s teachings awakens the intuitive knowledge, that she called the intelligence of the body, letting us free to discover, to sense, to be guided from within. In her teachings mindfulness and meditation can be spontaneous gifts of the practice. The truth of her message and the fact that she left her legacy free from hierarchical organization, is the demonstration that the feminine legacy is different from a traditional patriarchal heritage.
We have to change our point of view and accept that the truth can better be preserved when free and it can travel while her energy persists. The feminine wisdom travels without boundaries! Gravity, breath and the beautiful wave of the spine, as she says, are our friends: the answer from within. The exploration of our relationship with gravity in the present moment, with the companion of our natural breath with the right mental attitude, lead us to discover. A discovery that is easily lost, then again found and then lost again…we need resilience, walking in the new we are always beginners, it is a long life training.
As Emily Dickinson says “ Beauty – be not caused – It Is –
Chase it, and it ceases –
Chase it not, and it abides –
Overtake the Creases
In the Meadow – when the Wind
Runs his fingers thro’it –
Deity will see to it
That You never do it “
Vanda Scaravelli passed on May 1999, since then her teachings have spread all over the world and I see them not only in the many wonderful Scaravelli inspired yoga teachers but I also see her teachings have influenced other yoga styles.
We are actually exploring connections with many fields that now inform modern yoga such as new anatomy , neuroscience and physics and Vanda’s approach sounds very in tune with that.
In your yoga travel always consider that you are not practicing alone but at least in twos: you and your Mother Earth. She feeds you; be aware of the answers She sends to your body along the gravity pull and let them be part of your practice. Allow gravity acts actively on your body. Let your breathing expands. Let your mind opens the big hands that always hold and let the dance takes place. Listen to the wave of expansion of your spine and move from within. Poses could be classical or more intuitive, it depends on your experience, this practice does not want to replace a pattern with another traditional one but to change your point of view and give the freedom you need to become “friend of your body” to make your yoga practice embodied.
Gravity for Vanda was much more of the Newtonian concept, it was the expression of the universe’s dance as Dante says: “L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle “(Paradiso XXXIII,145) (“ Love that moves the Sun and the other stars….” )
And we are lucky that there is so much that cannot be expressed in words, the spaces where only the poets could invite your sight!