Yoga has been a blessed adventure for Shunyo who truly found yoga in its homeland of India. Having only started practicing yoga four years ago, she has found her place as Senior Guest Teacher in Abhinam Yoga School in Goa & Dharamsala teaching and working alongside Namito to bring yoga to spiritual seekers. When talking to her there is a mix of the humble Japanese character who would prefer the spotlight to be on someone else, combined with a focused determination that is rarely seen in many people. These qualities make her such an inspiring person and dedicated yoga teacher.
In Japan, Shunyo said that all of her early yoga experiences were lacking and uninspiring and that it was only when she came to India that she became totally obsessed with everything yoga has to offer. In the beginning, she said she ‘thought yoga wasn’t for me’, because her body was stiff and she was frustrated attending yoga classes as she couldn’t even do simple asanas like trikonasana. Shunyo explained that the commercialized and “fashionable” yoga she tried in Japan did not suit her and left her uninspired. Despite this, she said she always knew that ‘in my heart, the word yoga was always there’. So when she travelled to India she reveled in the yoga she found which was simple and authentic in her own mind. She first started practicing Ashtanga yoga in Rishikesh, and eventually found herself studying every day in Mysore at Mandala Yoga Shala. Learning the primary series of Ashtanga Mysore style there for a month and a half she said this was the first time she had really practiced yoga seriously. Yet during this time, the intensive practice and lifestyle took its toll on her body, and she found herself with injuries due to a lack of importance placed on correct alignment.
After hearing about Iyengar yoga and it’s therapeutic and alignment based foundations, she decided to learn this style in the hope that it would help heal her injuries. She started studying yoga at Iyengar Institute, Pune and within one year of learning the basic alignment taught there, all of her injuries were fixed and she knew she had found something that had the power to heal so many people.
After going back to Japan, Shunyo took a 200hr Shivananda Yoga Teacher Training to further her yoga study, but didn’t find the confidence to teach classes after completing this course. Lucking, having stayed good friends with Namito she decided to come back to India and study with him, taking the first ever Yoga TTC at Abhinam Yoga School ran, and she is still with the school to this very day and is now the Guest Lead teacher.
Having the background of both Ashtanga VInyasa, with its dynamic movement and Iyengar with its props and alignment focus, she fuses the two styles together in her teachings to create a holistic practice for her students. Shunyo says that teaching yoga helps her learn about herself in a deeper way. She modestly says that every day she learns from the students and that she sees herself ‘as a human being, not a yoga teacher’, which facilitates a beautiful connection between her and her students.