Meet Your Teachers

Here are the bios for Jo and Ben, your two wonderful guides at Yoga Nature Sheffield. Find out about their yoga experience, what inspired them to follow the yogic path, what their favourite yoga pose is and some other bits of juicy information...


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Joanna Bertzeletos

Hi, my name is Jo and I very much look forward to meeting you and sharing the great benefits of yoga with you. To put your mind at ease I do not teach a style of yoga that puts you into knots or is competitive. Please do have a read below to find out more.

 

What are my yoga experiences and qualifications?

I have been a student of yoga for well over 20 years and teaching yoga for 13 years. I have shared yoga to people from all walks of life from as young as two to seniors, from pregnancy yoga to yoga for people with special needs, yoga in schools to yoga in the workplace, and of course personalised one to ones and small group yoga. I also have an interest in yoga therapy and over the years I have helped people use yoga to help manage a variety of health issues ranging from back challenges, various arthritic conditions, cancers, multiple sclerosis, ME, depression, anxiety and I have worked with people recovering from addictions. To find out about all my yoga experience scroll down the page.

My teaching style

My teaching style is gentle, nurturing, loving and fun. I give a number of options in class so you can choose the option which is right for you on the day. The emphasis in classes is to honour the needs of our bodies and not to compete with ourselves or others.

What yoga posture should we all master?

Savasana or relaxation pose. Yes, that is right, you heard correctly! Learning to lie down and relax, not sleep, but to give the body the time to rest deeply so that it can integrate the practices from the yoga class, to stay in the moment by following the breath so that the body, mind and spirit can deeply heal.

What yoga practice should we master?

All of them are of importance as long as we are doing them with an attitude of kindness because all of them help us to master the practice of dhyana or meditation. Dhyana is the practice which helps us to reach our full potential.

What is my favourite posture?

Savasana of course!

What got me into yoga?

Thinking about it I think my spiritual quest began at the tender age of five but I was not aware that this was the case. At this age two major events happened in my life. The first one was when I was taken to Greece to meet my family, in particular, I remember vividly meeting my grandma who had serious multiple sclerosis, she could only move her eyeballs. To this day I can still feel the overwhelming sadness and despair she felt when she met me and I remember her trying to communicate with me but not being able to, I saw the tears running down her cheeks and was told to go and wait outside like a good girl. In that same year we moved to a small fishing town in Australia called Bateman's Bay, it was so wonderful to be in a space so close to nature and the wild raw beauty that Australia has. We were blessed and lived close to semi-tropical rainforests and amazing oceans. Unfortunately though, in this little village I also experienced quite a lot of racism.

I remember one day after a difficult time at school running home and taking my shoes off immediately to connect with the earth, running into our back garden and lying in the tall grasses near the fruit trees. I can still feel the big sigh I felt when I made the connection with the earth, sky and trees. It was in this pivotal moment that I started to wonder why the world was filled with so much pain, sadness and meanness and was it really necessary to experience this. Within this same moment, however, I also felt an overwhelming peace and happiness with the world. I was watching an insect as it changed colours, looking at the blue sky and watching the clouds change shape and looking at the beautiful lime green of the grass and in that moment despite the sadness I also felt a great connection to everything. Of course being only five I did not know what I had discovered but I knew that nature helped me to connect to that sense of bliss. This my friends is where my spiritual adventure began as I wanted to find a system of philosophy, spirituality and well-being that could help me to connect to these moments of bliss and live my life fully in the present moment but also to be able to keep my body and mind strong, flexible and healthy. Yes, you have guessed correctly, yoga has all of this and much more as I was to discover over the years.

Why do I wish to share yoga with you?

Through various yoga practices I was able to understand and deeply heal myself, learn acceptance, gratitude and also be able to start to live more in the mystery of the moment. I consider myself a work in progress and still have much healing and development to do. I am not in any way perfect. I do not seek the perfect pose, body, or a competitive style of yoga practice. My aim in sharing yoga with people is to help us all to develop a deep love, understanding and gratitude of who we are and to start to heal ourselves from the inside out so that we can begin to heal the wider world.

Power to the peaceful, Jo x


Jo's Experience and Qualifications

  • Jo has a four year Dru Yoga Teacher Training qualification, gained in 2008;

  • Jo has been a student of yoga for over 25 years and has been teaching for 14 years;

  • Jo has had the great honour to share yoga with children as young as 2 right up to adulthood;

  • Jo has taught yoga in primary & secondary schools, for over 10 years;

  • Jo has taught yoga to children & adults with special needs;

  • Jo is committed to CPD and attends post graduate yoga courses on a yearly basis;

  • Jo is currently enrolled on a year long Kriya Yoga course at Mandala Ashram;

  • Jo has been immersing herself in the advanced practice of Prana Vidya by going on 10 day yoga retreats at Mandala Ashram in 2016, 2017 & soon will be going in 2018;

  • Jo completed her six month Pranayama course with Philip Xerri in 2017;

  • Jo completed a year long course on the chakras at Mandala Yoga Ashram in 2015;

  • Jo gained her Dru Yoga Antenatal yoga certificate in 2013;

  • Jo underwent an eighteen-month long training in yoga therapy for back care in 2011;

  • Jo completed a two year Dru Yoga Sound and Mantra course, certificate gained in 2010;

  • Jo has completed two modules to teach Dru Yoga Dance, gained in 2008 and 2011;

  • Jo has a YogiYou certificate to teach yoga to kids and teens, gained in 2007.

View and Download a full list of experience and qualifications


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Benjamin Major

Hi, my name is Ben, also known as DJ Darshana, and I look forward to meeting you and sharing some of the great wisdom that the tradition of yoga has to offer. I have a particular interest in yoga history and philosophy and I am also Yoga Nature's graphic designer.

What are my yoga experiences and qualifications?

I am a scholar at heart and before discovering yoga my background was mostly in academia. My first degree, from Leeds University, was in the History and Philosophy of Science, a highly unusual degree that is offered at only a few universities. Following this I pursued a varied academic path, gaining an MA in Social and Cultural Geography from Sheffield, then an MA in Educational and Social Research Methods and culminating in a PhD in Educational Research from the Institute of Education, London. It was during all of this that I first discovered yoga, and I began my practice 13 years ago, and have sustained a regular practice throughout this time. Immediately I was amazed to find myself experiencing a form of physical exercise that I actually quite enjoyed. Being a generally bookish sort, and having never enjoyed physical activities at school, this was quite a revelation.

Of course, as I delved deeper into yoga I soon realised that yoga is much, much more than the physical exercises that it is most commonly associated with today. The more I read about yoga, tantra and related philosophies the more I realised that I had hit upon something that combined everything I had ever been interested in into one beautiful package. I am fond of all philosophy, but the schools of thought which most resonate with me currently are the various lineages of Shaiva Tantra. These days, I consider almost everything I do in my life as part and parcel of my yoga practice. This includes my graphic design and my DJing, and yes it even includes those things that I don't naturally gravitate towards, such as gardening and housework, and I am gradually learning to bring a sense of awareness even to these activities. I have attended many yoga workshops and retreats over the years, particularly those run by the Sheffield Yoga School and, before that, the Dru Yoga School.

In 2015 I decided it was time to take the leap and fully immerse myself in the yoga tradition by completing a two year long in-depth Yoga Teacher Training Course at Mandala Ashram in Wales, accredited by the British Wheel of Yoga. I am very glad to have chosen such a long, authentic and thorough teacher training, as these seem to be becoming a rarity these days! I really look forward to sharing your yoga journey with you.   

My teaching style

My teaching style is generally quite steady, mindful, relaxing and has been described as having a 'timeless' quality. I encourage students to practice according to their unique bodies and needs and to cultivate full body and breath awareness at all times. I maintain a healthy respect for the yoga tradition whilst not being afraid to be creative, innovative and playful, as best exemplified by my Mantra Groove Yoga & Dance Workshops. I try and bring a healthy dose of creativity into my classes, and sometimes use poetry, music or storytelling to enhance the experience.

What yoga posture should we all master?

This question makes little sense to me. Gaining some degree of mastery in any posture or asana can be rewarding and satisfying in itself. However, as should be clear by now, and unlike many modern yogis, I harbour no particular fixation for physical postures, beneficial as they may be. What we should really be aiming to master is a return to that innate state of being in which we are relatively unperturbed by the vicissitudes of life, and able to access at any time the inner resource of deep peace and stillness that dwell forever within us. To the extent that they help train the mind to do this, and so long as we don't practice them in an overly competitive manner, than all yoga postures potentially have their place.

What yoga practice should we master?

Having reflected upon this, I now believe that the most important yoga practice is karma yoga. This also happens to be one of the hardest practices, at least for me! It is one thing to be centred and serene when you are on a yoga mat, another thing altogether to maintain this inner stillness when you are out and about doing things that you might not necessarily enjoy doing. It doesn't matter how many headstands you might want to do, karma yoga is the real challenge that true yogis must step up to!

What is my favourite posture?

Being a very indecisive kind of person it is very difficult for me to choose just one posture or asana. However, I very much enjoy practicing Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose,  Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge Pose, all Warrior Postures and most standing balances.

What got me into yoga?

I started to pursue yoga 13 years ago. I was helping to organise a festival here in Sheffield when Jo phoned up and asked if she could do some yoga there. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more so I started to go to her classes. We continue to explore the path of yoga together to this day! I am largely what you would call a jnana yogi. That is, my inclination is to pursue the path of knowledge or wisdom and have read and continue to read many books on the history and philosophy of yoga. My understanding of yoga continues to grow and I can’t wait to share some of that knowledge with you. Please do let me know if you are looking for any suggestions of things to read!

Why do I wish to share yoga with you?

Yoga has without doubt helped me on many levels. On the physical level, I now have better posture, and have greater flexibility and strength. On a mental level, yoga has helped me to be able to stand back and witness my thoughts and actions and become less overly emotive and reactive to situations in my life. On a deeper level, yoga has renewed my creativity. Strange as it may sound I feel almost like a child again, exploring and creating and seeing the world anew, yet at the same time I have developed an increased emotional and mental maturity. All in all, yoga has helped me to grow into my true self, and I truly hope that by passing on that knowledge and wisdom I can help others to grow too!

Namaste, Ben x


Ben's Experience and Qualifications

  • Ben graduated from a two-year long British Wheel of Yoga accredited teacher training course at Mandala Ashram in 2017;

  • Ben has been practicing yoga regularly for 14 years;

  • Ben has co-organised Sheffield's first and only Bhakti Yoga Festival, Ganapati Groove;

  • Ben has led numerous Mantra Groove Dance & Yoga Workshops;

  • Ben has given talks at many Satsang gatherings here at Yoga Nature Sheffield;

  • Ben is currently taking a course on the ‘Vasistha Method of Pranayama’.

  • Ben has attended many yoga workshops, retreats and festivals. These include most recently: 'The Power of Stillness' with the Sheffield Yoga School; 'A Day Of Awareness' and 'Nada Yoga' with Swami Gyandharma; 'The Tattvas' with Swami Brahmananda; and a three day retreat with Swami Pragyamurti. Ben has also attended several retreats at the Dru Yoga School;

  • Ben has read countless books and watched countless talks on the history and philosophy of yoga and is currently learning Sanskrit through self-study!