Yoga for every body
Corina Smith, make-up artist and yoga teacher
Balancing a busy schedule as a make-up artist and creative director for her company Smack Ibiza and teaching yoga classes – both private and guest sessions in selected yoga studios on the island – Corina Smith says it is a daily yoga practice that helps her feel settled in her professional life. Throughout the winter months, Corina will be teaching weekly ‘Posing with Power’ classes at Hot Yoga Ibiza, suitable for all levels and focusing on a different them each session. “If you do my classes, I will make you strong,” she promises.
What was it that first attracted you to yoga?
It was quite a long time ago, and it’s not actually very yogic if you want to know! I was about 21 and working as a freelance make-up artist and at the time I was struggling for work. A friend of mine worked at the local gym and she gave me a free pass, so I could keep my mind busy if I went four or five days without work. I didn’t like the gym, so I started checking out classes and tried yoga. I’d never experienced yoga before and had the classes been with another teacher, I may never have gotten into it.
What was it about his classes that got you interested?
It was the teacher, definitely. He was like Jesus Christ, women flocked to his classes! He came from a yoga family and he taught the fundamentals of Hatha yoga. It was about not using force, but the breath to get into poses and safety and alignment were of the utmost importance. I just got hooked. I followed him for about six years and I feel like I really learned a lot from him.
At what point did you decide to become a yoga teacher yourself?
When I decided to do my teacher training, it wasn’t really because I wanted to be a teacher. It was because I wanted to deepen my practice. I’d gotten into Ashtanga, but after two years I just felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. I was maintaining the practice I already had and the more I experienced other classes and teachers, I felt like there was a gap – they weren’t explaining the fundamentals, they were just instructing. So then I explored the idea of training.
Where did you do your teacher training?
In America – I went to New York and trained at Yoga Works in 2007. I wanted to remove myself from my normal life in England to get the most out of the experience and my first thought had been India, but my original Ashtanga teacher (who was also all about safety and alignment) had trained with Yoga Works and told me all about it. I did some research and realised it was exactly what I was seeking.
How do you balance your life as a make-up artist with the life of a yoga teacher?
It’s difficult, because I don’t like to do anything unless I can give 100-percent. When I moved to Ibiza in 2009, I had the plan to do make-up in the summer and teach yoga in the winter, but at the beginning I had to really throw myself into the Smack Ibiza business with my partner Sara. I hate to say it, but my practice suffered, I was in a relationship that was taking up a lot of energy and for a couple of years, I didn’t even consider teaching. I don’t like to admit that, but it was part of my journey.
So how did you overcome it?
The thing about yoga is, it’s not like going to the gym. It’s a state of mind; it’s a way of life. I was feeling like a bit of a fake, I wasn’t totally present in my practice. But slowly I got back into my self practice as I ended my relationship, Sara was always very encouraging towards me and was on my case about getting back into yoga and she put me in touch with Jacqueline Purnell, who is a yoga teacher here on the island. She also encouraged me, inviting me to her classes and then after about a year she took me under her wing and said, “I want to get you teaching again.” I felt like I wasn’t ready, but it was really because I was scared. The yoga world is sacred and I wanted to be real. Jacqueline helped me get my teaching skills back up to scratch, I went back to my books and studying – in the end, I didn’t want it all to be for nothing.
Tell us about your practice.
I go through phases, because in the summer I can’t continue to teach because of our busy schedule at Smack Ibiza. It’s hard to give up, but if you have the commitment of teaching a class every week at a certain time and then a big make-up job comes in, it can be really stressful. I hope one day my two lives can run side by side. In the summer, I keep my mat rolled out in the living room and no matter what, whether it’s 10 or 15 minutes of stretching or an hour of Ashtanga, I’ll do it when I wake up. In the winter I go to Ashtanga classes twice a week, and when I am teaching I’ll also plan the class by doing it the day before. Yoga keeps me settled – I notice the difference if I don’t practice.
What kind of differences do you see?
To be honest, I’m not the most tranquil person, I have a tendency to get stressed easily and to be impatient. But when I practice, my day flows much better, I try to practice what I preach and I know that the peace and tranquility is there within me. I can close my eyes, find my breath and connect with that – this comes easily when I am practicing. I eat much more healthily, I sleep better and I don’t drink. I also get a lot of gratitude from teaching, it really puts me on a high throughout the day. I’d teach all day, every day if I could.
How did you get involved with Hot Yoga Ibiza?
I first came here a couple of years ago, I’d always wanted to try hot yoga but I didn’t know anything about it. I tried the resident’s special, where you get a week’s worth of unlimited classes and I did it every day. I remember Sebastien saying to me, “You’re going to want to walk out, but you can’t,” and if he hadn’t said that to me, I probably would have! I liked the way each day got easier and easier, then I came to the Ashtanga classes and I’ve also tried the CORE 40. I was even in a photo shoot for the studio once!
How do you describe Sebastien’s teaching style?
I love it. He’s a bit like me – he’s not totally airy fairy, he’s very to the point and has a very strong practice. I love his Bikram classes – the way he instructs is like a chant, you can zone into his voice and I think that’s very important for a teacher, to have that ‘yoga voice’. I really connect with him during his classes.
What led you to teaching here?
It’s such a beautiful studio, I’ve always loved it and there’s nothing else like it in Ibiza with the flooring and mirrors. It’s so clean, fresh and professional and it suits my style, so when I was looking for a place to offer classes, this was the first studio that came to mind.
What are your Posing with Power classes like?
The idea around ‘posing with power’ is that I like my classes to be quite strong. I work on strengthening the joints, which therefore works towards making our bodies stronger by holding or flowing through poses with the correct alignment. I follow a Yoga Works style sequence, and I’ll always have a theme for the day, maybe it’s hip opening poses, or shoulder opening poses. It changes regularly and we use props like blocks and straps. I push people to their limits, but never with force. I like to teach a lot of safety and alignment, I break down the poses, even if it may seem repetitive. My classes aren’t too spiritual, but I do use essential oils and at the end of each session I use a Tibetan sound bowl to awaken the class. I love working with beginners, taking someone from scratch and watching them progress. I always say, if you come to my classes, I will make you strong!