Narelle Carter- Quinlan

In this ENarelle Carter- Quinlinpisode # 15 of Yoga Teacher Podcasts I’m talking with Narelle Carter – Quinlan. Narelle presents a unique yoga teacher training on  yoga and scoliosis and is the Director of Studio Scoliosis, a studio located in Forest Lake Brisbane QLD.

Narelle Carter-Quinlan a biomedical scientist, dedicated Iyengar Yoga practitioner and international presenter on yoga and scoliosis, backcare, and spinal anatomy.

Originally working in Cellular Pathology, Haematology, and Clinical Biochemistry. Narelle’s postgraduate research lies in the functional anatomy of the lumbar spine and sacrum in health and dis-ease.

Listen here.


Show notes Yoga Teacher PodcastsShow Notes If you prefer to read rather than listen to the audio ( you know you can subscribe and use the amazing Itunes podcast app for super convenience) here are the show notes, lovingly typed out, just for you.

Hello Bettina Mitchell here, host of Yoga Teacher Podcasts, thank you for tuning into this episode with our guest Narelle Carter- Quinlan.

This is the first installment for 2013, it’s been great taking some time out with family and friends and to be honest I’ve really enjoyed being away from my daily companion… the computer.

Bettina: Narelle Welcome  thank you for taking the time out from a busy schedule to contribute to YTP.

Narelle: Hi Bettina my pleasure.

Bettina: when I first contacted you it was just after the Yoga Therapy conference in Melbourne (August 2012). I really appreciated your presentation on scoliosis, I got an amazing insight into how it might “feel” to have a lateral deviation of the spine and the effect particularly on breathing – it really was a light bulb moment for me! Can you give us a brief overview of Scoliosis HOW it affects the body and

Narelle: A lot of people relate to Scoliosis as simply a lateral deviation of the spine and indeed that’s a component of the landscape but it’s a three dimensional shift. In actual fact it begins with a lordosis anomaly where the spine particularly the lumber spine but also the Thorasic spine looses its kyphosis and the lumber lordosis increases. ..and then there is a rotational component and then the lateral deviation comes in so it effects the body in all three cardinal planes [2:45] And of course that takes the whole of the landscape of the body with it, so it does effect the lungs.

B: What took you down this path was it a personal experience with scoliosis?

N: Yes I get asked that a lot. This is my body I have quite a significant scoliosis myself that was diagnosed when I was thirteen. I was an elite level ballroom dancer and my mum was a dressmaker fitting my costumes she would say stand up straight and I said I am. [3:40] We would both looked at each other in the mirror and say Oh my God. My yoga practice has been an exploration of that territory.

B: Is Scoliosis then a functional thing? [4:00] resulting from the positioning of being a ballroom dancer?

N: Scoliosis is sucha vast territory. One of the researchers I’m in contact with here in Queensland says Narelle I think scoliosis is so many different “diseases.” So many pathologies that manifest in this particular physicality. [ 4:30] No one in my family has a scoliosis.

B: Does it show up mostly in women or in men too?

N: Probably 80% of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis are female. [5:50]

B: Since we first spoke. You were in the throws of moving house, heading to Europe on a teaching tour, writing a book and preparing for the arrival of a grand child! I guess you keep your self pretty busy!

N: I do actually I think of it as streams or threads of my life. I do travel a lot and teach mostly to New York a little bit to Europe once of year. New York twice a year I teach there but I also study there. Yes I’m writing (laughs) Ive been writing this jolly book a couple of years. [6:55] I’m getting a couple of e-books out.

Why do you go to New York is it more in tune with the type of workshops that you’re delivering.?

N: There is this studio called Yoga Union Centre for back  care and Scoliosis. It’s the only studio in the world currently that has a studio dedicated to back care.

B: You have been a yoga teacher for a long time ?

N: A very long time the way I work this out is that my son is now 26 and I began teaching when he was 15 months old.

B: Can you tell us a bit about how yoga came into your life? [9:15]

N: I was four years old, I didn’t know there was a thing called yoga I was just on my lounge room floor and my mother would say would you go outside and play with the other children and Id say noooo.  I would be exploring how I could move my body and get a stretch here and there. I had this little book that Id look at it was a book by Swami Sarasvati. I lived in the Blue Mountains and Alan Goode – (Canberra ) was coming up to do monthly workshops with his wife (at the time) Lulu Ball from New Town in Sydney. [11:00] and that’s how I discovered Iyenga yoga. I loved the precision and its incredible strength.

These days my teachers are also my colleagues:

B: Yes there is a lot of great teachers in the US and there is a lot of great teachers here in Australia that’s one of the reasons I started YTP because I wanted to create a platform for Australian teachers to share their teachings.

N: There is a studio in Austria that gets me over once a year to teach on yoga and scoliosis and spinal health. [12:50] And I  taught for Simon Low at the Yoga Academy he had an advanced teacher training weekend, he wanted his students to experience something with scoliosis. [13:00]

B: So Europe is switched on about health care through yoga what about in Australia?

N: (laughs) I cant really speak a lot for that I understand a course that Leigh Blashki and his beautiful work with yoga therapy I think a lot of people don’t know my work in terms of spinal care I’m not really that familiar with the scene here. [14:25]

B: The more information that yoga teachers have available about the different ailments and diseases that may be present in their classes the better. Are you doing any workshops in Australian this year?

N: Yes I am I’m teaching up in Darwin in the Yoga Space at the end of September and in the Whitsundays in July. The information is available on the website go here 

B: As a specialist in Yoga with Scoliosis & back care, and Spinal Anatomy, What is the essence of your teaching, the core “Take Away” that you want your students to gain from your teaching? [16:25]

N: Really, for me it’s about embodied conciseness. Deeply search the sensation of the spine but the entire physical landscape and can they be present with that and embody that. [16:50] Step out of the headspace of thinking it (yoga_) as an exercise and thinking about it as a communion it’s a communion that’s was yoga is communion with oneself [17.35]

B: Can you rectify scoliosis with yoga?

N: Yes you can, maybe, maybe not. Scoliosis can be a strong willed animal with a mind of its own. I’ve changed my scoliosis my angle has decreased dramatically; it is a structural scoliosis its not a functional scoliosis. So yes it can but is it prescriptive  are there guarantees No.

B: When you are teaching do you use blocks and straps and other props?

N: Yes utterly loud and clear. My practice is not my practice with out my trestle and ropes it’s like asking a plumber to do their job without the tools of their trade. [18:55]

B: So when you’re looking for studios that might invite you to present your workshop material would you be looking for an Iyengar studio with all the equipment?

N: Yes that would be my first port of call definitely. However saying that I did teach for Simon Lowes studio in the UK and that didn’t have those facilities so you make do. After all the students aren’t going home to a full set of wall ropes and a trestle in their lounge room. So we show the adaptation. [21:35 ]

B: Does you teach include pranayama and meditation?

N: I haven’t taught pranayama for a while but that is about to change. Meditation is always part of my personal practice.

B: From Patanjali’s yoga  sutras comes the teaching of   abh-yasa (practice and vai-rag-ya non attachment? How do these show up in your life and practice? [22:20]

N: I have this beautiful teacher for nearly 20 years Alan Goode and Alan weaves the sutras seamlessly into his teachings … abh-yasa loosely translates as action and vai-rag-ya loosely translates as observation These are with me as a constant. [22:55] (Listen to the audio for the full answer.)

B: Tell us a bit about your photography work [25:35]

N: Last year I had an exhibition of my work in New York and produced a little book called Australian Skin. You can see it on my website.

B: You have some training coming up in Brisbane tell us a bit about that.

N: It’s a short teacher training modeled al little bit on what Elise Miller does in the US. Its three weekends over May, June and July. Its open to all people , you don’t have to be a yoga teacher to do it. You could be a student with scoliosis that want to learn more about how can I practice yoga safely and effectively or for teachers who want to support students with scoliosis and back pain.

B: A lot of people have back issues. Your sessions are only limited to 6 people correct?

N: Yes its provides a high level of attention.

B: So what’s happening in 2013 for you?

N: Training, eBooks, writing teacher training, travelling to Dubai for the world congress for low back pain, teaching in the Whitsundays, Darwin and possibly Turkey and that’s probably it oh except for my dance research project which Yeah finally I’m getting into that as well. Its an arts practice and theater performance [29:20].

B: Well that sounds like a very busy 2013 for you Narelle!

N: I’m also doing some work in transformation work, it’s a goal setting process it’s more like spiritual process. It’s  one on one; practitioner working with a client.

B: Your website address  Who would you like to hear interviewed on Yoga Teacher Podcasts

N: Alan Goode

B: Thank you Narelle Carter- Quinlan I look forward to seeing you at the Yoga Therapy conference in Sydney this year.

For more information on Narelle Carter – Quinlan visit  Narelle’s website  Embodied Terrain.

To tap into a couple of online lessons go here  & listen to Narelle’s Signature Songs of the Spine©- yoga for scoliosis and spinal health.

Alan Goode – Yoga Teacher

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