Merge with the Water


Carrie Anne Burns of Inspire Yoga Whangamata New Zealand

By Susan Pryor

Water flows, it also pools, dances in ripples and waves or spirals and in time can grow stagnant, or become vapour as it evaporates and is carried into the heavens where-upon it in the fullness of time and in the perfect alchemy of circumstances becomes rain…

I dodged the marble sized splats of rain as I negotiated the boardwalks to the ‘Drama Room at Whangamata Area School’ – luckily as I had no idea where I was going;

having driven into the school through the ‘out gate’ –

– I had my intuitive GPS operating and I flowed along with it – directly to the appointed room –

– a perfect serendipodous moment of Ahhh! Yes!


The room was not a yoga studio. However by some magick of light and arrangement it looked like a yoga studio; arranged in a oval swirl with beautifully carefully and lovingly placed Yoga Tribe mats, aqua coloured bolsters and co-ordinating straps, natural toned blocks and textured cushions all added to the…

…spa like opulence and ambiance…

…which was cosy and warm – inviting; and in the dimmed lighting very relaxing on this cold, stormy, blustery and rainy evening.

Carrie of ‘Inspire Yoga – Whangamata’; welcomed me and I noticed she greeted everyone with a warm hug and called us by name.

Taking my place on the mat – with the rain beating a gentle tattoo outside; swaddled up in all my layers, I came into a settled, alert relaxation, some music gently rolling out waves of a mantra spiralled itself around me and the buzz

The rain beat a gentle tatoo, on the roof – creating a cocoon of warmth within the studio…

of voices gradually became muted as like me others dropped out of their busy lives and into their bodies. Many of the class were on their backs –

– my favourite place to start a class.

Carrie led the class into a welcome, and after rolling onto our sides and setting intentions we moved directly into asana.

Spinal undulations through various Child’s Pose, Low and High Kneels, Sweeping the arms up then down easing along the mat to Puppy, Up Dog, Cobra, and Sphynx which culminated in Down Dog, created fludity and warmth in the spine, hips, knees, and shoulders. Well warmed up we came into low lunges and higher lunges, the Warrior series and group and individual balance poses; eventually slowing the flow by going back through down Dog, and other asana to end in Child’s Pose.

It struck me on this watery night that Child’s Pose is a beautiful ‘water’ pose…

…like the spiral of the conch shells washed up by the waves on the beach; it takes on this form; which is perfect for expanding outwards from and withdrawing inwards to.

Healing, restorative, out-going … like us in our busy and withdrawing … like us in our respite.

The class was deeply dynamic within the scope of each individual participants expression. Carrie reminded us in her melodic voice that this…

‘Is your yoga for you’

… and right from the start said something I loved; ‘If you simply lie in Savasana the entire class because that’s what you need; that is fine with me’.

Ahh! Ha! a woman after my own heart!

Teaching a large class – and this class was large maybe 20-30 participants, men and women and adults of all ages; and meeting their needs requires a lot of focus and excellent time and people management skills – Carrie has all of these and more!

The teaching was divided into two halves, the first a dynamic ‘heating-up’ Yang style approach to asana, which included beautiful vinyasa that like dominoes we rippled around the room; and the stand alone asana was spiced up with group asana which provided strangers to meet and lots of opportunities to laugh together.

The second half of the class embraced a slow and deliberate Yin style of asana, turning inwards the class dropped into a deeper level of silence, breath and introversion – a poignantly personal period of restoration and conservation. Using props to position ourselves and maintain the settled, stillness with a focus on the breath to ease and soften for a period of several minutes; while we were spiralling inwards, drawing ourselves into the energy and warmth the Yang practice had created and coming to ‘calmness’ in this dark, warm, soft place.

Hugging the bolster for a deep Child’s Pose, warmed by blankets and the reminder of the rain gently whispering a melody outside helped bring softness and relaxation to the posture; which was followed by Pigeon Pose and then reclined Butterfly, Bridge and eventually Savasana, complete with lavendar fragranced eye pads adding layers of sensual depth to relaxation.

The rain was still weaving a symphony with the wind outside as Carrie’s voice guided us into the Yog Nidra and then drifted away – as I became merged with the rain, falling, deeply, safely, pooling and rippling, flowing on and on from puddles to riverlets to streams and ocean; the ‘mermadic’ lilt of Carries voice drew me again into the room, the mat, the softness of the rug and weight over my eyes.

Seamlessly as a stream merges with a river which merges with the ocean, Carrie had led us on a flowing vinyasa at times eddying or deep and still;

…at others rhythmic as waves rolling onto the nearby shores; as collectively we swirled into whirlpools of ‘dropping to the left and reaching through to the right’ in lunges like ripples radiating around the room.

Carrie is highly skilled and motivational mistress;

…as a technical teacher her class is well paced and changes speed according to the purpose and intention she is bringing to her students. Whilst it feels like a well planned journey – structured yet seamlessly organically choreographed (the skill of a true artisan) – Carrie constantly invites personal exploration. The offers to dive deeply or to float on the energies created and to be conscious all the time of what you need is underpinning her teaching ensuring everyone has access to a portal of personally meaningful yoga and expressing this however they feel moved to do in the asana offered; or simply resting in Savasana.

I left the class two hours after arriving; I had no sensation of time passing during the class; in fact it had felt timeless and as I intuited my way back to the car park I noticed the ‘tension’ shimmer on the puddles as the surface water folded and

Water merging, pooling, flowing, forming … and releasing!

rippled, I noticed the drops landing – ‘splat’ on the ground and becoming one with all the water, forming riverlets, flowing on, swirling around – merging sky with land with water and with spirit; I was deeply and broadly connected and intimately ‘moved’ in such a way – that I noticed not the wetness as the rain fell upon me but the wholeness and union of life in all our seamless connectedness.

Bio – Written by Carrie

My name is Carrie Anne Burns of ‘Inspire Yoga’ Whangamata; and I’ve been teaching yoga since 2004. Initially I trained in Anusara yoga with Bridget Kramer Woods in the UK, and this heart based practice is still strong in my teaching. I have trained with many teachers since and completed my 500hr RYT at Byron Yoga Centre.

No two classes are ever the same!  Classes are responsive and I teach depending on who is in class and their needs on that day. During a term we have different themes and focuses each lesson, building skills and techniques in postures and practice.

For more info or to contact Carrie click here –

Photo Credits

Susan Pryor
Carrie Burns (Personal File)


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