teacher focus: Dorita Sheriff

There I was in a shoulder stand with tears in my eyes, crying and I did not know why. I’d been given a yoga kit at Christmas and had decided to try it out. That was my first yoga class in a local authority gym and the beginning of a journey I’m still on…

I grew up in West London born of Spanish parents. I think it’s fair to say I was energetic and chatty, even at a young age and loved physical activity – my mum said when I was young I’d just let go of her hand and run! At school I participated in all sports with gusto and outside of school I did ballet. I loved it but grew too tall and did not pursue it after I was 15.

Interesting fact number 1: I love music and spent my school years (often bunking off) in record shops. I have quite a vinyl collection which I still play.

I did well at school and followed the well-trodden path of school, university, then a city job! I was passionate about languages and travel; that’s what I had studied at university and I can speak several – but that’s me all over, now I can chat to even more people!!

Interesting fact number 2: Whilst at university I sang in a band. Our percussion player was Omid Djalili and our guitarist went on to form the 90s band The Brand New Heavies.

I missed physical activity but found the gym and aerobics classes uninspiring. Sure I would sweat and do cardio but it lacked something. Whilst at work I satisfied my lust for travel and did a good amount of travelling.

Interesting  fact number 3: I’ve been to India many times but never to do yoga.

So I find myself in shoulder stand with my baggy t-shirt round my ears (this is before yoga gear) and left the class wandering why I was so discombobulated. I knew I had to return. I’d found the physical aspect relatively easy – I was young and quite flexible, but there was more going on here. Something more subtle

I did my first 200 hour training with Anne Marie Newland. She had studied and lived in India following the Sivananda tradition. I started teaching full time nearly ten years ago. I have since studied with many teachers – Kirsten Campbell and Anna Ashby to name a few, as well as spending a lot of time at the London Jivamukti centre.

I have to say I learn something from EVERY teacher and from many of my students too. I currently spend a lot of time with Michael Saunders who I adore as it’s not just what he says in the room, but the silence he holds – that’s when the magic happens for me.

As a teacher and student my practice shifts as I learn to adapt to life/injuries/energy changes. I’m always striving to be more kind and loving of myself and of my students. Do I have bad days? Sure. Do I get tired and feel overwhelmed at times? Of course. But it’s all outweighed by how I feel after practice. The connection that comes from the special, almost intimate moments I share with my students –those moments are like a beautiful and exhilarating collective exhale.

Dorita Sheriff teachers triyoga Hot Open from 7.45 – 9.00pm on Mondays in Chelsea. She also teaches Vinyasa Flow Level 1 from 6.15 – 7.30pm and Warm Vinyasa Flow Open Level from 7.45 – 8.45pm on Tuesdays in Ealing. Click here to view her schedule book a class.

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