Iris Straume has her base in Oslo and teaches studio classes at Hiyoga Majorstuen, Schous, and Karlsrud. She has practiced yoga for ten years, and taught since 2015.
At the age of 19 I was introduced to yoga by a friend who talked me into joining a class at the student gym were I was studying in Bergen. I didn’t like it at all, as I felt really out of place, inflexible, and ungraceful. At that time I was a passionate Snowboarder, and I had no background in any sort of sport involving graceful movement, mobility, or dance. But I promised my friend to try it at least ten times, and I did.
The “no nonsense” Yoga
The turning point came when I started practicing with two dedicated Ashtangi’s who were teaching classes at the student gym a few times a week. They were different from the pretty fitness instructors who usually taught the yoga classes. Being in the room with one of the Ashtanga teachers was a completely different experience as it was not about breaking a sweat or looking hot in yoga tights. There was a sense of “no nonsense” in the class that I sort of liked and I was awed by their strength and control.
Later on I went on to explore all different styles of yoga, from Bikram to Yin, but somehow I always ended up going back to Ashtanga.
Healing from injury
A few years later I moved to Australia to study. I continued to practice yoga, and my favourite teacher was teaching a style infused by Martial Arts and Tai Chi. A knee injury from a snowboard accident made me feel impaired as I couldn’t bend my knee more than 90 degrees, and squatting seemed an impossible feat. Building stability, strenght, and balance through yoga slowly increased my mobility, and I was amazed to find that I was able to sit on my heels about a year after the surgery. I knew already from a few years of practice how good yoga was for my well being, but this proved to me that yoga could be a healing practice as well.
While living in Australia, I started to kitesurf, and this became a big passion of mine, so much that it has carved the direction my life has taken since. After three years in Australia I moved back to Norway, to a small town called Hamar for a job. I was ambitious in my job, and that became my main priority for a couple of years before I decided I needed to change paths to avoid being swallowed by my career.
My first Teacher Training
In 2014 I went on a solo trip through Middle and South America. My main stop was Brazil for an intensive Yoga Teacher Training. The training is to this day one of the best decisions I’ve made. It expanded not only my understanding of yoga, but also my whole understanding of the world and my place in it. Early 2015 I had the certification in my hand and I started teaching.
My first experience as a teacher was at a Hostel in Mexico. I taught free classes every morning to the guests as well as doing laundry and various maintenance tasks in exchange for a mattress in the hallway. As a fresh yoga teacher you take whatever teaching gig you get, even if it involves a lot of work for no pay. I was immensely grateful for every teaching opportunity I could get, and I poured my heart into creating the best experience, whether it involved sweeping the floor of the space every morning or studying anatomy in my spare time.
When I came home from my travels, I quit my job and moved to Oslo. I started a new job working for the Institute of Meteorology, and I took every opportunity I got to teach yoga on the side. I was subbing classes, teaching my friends, and teaching at Kite Camps. After a year in Oslo, I took six months off to manage Kite Camps and travel again.
Being pushed off the ego trip
Love brought me to Montreal were I lived for a while and practiced under the strict surveillance of Mark Darby. The first day I practiced with him, I went home crying as he shattered my ego (probably on purpose) telling me that I had no business attempting the Ashtanga Intermediate Series as I barely had the adequate understanding of the Primary Series.
That started a battle that went on for weeks were he would correct everything I was doing, deconstructing the way I approached the poses. Whenever I attempted the Intermediate Series, he would stop me and tell me to go back to the Primary Series. Looking back on it, it was a valuable lesson as I learned it was not about achieving more postures, but always approaching each posture with an inquisitive mind.
From teaching part-time to teaching full-time
When I came back to Oslo late in 2016, I started practicing in the Mysore room at Hiyoga with Basia L. Larsen. I also sent an application to them expressing my interest in teaching, but I got an email back declining my application. Chance had it that the Club Manager was subbing the Mysore class at the studio one day, and she approached me after practice saying we needed to talk. I started subbing classes the first few months, and after two months I had my very own class on the schedule. I was extremely lucky to get a mentor spot at the 300 hrs Teacher Training with Basia L. Larsen, and I year later I finished the training.
2018 would be the year that I took the humungous leap of leaving a well paying day-job to teach yoga full time. I felt it was a big passion that I needed to pursue, and I also knew that the little knowledge I had built up during my years of teaching would be wasted if I didn’t make it a priority in my life to evolve as a teacher and seek new opportunities to learn and expand.
My message to all aspiring yogis is to dig deep. Being in a close relationship with your body & mind is extremely powerful and liberating. Practice and be open to receive whatever gifts will come your way.