Who is Erica Tenggara? You may have seen her course on OMstars, or maybe you follow her on instagram, but we wanted to know more – about who she is as a teacher, about her relationship with yoga, and why yoga is so important to her. So we reached out to Erica with a few interview style questions, and now we’re sharing her answers with you! Check out Erica’s Interview below and find out if she’s someone you can relate to, someone you might like to practice with or someone who inspires you, then check out her course, A Week Of Practice, on OMstars.com!
- How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?
I’ve been practicing for 5 years.
I started practicing for a few reasons, the instigator was that I was bored. My boyfriend at the time spent most nights socializing & I was bored of that, so I decided to fill my nights with yoga.
Why yoga? Because I couldn’t really do anything else. I tore my ACL in high school & couldn’t do anything high impact so yoga it was & yoga has been my main squeeze ever since.
- What is yoga to you?
Yoga is my happy medium.
I’m a very extreme, emotional, erratic/irrational person. I’m very up & down but in yoga, I’m at a medium, I am just okay & I’m okay with that. I can’t escape, it’s not an escape. Practicing is a time for me to find a way to be okay with the practice and myself & that has a ripple effect into my life off the mat. So in a way, yoga is my mediator.
- How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you want students to feel after they practice with you?
Like I was on a high. I started out with Bikram yoga, the teacher was Irish & spoke with this incredible motivating Irish accent. I loved it! It was so hard, so much sweat, so much holding of what seems easy but isn’t & left me feeling like “woah – I don’t know what it is but I friggin love this”
For my students though, I’d love for them to walk a way from my practice with a better sense of understanding. I’m not so into needing to create a high. But if someone can understand either themselves, a pose, a process, a feeling a little more than they did before. I feel like I have done my job. Awareness & perspective I realize more & more each day is what makes living a little more manageable & that’s what I’d like to give to my students, a way for them feel like what yoga is for me – a happy medium. A mediator.
- What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?
Such a huge question. Where do I begin!
Long story short: I’m a third culture kid who has gone through 2 parent divorces. Both of those divorces made me feel abandoned. Even today they still do although I realize them leaving me has actually nothing to do with me (that’s the yoga there – the realization/awareness)
For whatever connecting reasons, in school I was depressed, bulimic & attempted suicide I think in 2009.
Today though – I love my life & I believe I have a future in this lifetime.
I feel I am naturally, highly emotional. I’m very erratic and irrational which can be a great thing but not always. I take everything to heart & it’s hard for me to take a joke and criticism. So of course I am also hard on myself & I am hard on others. This has affected the relationships I’ve had with everyone I have known from family, friends, colleagues, boyfriends and even students etc.
I cannot say it is the yoga practice itself but it’s the elements of yoga & the yoga community that has helped me become a more understanding, empathic person with both myself & others.
I can’t say I’m made of sugar but I can say that if someone is in child pose, I no longer just think they’re lazy. When it comes to my family, especially to my Mum, maybe it’s just cause I’m finally growing up a little bit, but I am making an effort to be nicer to her. Even when she’s so annoying, I try to make peace with her & try not to control the decisions she wants to make for herself.
When it comes to relationships and yes I mean romantic relationships, I try to make better decisions. I think someone like me who is so erratic, who has gone through parent divorces, bulimia, depression etc. You crave love. You crave love, attention, affection. You want to feel wanted & desired & that feeling when you have it is addicting. It’s a high.
I’ve learned though, to have a little more self control, to be aware of those feelings of need & desire, try to step back and look at the bigger picture “is this what I want?”
And so the relationship I am in now, is the most grown up relationship I have ever been in. It’s one where although there is still a lot (like loads) of love, there is an effort to not just rely on affection. But to be two responsible adults for not just ourselves, but each other. Basically, I don’t always win all the fights & I get called out for my s**t. Which rarely happens. Even with my friends & family.
I’m kinda rambling but in summary I’m a better person to myself, I’m a better colleague, better friend, better lover & daughter than I was before yoga.
- Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga teacher?
I didn’t really decide I want to teach yoga, it was more a “wow, this is what I am meant to do” kind of situation.
It was when I was doing my mock teaching during YTT – which I took for just curiosity sake really, and that’s when I had the “aha” moment.
What makes a good yoga teacher? This is based on personal preference.
I have a few teachers that I consider mentors & I love them for different reasons so I’ll just describe them and I think then it’ll make sense.
Patrick is a child in an adult body. But when he teaches he is all business. Mostly influenced by Iyengar & Anusara yoga so as expected he is also strict. The only time I have ever done a child pose outside of his sequencing was when I had altitude sickness.
His instructions can get annoying, if you have been to an Iyengar class, they talk – non-stop. But I kinda love it, the instructions make me work hard, Patrick makes me work hard. He’s one of the few teachers I know who doesn’t give a crap that I am a teacher, that I’ve got Instagram, that I’m… whatever. But if I’m in class, he works me hard & works me to my fullest potential without forgetting the other 50 students in the room.
Arun is more your guru type yoga teacher. He has that presence. When he walks into the classroom everyone stops talking & sits in preparation. He specializes in flexibility & is the inspiration behind many of my tutorials that I have shared both on OMstars & instagram.
Arun is also a very empathetic & understanding teacher, his is the total opposite of Patrick but still he has the ability to make you work hard without telling you to work hard. He just has that presence where you want to work hard for him.
His sequencing I would 100% say can make the stiffest person more flexible.
Is an American teacher based in Sydney & she is a 40 year old beast. She is just bad ass. She is a no fuss take no bull kind of teacher yet her teachings come through with love & intention. She totally summaries the definition of tough love.
Her sequencing is what inspires my flows. She somehow is able to combine methods of iyengar & ashtanga into a modern day flow to amazing music.
So Patrick is I would say my alignment & technique teacher, Arun is my flexibility (both physically & emotionally) teacher & Noelle is my transition & movement teacher. Each all so different from the other but each great at teaching.
Not everyone likes these teachers, no one can please everyone. But more often than not, it’s the teachers who make you realise your potential or who believe in your potential, whether through asana or just life in general, who make you come back for more.
- What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective? Do you have a teacher in your style of yoga?
I practice mostly Hatha yoga that is iyengar inspired.
I love alignment, I love simple effective sequencing that isn’t about being pretty, but about creating accessibility & thus freedom in the body & mind.
Patrick Creelman is right now is my main influence in my teachings.
- What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?
Dont worry, dont rush. Trust.
- What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice?
I have such a love & hate relationship with handstand. I don’t feel that anyone is better when they can hand balance but it seems to be what is most admired on Instagram these days. Maybe that’s why I don’t love it? And to be honest, I was very happy when I couldn’t handstand but now just because I know it’s so hard to get & I see it all the time on IG. It makes me want to do it more & I question – why. Like is this so necessary?
So although it was such a high when I could finally handstand, it’s also caused me injuries & makes me question my ego more than I would like.
- What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?
It is so love and hate. Instagram for me in the beginning was a place where I could discover other local yogis & just kind of rejoice in our little community. But now? It’s about personalities, popularity etc. What you see on Instagram, with an exception to a few select accounts is not what yoga really is in a class setting.
It’s so conflicting & I am conflicted as well. 95% of my photos on IG, I’m wearing make up & my hair is down.
But in real life? I only really wear make up for date night & hair is mostly tied up.
But everyone does that. So does it make it okay? Or am I just thinking too much? Let IG be IG, let real life be real life. Does this even matter?
- What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you as a student and as a teacher?
Queefing & sweaty back farts. In both teaching & student situations. But such is life.
- What is your dharma, your life mission?
I don’t really have a life mission to be honest and many may not know but as much as I love teaching yoga, I actually just really want to be a mother and eventually have being a mother as my main job & teaching on the side. Can that be considered a dharma? A life mission? 😅