Undoing yoga

with Nan Wishner

The Teachings of Vanda Scaravelli & Diane Long


Vanda Scaravelli began studying yoga around age 50.  A friend of the Indian spiritual teacher Krishnamurti, she was offered daily private lessons by yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar and T.K.V. Desikachar when they came to her home to teach Krishnamurti.  From this experience, Vanda went on to develop her own unique approach to yoga, informed by her observations of nature and her training as a classical pianist.  After working on her own for 17 years, she began teaching individual students and continued to practice and teach until her death at age 91. 

Vanda taught one on one and insisted that there can be no method to teaching yoga.  Each time one practices, one begins again, for the first time, to rediscover the basic precepts of rest, surrendering to gravity -- “undoing,” she called it -- and receiving back from the earth the lightness and buoyancy that makes trees and flowers grow erect without effort.

The intent in practicing yoga this way is to undo rather than perform poses, allowing the breath to move freely and the spine to elongate naturally.  The photos in Vanda’s book Awakening the Spine, which show her in her 80s practicing challenging yoga poses with ease, are a testament to the vitality and longevity of her approach.

Nan Wishner offers individual yoga lessons, small classes, and occasional private retreats in Northern California, inspired by the teachings of Vanda and Vanda’s long-time pupil Diane Long.


by Tiffany Dow