Residential Teachers

Sonja Appel (ERYT 200)

Founding Director

Sonja started her journey in yoga with the late Shri Pattabhi Jois from Mysore. Learning the authentic mysore self practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa. She is certified by the 'British School of Yoga' in Hatha & Meditation & also certified as a  'Vibrant Living Teacher' in Hatha Flow. Having studied intensely, mainly in India, then London she believes that 'living yoga' in it's essence helps to impart her knowledge better and more succinctly. She started practicing yoga eighteen years ago and has sixteen intensive years of experience teaching yoga. She is also registered with Yoga Alliance, E-RYT 200. She has taught over 10 000+ hours of Yoga & Teacher Training.) Sonja has devised her own practice in yoga called ‘Sushumna’ which is a carefully worked out vinyasa flow, meditation or pranayama, that allows one to do the practice as a meditation and in the process, this helps to unleash within ourselves, all of our innate, kundalini Shakti. The flow is spontaneous and she mixes up the asanas in interesting ways, with the help of inspiring music, always ending with a deep relaxing meditation (Yoga nidra). As in Ashtanga - drishti, bandhas, ujjayi breath, counting & vinyasa is always employed.

"I believe in a holistic approach to the study of yoga, giving people a well-rounded yoga education. I combine alignment techniques of the body, with breath techniques for calming and balancing the mind. Focus and visualization, to balance the body and brain. Chanting and music for inspiration and concentration. Meditation (the ultimate reason for the practice of asana). "The philosophy behind the practice of postures has to relate to a wider focus on all the  8 limbs of a proper yoga practice."

Sonja keeps up with a daily Mysore self-practice as taught to her by her late Guruji, Sri K Pattabhi Jois of Mysore and her own practice of Vinyasa Flow. Sonja's Teachers are from all over the world and have greatly helped and influenced her, they are:  Shri Pattabhi Jois, Sharat Rangaswamy, Saraswati Rangaswamy, Shri Sheshadri, Cathy Louise Broda, Leela Miller, John Scott, Edward Clarke, David Swenson, Claire Best, Anna Ashby, Daniel Aaron, Simon Borg Olivier, Rolf & Marci Naujokat, Emil Wendel (yoga philosophy), Yat Malmgren (movement psychology), Mercia Hetherington (Ballet) and Imogen Claire (Ballet). She has a B.A. in Classical Theatre and Acting and an M.A. in Contemporary Dance. She comes from a professional performing arts background and has found yoga disciplines to be invaluable in balancing and maintaining calmness in her life.  Sonja is a writer and has a certificate of Yoga Philosphy from Oxford University. Read her blog here

Sonja also condu.cts workshops in Ashtanga, Sushumna Vinyasa Flow, Restorative Yoga, Mysore self-practice, Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow & Sushumna Pranayama & Meditation, acting & dance in India & Internationally.

Sonja does not believe in organized religion or dogma. 

For a taster of Sushumna Pranayama & meditation here

For a taster of Sushumna Vinyasa Flow here

For a taster of Yin Yoga (Restorative) here




Victoria Bourke

Victoria has just completed her yoga teacher training with Bharat Shetty at the Ananda Yoga India Institute in Mysore. She has been a longstanding student of Sushumna since 2008. Born in the U.K and after finishing studying Drama and Theatre I developed a taste for adventure and discovery, my backpack soon became my second home and my journey my education. Whilst traveling I furthered my interest in percussion through Japanese Taiko Drumming, which in turn led me to Africa where I stayed and trained in African Music. I am a Yoga Teacher, Djembe percussionist, Gypsy traveler and Thai Yoga massage therapist. In my experience the body is a temple and the mind a tool. If the temple is peaceful and strong then the mind is quiet and obedient.

I have now been based in India over the last 5 years, teaching the Djembe and performing across the country and in Asia, simultaneously discovering my love for yoga has been a powerful combination.

Buddhism found me along the way, as well as Reiki and light energy work and have remained constants in my day to day practice.

Victoria has also set up Anam Cara Retreats in India and abroad with another qualified Sushumna Yoga Teacher Natasha Mahindra. A nam C ara means “Soul Friend.” Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and Cara is the word for friend. In Celtic tradition, an Anam Cara is a teacher, companion or spiritual guide. With the Anam Cara you can share your innermost self to reveal the hidden intimacies of your life, your mind, and your heart, joining your souls in an ancient and eternal way.

"When the soul is awakened, physical space is transfigured, with your Anam Cara you awaken the eternal. In this soul-space there is no distance". Anam Cara retreats are about creating intimate settings, where an exchange of knowledge and creativity can take place. Always rooted in traditional, spiritual and esoteric systems, we will bring to you the ancient arts of asana practice to the mysticism of Sufi whirling, Kalari Payittu martial arts to Egyptian belly dance. Practice yoga amongst ancient trees and sacred waters, meditate between majestic mountains and dance to an endless dessert. Wherever you want to resonate, whatever practice you yearn to explore, let Anam Cara Yoga Retreats take you there.

“I want to be part of this way of life and share it, learn from great teachers and absorb all the beauty of India and ancient wisdom that I can.

"Sushumna offers a healing environment that is extraordinary for the holistic treatment of the mind, body and soul."