Have you noticed how we can really lose our Self in the roles we lead in life? Being Mother to children; being a partner; being an employee. And then all the tasks associated with these roles makes it just happens; we begin to neglect our Self. We become distracted with the business of being all things to all people. Stress, being the new normal - our bodies, minds and spirits become fragmented. We come to believe something out there is going to make us happy.
Yoga came into my life about 25 years ago, I was searching for something different. The gym wasn’t doing it for me anymore, it was empty, monotonous, it felt like a grind. I went to a yoga class for the first time when I was living in Cairns. The teacher was also trained in Iyengar yoga. I was fascinated.
The practice of yoga functions to support us in life. By becoming more mindful we correct and adjust poor posture, as well as poor mental habits. We learn to nourish ourselves by bringing all the many layers of our being into balance.
I am so grateful I took this track because yoga has given me a different perspective about fitness and health - getting the physical body moving is only the tip of the iceberg. Initially I did yoga like I did exercise; I felt I needed ‘fixing’ because of a few injuries. I would push myself in my practice. I wasn’t really listening or feeling present to my body. I was enforcing my will on my body. Realising this has been huge, as this ‘enforcing’ process is actually a big part of the problems I experience.
I have come to realise that the art of yoga is about becoming aware of our habits and state of mind. We change how we work with ourselves and this changes how we feel about things that happen. By learning to BE, in the moment, we create space in our body and mind, and we come home to ourselves; we become calmer and at peace, less stressed and so much more available to others in sensitive and deeply honest ways.
In yoga we work with the concept of being present to what ‘is’ and learning to watch how our mind plays tricks. We learn to watch our desires and fears and learn to concentrate and steady our mind. Yoga reminds us of the lifestyle choices we make that bring hardness, not only to our bodies, but our minds. It is humbling and inspiring all at the same time. It teaches us how to be honest with ourselves and it grows our sense of compassion and kindness.
Had I continued attending the regular type of yoga class I don’t think I would have ever ‘got’ that yoga is about a healthy mind and peaceful heart, more than it is about a flexible body. Learning and practising yoga at The Hervey Bay School of Yoga has been my path to ‘waking up’. I don’t need to be ‘fixed’; I need to work with what is happening in my life from a place of awareness. This includes being aware that my mind is often very busy trying to find the right role description 'program'. This is how everyone comes to yoga, full of 'programs' about how we should look, think, act and live. Through Yoga we develop 'situational intelligence' so that we live and act from a place within, from a state of wisdom that arises when we feel integrated and whole. Content to be our Self.
I have been authorised to teach the introductory yoga syllabus of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Australia. I can teach the philosophy and science of yoga through asana (posture work) at The Hervey Bay School of Yoga. It will be at least another year before I am eligible for referral for formal assessment. Our teacher training is intensely challenging, and it needs to be; the mind is a tricky beast. As a massage therapist I understand that working with the body is relatively easy compared to learning and teaching a practice that works with the body as an instrument of meditation.
I look forward to sharing this practice that energizes and inspires me. I encourage anyone who is looking for a more meaningful and richer life to enroll in the courses being offered at The Hervey Bay School of Yoga.
Recently I have the privilege of welcoming Russell into the teaching body of the school. Day to day, week to week over the last 5 years I have watched and walked alongside him. Yoga as pilgrimage is the phrase that comes to mind. When we go in search of new or expanded meaning about ourselves, or a higher good - through experience - the journey is called a pilgrimage. When we learn the practice of yoga as pilgrimage it is a journey of encountering powerlessness and at the same time inner strength, confidence and great clarity and purpose.
“As soon as there is stopping, there is happiness. There is peace. When we stop like that, it looks as if nothing is happening, but in fact everything is happening. You are deeply established in the present moment, and you touch your cosmic body. You touch eternity. There is no more restlessness, no more seeking.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Until you experience it, you can’t believe that pressing into your feet in dog pose can affect your mind – in a calming way!