I came to yoga at 19 almost by accident, through a free DVD that came with a weekend newspaper. I was an active kid and teenager – netball, swimming, tennis, soccer refereeing, running – and I had an active temper to match. Yoga taught me how to manage my temper and my physical energy, and to live more calmly.
I’d always used exercise, at least in part, as a way of using up the excess mental and emotional energy that would otherwise turn into a temper tantrum or meltdown. When I was 16, I discovered that I had an overactive thyroid, caused by the autoimmune condition called Grave’s Disease. Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate the way your body (including your mind) uses energy. I was always so amped up physically, mentally and emotionally because my thyroid was, well, going completely overboard.
All of the types exercise I did as a teen helped to get some of that excess energy out, and helped me feel calmer. I enjoyed them too. So when I slid that free DVD into the player, I was looking at yoga as another way out of my brain. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to relapse (big time) into thyrotoxicosis, and yoga would help me through that period of illness. I bought that newspaper with its bonus DVD at just the right time.
Without really being able to explain why, I stuck with yoga more than I had with any other ‘exercise’. Yoga didn’t fix my thyroid problems. But it did teach me how to really listen to what my body was telling me (‘Slow down!’ usually). It helped me step away from my thoughts at least enough to notice what the patterns in my thinking could tell me about how I really was. It encouraged me just to slow down and spend a bit of time with myself. I didn’t always like what I found, but then that wasn’t the point. Yoga helped me get better at being kind to myself when I needed to.
I initially trained to be a teacher through Samadhi Yoga*. I’ve taught yoga in gyms, yoga studios and corporate environments. I also teach private or one-on-one yoga sessions. And in each of those environments I’ve seen how powerful and helpful yoga is. I’ve watched students learn how to relax, I’ve watched them discover how amazing their bodies are, no matter the size or shape.
My classes are about slowing down, calming down, and learning how to feel good about yourself. We’ll work with physical poses, meditation and breathing exercises. There will be tunes throughout, and plenty of time to relax at the end and let the benefits of the class sink in.
You’ll still work hard — and maybe even work up a sweat — but my classes will never be about pushing yourself just so you can stand on your head or tie yourself up in a pretzel shape. Those things might happen, but they’re almost beside the point. Instead, you’ll get to know yourself, your strengths and the obstacles you might be facing. The flexibility and strength will come slowly from there.
I’ve recently moved from Sydney to Melbourne, so I’m not currently teaching any group classes, but will update my schedule when I am.