I didn’t decide to become a yoga teacher. I was led to it.
Decades ago, I bought a video at Target on a whim. It was a video showing Jerry Hall being instructed in yoga exercises by a yogi named Vimla Lalvani. There was something vaguely familiar about the way Vimla moved, spoke and looked. It was both joyful and peaceful, and I was mesmerised.
This was my introduction to yoga.
After several years of watching and trying to master these poses – whilst simultaneously cooking (read ‘burning’) dinner, I realised that I needed more direct guidance. I tried several different yoga studios around Brisbane, but none felt right to me. I was a single mum, and the young, energetic instructors I was finding just weren’t what I needed.
Then I was introduced to the most serene person I have ever met.
Muktanand had lived for 12 years in an ashram in India before returning to Brisbane, and she fairly radiated calm. Instantly, I felt drawn to her, and quickly enrolled in her yoga studio. For the next 10 years I attended weekly classes in her home studio, and was taught by both Muktanandand her student, Gaynor. These classes helped me to find a calmness in my busy life, and though I don’t feel I achieved Muktanand’s state of serenity, I definitely felt lighter.
One evening Muktanand phoned me to suggest I become a yoga teacher. I remember laughing uproariously and saying, “I can’t teach yoga – I can’t do most of the poses!” Her reply was, “You don’t have to be able to DO them – you have to be able to teach them, and you’re a born teacher.”
Well, I was flattered of course, but I didn’t take the suggestion seriously, and eventually forgot about it, though I continued to attend those wonderful yoga classes.
Throughout school and university, I was always the student that teachers didn’t like: I asked questions. A lot of questions. And I couldn’t help myself in the yoga classes either. Gaynor would tell us some interesting concept about the philosophy or psychology of yoga, and I really, really needed to know more. One evening in class, she gave me a piece of paper with a phone number on it and said: “Here, ring this number and do the course.”
It seemed that, though I had forgotten about yoga teaching, my teachers hadn’t forgotten about me!
Apparently, there are specific places you go to study yoga: ashrams. I had never been to an ashram. I didn’t even really know what an ashram was. I had heard of them when I was younger – those brave souls in the 1960s and 70s who would travel to India and stay in them. Now I was being invited to attend an ashram to do yoga studies!
I was nervous – this was very different from anything else I had ever done in my life. But I took a deep breath, and I enrolled! Thankfully, my ashram was located at Mangrove Mountain, just north of Sydney NSW, and didn’t involve me trekking halfway across the world.
That first day, I arrived at the ashram full of trepidation and excitement. I was eager to begin the 3 year, full-time course called Yogic Studies.
Oh, how I loved it! I loved it so much, that when it came time to leave Brisbane, I set my heart on the Central Coast, knowing that I would be closer to the ashram, which became my second home. Over those three years I gave myself over to my studies, and asked all the questions that welled up inside me.
I should be ashamed to say though, that it wasn’t until the very last assignment, at the very end of the course, that I suddenly realised – with horror – that it was now time for me to actually become a yoga teacher! As funny as it sounds, that eventual outcome – creating my own studio and teaching my own students – had not really entered my consciousness. I was so driven to learn all I could about this ancient tradition called yoga.
But that was 10 years ago, and now I look back with a chuckle at my younger self, knowing how important both the studies and the Yoga Alive studio have become in my life.
I have been many things in my life – a typist, a secretary, a full-time student, a qualified school teacher, a social researcher, a university lecturer, a carer, a shop assistant, and a fashion model. But none of them have given me the joy, freedom, and the sense of satisfaction that teaching yoga gives.
And do you know what the bonus is?
The wonderful and unique people I have met through my teaching. Those students who put their trust in me and attend my classes. I now know – for a fact – that only nice people do yoga, because those are the only people I seem to meet in my classes.