Let's talk about the word 'change'. Does it excite you or scare you? Perhaps you have a different relationship to the word.
For me, personally I don't fear change; I openly invite it where it provides the opportunity to move deeper into my own being and experience of life. I'm a seeker, always have been, always will be.
But here's the thing with seekers, they are constantly learning and growing and as this happens we are frequently being invited to re-assess where we are; and where we are headed.
Change is inevitable; it's truly the only thing that is guaranteed in life. The thing that causes our pain and suffering is our resistance towards it.
Radical change is not new to me; I gave up a well built engineering career with a triple figure salary to become a yoga teacher earning next to nothing. I built up a whole business, invested everything I had into it and when I realised it wasn't what I expected, I dissolved it and started again from scratch. When I realised I wasn't happy living where I was, I simply got in the car and drove north looking for a new home. Life is just too short and precious to live it unhappily, full of regrets. I'd rather sit in gut wrenching vulnerability and fear of not being able to support myself than push a wagon that doesn't feel aligned with my soul.
I see growth and pursuing new learnings as part of my responsibility as a yoga teacher and educator. If I don't evolve, continue to practice and study, then how can I help my students to grow?
And, if I found a better way, a more effective means of moving towards the ultimate goal of yoga then I have a responsibility to share it, right??
So this is where I've found myself over the last 12 months, in a period of radical change really re-assessing the way I practice and share yoga.
Why walk away from packed out sweaty power yoga classes that lots of people loved?
Well here is the unfiltered truth and reality of it....
That style of practice hasn't served me for a long time, I just don't practice in that way anymore and on the rare occasion that I do, it's more for fun rather than part of my spiritual practice.
Yet I found myself teaching in that way to meet other people's expectations and because well, the room was often packed and feedback was great, people love it, my ego loved it!
It got to the point where I couldn't preach and share something that wasn't working for me. They say there is a honeymoon period with yoga practice, the first few years are awesome, we are exponentially growing and learning, life is getting better, and we start to feel amazing.
But then there is a time where we plateau, it might be after 1-2 years if might be 5, but we start to question what it's all about, where is it really taking us? At this point, we either walk away from it or start looking deeper...
For many years now I've understood clearly that to move forward and advance in our practice is to move towards deeper and deeper states of meditation, all of the great philosophical texts point us in this direction. For a long time I was happy to skip meditation, or make it a really casual affair, I was practicing largely physical ego /pursuit driven yoga.
A few years ago, in recognition of the importance of meditation I made a commitment to meditate every day for a year. I went through with it, didn't skip a day, but here's the thing. In that 365 days, I rarely if ever touched the depth of what I now know to be meditation.
Then I was introduced to Tantric Hatha Yoga and really started to dive into the energetics of practice and a more systematic approach to moving towards deeper states of meditation, the physical practice became all about preparing for the meditation. It was only then that I really started to understand why all the fuss about meditation. I also started to really appreciate how the structure of a practice can impact upon the quality of mind/body, the results are repeatable because it is in fact a science. No guess work, you do a, b and c and you will get d. This was ground breaking for me.
While I always had a structure to my classes; they were based upon physical outcomes, or a philosophical teaching that I was trying to impart. Now I have a series of tools that get even deeper into our being, a way to reach what lies beyond the physical. The benefits of these practices linger for hours and give me more clarity and energy, it's a very different feeling in savasana dropping into spacious awareness as opposed to exhaustion.
I know within my heart that the way I'm practicing and teaching now, is far more likely to move students towards the ultimate goal of yoga. So with that said, how could I go back???
It's not the popular choice, this yoga is hard, it's gritty and it's not really for entertainment or fun. It's for spiritual growth, for systematically peeling away those layers that keep us from realising our true self, our innate potential.
I know it's unlikely that I'll fill rooms sharing this style of practice (especially in the early days) but I'm okay with that. It aligns with my soul and my desire to be the most potent, effective teacher that I can be (even if that that means a significant drop in cashflow).
Importantly, please don't think that I'm knocking hot sweaty, fast paced classes here, they are needed and really important as a stepping stone into the world of yoga, just like Bikram Yoga and maybe even Goat Yoga. Whatever, gets you in the door and starts you on your path. All is valid. I'm not for a minute saying that my style of yoga is better, I'm just saying that this is what works for me right now and I have to share what feels authentic and true.
This change has been in the works for over 12 months now; it was only my own insecurities and fear that held me back from pulling the trigger. The Covid-19 isolation has been a blessing, it's been like a practice immersion period for me which is so important for my own growth and development. It also created the perfect line in the sand, a time to move on to whatever waits on the other side.
When all of the restrictions break I won't be returning back to my previous studio teaching positions. I will however continue to lead the 200Hr Yoga Teacher Training Program at Zenko Yoga. It's been an incredible 4.5 years at Zenko; I can't believe that I've taught over 1000 hours of classes from those lovely studios. I'm eternally grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Zenko teaching group and community and will never forget the day I first walked in and met Lauren or those rocking 9.30am Monday classes at Buddina!
As for the future at Bodhi Body, only time will tell.
This little birdy's wings are expanding again and it's time to leave the nest so they can continue to grow. In terms of what am I going to do from here, honestly I don't know....
I know I'll continue my new found love affair with practice, and I will get back to teaching on the Sunshine Coast sometime soon. For now I'm happy to sit in the void, because I know this is where the magic arises from.
A MISSION BEGINS....
It's fair to say that while I had no fixed plans returning back to Australia I was still on a mission, a mission to get everything sorted as quickly as possible so I could begin to settle somewhere and find some routine. I was really impatient, racing my way up the coast making plans to move all my belongings into a place I hadn't even found yet.
This pushing went on for a few weeks and it was wearing me down, I was feeling really flat and frequently overwhelmed. Looking back now I see that it was largely driven from feeling un-grounded, having nothing solid to attach to, pure fear of all the uncertainty. This was being physically reflected back to me in my yoga practice, I was scattered and was really struggling with balancing. The intense yoga practices that I was choosing (Power Flow at 30+ deg) were not making it any better, this sort of practice for me personally, fuels my intensity.
It was after taking a slower more mindful, grounding class on the coast that I started to feel at ease again and began to see things as they truly were. I was trying to force things, I hadn't surrendered to the unknown at all, I was attempting to force everything into my neat little box that I'd created in my mind.
From this point I began to open my mind to more possibility, maybe I didn't need to immediately move all my things, maybe I didn't have to live right on the beach, maybe I didn't need to rush into moving, perhaps I wouldn't even live on the Sunshine Coast.
At this point I truly began to surrender to what will be, I let go of all the fear and the need to have everything under control. I started to spend less time planning and more time doing what I love, paddling in the ocean and immersing deeper in my yoga practice. I started to see that everything is perfect exactly as it is and began to feel really deeply connected to my yoga practice, truly seeing that it is no longer separate from me or something that I just do, it's inherently within me.
The basis of your life is freedom, the purpose of your life is joy. ~ Abraham Hicks
AND THEN THE MAGIC STARTED TO RISE....
I felt lighter, deeply content and things started to fall into place in ways that I never would have dreamed were possible. You know those times where you are in a flow? everything just seems to be going your way?? you get that perfect car park in peak hour, the song you are thinking about comes on the radio, the things you need/want seemingly arrive out of nowhere with little to no effort, you manifest the purchase of avocados with your bread in the local bakery.
It's even gone as far as things that I clearly described 6+ months ago in some Law of Attraction exercises (we described our future lives and key events as if they'd already happened) have actually played out exactly how I described them! At times I've been so gob-smacked that I can't help but laugh at the synchronicity.
In reality nothing has changed, only my attitude and thought patterns. I still have no idea what I'm doing, how I will make a living, if I will settle and stay on the Sunshine Coast. At this point though I'm so blissfully happy and content with not having the answers, I feel that I don't need them. I truly believe that they will come when the time is right. Over the last month or so I've come to see forcing and pushing things doesn't make them happen any faster, in fact for me it's been counter productive.
That's not to say that we should just sit by and watch life passively happen to us, I think a higher intention/goal is critical. I think Sadhguru put it perfectly when he said:
"Whether it is love, or flowers in your garden, or success in your life, or enlightenment, unless you create the necessary conditions, it will not happen. Whatever we do, it is not to make the flower, but only to create the conditions, so that flowers will happen".
This was the whole premise behind my move to QLD, to create conditions that I felt would facilitate my greater vision of a blissful life. It's taken a few mental shifts along the way, but without a doubt the flowers are starting to bloom.
It's said that when your energy, thoughts, and emotions are aligned with the flow of the universe, it begins to work in your favour. What if the purpose of our life truly is to be joyous, to align with the natural flow of the universe where there is no pushing or forcing, only blissful ease?
Then I guess the next question would be what brings you joy, and what conditions do you need to bring more of that into your life?
This is the most intense experience I've ever had being in that effortless flow, but as I look back it's very clear to me that it's always the same conditions that create it, my magic formula of sunshine, ocean, yoga and feeling deeply connected.
I'm so very grateful for this present experience and will continue to enjoy every minute of it while being mindful that everything comes to pass. At least now it's even clearer to me what needs to be done to find this beautiful space, I hope that you also find it and linger here for a while too. If so I'd love to hear about those gob-smacking moments where your left wondering 'did that really just happen?'.
Wow what an amazing last 6 months its been!
As I begin to re-mould my future I thought it would be nice to take some time to reflect on my last 6 months, my dreams for the future and my reasons for making the changes to come.
My original vision for waSUP Yoga & Fitness was to operate from East Gippsland for 5-6 months of the year. I would then relocate myself and the business somewhere warmer over the winter period, I just hadn't worked out where! Another key feature of the plan was a few months off each year to travel and immerse in my own yoga practice, this is really important to me - as much as I love being a teacher I love being a student even more.
Over the last 6 months I've often had people asking me 'why are you here in East Gippsland?'.
The truth is I'm not 100% sure, I came here on a temporary secondment as an engineer around 4 years ago and never found my way back to the city. When I was training for triathlon and adventure racing this place was heaven on earth, for me the training grounds simply didn't get any better and there was no shortage of inspiring people to train with. I loved being so close the forest, mountains, ocean and lakes.
My vision for waSUP was to share the beauty of this area with others, along with my passion for yoga and stand up paddling. If you have ever experienced the beauty of a sunrise/sunset on the Gippsland Lakes on a still morning then you know exactly what I'm talking about! Perhaps I was a little naive when it came to the weather, being an optimist I thought I'd roll on back here in October and mother nature would be turning up the heat and we'd get lots of nice calm days with little wind through to April. I couldn't have been more wrong!
With that said though, even if we'd just experienced the best summer ever and I'd been super busy taking paddling lessons for the last 4 months, I have no doubt I would still find myself in this very position - looking for change. I never planned on staying here through winter, I'm just not a cold weather person, my family is very much the same, they all live in the warmer parts of Oz.
Through lot's of self enquiry and reflection I've become very clear on one thing:
Sunshine + Warm Weather + Time in Water + Inspiring Yoga + Connection with likeminded people = A super awesome version of Mandy!
If I were to stay here I feel that I would be cheating myself of true and lasting happiness.
It's been extremely difficult to replicate my magic formula since returning to East Gippsland in September, it's all come together here only once, just last week while on a yoga retreat. I had the wonderful opportunity to take super inspiring yoga classes as a student, was surrounded by a group of likeminded souls and we had a magical warm day that began watching the sunrise and involved sharing yoga and SUP - all the magic ingredients. Where did that leave me, dropping my phone in the lake, backing my car into a tree - but feeling higher and more on top of the world that I have since returning from Bali (where my magic formula was frequently coming into play).
Another important thing that I've come to realise is that the man of my dreams hasn't arrived on my door because I haven't been ready to invite him in. For as long as I can remember I haven't lived in the same house for more than 15 months! I wasn't ready to settle, I found myself constantly searching for that something else. I now have a job (if you could call it that) that I truly love, something that I'm really passionate about, that aspect of my search is done. waSUP Yoga & Fitness is exactly what I need to be doing, it's just not here in this location.
I'm ready to settle now, I'm done with all the moving about and searching for something that has been within me all along. It's time for me to find a place that I can call home, somewhere that the ingredients for my magic formula are abundant. That's not to say that I'm done with travelling, that will always be part of who I am. It would however be nice to feel so connected to a place that I don't need to pack everything up into boxes and storage every time I take a trip for fear that I may not return.
I'm so grateful for all the amazing years that I've had here in East Gippsland. I've learnt and grown so much during my time here. I've been so extremely fortunate to make some really good friends who I'm sure will be part of my life for many years to come - I will forever be thankful for the important role that each of you have played in my life.
I can't thank those of you who supported me in getting waSUP Yoga & Fitness up and running here enough. I feel like it's come such a long way in a short space of time and has so much potential, I would love to pick you all up and take you with me, then life would indeed be perfect!
It's really hard for me to walk away from all we have created, our classes shared and chats afterwards are memories that I will treasure forever. Watching you all grow, improve your self awareness and develop more comfort in the postures has been such a treat, I will really miss your smiling faces and the light hearted play time in classes. It's truly been such a joy sharing yoga and Stand Up Paddling with each and every one of you.
For those of you who have been attending land classes my hope is that you continue to incorporate yoga into your life, it truly is a beautiful transformational practice. If ever get stuck I'm only and email or phone call away and I'd love to hear from you. I'm currently trying to arrange for another teacher to take at least one Yoga for Athletes and Foundations class each week so will keep you all posted on how I go with that.
So what's next for me and waSUP, well here is the plan:
- Classes finish on the 10th of April
- Camel Trek and Yoga Retreat (13th - 17th April)
We still have a few spots if you'd like to join me for one last hurrah - outback style!
- Drive north in search of new home (surf, practice yoga, visit friends/family, relax & restore)
- Yoga Teacher Training in India (June and July)
- Quality family time in Bali with lots of surfing and yoga (August and September)
- Put down some roots somewhere and start again :)
We can never know what the future holds although I can say with certainty that East Gippsland and all of you will always hold a place in my heart. Without a doubt I'll be back for holidays and won't rule out a return at some point in my life. In the short term though it's time for me to explore somewhere new, drop the fear of commitment, live in alignment with my greatest potential and begin to lay down some foundations. Scary I know but that's also what makes it so exciting!!!
Let's make this last month one to remember, I so can't wait to see all your smiling faces again next week.
Peace out yogis
During my years at primary school I recall having a fascination with the solar system, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up..
As I went on to high school my interest shifted to marine biology and my incredibly supportive family helped me to get some practical experience in this area before I'd finished Year 10. With this experience though I'd decided that I didn't like the idea of being in a lab/office all the time, I wanted to be outdoors more, maybe marine biology wasn't for me.
When it came to my final year at high school and it was time to decide what I was going to do at university I don't think I had a clue....I knew that I liked being outdoors and that I loved the beach and the environment. The degree called 'Environmental and Coastal Management' therefore made sense so that's what I put down as my number one preference, next thing you know I'm at Deakin doing the course.
The course was coming to an end and I was doing pretty well in the engineering subjects so I decided to upgrade and go the double, I figured it would enhance my chances of getting a job as engineers were considered to be more employable (and coincidentally were paid better!).
The outdoors and environment were still things that I highly valued so I took on the 'environmental' stream of engineering.
I start doing work experience in the engineering field and then applied for a job as an engineering consultant, at this time I didn't even know what a consultant did and had to sheepishly admit this during my interview when asked - but somehow I still got the job!
Eight years passed as an environmental engineer and I then attended my chartered status interview applying to be certified as an 'environmental' engineer. At the end of the interview they broke the news, they don't think that I'm an 'environmental' engineer, I'm actually a 'civil' engineer so that's the status that I'm granted.
I think we all have a those points in our life where we stop and ask ourselves what on earth we are doing, this was one of those for me....how did I come to be so far from where I thought I was going?
Without realising for several years I progressively moved further and further away from those things I'm passionate about and somehow became a largely desk bound civil engineer. Don't get me wrong I don't completely dislike the job I'm currently doing but if I had the ability to hit reset and go back again, would I put myself here...at this stage I'd suggest most likely not..
Which brings me to this fantastic quote from the movie Braveheart:
"Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it"
If I had to ask myself if I've been following my heart the simple answer would be no. I've been climbing the corporate ladder without even stopping to take a breath, I suppose you could say I've followed the stream of life down the path of least (or logical) resistance.
So what next....I muster up all that courage in my reserve and do the unthinkable...hit the big red button 'RESET'.
Leave application approved - big wide world here I come!
Time to get energised again by those things I'm passionate about.
Mandy Habener (Dumas)