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.
Mandy Habener (Dumas)