Changes at Satmya Yoga

 

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Term 2 will start May 2nd. In the interests of truthfulness (satya) I am letting students know that I will not be returning to teaching my regular group classes.

However, I am returning to teach yoga with NEW classes!

Following much reflection and exploration of ways I can best connect with students and share yoga while maintaining my own best self care, I will be offering my group yoga classes to you in a different format.

These new classes will be a longer length and run fortnightly for women only.

This will allow time and space for a deeper, more nurturing experience while building community amongst women.

The focus will be on having a mini retreat from busy lives every second week instead of the weekly, shorter sessions squeezed in amongst kids activities, work and spouses schedules. Perhaps in such busy lives it is the quality of an experience, not quantity, that truly matters.

We will move
We will stretch
We will sweat
We will breathe
We will meditate
We will truly relax
We will connect over herbal teas, snacks & time to chat with other women


 

This change coincides with changes in my life following my miscarriage and in my personal yoga and movement journey.

I have been fortunate enough to experience QOYA classes – yoga which also combines some dance and sacred movement. Following the profound shifts I’ve experienced in my own body, mind and life through this practice I am training to become a QOYA teacher.

I will be exploring aspects of this movement practice in my yoga classes as I complete my QOYAtraining. We will be deepening our connection to our bodies and breath through yoga poses and movement as we explore the idea that:

“If it feels good, then you’re doing it right”



About QOYA

QOYA is a movement practice for women developed by Rochelle Schieck that combines yoga, dance, sensual movement, meditation, breathwork, intuition, sacred community and more. To learn more about this beautiful work click here.

No prior yoga, dance or movement experience is required. This work is open to women of all ages, body types, stages of life and levels of movement experience.

As we move, we remember our essence is wise, wild, and free.

Wise, wild and free also draw reference to the movement forms that we practice:

Wise: the wisdom of yoga
Wild: the creative expression in dance
Free: expanding our capacity to enjoy our bodies through feminine movement

In every QOYA class, you experience 13 core components expressing a unique theme for the day that supports the embodiment of your feminine essence.

  • You slow down and feel. You sweat. You play and have fun!
  • Your perspective shifts from going through the motions to savoring life as sacred.
  • You find the answers you seek in your body, and as well as the support to follow them.
  • You also engage in ritual, pilgrimage, and community connections to open your heart, mind, and spirit.
In Qoya, imagine there is no way you can do it wrong… 
and the way you know you’re doing it right is when it feels good. 

Even yoga teachers can burn out

George the pug knows how to relax

George the pug knows how to relax

Even yoga teachers can find themselves on the floor, exhausted and in a puddle of tears not knowing quite what to do or how they will teach. Even yoga teachers can be caught off guard by aspects of ourselves that aren’t entirely helpful. Aspects we thought we’d figured out and healed. We are only human after all.

Its a great reminder that part of our yoga journey is the experience of getting to come closer to what makes us tick. Coming closer to the brightest parts of ourselves that we perhaps shy away from, but also coming closer to the discomfort of aspects that don’t serve us so well yet still drive us forward unconsciously.

Have you ever been in a pose and felt that drive to push harder to reach your toes, rather than let go, stay with the breath and not strive so hard? An unconscious forcing that maybe shows up in other aspects of your life outside of yoga?

Or perhaps you feel that rush of grace as you hold a balancing pose like dancer, only to catch a glimpse of someone else you think is doing it “better” than you and  have your balance go as you fall out of the pose with an inner voice reminding you that you’ll never be any good at yoga. A voice that is familiar when you get brave and step out of your comfort zone in other parts of your life?

When we stay with the breath and observe ourselves in each pose we have an opportunity to glimpse those unconscious patterns that can be running us, going unnoticed all day. Yoga is the opportunity to come closer to ourselves.

Students and readers of this blog may or may not know that before I was a yoga teacher, I was a graphic designer for around 13 years. I still do freelance design work to supplement my yoga teaching along with working one day a week at an organic store. Teaching yoga is something I do for love, not the money. I had some highs and some lows in my old life as a full time graphic designer. I truly love design work and being creative. Deadlines, working 60+ hour weeks, having no social life and endless neck, back and shoulder issues – not so much.

For me, my ability to work hard, fast and get a job done at all costs with attention to detail allowed me to be a great graphic designer. But what made me a great graphic designer also provided my biggest blind spot.

Self care.

I’ve come a long way since those old days of epic stress, chronic pain from being stuck at a desk for long hours, eating poorly, not enough rest and definitely no self care. I have put in a lot of work on the mat and off to heal my body and find balance again.

But blind spots can still sneak up on us. They serve a purpose to teach us something, reveal an aspect we still need to heal. For me always seems to come back to self care and not letting my drive to work harder make me blind to a deeper need to take good care of myself.

These days its not just for myself, its for my students, my partner, my family and friends. If I am not taking good care of myself, then I am not showing up as my best self as a yoga teacher, wife, daughter and friend. Things are out of balance. Where there is imbalance then I get exhausted, run down, sick and lose my way.

I’ve been working a lot more hours doing graphic design in the last couple of months to supplement my yoga teaching. I started out well, balancing my design work and yoga with self care to allow me to show up in all aspects of my life as my best self. It worked really well until the last 3 weeks I let my old patterns show up, that sneaky voice that says “work harder, self care is indulgent, a luxury, keep going”.

Guess what happened? I got run down, my tank got low, I got exhausted and sick. I had to cancel yoga classes for the first time since I started teaching group classes. I ended up on floor, in tears, exhausted, feeling like a failure, that I had let my students down and my graphic design clients in the lurch.

Truly though, this was an opportunity to see that above all that I had simply let myself down. I had moved away from myself. It is a gentle (and slightly embarrassing) nudge back in the right direction. Back towards truth. My truth will probably always be that I need to practice self care and that when I don’t, I pay a big price.

Teaching yoga fills me up and is an act of loving service that provides a sense of purpose that was always missing during my old career. But to teach I must look after myself first so I can show up and hold space for my students to explore their blind spots on the mat too.

So in humbleness, this week I’ve added in an extra body therapy appointment, upped my meditation, prioritised getting to bed early, planned to eat some meals with my husband and hopefully will squeeze in a walk with my dogs (something that I miss dearly but never seem to have time for). Baby steps back to looking after myself.

My hope is that in sharing my vulnerability and my truth, this blog post might inspire you to look with compassion and kindness at any areas of life that could be your blind spot. To gently ask yourself if you need to slow down. To lovingly say no (or perhaps yes) to something that will give you some mental or emotional space to show up as your best and highest self in other areas of your life. To simply pause for one full, deep, belly breath and ask yourself “what do I need?”

With love, blessings and self care

Felicity

Artist to Yogi – why art school and I had to break up

At the opening night of my last exhibition.

At the opening night of my last exhibition.

This post was originally posted on my old art website and blog, but I thought it was worth sharing with the people who follow me in the yoga world.

Ever had one of those times in your life when you meet someone great, but the timing is just so, so wrong. You might have amazing moments of connection but you just know deep down that you’re not ready, you still have some things to figure out, or the other person is feeling a bit damaged from a past hurt they haven’t quite gotten over yet, or perhaps one of you is about to move half way around the world?

Well this was me and art school, moments of great potential but the timing was all wrong. I wasn’t ready emotionally or physically and still had lots of things to heal and sort out, still had to find my inner strength, voice and wisdom. And therefore with much pain and heartache, art school and I had to break up.

If you’ve read my blog before and made your way to my “about me” page then you’ll know the basic story of how I got to this point in my life.  For those who haven’t, here is the long story short – back in 2008 I left my corporate graphic design job and started out on a journey to live a more authentic life. I did some freelance graphic design work, started up the Kraftbomb monthly craft market, created Stitch’d Ink making unique cross stitch kits and continued baking delicious, vegan cupcakes as my alter ego the NZ Cupcake Queen.

Oh and like that wasn’t enough, this was the time I decided to return to full time study doing a BFA at Whitecliffe College of Art & Design. Phew!

So how did I go from bravely following my dreams of doing a BFA to two and a 1/2 years later deciding to bravely walk away from the very thing I had always wanted? In moments of quiet reflection I have often pondered just that. And the answer seems to always come back to the same thing – art school was part of my journey, not a destination.

When I enrolled I was full of enthusiasm and dreams of making it “big” and finally being a “proper artist”. I had lots of high expectations and goals for myself – trying to get the best grades in all my papers, exploring new mediums and techniques in my practice, plans for exhibitions, wanting to get my name out there and known, learning everything I could about other successful artists – while at the same time running my businesses. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for dreams and goals but sometimes you have to be realistic about how many hours you have in a day and how much energy you have to complete them. And even more importantly you, you need to know yourself well to know the difference between what you truly aspire for with your heart and what your mind/ego wants for you.

I can look back on my time at art school with fondness and a heavy heart. I learnt so much, met some amazing people, both students and tutors, and produced some of the best art I’ve ever made, being pushed out of my comfort zone and into new territory. All things that are great to help grow as an artist and a person. But I also went through excruciating pains in my personal life during the time I was there and even though I have heard time and again how as an artist you can channel your pain into your artworks, I just never managed to do it. My life seemed to be speeding up with a never ending to do list, all the while I seemed to be slowly falling apart, living on energy drinks, coffee, eating terribly, never getting enough sleep and with a growing list of scary health problems.

Plus I was deeply unhappy. By the beginning of my 3rd year I contemplated not returning, I felt empty, my creative well was drained, my  health was an absolute mess. I was an absolute mess. But I continued on because I had made such a big song and dance about going to art school, how great it was going to be, how great I was going to be. I didn’t feel brave enough to say “hey everyone, perhaps this isn’t right for me anymore”. I wanted to save face and avoid the judgement that I assumed would come with me leaving. Plus I didn’t know what else to do if I wasn’t being “City Down at art school”. So I carried on even though I was miserable and my heart wasn’t in it.

But life is a great teacher and something shifted in me that year. A family tragedy that had devastated me the year before reared its ugly head again for a second round of heartache, but this time I didn’t fall apart. This time I didn’t run, I didn’t become a victim, I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I held my ground, I let myself be brave and experienced every emotion that arose within me, knowing that it couldn’t be painful forever, just the way things can never feel happy forever. Life is ebb and flow. The trick is learning to ride out the waves and not cling to the good stuff and push away the bad.

In my growing inner strength in facing huge challenges things started shifting. I got back into my daily yoga practice, I started to care again about what I put in my mouth. I started to care more about looking after myself, knowing myself and getting rest than about pushing myself to my limits. I started to see that trying to be perfect was killing me. I started to listen to the inner wisdom that was gently saying “stop”.

Eventually I did stop struggling to keep all my balls up in the air. But my mind didn’t – I wrote huge pros and cons lists about staying at art school vs leaving. I agonized over what people would think of me if I left, what I would do if I wasn’t an art student, if this would make me a failure, a quitter, a loser, yet another art school drop out. And then I realised that all this thinking was part of what drove me to do my BFA in the first place. None of it was my true self, my inner wisdom. It was all ego, crazy thoughts and a busy mind. I was driving myself, my friends, boyfriend, and flatmates nuts with my over thinking.

I still remember the day I finally made the decision to leave.  It wasn’t a big movie scene of storming out of my studio never to come back or a lightening bolt “aha” moment. It was simple, small, subtle. The second semester of year 3 had started. I was feeling overwhelmed with the workload and my studio practice had ground to a halt. I was sitting in my favourite sunny spot on the roof of the garden shed, eyes closed, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin on a crisp day. I was still, quiet and knew that it was time.

I didn’t know what I would do next, I didn’t know what the next day, week or month would look like. But I did know that it was time to stop living a lie and be honest with myself. It was hard telling my tutors and head of department that I was leaving. It was even harder telling my class mates and when I attended their end of year exhibition, which I was meant to be a part of, I had moments of sadness that my work wasn’t up on the wall with them.

But the freedom of following my inner wisdom has lead me to such a good place in my life now I am healthier, stronger and know myself so much better. It wasn’t all easy post art school, with plenty of uncertainty while I split my time between part time design work and WWOOFing on an organic farm, but I rode out all the uncertain moments and lived the great moments and finally ended up at next leg of my journey.

While I originally planned to return to my BFA after taking a year off, it became clear to me over the summer that this wasn’t in life’s plan for me. So I followed my heart this time and enrolled in my one year yoga teacher training course instead. I grew in such huge amounts spiritually and physically. I was pushed out of my comfort zone on a daily basis but I evolved so much faster in doing so. I’m open to one day finishing my BFA studies, but for now its not a priority. Right now my priority is yoga, both my own personal practice and teaching my wonderful students. I feel alive and in love with my life.

I hope that some of my honesty in this blog post helps a few people who might be feeling stuck, confused or lost in their life to not feel so alone. Be still, quiet and listen to the inner wisdom, it knows the right answer even if your mind fights it for a while!

Namaste
Felicity (City)

Some things to ponder:

Where in your life are you feeling stuck?

Are you happy in your current situation?

What small or big changes can you make or truths do you need to face to move forward with your life?