The first time I stepped on a yoga mat I had no idea where it would take me. I just thought it’s time to do this. At first, yoga happened in fits and starts. My chiropractor had been urging me to take yoga more seriously, but at that time as a dancer with daily classes, rehearsals, and performances I didn’t have a spare minute to devote to yoga. Back then self-care’ wasn’t in my vocabulary.
Things changed when I was 23. I’d just finished a contract with a dance company in Tasmania and I knew I wanted a break from dancing. Yoga seemed like the next best option. I moved myself to Byron Bay and started yoga with Yogini Louisa Sear, who not much older than me, had been traveling back and forth to India to study with the masters. I was so inspired by her dedication and her practice that I wanted to be just like her.
That driving passion is what set the tone for the rest of my life. Rather than wanting yoga to fit into my life I knew I wanted my life to be yoga. There was no such thing as a Yoga Alliance teacher training in 1990. There were longer courses that you completed over years and apprenticeships. That is if you could find someone to take you on.
I was lucky. I found two. I was able to deepen my practice while apprenticing with Jenny Groves and Eve Grzybowski, two teachers, steeped in the Iyengar tradition. I only handed out blocks and straps in class but it was enough. Just being in the room and absorbing their depth of knowledge was sufficient to get me started.
I was offered my first class in 1992, just six months shy of giving birth. I taught a prenatal class without ever having given birth or studying how to teach prenatal. Somehow I muddled through and no one got injured. There were no specialized prenatal trainings, no yoga therapy. It was me or nothing.
When I landed in NYC in 2000 and stumbled into the Ishta Yoga Studio ( then Yoga Zone and later Be Yoga) I’d already been teaching yoga for 10 years. Apparently, I qualified as an experienced teacher and was immediately recruited onto the teaching team. After a summer of subbing practically every class on the schedule, I was asked to join the teacher training faculty. I was also employed to accredit the training with Yoga Alliance (we were one of the first) and to administrate, organize and recruit our first group of TT’s.
Imagine…I’m 33, I’ve never done a teacher training and within a few months of landing in New York, I am the TT coordinator and a facilitator in the training. I literally did the training while I was co-teaching with four other wonderful yoginis as well as Alan Finger. A dream come true? TOTALLY!
For the four years that I lived in New York, I worked my but off. We ran a number of trainings a year in different formats and I was teaching in all of them as well as coordinating them and teaching group classes, mentoring students and privates. I was completely immersed in yoga all day long. The highlight for me was being in Alan’s classes and deepening my experience of meditation. As long as I was tapping into the source I could keep teaching and sharing. The most important part of my hectic schedule was my personal practice. I was determined to make sure I kept it up.
When I returned to Australia in 2004 I was charged by Alan with the mission to bring Ishta Yoga with me. I started my first TT with 12 students. Today these students are senior teachers in their own right and remain dear friends and colleagues.
Since founding the Ishta System teacher training in 2004 we have been through a number of evolutions and revolutions. The biggest being the incorporation of Self Knowledge, Atma Vidya into the curriculum. Self Knowledge is not a philosophy or a subject where you learn about the history of yoga. Self-knowledge takes you straight to the heart of the subject, which is you.
To teach and share yoga, one has to be able to understand what yoga is. Not just from an intellectual standpoint but truly knowing yourself as already complete – the yoga itself. Then, whether you nurture your own practice or teach and share with others you are grounded in the knowledge and authentic tradition.
As someone who took that first step on her mat not knowing where it would lead I am to this day profoundly touched by the life that has unfolded. To be able to offer this gift back to others in the form of teachers training is a true privilege.
This year we are thrilled and excited to be collaborating with Donna Thordarson and the Anahata Yoga Temple in Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast for our 350 Ishta System Teachers Training which starts April 1, 2019.
If you’d like to join us or find out more check out the video below and click this link for more info.