Nostalgic Musings of 2012

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The past year has without a doubt been my favourite so far. Part of me thinks I must be crazy to say this for it’s been, without a doubt, the most solitary and introspective year to date. It’s been tough more often than it’s not been tough. But funnily enough the not tough times have seemed more – authentic and magical in a way, like a proper gift. And the tough times have allowed me another sort of gift. They have forced me to really get to know myself, just when I thought I knew enough!

This self I speak of is the vulnerable child like self. The side that doesn’t get shown to many people. But funnily enough she’s the one I spend most of my time with, so why not let her socialise with everyone? At the beginning of this year I set the intention of being willing and of being willing to show up. To stop with the ‘talk’ and to instead focus on the ‘action’. To hear the call and have the courage to do something about it. You have to be careful what you wish for. But as I remind so many of my clients, you are only ever dished out as much as you can handle. I stand tall and proud in this statement, as I know so many of you do also. My heart connects with yours. We’ve been in it together.

‘In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer’.

- Albert Camus.

I have learnt to surrender this year and as a result, life got better. It did. It was less forced, it was more playful, it was connected and it was insightful. As Gabby Bernstein says ‘you’ve got to get our of your own way’. It’s true. You’ve gotta scoot on over so life can do it’s thing without you interfering. It’s a lesson I’m still learning to master.

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So as 2012 rolls to a close and we welcome 2013 with open hearts, spirits and souls I give thanks.

I give thanks for:

My parents. They’re still getting their head around what I do for a living and yet not once have they discouraged me from doing it (despite the sleepless nights I know my mother has had). As my Mum has often reminded me, ‘we’re from a different generation’ and yet they’ve still been there every step of the way with unwavering support. I come from good stock and I’m so very proud to say so.

My friends. While I retreated inwards this year and orbits and energies shifted between friendships I learnt to trust and flow and appreciate those who are reflections of me in a much deeper way. We don’t do life alone and even when one is being forced into introspection the support we receive from the outside means so much more when you are being solitary.

My living. Coaching, Kinesiology. My Clients, my Students. They have inspired me and amazed me and have allowed me to fall in love more and more each day with not only what I get to do but with the Universe around me. The lessons, the reminders, the magic. Honestly – the magic. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to support others in uncovering and discovering their own magic powers. For we all have them. We do. You just have to be willing to show up to them.

My blog. It took great courage to put fingers to keypad back in August. I was shy about doing it. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I felt like the 11 year old in the playground. Anxious about acceptance and for being caught out. For what? I’m not sure. For not being perfect perhaps? For being awkward and insecure. For admitting to making mistakes. I love being able to write though and I love hearing that it falls on grateful ears/ eyes. A beautiful client of mine asked the other day if I keep a journal. I said I had stopped and realised in that moment that this blog is my journal.

My health. I am beyond grateful that it is through our health, our bodies, our energy systems that we are spoken to. If we listen to this, it has all the answers. I do as good a job as anyone of ignoring it at times, but im getting better. This is definitely a continued intention for 2013. For life no doubt.

And for all the other things…. the roof over my head, the money in my bank account, the random encounters on trains, planes and streets with souls that swan in and swan out, for the grey skies (they have provided me endless moments of comfort this year), for the sunshine of course, for being able to go to the beach between seeing clients, for synchronicity, for listening to and HEARING my intuition, for the trees, oh the trees, for meditation, for green smoothies (I know it’s clichéd, but they are damn good), for the gold rings from past centuries, for my laptop and iphone, for my studies and mentors, for foreign friends new and old and for music, especially foreign music, and for being willing. For being willing and most importantly for having the courage to be have been willing to show up.

Merci beaucoup c’est très gentil.

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Rejection – It Hurts

I had a bit of an ‘ah ha’ moment over the weekend. An ephiphany if you will. And like all good epiphanies once they become apparent, you realise just how long you’ve been hanging on to a way of being that no longer serves you.

My ah ha moment – I so ain’t cool with rejection. I’m not. I fear it. I get anxious about it. It consumes me. I feel it in my gut and in my chest. I can feel my adrenals in overdrive waiting for the command to either fight or flight. It’s like drinking tooooo much coffee. Way too much coffee.

And so it was in this moment of realisation, of blinding clarity, that I could see just how much this was impacting my life. From business to relationships to friendships. It was all there, plain for me to see.

‘What we fear the most is what we’ll attract.’ 

I did an analysis of my reality – my fear became clearly apparent. I’ve attracted various situations of late where the common theme (I’ve perceived) is rejection. Even to the point where I’ve been rejecting myself. Over indulging, self sabotaging, choosing with intention things that do not serve me. While writing this post, sentence after sentence, I can literally feel my ego being torn apart, layer by layer, memories from childhood too just re-surfacing.

What is it about the anxiety of rejection, that sees us protecting ourselves from the pain we anticipate to feel? 

Consciously I know that if I am rejected all will be well. I will survive. I have before. But that’s the thing about the sub conscious mind – when we are hurt emotionally we react in the same way as if we are being hurt physically, that is, to move away from the pain. If we are about to have pain inflicted on us we instinctively protect ourselves from the impending danger. It’s the same for emotional pain, for the subconscious mind does not differentiate between physical and emotional pain. When we experience enough situations of hurt, we feel we have to protect our self from further hurt. It is neither wrong or right, it is a matter of whether the response suits your needs.1

And this is the clincher – whether the response suits your needs. My needs are not being met. I am not allowing them to be met, for fear of experiencing a pain like the pain I once upon a time felt.

But as with all of this work, in order to move closer to acceptance (the opposite of rejection) i.e. self love you need to acknowledge and stop identifying with the child that once was. The child’s attempt at wanting to protect you no longer serves the adult who has all the more resources and experiences to draw from.

While curiously researching rejection I came across the following statement; ‘rejection increases sadness, despair and hostility, a decrease in self – esteem, belonging, sense of control and meaning of life. 2

My how this sums up my last few days. I have found myself questioning EVERYTHING. Examples a plenty to re-affirm I wasn’t enough. I was questioning myself, my friendships, my living arrangements, my career even – but I caught myself and in doing so allowed myself to go there. To FEEL it. To sit with the doubt and sadness. My normal tactic would be to resist this and cover it up by forcing my perception to change – but this time I felt a want and a need to instead sit with it.

I started writing this post about something entirely different. But the words did not flow. They were stilted and dry. And then it hit me, rejection was what I was meant to be writing about.

‘Rejection ranks among the most potent and distressing events that people experience.’3

I can relate to this. I become an entirely different person, let me rephrase actually, I become like my 11 year old self – insecure, unsure, desperate for acceptance. However at 31 it’s time to thank her and bid her farewell.

I adore the following quote from Conversations with God;

‘You have to experience what you don’t want in order to know what you do want.’ 

I’ve been living this of late. I know what I don’t want, which is making it easier to detach from old ways of being so as to get closer to what I do want. That is to let go of the need for outside acceptance and to instead accept me, all of me.

I am enough, you are enough.


I invite you to ask yourself – where is your reality matching the vibration of rejection? Where, by living with more courage of accepting self will you be able to change your reality? Most importantly what would this look like?

Photos thanks to Pinterest http://pinterest.com/clarey22/

References

1.http://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/relationships_psychologist/psychologist_rejection.htm

2.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/todd-kashdan/importance-of-human-connections_b_962540.html

3.http://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/relationships_psychologist/psychologist_rejection.htm

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About this Yogi…

Clare Woodward is a transformational life coach and Kinesiologist based in Sydney, Australia. Clare empowers her clients to become everything they dream of.  On EVERY level.  Emotionally, mentally and physically. Perhaps the most loveliest girl in Sydney, we @ Yogi’s Basket conspire Clare is probably a real life Angel or secret genius or both.

Follow Clare’s wisdom on Facebook  or Twitter or send her a note saying ‘heeyyy’ @ Clare@woodwardinstitute.com.au

The 80/20 Rule

We literally are what we eat.  Isn’t it incredible to think that our bodies can break down salads and sandwiches and poached eggs on toast and turn it in to eyelashes and blood and cartilage? If there is nothing that tells you that there is a greater intelligence at work in this universe, let this be your evidence!  Or you could also Youtube ‘Bananas, an atheists nightmare’.

There are a lot of opinions about what we should be eating and shouldn’t be eating.  But as my Body Worker pointed out to me this weekend “Kate, do you have a bum” “Yes” I replied curiously “Last time I checked”, “Well bums are like opinions, everyone’s got one” – interesting, I thought.  Still needing to be reminded at the age of 29 that there is never going to be one true way.

I love Sarah Wilson’s blog about quitting or at least eating less sugar.  This winter I did take a decent 6-week break from refined sugar, the kind you find in processed food like chocolate and cake. I got in to the habit of picking up jars at the supermarket and checking if it was less than 3 grams of sugar. I was eating a lot of “good” fats, like avocado, cheese and ghee.  This experiment definitely left me with more energy, but unfortunately wasn’t something I maintained.

Although I’m sure Sarah makes some good points about the havoc sugar causes on our bodies, after time I felt like a meanie turning down shared birthday cake and afternoon tea treat offerings.  Like I was being ‘too tough’ on myself.

2012 has also been the year that I’ve stopped drinking coffee and liquor. Two vices that I put above sugar in the ‘weigh in’ of what needs to go first.  I tell other people of these new habits and they praise my commitment.  But it’s really not that hard.  Also, I was tired of the story of “needing” a coffee every day to function, watching frighteningly at co workers who would go out three or four times a day for a store bought caffeine hit.

Cutting out booze on the other hand has bought up a lot of stuff for me and a lot of stuff for the people who enjoy hanging out with my drunk alter ego Joycee Banacheck.  Fortunately through yoga and growing up I came to see that dealing with one ego was work enough let alone two.

Although a lot of people I’ve talked to are under the impression that to teach yoga you need to be a vegetarian, of course this is silly and not the truth.  In fact in the yoga sutras it doesn’t say anything about compulsory vegetarianism, only that at the later stages of a very refined spiritual practice (living in a cave, black belt level) that being a vegetarian is probably a good idea.

I’ve heard other charming stories of yoga teacher trainees forced to watch videos of farm animals enduring all kinds of horrors and of course the infamous rumour that by committing to the Jivamukti teacher training in NYC, one has to sign a contract to say they’ll be a vegan for 6 months.

True yoga?  Or forcing your opinion on someone else?

I think yoga is about removing the obstacles in life to reveal the innate wellbeing within and not being a fuss pot from fuss pot farm.  If you’re skipping breakfast, having coffee at morning tea, binging on the biscuit tin and having a carb over load for dinner then yes, this could be an obstacle.

These days I mostly enjoy a diet of whole foods.  That’s foods that are not processed, manufactured or designed – food as close to it’s natural arrangement as possible.  Preaching the dogma of “the 80/20 rule”, that’s 80% good natural whole food and 20% born to be bad choc top and popcorn at the movies.

Through yoga I’ve learnt to embrace self-regulation.  When you’re stressed and worried do you reach for a chocolate bar or go for a walk around the block and take some deep breaths?  Although I believe there is no right or wrong path, we need to enforce the healthy things that bring us back to well being and weaken the rubbishy ones.

Diets, detoxes, crash cleanses don’t work because they’re foreign and intimidating and outside of ourselves.  If we can implement small changes in our diets like eating a few more servings of fruit and vegetables every day, while allowing the 20% naughty I guarantee you it will be easier to assimilate healthier habits for longer periods of time.  This is the art of being kind to yourself – when strict fuss pot crusades fall away revealing trust and self love.

Om shanti

Kate xx

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About this Yogi…

Kate Southward is the curator and founder of Yogi’s Basket, a holistic wellness  & yoga magazine inspiring access to ‘the good life’.  A 500 hour Yoga Alliance accredited teacher, Kate was mentored by Australia’s Yoga Education Guru Mark Breadner. Arriving from dual careers in English Teaching & Online Publishing, she provides a uniquely antipodean and straight up view of wellbeing.   An intuitive teacher, Kate believes to overcome stress in modern day life we need to rest down and let in.

Practice with Kate @ Sydney’s House of Yoga Redfern one special Wednesday a month.

Follow Kate’s wisdom on Facebook or  Twitter or send her a note saying Aloha to kate.southward@gmail.com 

A Love Story

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Before Kinesiology and I fell in love, I was….

Anxious, Manipulating, Self critical, Gossipy, Insecure, Unhealthy, Tired, Stressed and Un-self aware. Not all the time of course. But I was living unconsciously and it didn’t bode well for my reality.

So what is Kinesiology exactly? What is it about this incredible modality that sees people tap into and admit the things they are most afraid of? That allows them to use their vulnerabilities to create the life they want? Let me get a little clinical for a moment, as the explanation tends to get lost in translation. You start talking about meridians and muscles and people are off thinking about what they are going to have for dinner…

The easiest way to understand Kinesiology – We balance triangles.

That is, our triangle is our physical body, our emotional/ mental body and our biochemical body. They make up the 3 sides.

When our triangle is in a state of equilibrium we are in a better position to deal with whatever life throws at us.

When our triangle is in balance the energy systems of our body, our meridians (those things acupuncturists stick needles into) are in a state of flow. When things are flowing we are happy. Plain and simple. It was through chiropractics that they identified that each organ and muscle is connected to a meridian. We are therefore able to use the physical body, the muscles, to identify where there are blockages in the energy pathways. If there is a blockage we can unblock it with a whole range of tools and techniques. AND THE BEST BIT, the body tells you what it needs. I’m not doing any guessing work. I’m merely interpreting what the body tells me.

The body has an innate ability to heal itself. It has all the answers. YOU have all the resources and answers you need. Learn to read the body and you’ve got in front of you everything you’re searching for.

Effectively Kinesiologists are body electricians, rewiring the energy systems of the body.

Throw in a goal for context and you’ll have yourself a powerful shift in energy towards what YOU WANT. This is key. We get clear on what it is you want. Whether is be, happiness, or a job promotion, or a relationship, or better sex or more money or for your headaches and back pain to go away. We get clear on what it is that will make you happy. Then we energetically align you with it.

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As we know, what we vibrationally omit is what we vibrationally attract. You get clear on what you want and align yourself energetically, and this my friends means you have in your hot little hand the power to attract exactly what you want. Like magic.

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People often question my optimism and positivity and belief that we can create our own reality. I don’t judge them for being cynical. Without understanding just how powerful we are and how much we can control it, it is understandable to not realise just how much potential we have. Through this wonderful modality it’s possible to make things possible. It makes thoughts become actions which create your new reality.

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Kinesiology for me was freedom – freedom from past hurts and from a head space filled with self-critical conversations. It allowed me to recognise what I was omitting. Where I was limiting myself. It allowed me to take responsibility for my shit. It allowed me to admit I wasn’t perfect and to be ok with this. Once I did this I then had the space to start dreaming and envisioning and creating a person and life I was proud of.

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Change your perception of how you see yourself and your whole world changes. You can then RESPOND to the circumstance based on a neutral perception as opposed to one emotionally charged which sees you protecting yourself. Remember, the sub conscious mind will do whatever it can to protect you, to keep you in a place it recognises. By reworking the mind, you can then reinforce a new way of thinking, a new way of being.

It takes courage to look at your own stuff. It’s so easy to point the finger outwards and blame this and that for not being happy. But if we really take stock and check in you’ll see that when you point the finger you have three pointing straight back at you. I guarantee, that those three fingers are highlighting something you are vulnerable about.

We can’t control others. We can’t. We can only control ourselves and how we react to things. As I mentioned in my last post, learn to respond instead of reacting and you’ll have yourself a much more harmonious balanced happy life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we should go through life doing cartwheels and chanting Ommmm in every moment. We need to experience the crap, but we do have a choice in how long we stay in it.

I saw a gorgeous client during the week and she said at the end of our session, ‘I love this stuff – cause it works’. Ah Ha!!! EXACTLY. It works. It totally works. Each and every session I have the privilege of being apart of something which amazes me. Where the mind and body takes you – you couldn’t write a better script. And the best bit, half way through the session when everything is a little up in the air and the dots are still to be connected, the perfect piece of information surfaces and everything starts to piece together. Like magic. As I said, if you’re willing to the listen, the body will tell you exactly what it needs.

For me, this is my love story.

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Photos thanks to Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/clarey22/

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About this Yogi…

Clare Woodward is a transformational life coach and Kinesiologist based in Sydney, Australia. Clare empowers her clients to become everything they dream of.  On EVERY level.  Emotionally, mentally and physically. Perhaps the most loveliest girl in Sydney, we @ Yogi’s Basket conspire Clare is probably a real life Angel or secret genius or both.

Follow Clare’s wisdom on Facebook  or Twitter or send her a note saying ‘heeyyy’ @ Clare@woodwardinstitute.com.au

Pay What You Can, Yoga Is For Everyone

Christmas is on the horizon and I’m brainstorming presents for the whanau.  Thinking back to this time last year a well-meaning friend suggested that I look into Oxfam donations and buy each of them a goat.  What a noble idea!  A perfect opportunity to spiritually spoil those who couldn’t wish for more…

Christmas day swiftly arrives and I excitedly hand out my micro financing for woman, 2 pigs for a village and cattle manure to my half giddy on champagne and hot breakfast full darlings.  The donations are received with mixed reviews, “Awww how thoughtful” ‘s and “That’s very cool” ‘s abound to begin with… only later in the day to be usurped with cheeky jokes about ‘Kate’s goat gifts’ and more direct statements like “I can’t believe you got me a goat”.

I come from a loving family.  But whether their consciousness is in the right place regarding donation and charity is yet to be determined.

In November, Sydney will see it’s first donation based yoga studio.  Already a popular trend in larger cities in the US, donation or ‘pay what you will’ structured studios try to differentiate themselves in the ‘yoga is a commodity’ debate.  It got me to thinking about what I’ve paid for yoga, how much it’s worth, how much you think it’s worth and if it really is a luxury only afforded by upper middle class folk in fancy CBD locations.

Looking around a lot of popular Sydney yoga studios, it does look like yoga is changing in to a business of franchised yoga where on the outside it’s all ‘acceptance, peace and love…’ however, when you actually practice the classes, you come to see that it is just ‘gym’ yoga with teachers trying to make the class as hard as possible and super fit and skinny students not happy until they feel like they’ve gotten a ‘work out’.

This year I have embraced that yoga’s first purpose is to ‘un-do’ and to help heal and connect the mind and body, not pump you up and sweat till you drop to the floor feeling bad or inadequate because you can’t hold crow pose for 10 breaths and fold casually forward in to a tri pod headstand.

Crawf Weir Director of Barefoot Yoga, Sydney’s first donation based studio is preaching ‘yoga for everyone’ and the commitment of taking only what you need.  Fundamental truths that resonate in the 8 limbs of yoga set out for us in the sutras.

This weekend I was lucky enough to participate in one of Weir’s first classes ordaining the new space.  Located behind The Palace Verona Cinema in Paddington the calm oblong shape with its sandy wood floors and bright open windows is already buzzing.

A prior home to a famed Ashtanga studio where Weir confirms the legendary Pattabhi Jois taught several times.  Once we start practicing the energy of the room is palpable, creating the ritual here will not be difficult.

Weir’s style, which is self confessed inspired by godfather of power yoga Bryan Kest, is strong, flowing and compassionate. I feel challenged, but given the grace to rest whenever I like.  The other yogis in the room range from beginners to experienced, Weir’s old blonde dog Murphy looks on in adoration.  There’s a good vibe and students leaving with sunny dispositions and intentions of return.

Including the Lululemon mortgage, mats, coconut waters, memberships, workshops and trainings I don’t care to think how much I’ve invested in my little hobby.  Because I’ve always enjoyed yoges more than going to any gym, I’ve always made that argument, paying anywhere between $20 for a one off class, $140 for a month unlimited or $32 a week for longer memberships.  Although Weir’s opening class was generously free of charge, I would of happily parted with a $20 for the experience.

Despite it’s almost maccas franchising, my hope as yoges becomes more main stream is that more people in society are interested to experiment, not just type A, slightly off centre, middle class kids in CBD’s.  A return to the community focused studios where true teacher/student relationships can flourish are in demand.  With its many thousands of benefits, including a healthy, tension free body and a centred and clutter free mind – the experience yoga offers is truly priceless.

Here’s what other YB fans thought…

 

Roopi –  Yoga Teacher, Sweetheart

“I think running and owning the studio would be really challenging, because the offerings would vary so greatly from person to person.  It’s a popular idea in the US and I practiced in a studio there once, the standard donation is $10.  I would pay a minimum of $10 – $20, but would be inclined to pay even more for a brilliant teacher”.

 

 

Jacqueline – Director of  21 Days, Designer, Yoga Teacher, Mum, Stunner

“I think it’s a clever idea being the first donation based studio in Sydney, it will probably be successful because of this.  Yogi’s in town will definitely support it.  I’d pay between $10 – $15”.

 

 

 

Charmaine ‘The Char’– Director of Yogi Pins, Yoga Teacher, Architect, Blogger, Happening

“I think it’s really great.  A good opportunity to give back to the community, so people who can’t normally afford to practice can.  However, from a business perspective I don’t know how it would work. I would definitely go, especially if I resonated with the teachers.  I would pay $10”.

 

 

Mark– Owner Mantra Yoga, Master Yoga Teacher, Inspiring

“Great concept and idea.  I’m not sure if consciousness of the community is quite ready, but I will be interested to see how it pans out.  It’s a real invitation for people to be more conscious.  The energy of giving and receiving is important in yoga.  When you see the guru it’s traditional to give something, a flower, small gift.  It highlights the importance of Shakti and Shiva, the eternal dance of energy and consciousness. I would pay $20 for a one off class, but if it was a master class I would be inclined to pay $60 – $80 depending on what I was learning”.

 

 

What’s yoga worth to you?

 

 

Photos thanks to Pinterest http://pinterest.com 

Follow Barefoot Yoga on Facebook for more news about their opening schedule..

 

 

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About this Yogi…

Kate Southward is the curator and founder of Yogi’s Basket, a holistic wellness  & yoga magazine inspiring access to ‘the good life’.  A 500 hour Yoga Alliance accredited teacher, Kate was mentored by Australia’s Yoga Education Guru Mark Breadner. Arriving from dual careers in English Teaching & Online Publishing, she provides a uniquely antipodean and straight up view of wellbeing.   An intuitive teacher, Kate believes to overcome stress in modern day life we need to rest down and let in.

Practice with Kate @ Sydney’s House of Yoga Redfern one special Wednesday a month.

Follow Kate’s wisdom on Facebook or  Twitter or send her a note saying Aloha to kate.southward@gmail.com 

Yogapreneurship. How To Make A Living Doing What You Love

Ah, yoga teaching. The path of poverty and virtue, right? Not necessarily.

Yoga Teacher Training is now big business. For a yoga teacher making $40 per hour after expenses have been deducted, the opportunity to earn upwards of $60 per hour teaching teachers is attractive. For some, it is the culmination of years spent honing their craft and an opportunity to help mold more effective, more skillful teachers to lift the standard of the industry. For others, motivation is more pragmatic – to increase personal and studio income, and to create a body of teachers to hire in their studio, teachers who have been training in the method and to the standard that the studio owners desire.

Teacher training’s dark underbelly

There’s an underbelly to this. With no less than 14 registered teacher trainer schools in New South Wales, 12 in Victoria and 10 in Queensland – a total of 50 Australia-wide, and countless more without Yoga Australia certification – there’s a surplus of new yoga teachers. New yoga teachers desperate for experience, willing to work for low or no pay, who are drawing away students from existing studios, sometimes the very studios which trained them. In effect, yoga teacher training courses are cannibalising their own business.

In my role in online marketing specialising in yoga and wellbeing businesses, I hear from many experienced teachers who are seeing a serious decrease in their business due to increased competition. This is especially the case in Sydney where, anecdotally, there are more yoga teachers per neighbourhood than anywhere in the world (even Byron!). While this problem, of the young and ambitious usurping the old and experienced, is not new, it is made even more complicated and emotionally draining by the nature of yogic philosophy and ethical precepts.

Yamas and niyamas be damned

The ethical precepts of non-coveting or grasping (aparigraha) and not stealing (asteya) is hard to reconcile with yoga teachers who seek to lure other teacher’s students away, who open in close proximity and undercut prices, and who mimic designs and rip off marketing strategies.

For teachers with sales targets, squeezed profits, and the high expense of inner city studio rents, it can also be challenging cultivating contentment (santosha) and surrender of personal outcomes (ishvarapranidhana).

This is where the practice of yoga and the business of teaching yoga enters murky territory. To be clear, the majority of yoga teachers make a Herculean effort, every day, to live their yoga, including the ethical precepts that yoga is founded upon. Yet business can be tough. Learning to navigate the territory while staying true to yoga can stretch your philosophical and ethical beliefs.

The good news in business

The good news is that ethics and values aren’t just used to ‘green wash’ corporations to make them more appealing to shareholders anymore. Social media and greater access to information, fuelled by the internet, means business is not able to be unethical any longer. Through sites such as Causes, Wikipedia, Wikileaks, and Facebook, they simply cannot get away with it.

The rise of values-driven business

Increasingly, values are at the centre of business. Not only does this make sense for large companies looking to motivate, inspire and compel their employees towards productivity, purpose and satisfaction, but it also gives customers and clients a reason to do business with a company. Sharing the values and story at the centre of their business elevates client interaction from a financial transaction to tribal admiration fuelling word-of-mouth referrals.

For solopreneurs and small businesses such as yoga studios, clarifying your business values and elevating their importance makes good business sense. Going into business for yourself, either as a freelancing yoga teacher or as a studio owner, means doing things on your own terms. Creating your mission statement, manifesto or staff manual with values front-and-centre, reminds you and your employees what your business is all about while differentiating your business from the rest.

Further, the rise of content marketing and social media, means conscientious business people can engage in effective authentic marketing practices, while building up a following. This brings its own set of risks and ethical complications, especially when a teacher’s popularity inflates their ego, when teachers don’t continue to study and to prepare adequately, and when dubious and illegal behavior is tolerated by students’ unquestioning devotion. Donna Farhi’s brilliant book Teaching Yoga addresses these concerns in some depth.

The P Word

Profit is part of business. While yoga may be a calling and a passion, yoga teachers still need money to cover mortgages, car repayments, school fees, insurance and holidays, not to mention the day-to-day. Getting paid, and making profit from business, is what differentiates a yoga enthusiast from a yoga teacher. As Donna Farhi puts it in Teaching Yoga, “In our western culture, recognition of the value of spiritual teaching by the larger society is often missing, so teachers have few means to secure a livelihood unless they ask for financial compensation for their work. Even the practice of giving a donation (dana) can leave many Westerners confused, with some leaving less money for a two-hour discourse than they would pay for a cup of coffee and a muffin.”

Yet yogis frequently come with an extra serving of emotional baggage around money. Western yoga teachers are often in a knot of confusion over money, perhaps stemming from the yamas and niyamas, and certainly influenced by the cultural traditions of India, where Sadhus and Sages are supported by the long practice of dana. On the one hand, they seek to be authentic and to give and share yoga; on the other hand, they may want to have a social life that extends beyond home-cooked meals and being content with no holidays.

I’ve seen and heard it all: from severe aversion to discuss pay, to expenses introduced after work is complete; from unacceptably long periods waiting to be paid, to an inability to write an invoice. I’ve been privy to yoga teachers being pressured to sign contracts that severely limit their opportunities to teach outside a studio (while said studio doesn’t provide enough classes to make a livable wage), and studios that are frequently asked by teachers for more classes and higher remuneration when they are not commanding enough students to their classes to make the exercise viable for the studio. Whether a jobbing teacher or a studio owner, being clear on value and firm on your terms and conditions means you are far less likely to be in a bind.

Measuring value

We frequently measure value in monetary terms. In a free-market economy, price is set by what the market will pay. In this way, a yoga teacher can charge what a student is willing (and able) to pay. Yet most yoga teachers ask too little for their services which, in effect, keeps yoga as an alternative, marginal practice and yoga teachers in a struggling mindset. Students who accuse teachers of not being ‘yogic’ when their terms and conditions are upheld, and studios who undervalue teachers by attempting to reduce payment after the fact indicate that the teacher’s boundaries are not clear enough.

Professionals with clear boundaries between teacher and student, employee and employer, what is acceptable and unacceptable, tend to be clear on financial terms. They ask for remuneration without emotion and their students and employers don’t often take them for granted because they demonstrate that they believe in the value of what they do.

Teachers whose boundaries are weak and who have a complicated or unhealthy relationship with money frequently find themselves questioned and taken advantage of by students and employers. This is not to say that some flexibility can, and should, be accommodated in extraneous circumstances. However, when you are clear that you are a professional who has invested in their development and, hopefully, continues to invest in study and qualifications, you expect fair remuneration or exchange of value. Someone accusing another of being ‘unyogic’ in relation to pay merely indicates that they have their own issues and baggage around money.

How to earn a decent income

Studios can strengthen their earnings and improve their cash flow by structuring classes around courses, which require up-front payment by students. The casual, drop-in class does not benefit the student. It encourages students not to commit, to keep their practice sporadic, and to value convenience over quality. The up-front course structure encourages regular practice and commitment to improve, while valuing the modality and the teacher. Terms and conditions also need to be thoroughly worked over, written down and promoted to students. When terms and conditions are clear, students are far less likely to negotiate for payment terms that are unfair to the studio.

Freelancing yoga teachers can improve their earnings by continuing to invest time and money in their training, by cultivating leads and retaining interest from students through social media, email marketing and blogging, and by promoting the studios that they work in through these means.

Studios and jobbing teachers also need to create other products that they can sell for higher fees. This includes retreats, workshops, DVDs, e-courses, books and, yes, even teacher training. Creating products such as books, DVDs and e-courses means that time is no longer linked to pay. The teacher may take time off from work while continuing to earn a living. Products enable teachings to reach a far wider audience while giving existing students an opportunity to delve deeper into yoga.

Oftentimes, we lose students because our offerings are limited. The client has been with you a while, they figure they’ve learnt all they can they get distracted by the latest bright and shiny new toy, and they up and leave. Having premium products, such as a yearly retreat at an international resort, or an in-depth workshop with accompanying materials, delivered over several weekends, allows students to dive deeper and have their inspiration and motivation reignited while the teacher supplements their regular income with additional profits.

Staying sane when marketing

In the social media and online marketing training I run, teachers ask whether yoga and effective social media marketing is compatible. They can bring up seemingly contradictory behaviours. The online arena can amplify social anxieties – Facebook is a show reel of highlights from other people’s lives. The yoga teacher gets on Facebook, quotes a sage or shares his or her own wisdom to an audience which is transient and insatiable for entertainment, rather than depth. Teachers frequently misunderstand the purpose of social media networks, sharing information that is better suited to be consumed at leisure on a website or downloaded. It can also be a schizophrenic existence constantly being on the lookout online for information that is relevant to share with your network or use as a basis for your own blogs or articles.

Social media and blogging also work because it is personal. Yet many professionals fail to negotiate the fine line between enough and too much personal information –  not enough makes blogs dry and one-dimensional, too much breaks down the teacher’s authority and credibility. Discretion between too much and not enough is required, but it’s not something easily learnt. Luckily, the archetype of the likeable teacher is hugely effective on social media and blogging – the teacher has knowledge and expertise which is highly respected, but is also friendly and approachable. Teachers who excel in the first but fail at friendliness and approachability (which means they answer and respond to comments!) rarely succeed through blogging or social media marketing.

The act of reaching out for new leads and new students through marketing can feel like grasping. Authentic, modern marketing revolves around creating valuable content and giving it away in order for leads to be attracted to you. However, outreach is necessary – you still need to approach strangers, ask for favours, and talk about your strengths. Yet this is good practice for developing genuine confidence, seeing the humanity in strangers and the divinity in yourself. Teachers do well in business when they are confident in the value they offer, sure of their talents and able to articulate these – not by preaching but through the modern art of the ‘humble brag’.

There’s a world of difference between being confident and knowing your strengths and believing your own hype while cultivating slavish devotion in your students. The yoga teacher does well in business by focusing on karma yoga which teaches us to invest all our effort into work while remaining unattached to the outcome. As Khalil Gibran in The Prophet writes: “You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth”. While our business outcomes gives valuable insight into what is working and what needs improvement, the key is removing the emotional investment. We expend our efforts and our emotions into guiding our students along the path of yoga, while surrendering the outcome to God.

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About this yogi…

Brook enables health and wellbeing professionals to lift their game, define their
 deeper purpose and take on the world with authentic marketing and compelling communications. She believes that the more wellbeing practitioners can thrive in business, the more lives will be reached and the more people will benefit.

As a yoga teacher, she’s over seeing yoga and other modalities languish in the sidelines because practitioners treat business like a hobby, burn out too quickly, feel guilty and shamed by money, or miss the connection between passion and profit. Yoga Reach runs face-to-face and digital courses for health and wellbeing trainees and professionals, as well as audacious rabble-rousers. Download Brook’s free E-Book on Authentic Marketing for Yoga Teachers.

You Don’t Do Life By Yourself. You Do It With Other People.

This weekend I experienced something that teachers have been telling me since I did my teachers course – ‘you don’t really learn something until you have to teach it’.

Each week when I sit down to write this blog I think to myself what is that I’d like to share? What is it of relevance that I’ve experienced or observed that I think might reach people? Even if it’s just one person. I know how much I deeply appreciate reading someone else’s thoughts and perspectives and thinking, ‘yes, that makes perfect sense’. I feel connected to the writer and best yet I feel better after reading it. It is my intention to connect in the same way.

In Kinesiology there is a particular balance called Reactivity. Effectively we identify how one part of your being – muscles, meridians, your biochemicals are throwing you off kilter due to a reaction with another part of your being. Energetically our systems react to life by either flowing or blocking. As a result we then experience it in our physical body. We are energy, plain and simply this is what we are. When we experience pain in the body we are experiencing what we call ‘over energy’ in the body. Relieve this over energy and we relieve the pain – physical, emotional, spiritual.

Essentially we are reactive beings. We react to everything. It governs our existence. We see someone, we react. We go somewhere, we react. We read something, we react. Ultimately if you are able to control your reaction, you are able to instead respond. When we respond we get the opportunity to detach emotionally, and instead of feeling threaten and contracted we can respond how we choose to. As I said we react to everything. People, food, our environment, our hormones, our chakras, our thoughts, our emotions, our cells. It’s huge when you think about it.

Kinesiology found me when I was highly reactive. I was in a state of panic, anxiety, fear. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t relax, I was charged, highly charged. I had made certain decisions in my late teens, early 20’s and behaved in certain ways that resulted in a falling out with a girl from highschool. It’ was highschool stuff, it happens. But the guilt of how I behaved haunted me for years.

As I said, kinesiology found me and as a result I was able to accept and forgive – myself. Thoughts that plagued me for years were relieved. I stopped reacting to myself, to the past, to anxiety of the future. It was freedom. My body relaxed, I started sleeping properly, I started thinking clearly, I stopped berating myself. I could finally take responsibility for myself and move on to the next lesson life would present me with.

A huge part of being on this self love train is that you have to discover, admit and love your shadow self stuff. You have to own ALL of you. Acceptance is letting go.

If what I am saying is that we react to everything, then it’s possible that we react to our shadow self as well. If we can learn to instead respond we are able to make friends with our shadow qualities. Which means we live harmoniously rather than against ourselves.

Would you believe as well, that on the day reactivity was taught I ran into the girl I speak of above. It was pleasant. She wasn’t thrilled to see me, in fact she tried to ignore me, but I said ‘hi’. Not because I wanted to make her feel uncomfortable, not because I was being the bigger person, but because I am no longer reactionary to her or what happened.

 The universe is constantly talking to us.

How nice.

My teacher said when explaining this balance, that you don’t do life by yourself. We do life with other people. If this is true, and I believe it is, then having a tool to be able to consciously flow with life as opposed to resisting and contracting against it is such a treat.

You’ve probably gathered by now that kinesiology rocks my world. It is freedom and love and magic. It makes tangible, stuff that appears intangible.

I’ve had this technique come up loads before with clients. Loads. But this weekend, I really understood the magnitude of the freedom it offers.

If you want to be free from something you’re reacting to – I have the answers. Let me rephrase that, YOU have the answers, I however can assist with how to tap into them for you. If you’re interested in receiving the love and some magic give me a call. You won’t regret it.

Photos thanks to http://pinterest.com/clarey22/

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About this Yogi…

Clare Woodward is a transformational life coach and Kinesiologist based in Sydney, Australia. Clare empowers her clients to become everything they dream of.  On EVERY level.  Emotionally, mentally and physically. Perhaps the most loveliest girl in Sydney, we @ Yogi’s Basket conspire Clare is probably a real life Angel or secret genius or both.

Follow Clare’s wisdom on Facebook  or Twitter or send her a note saying ‘heeyyy’ @ Clare@woodwardinstitute.com.au

Yoga… Seniors Way To Be Fit?

Recently, American researcher Dr. Neela K. Patel[i] found that yoga may be the best all-around exercise for seniors. Why? Yoga is not just asanas (poses) but a multi-faceted experience that can improve muscle strength and joint range for each individual regardless of fitness level. Yoga provides even more benefits: it improves balance, decreases stress, and increases breathing capacity. Meditation provides tangible benefits for older individuals as it decreases their sense of loneliness and loss and the sangha (a yoga community) can supply social experiences for isolated seniors.

According to the National Institute on Aging, physical exercise for seniors should work on improving performance in four areas: strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. Healthy seniors will experience a decreased ability to concentrate, hear, and see, as a normal consequence of ageing. Muscles often start to rapidly deteriorate after age 70, which can lead to difficulties with walking, lifting, and other daily activities. A seniors’ yoga class can emphasize asanas to open joints to increase range of motion, build strength to maintain independent living, and improve balance to prevent falls.  Yoga’s flexibility in approach can individualise each person’s yoga experience so that even the oldest and most frail can obtain benefits.

In addition to the asanas, pranayama (breathing) and meditation are excellent ways to help with the physical and mental issues that can occur due to retirement; death of partners, family, or friends; medical conditions; and the normal processes of aging. According to Dr. Patel, even the eldest and most frail seniors can benefit from breathing. By teaching students to identify and then use all of their breathing muscles in a full yogic breath increases the oxygen available to the body potentially increasing mental awareness and physical ability. Breathing exercises gives students a tool to manage aspects of their life, an important benefit as people age.

Meditation has proven benefits also. Dr. Steven Cole[ii] of the University of California at Los Angeles recently reported benefits of an 8 week mindfulness meditation (MBSR) program to research the benefits of meditation on people over 60.  In addition to decreasing self-reported feelings of loss and loneliness, the meditation course resulted in changing the genes and protein markers of inflammation decreasing the possibility of suffering from heart disease. “Our work presents the first evidence showing that a psychological intervention that decreases loneliness also reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression,” Cole said. “If this is borne out by further research, MBSR could be a valuable tool to improve the quality of life for many elderly.”

I teach yoga to seniors and students ranging in age from 50 to 90 years of age. Some students are experiencing yoga for the first time, while others have participated in yoga for over 40 years. Most seniors, especially ones new to yoga, are surprised by the positive changes that yoga asanas create in an aging body, as well as how pranayama and meditation improves their mental state.

Different age groups have different needs; students under 70 appreciate the relaxation/meditation portion of the course in addition to the benefits of asanas. Seniors aged over 70 years may be more isolated and have fewer daily contacts, so yoga is a social event as well as a yoga class.  In my chair class, students and I meet to have a cup of tea after each class and have wide ranging discussions. Creating a community is a natural outgrowth of yoga precepts.

In addition to different needs associated with different age groups, medical issues that can affect participation in a yoga class are more prevalent in senior classes. Yoga is an excellent tool for helping individuals cope with chronic conditions for which the medical community has few choices other than drugs. Low bone mass (osteoporosis) and osteoarthritis are examples of chronic conditions that can be helped by yoga.

Many seniors are skeptical of the medications prescribed for their conditions, as some medications can have quite severe side effects. Yoga gives students a method to take some control over a condition that they will deal with for the rest of their lives.  A yoga class can, in addition to the normal poses: provide information about their condition; an emphasis on body awareness; and an opportunity to participate in a community of people with similar issues and experiences.  The meditation portion of the class can also help them cope with these issues.

Yoga encourages students to be truly aware of how their body feels at each moment. Participating in yoga can counteract many of the effects of aging and according to the newest research may actually decrease your odds of suffering from heart disease or other diseases caused by chronic inflammation.  Students learn to pay close attention to what their body can do and, more importantly, what their body can learn to do. This is a very positive outcome for a senior since they experience daily the decreasing ability of the body to function due to the aging process.  Yoga may very well be the perfect experience for seniors.

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About this Yogi… 

Hailing from Armidale, QLD Australia, Stephanie Cunningham is the Director of Yoga Lightness a business specialising in the whole system of yoga for Seniors.  An expert in the field, she believes yoga is the key to maintaining good health and low stress levels in the ageing population.

Follow Stephanie’s wisdom on Facebook or her Website or call her up for a chin wag on 0448 091 756

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