My last working day at my corporate job was February 12th 2016. When I made the decision to pursue self-employment, my vision was nothing more than teaching yoga classes and making enough money to ensure that I could feed my son, and occasionally myself. I knew that my environment was toxic and my wellbeing was more important. I also knew that embarking on your own statistically takes 5 years to become successful. In other words, I should not plan on anything more than breaking even and hopefully not eroding all of my savings. I made a conscious decision to ignore the five year statistic since I realistically couldn’t survive for more than three years.
For the first time in my life, ambition went out the window. I thought no further than the following month when I finalized what classes I was teaching. Despite that, my level of gratitude increased. I became more aware of my blessings which didn’t require finances or accumulation of materialistic wealth. And without expectations, I saw opportunities arise that I had never intended.
One year after leaving my job, I started to homeschool my son. Me who lacks any semblance of patience, who felt like pulling my hair out just from doing homework with him, decided to discard the few remaining marbles that I had and prove I was certifiably insane. Fifteen months later, we’re both still alive *bonus points* Has it been without struggles? Of course not! But has it been worth it? Most definitely. I have seen firsthand the changes in his emotional responses and his anxiety. In the past, I was always vocal about the negatives of our school system… the unnecessary pressures coupled with approaches that have been scientifically debunked as beneficial. Now I speak from experience.
While I continued to take yoga one month at a time, I saw huge improvements in our autism advocacy group. I saw our reach expanding almost daily. Our vision has always centered around empowering parents. We believe that parents are the best advocates for their children because who knows your child better than you? And as we have been able to reach more parents, we have also been able to educate a larger portion of the community. How else can you create greater awareness and acceptance if not without the support of those around you?
And then one night around midnight, I decided to start a blog. It seemed like a good idea at the time and five months later, I have over 1000 views and 700 visitors. But bigger than that was the opportunity to have two published articles through The Mighty.
The biggest success has been the growth of my yoga classes. My yoga mama said to me last week “you’re growing a business. What’s your future plans? What’s your vision?” And my initial response was “What business? No I’m not. I’m simply teaching yoga classes”. I also thought “this is adulting again! Somebody save me!” But after the initial shock, I realized the legitimacy of her statements. Without even trying, I went from a single regular client and two inconsistent ones to six regulars and additional jobs emerging daily.
Did I write this as a boastful chronicle of my successes? Nope. It’s a truthful but abbreviated narrative of the last two years. March 2018 was the first month that I felt financially secure in my decision to give up an established career of over fifteen years and two degrees that took me seven years to complete. This is an account of how my life changed when I stripped away all the non-essentials and found gratitude in less… when I changed my perspective from planning the next ten years of my life to instead a recognition of living and appreciating the moment.
My present list of achievements includes…
- Super Mommy (where is the flying cape emoji when you need it?)
- Yoga Lady 😉🕉
- Homeschooling Extraordinaire 🤓
- Autism Advocate 💙
- Social Media Butterfly with a Purpose📱
- Blogger 💻
- Writer 📝
We are guaranteed this moment and nothing more. Make sure you make the most of it 😉
In 2012, I was officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety. Truthfully, this was something I had always battled with, but getting it on paper meant confronting the demons. I finally understood that this wasn’t a bad day or week. This was something that I needed to accept was going to be present, probably for the rest of my life. I fought the perceived stigma of taking anti-depressants for years until I realized that if I didn’t, my suicidal ideation would eventually become a reality and my son would wake up one morning without a mother. I took 3 different tablets before I found the one that worked for me.
In the following months, I was forced into a great deal of introspection and slowly, the realization hit that I was not getting as much joy from my work, as I had in the past. I started wondering if my state of mind was boredom and stagnancy… maybe 12 years with one company had made me lose my drive for more. The undeniable fact sank in that I didn’t want to be in the corporate world anymore. But what do you do when all of your education has prepared you for the path that you no longer want to follow?
Some people may think that maybe I chose the wrong path. But I always loved sciences and still do. I pursued my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry and then followed with my Master of Science degree in Food Science and Technology. Those choices always felt right and allowed me a very comfortable career. Why then did I suddenly feel as though I had made the wrong decision? And was it possible to fix at this stage of my life?
I restarted practising yoga with no other intention than relaxation and after a few months, my yoga teacher offered her first training program… a 500 hour Yoga Alliance certified program. Some aspects were opened to the public as individual sessions and I signed up for all. Those sessions dealt a lot with yoga philosophy and really understanding the roots of where yoga came from. As soon as I attended, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to do this training.
I started planning for 2014. Being a single mother with a recently diagnosed autistic son didn’t make matters easy. However, planning a year in advance was a huge advantage. Godparents were called on for babysitting duties and support as I embarked on yoga teacher training in 2014.
On the 2nd day of training, I told my yoga teacher that I wanted to do this full time. As much as she wanted to, I’m not sure she believed me. But all of the ambiguity in my life suddenly made sense. Turning my back on 14 years of building my career to become a yoga teacher, with an unreliable income, having to hunt for work made sense. And if you don’t know me… I’m a Type A personality, very OCD, Virgo, who plans my life to a T. Yet casting everything to the wind somehow made me feel more confident and secure than I had in years.
I spent the next two years fine-tuning my skills and building my financial safety net. On February 12th 2016, I officially left the corporate world and adopted the new job title of yoga instructor.
Fast forward two years… no regrets but sometimes worrying moments. Finances are tighter than when I had the luxury of a consistent, unvarying pay cheque, but so far I’ve been comfortable and blessed. The one lesson I’ve learnt is that you cannot put a price on peace of mind. I’ve now made peace with myself that my depression and anxiety are not something I can snap out of. They are as a result of a chemical imbalance and I will likely be on medication for the rest of my life. But I’m ok with that. And being in a profession that allows my mental strength to develop is always a benefit. Having a profession that allows me to be connected with a passion that I never imagined possible brings me a greater level of positivity and joy which never previously existed in my life.
Yoga is an experience that will transform your thinking, your views on life and the world. Working hard for something that you love is called passion and I have found my passion in yoga.
Yesterday I completed my very first yoga challenge… you know those ones where you practice every day for a month and post a pic every day 😣😮 Yup, that kinda yoga challenge! And I did it! Now this isn’t the first time I’ve tried something like this. But it’s definitely the first time that I truly committed 110% and for that reason, I achieved a much higher degree of success than in the past. I’m usually the person who always over-commits to everything… so why was this such a stumbling block when I attempted it in the past? Because often the emotional struggles are the ones which threaten to defeat us more than the physical.
Day #1 – Padmasana or Lotus Pose
My self-esteem has always, and continues to test me. The image in the mirror doesn’t always reflect as I think it should… so the first few days of the challenge, I literally took 2-3 dozen pics each day to find the perfect one to post. Either the lighting looked weird or there was a shadow falling on my face or it wasn’t centred or I knew I could go deeper into the pose.. to the more critical issues of my alignment being a bit off or the pic giving a wrong impression of what the pose should be about.
That obsession bothered me internally and by day #4, I knew that it was something I needed to address. The practice of ahimsa or non-harming as one of the yamas (moral restraints) of yoga is an integral part of one of the eight limbs of yoga. Very often, we forget that non-harming doesn’t only apply to those beings around us, but also to ourselves. And if our words and our thoughts to ourselves are those that criticise and undermine our efforts, then we are causing emotional harm to our inner being. I then promised myself that the first step in breaking this pattern would be to take no more than three pictures each day and accept that whatever those pictures captured, would be where my journey was on that day.
Day #11 – Viparita Virabhadrasana or Reverse Warrior
Did I love my pics everyday? Often no… and it required huge amounts of positive self-talk in order to persevere and continue. However, by limiting myself to only three pics, I was able to let go of the expectation of something perfect and instead, truly focus on a positive practice. The pic became a bonus, if it happened. And by day #19, I realized that I was genuinely enjoying the experience.
Day #19 – Matsyasana or Fish Pose
I would love to say that since becoming a yoga instructor, that I practice religiously every single day, but it would be a lie. This was the first time in my life that I did practice daily. Sometimes it was a hot, sweaty, super intense practice. Sometimes it was no longer than ten minutes of easy, gentle stretching. And a few times, it was awesome fun with my favorite #hunnybunny as we played with different poses.
Day #25 – Forearm Plank or Dolphin Plank
Feel free to check the social media links for my yoga journey… Breathe In Yoga:
As a child I always sat in lotus, not just crossed legs… full lotus. There wasn’t anything yogic about it at the time… I just liked to sit like that. As I entered my teens, it started becoming uncomfortable and by my early 20s was no longer possible. Every few months, I would revisit but it was completely inaccessible to me and eventually I gave up trying and considered it lost to my childhood. In 2012, when I started on my journey of rebirth, I was forced to face demons that I had buried within me and that was when I discovered the connection between my physical body and the manifestation of my locked emotions. The realisation that the tightening of my hips started at the same time as my eating disorders, the continuation of tightening corresponding to other physical and emotional traumas that I experienced in my life. About 3 years ago, I attempted lotus again and even though, I felt that I had made significant progress towards facing my demons and my physical body felt more open, I was still dealing with an incredible level of daily stress and the pose continued to elude me.
I started teaching yoga full time almost 2 years ago and the benefits to my well-being, my peace of mind and my emotional state have been mind-blowing. So imagine my shock when I attempt lotus and it happened… I wasn’t expecting it, had let go of the attachment to achieving it, and it happened. I literally sat there thinking “this can’t be lotus… how did this happen??” I may not be able to do a handstand, my poses may sometimes be awkward and wobbly, I may often prefer child’s pose… but my emotional state has made a breakthrough and from that, only beauty and inspiration can emerge 💞
Feel free to check the social media links for Breathe In Yoga for updates in my yoga life
I shared my thoughts earlier on introspection and how this might help you to determine some of your goals for 2018. In my final blog post for 2017, I share some of my greatest accomplishments of this year. Several of these were goals that I attempted in previous years but finally happened in 2017.
It’s always a work in progress. Many of these goals will continue and here’s my vision board for 2018. Be sure to stay tuned for updates on these goals… and maybe some added ones as I continue to reflect on my joys, challenges and experiences in 2017.
If someone asked you at this moment “are you a hateful person?”, what would your answer be? I’m thinking that most of us would state emphatically NO. But does a lack of hate necessarily make us loving?
Most of us believe wholeheartedly that our lives embody love… but is this really true? We don’t hate, but do we truly encompass love for all beings and our self? And are our actions truly reflective of our lives and our beliefs? Most of us have probably been confused about love at some time in our life… questioning if the emotion that is invoked in us is love and wondering about the many different types of love – romantic, spiritual, unconditional, self, devotional and the list goes on… Maybe our confusion stems from a lack of understanding. An unwillingness to move from beyond the confines of our mind and step into another’s figurative shoes.
If you are standing in line waiting to cash your groceries and someone asked you for $5 because they were short, would you give it to them? I’m sure most of you would say “sure, no big deal”. Would your answer change if you glanced in their shopping basket and saw two beers among their groceries? Be honest… now it becomes a question of “Why is she buying beers? Why doesn’t he have his priorities in check?” But why should your answer vary depending on the result? If we are being truly loving, do we need to know the use of the $5, or can we give with love, without judgement. My personal view is to give, to share, to love without attachment.
Similar to yoga, I believe that love is a form of sadhana… that daily practice requiring your utmost devotion and effort. Integrating constant and consistent actions and attitudes, which remove the mean, the criticism, the judgement from our lives; and replace them with kindness, gratitude, praise and offering the best that you can be to yourself and others. And if our only demonstration of love is an absence of hate, then maybe we need to check ourselves.