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It’s 10 years since I wrote “Nine Months in a Yoga Bubble” for Australian Yoga Life – the story of my transition from corporate life in Sydney to the beaches of Byron Bay to study yoga. Back then, I had no idea how rewarding and challenging that decision would prove to be. Maybe ignorance serves a greater purpose sometimes. The more time I spent on my mat over the years, the more compelled I felt to serve others, and doors leading to a life filled with purpose and passion started to open. I was a woman on a quest for a life more meaningful. I still am. This is my story. More than 1,200 hours of study and practice during my 2002 yoga course transformed me physically and emotionally. After graduating, I returned to Sydney, moved into a small apartment and set about completing a small business course and starting my own yoga teaching and personal training business. However, nine months of intensive yoga had made my body and mind extremely sensitive. I tried to adapt to the working week without a 9-to-5 structure or regular pay cheque, but soon felt overwhelmed by the job ahead. My life was out of balance, and within six months, my regular yoga and meditation practice had slipped away. The friends with whom I had forged a deep connection during the teaching course had returned overseas and I missed them dearly. Within eight months I felt completely lost, and fatigue began to haunt my days. By Christmas 2003, I left Sydney for the Sunshine Coast to rest and be closer to my family. One morning I woke up with the urge to go to Ireland – for no other reason than a love of the Irish sense of humour. With Europe in the throes of winter, this clearly wasn’t a rational move – but logic rarely comes into the equation when you’re feeling so low. I spent my first few nights in a backpacker hostel searching for better accommodation, the right studio to reignite my practice and somebody to make me laugh. I was looking for work online when a teaching position on a yoga retreat in Italy caught my attention. At that time the warmth of Italy seemed far more appealing than the long Irish winter ahead of me, so I applied for the job. Two months later, I found myself in the medieval village of Casperia, nestled in the Sabine hills 50 km north-east of Rome. Only a thousand souls slept in this incredible place – and suddenly I was one of them. I remember my first night vividly, sitting on the balcony of what was to be my home for the next five months. Migrating swallows bound for Africa filled the skies, and for hours I would lie on my balcony watching the clouds create masterpieces on a pale blue canvas. As night fell, the sound of distant cow bells ringing, dogs barking or the village choir singing would send me to sleep. I was practicing and teaching

every morning in a beautifully converted horse stable, bathed in light from the reflection of intricately stained glass windows. It felt more like a sacred ceremony than a yoga practice. I cherished the time spent with my students and began to understand the power of yoga and what a privilege it is to teach. What’s more, I had no access to English media and loved the simplicity of life in Italy. A gift given to me when I needed it the most, Casperia healed my soul and opened my heart. My confidence was back and I had a fresh perspective on life. I could easily have stayed in Italy, but my contract was up and I was ready to return to Australia to pursue my dream of opening a yoga spa. I moved to the Sunshine Coast, and after eight months of yoga teaching, I sat my first Vipassana meditation course. I had always been fascinated by the mechanics of the mind, so learning through direct experience about the causes of human suffering and the path to contentment was a real awakening. I relished the silence, and learned more about myself in those 10 days than I had in my whole life by simply observing my breath and maintaining a sense of equilibrium as I experienced different physical sensations. Alongside intense physical pain, I felt moments of absolute peace and contentment. I began to appreciate the vast potential of my mind and what it’s like to feel pure joy. Nightly discourses based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha resonated with me on every level, and by the end of the course I felt like I could tackle anything life threw at me. I decided to travel to India. I arrived in Bangalore and boarded a local bus bound for the Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore. It was during our first toilet stop that I became acutely aware of how tough low-budget travel in India was going to be. However, I was determined to enjoy every minute, and chose to put things that would normally repulse, frustrate or upset me down to being part of the ‘India experience’. I immersed myself in practicing and studying yoga, feeling privileged to experience the teachings of yoga masters who had so profoundly influenced my journey thus far. After a month at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, I nervously flew to the holy city of Varanasi amidst recent reports of terrorist bombings. A chain of serendipitous events just before leaving Varanasi led to my enrolment in a Postgraduate Diploma in Indian Philosophy and Religion, and a Diploma in Yoga, at the world renowned Banaras Hindu University. I loved my life as a student in India. The only Westerner in a class of Buddhist monks, I practiced for hours on my rooftop as the sun rose, lost myself in countless books and became fascinated by seeing what I had learned in class play out in daily life. I was welcomed into the home

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HERD MATTERS | VOLUME 1 | EDITION 001  

THE MAGAZINE TO INSPIRE TAKING ACTION IN YOUR LIFE FOR SELF AND HERD BECAUSE HERD MATTERS

HERD MATTERS | VOLUME 1 | EDITION 001  

THE MAGAZINE TO INSPIRE TAKING ACTION IN YOUR LIFE FOR SELF AND HERD BECAUSE HERD MATTERS

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