Fortunately for me, my yoga journey began 18 years ago when Lululemon and trendy yoga studios were not the norm. It was a place where egos were out and comfy tracksuits were in! A place where compassionate (usually older) yogies nurtured us through a gentle practice that allowed us to decompress our busy minds and tightly wound bodies into a state of greater ease.
Today, despite a raft of trendy studios and clothing options, yoga continues to represent that safe place of reconnection to self and disconnection from the pressures of the outside world.
My journey in yoga started when I found myself at a particularly stressful time in my life as a single mum, a new business to run and an anxious mind. A combination of weekly Hatha yoga classes at the local community hall and hiring DVDs from the local library were my first forays into understanding the importance of subtle movement with breath to create greater wellbeing. It provided me with a calmness that I didn’t experience from any other exercise or activity.
When my young daughters insisted on getting up at 5am each day, I stopped begrudging them and took to my yoga mat and a daily sequence that set my mind and body for the day ahead. My girls also had mats and were invited to join in or play nearby, and both knew this was ‘mummy’s time’ which they respected very early on, thankfully.
As the years went on, and our business grew, we engaged a yoga teacher to instruct our small team of eight women each week at a nearby park. As an employer I appreciated the benefits yoga gave our young staff in gaining greater clarity, self-awareness, calmness and compassion. It was worth every cent and we continued the classes for nearly 10 years!
When time and money afforded it, I went on to study and am now a qualified yoga teacher which I combine with a reduced work life for greater balance.
Each week I gift a yoga class in Manly (Northern Beaches Community Centre) in gratitude for all the lessons and insights yoga has given me and in the hope that others, too, might find their inner peace though yoga.
Yoga’s – life lessons for me
Leave your ego at the door – yoga is an inward journey for you and not something you do to externally please or impress others.
Meet your body where it’s at – if you are low on energy – respect that and go easy during the practice. There is no need to do every sun salutation or plank if your body is yearning for a restorative child’s pose.
Breath – it is life force and we need it to survive. Respect the power of breath and focus on it during practice to allow you to be more present in your practice.
Yoga = compassion to me. It represents compassion for yourself, for others you know and all humankind.
Note for Newbies:
Yoga classes vary – try a few teachers, styles of yoga (Hatha, Vinyasa Flow, Yin etc) and visit various studios to find the right class/es and teachers that suit you and your body’s needs.
Home yoga practice – if getting to a class is difficult, or not in the budget, consider the myriad of free options online that you can practice at home. However, it may help you to better understand the specifics of each pose by combining this with a few classes in a community centre or studio.
If new? – bring your mat closer to the teacher. This will enable you to view the posture more clearly and understand verbal cues for alignment – ensuring a safer practice.
Free or discounted classes – keep any eye out for classes that are free or reduced pricing in your area. Some studios also offer a special for newcomers e.g. $25 for 5 classes within a limited time frame, or a free community class each week – check out options in your area.
Equipment – all you need for yoga is a mat for home practice, and many studios offer mats for free or gold coin donation. You should wear loose fitting clothing (leggings/t-shirt) and no shoes during class. Initially keep the investment low and add props such as blocks, bolsters, straps etc if needed, or consider items in the home that could substitute for these.
Diet tip – for a happier tummy, I recommend not eating for at least an hour before a physical practice if possible.
Manly based business owner, accredited Yoga instructor and former single mum, Simone Larmer is passionate when it comes to empowering children at a young age to be responsible, confident and caring. Her experience of being a single mum with two young children to later remarrying and expanding to an instant family of seven, has given her a raft of experiences, and challenges! She shares some of the lessons she’s learnt along the way in the hope that they may be useful for other parents. In addition to raising her family and running a small PR business, Simone also provides free weekly community yoga classes in Manly, enabling local residents with access to yoga and insights into living a more compassionate and empowered life.