I came to yoga later in life ~ and it saved my life.
It was 2004, when I moved from Australia with my husband Chris to Great Barrier Island (Te Motu o Aotea) in New Zealand (Aotearoa), and I decided to take a yoga class. I am grateful that my introduction was with Linda Power, who is an Iyengar-trained yoga teacher. Her love of yoga was infectious.
In the next 8 years Chris and I attended Linda's classes, we developed a home practice and attended yoga retreats in Australia and Bali it was the only way I could get Chris to leave our island paradise! I loved how my practice made me feel, my body was getting stronger and more flexible and I noticed the nurturing sense of quiet I felt every time I came to my mat. Yoga books, magazines and DVDs were purchased ... questioning and curiosity was stirring. I was becoming curious about the deeper heart and meaning of yoga.
In 2012 my life changed forever ~ I lost my husband ~ Yoga became my lifeline.
November 2014 was another turning point .. I travelled to Sri Lanka to undertake Level 1 Teacher Training with Yoga Arts. The experience was transformational and awakening. Louisa Sear surrounds herself with beautiful teachers, who like her, are living yoga. Louisa, Lucy Roberts and Rose Baudin were opening my eyes to a deeper level of yoga and the possibility of sharing this with others.
Back on Aotea, I taught a number of classes for my teacher Linda, before making another momentous decision to start teaching my own classes as Ebb and Flow Yoga. All my classes are designed to bring balance and nourishment on all levels ~ physically (in the body), mentally (in the mind) and emotionally (in the heart).
My own practice now reflects the need to slow down and connect with the breath, to nurture the body, mind and soul; to feel peaceful and calm; to be still; to find contentment in every moment.
Most of us come to yoga to improve our physical appearance, build strength, increase flexibility or address a pain we are battling with somewhere in our body. Usually there is one friend who keeps telling us about the virtues and benefits that she is experiencing from yoga, so isn’t it about time we gave it a go?
It usually doesn’t take long for us to begin feeling changes happening in our body, they may only be minor, but they are enough to keep bringing us back to our practice.
Sometimes we may even sense a new feeling of calm and peace for a few moments while we hold a pose or briefly while lying down at the end of class, during savasana. Often this is a fleeting sensation which takes us by surprise, for a moment that little voice is silent. It’s enough…we want to experience that silence again. We have begun to feel yoga at a deeper level.
Yoga teaches us many lessons – what we experience on the mat is carried with us through our day. We connect with our breath as we move into, out of and hold poses. Making that connection with our breath off the mat, teaches us to calmly deal with situations where previously we may have over-reacted and spoken words we wish we could take back. Knowing we can hold a pose while we feel a level of discomfort, teaches us to be comfortable with discomfort. We also learn to be content in moments of unease. Our yoga mat is a great place to begin to feel compassion and love for ourselves, accepting and honoring our limitations at any given moment, while embracing new achievements, perhaps feeling more space in our body or our heart centre.
Yoga shines bright light on our darkness.
Gratitude and love to my teachers, their teachers and the wisdom teachings.
About Great Barrier Island ( Te Motu o Aotea )
The remoteness of this little-known island is one of its main attractions, along with the beautiful naturally, regenerating bush, the often times deserted wild surf beaches and moody deep anchorage bays. Te Motu o Aotea is the Maori name for Great Barrier Island – and known as Aotea, translating to mean ‘white cloud’. Captain Cook gave the island its English name in 1769, noting it provided a natural barrier to the Hauraki Gulf, from the swells that come in from the Pacific Ocean. The island is approximately 90 kilometres north-east of Auckland and is the largest island off the North Island coast.
Due to its isolation, ‘the Barrier’, as it is also commonly referred to by many, is relatively pest free, allowing for a healthy eco-system and bird-life in comparison with other areas on the ‘main islands’. The Kaitoke wetland is ranked as a site of special significance, and after an easy 40 minute walk along the edge of the wetland, a creek with natural hot springs is revealed. Our bays are visited regularly by resident pods of dolphins, stingrays, penguins and transient orcas. The island is made up of many types – there are many colourful, eccentric individuals, old-time hippies, young families wanting to raise their children in a supportive, grassroots environment, a population made up of many nationalities (how do people find their way here? – I love to hear their stories!), and people wanting to be far from the madding crowd (I think that is where I fit in!).
Life on the Barrier can be challenging. There is no reticulated power, water or sewerage – power is provided by solar power, wind generation and back up fuelled generators; water is collected off roofs or pumped from streams and sewerage is…well we have no large-scale sewerage treatment plants. We all live connected to the seasons and moon cycles….growing our own food, catching our seafood and wild food. We do have shops, cafes, clubs and restaurants. Even mobile phone service has improved recently….but is not available island-wide, so expect to be off-line for some of your visit….mmmm are you up for the challenge?!
Access to the island is by air or sea. There are two airlines (Barrier Air / Fly My Sky) flying from Auckland Airport with flights taking about 30 minutes – although sometimes longer when the pilot diverts the flight to follow pods of whales and dolphins! Other entry points are from Whitianga (Coromandel Peninsula) and Tauranga (Bay of Plenty) with Sunair. Another option, flying from Auckland, is to depart from Ardmore Airport, south of the city, with Sunair. For a slower trip to the island you can arrive by water. SeaLink provides a car and passenger ferry service which leaves from downtown Auckland, taking about 4 ½ hours. That’s one way to get up close to a dolphin experience if you’re lucky!
When I first came to Aotea on a tramping (kiwi for hiking) holiday I asked Debbie, the local travel advisor, what the island was like – the reply was “the island is like New Zealand was 20 years ago”. Ohhh, I’m about to enter a time warp! That was exactly what it was like. It has changed 13 years on, but it is still a unique place with a wonderful, warm and welcoming community.
Have you been thinking something has to change? Not sure what to do, where to turn, but you know….something has to change. Come and join me for an inspirational yoga experience and the opportunity to connect with the spirituality of this magical island.