An Interview with a Nurse and Yoga Teacher Expat Living in Australia

When you move to a new home (whether it be a new country, city, zip code, neighborhood, yoga studio, fill-in-the-blank), establishing a community can be so important. It helps ease the newness when you meet people who share like-minded values. For me, moving to Australia from America, I was determined to meet a community that loves practicing yoga. I also wanted to meet friends that love to relax and drink wine on the weekends. It really was one of the main reasons I created this blog, in the hopes that it would attract to me a community with similar values.

I’ve been lucky enough to say I have already met a remarkable community of like-minded individuals, and the community just keeps expanding. One of my favorites would have to be Carly Rockwood. A Canadian-born expat residing in Sydney, Australia for the past two years, Carly and I met at a festival called Taste of Manly (think lots of food and lots of wine). The first words out of her mouth were telling our mutual friend about a gymnastics studio she’s been going to. I was immediately taken! If you don’t know this tidbit about me, I was a gymnast for the first 14 years of my life. I only quit because it got too competitive and time-consuming.

But I am a gymnast at heart, and crave any opportunity to cartwheel, handstand or back walkover.

In the bout of just 15 minutes, we discovered our mutual love of yoga (both of us being yoga instructors, too!), and made plans for a yoga date that same weekend. And we’ve been hanging out ever since. Over yoga and wine, we’ve bonded and grown to be fast friends. Of course, I couldn’t resist interviewing and snapping photos of her beautiful yoga practice for my blog.

What would you say is your favorite thing about yoga?

I feel like it’s home. I get on my mat, and I feel immediate relief. Anything else is going on in the world, I can forget about it for that length of time. The good feeling that it brings to my life, and keeps me grounded.

How long have you been practicing yoga?

I went to my first class when I was 17. The studio in my hometown had yoga classes on Friday night, so sporadically my friends and I would go to Hot Yoga and sweat it all out. When I was 21 and graduated University, the same studio had a free month offering for nurses and doctors and I joined. I became completely hooked.

What do you think it was about yoga that got you hooked?

Ever since I was really young, I was a very anxious child. It got really bad when I was 10, to the point I wouldn’t hang out with anyone outside of just a couple friends. If I was in an unfamiliar situation, I would have panic attacks. In that day and age, nobody was taking those habits too seriously. My parents at the time didn’t really understand it, and didn’t know to get me help. At one point when I was in high school, it got really bad. I felt really bad for my parents. Thankfully some of my friends supported me and helped me get back on the right track. In my second year of University, I had a terrible breakdown and asked for help when I was 19. I was on medication for years, going to therapy. When I was 21, I found yoga. I realized how much it was helping me, and I actually was able to go off medication. Yoga helps you find different coping mechanisms; knowing that we are in control of our own emotions. Now whenever I’m feeling out of sorts, I just turn to my mat.I would highly recommend yoga to anyone, who is feeling any sort of anxiety, depression or body issues.

What connections have you made through yoga?

It brings you a community of like-minded people all over the world. I have friends in so many countries because of yoga. And everyone is really nice.

How often do you practice yoga?

Daily. At the studio, or at home.

Where did you get your teacher training at?

I did it back home in 2014, through the Olive Tree Yoga Foundation. My good friend Paul was one of Baron Baptiste’s assistants and ran a training in my home town, London, Ontario. The Foundation was started by him and his ex-wife to bring yoga to Palestine, running teacher trainings within refugee camps. I was an ambassador for them, and when Paul started a sister foundation called True North Yoga Foundation in Canada, I did work with them in Indigenous communities in Canada assisting with teacher trainings and doing yoga with the children.

Did you choose to teach yoga after going through your yoga teacher training?

I taught the kids through the True North Yoga Foundation and taught a little bit at a yoga studio back home in Canada. I do like teaching, but at this moment I like to be a student more. I want to continue to be a student and grow and learn more before I get back into teaching. Right now, I would love to learn more about the philosophy of yoga so I can bring more philosophy to my classes.

Do you see yourself advancing your teaching through more teacher training?

I would love to do a yin yoga teacher training and learn more about that style of teaching. Also, I have a goal to go to India in 2018 for a month or two, and just live in an ashram and deepen my meditation and practice. A little bit of Eat, Pray, Love. [laughs]

How do you live a balanced lifestyle?

Well, it’s getting better [laughs]. When I lived in Canada, I was a lot more balanced. When I moved here, social life [in Manly] is so easy because you live close to your friends. You could hang out with friends every night of the week if you want. I think it’s about setting priorities. I know if I don’t practice yoga, after even just three days, I notice a difference in my mental health.

What would you say is your favorite yoga pose?

I don’t know if I have a favorite, to be honest. I like yoga poses that challenges me. Like right now, it would be forearm balance. Because I can’t really hold it for long right now but, I’m trying so hard to get it. Since starting practicing gymnastics, my shoulders have gotten stronger and I’ve been holding it longer!My go-to party trick pose would have to be King Pigeon [laughs].

So, have you ever done drunk yoga?

Uh-huh. Hasn’t everyone?! [laughs] I also have done the worm at parties [cringe face]. I guess I wouldn’t recommend drunk yoga for everyone…

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