02 Feb Gratitude and Love

“Sometimes Serendipity is just intention unmasked.” – Elizabeth Berg ‘The Year of Pleasures’. Bleary eyed from a red eye flight from LA, I stumbled into Power Living Bondi Junction with only two minutes to spare before the 9:30am Vinyasa class. The warm friendly face who greeted me at the front desk I now know belongs to Sol – one of Power Living’s finest – but at that time I had no idea who he was, or what was to come. I was just full of gratitude and love that he was so cool about me joining the class last minute, my body desperate to shake off the stiffness of the flight.

I remember the class… I was in the back left corner of a bright, white room, beside a window. I remember Sol made me laugh out loud; his metaphors about spray tans and toothpaste were so ludicrous and yet so perfect to describe how to engage the muscles and create the asana shapes. I remember feeling energised and challenged, with sweat pouring from me and puddling on my mat as we flowed through the practice; and the exhilaration as my practice reached a peak. Sol shared a quote from Rumi that spoke right to my experience “if you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror ever get polished” and then gave us a nurturing closing sequence and juicy, blissful savasana. 

I studied yoga and taught a little in Vancouver and had left there after 2.5 years extremely sad to no longer be able to practice with my kula and my beloved teachers, especially Suzanne Slocum-Gori. My studio, One Yoga For The People, had been a home for me and the devoted yogis there, a source of great inspiration. I feared I would never find the gratitude and love like it anywhere else.  

Before traveling home to Australia, my husband and I had spent several weeks camping and roadtrippin’ down the West coast of the US from Vancouver to LA and I had taken the chance to do classes in every city and small town along the way. Nothing I experienced during that time had moved me quite so much as this class of Sol’s.   

When Sol came over to speak to me after class while I was busily scribbling notes in my journal, I told him I had just arrived back in the country after living overseas and that I was moving back to my native Melbourne in a week. He invited me to do the Power Living Teacher Training but when I explained that I was already qualified, without skipping a beat he said “Well then I hope you’ll work for us at our Melbourne studios.” 

It was one of those moments. You know, when time slows down Matrix style and background noise instantly dulls? Not because a bullet was slowly ripping through space towards me though… but because something huge was happening and my brain was trying to fathom it.

When friends in Vancouver had suggested that I get a job at Power Living when I returned home, my heart leaped. But I stifled that excitement under a pile of self-doubt. I wrote an application letter while camping on the West coast but didn’t send it, fears of not being enough paralysing my fingers anytime I went to hit that damn send button. It seems though, that despite my numb fingers, and myself I had been sending out the intention, that heart felt prayer, loud and clear anyway. And Sol, magic man that he is, heard me. 

Before I knew it, I was home in Melbourne and speaking to the South Melbourne Studio Manager, and radiant yogini, Whitney, on the phone to confirm my availability for the Sunday 4:30pm Vinyasa spot. Though I had scarcely dared allow myself to dream the dream, here I was, all my dreams coming true.

Off the top of my head I can’t recall what I taught for my first class. I think I was probably too busy being terrified of forgetting the whole thing to remember anything! What I do remember though is receiving feedback and coaching from Whitney and Brooke in my first week, which I think came in form of asking me bring a little more fire and to not be afraid of using my powerful voice. But you know how they say that people remember not what you say, but how you made them feel? I strongly recall feeling supported and challenged to step up. Their words were delivered with compassion and kindness but they didn’t pull any punches. 

It was exactly what I needed to hear. My first class had about eight students in it I think, but as I’ve grown in my teaching and confidence, so too has the number of people attending my classes. I look forward to Sunday fun-day all week and love hanging out with the regular Sunday crew and whoever else comes to play. Even though Sunday’s at Southy was my first, I can’t choose a favourite among all my classes… I love ’em all. 

I often remark to people that I must have done something really great in my past life, to now be here, in a life so blessed. And while I don’t know what I did to deserve this opportunity, I feel so very lucky to have landed here at Power Living. I mean, I get to practice everyday with some of the world’s very best teachers – teachers I would seek out because they are simply brilliant, even if I were not working here! I am so grateful for their investment in my teaching and in me. I regularly receive coaching and feedback and am given opportunities to grow. 

Recently, out of a desire to grow and curiosity about the program, I volunteered to assist the 200-hour Teacher Training in Melbourne. It was such a privilege to witness the unfolding and revealing of 33 magnificent teachers. From very humble, stuttering beginnings, I watched how, under the dedicated guidance of Cassie, Chris and Manoj and with much hard work, these students were born into teachers. The course itself is incredibly comprehensive and I was impressed with the level of knowledge, especially around anatomy, that was required and achieved. But the biggest gift was the provision of a sequence for these new teachers and the time spent learning to nail the delivery of it. Each student in the course seemed to hold the desire to be the absolute best teacher they could… which of course brought with it fears of not being enough and of failing (that old chestnut!). But with laughter, tears, dancing, hugs and lots of practice, they surmounted those fears. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of it – to learn from their experiences, and to have the chance to revise all the oodles of information (yes, I’m a nerd), and to share in their joy as they achieved their dreams. 

At the risk of sounding (even more) mushy, I have to say, that I am so happy to call Power Living home. My gratitude and love and most sincere thanks go out to Sol, Whitney, Brooke, Cassie, Chris and Manoj for taking a chance on me and for your continued faith and support. Thank you to all the students and fellow teachers for teaching me so much and for receiving me so open heartedly; and for all the breath, sweat and laughter! You are what make this little Power Living adventure so much fun! 

To quiet dreams and embracing fears, I bow down.

by Kate Henry