If you’d told me a year ago I’d be living in Sydney having just received my official qualification as a yoga teacher with Power Living, I would have reacted with mild hysteria at the thought of ever leaving my beloved home, family and friends behind in London, and bemusement at the mention of Power Living – a name that meant absolutely nothing to me. I was happily living in London, doing a job I adored with a great network of family and friends, two weeks shy from touching down in Sydney where I was to spend a wonderful two and a half weeks in Rose Bay. Having been living in London for most of my twenties I had little – if any – intention of ever leaving the city I called home and had absolutely no reason to do so.
Little did I know that fate had other plans for me. A chance meeting on the ferry back from Manly on my last Sunday in Sydney and life was never really going to be the same again. What followed were many weeks of planning a move to Australia, and a decision abundant in both recklessness and naivety to train as a yoga teacher while there. I had almost no interest in yoga itself – simply viewing it as a vehicle to return to a place I loved – and often wonder what would have happened had my google search for ‘yoga teacher training Bondi Beach’ shown up a different set of results.
What happened next certainly didn’t fit into the life I had envisaged for myself down under. The first four horrific days in the studio where, awash with homesickness, heartbreak and humiliation, I seriously considered booking a flight home. The absolutely certainty that moving to Australia was the biggest mistake of my life and that I never, ever wanted any sort of involvement in yoga – let alone to teach it. My disinterest in bones, muscles and tendons – all of which formed an integral part of the teacher training and, above all, the outright conviction that yoga had absolutely not chosen me.
I’ve blogged previously about what I expected from the yoga course; the ability to stand on my head and slide easily into the splits; the prancing around Bondi Beach in my colourful yoga tights (on which I had spent a small fortune in order to look – if not feel – the part), the drinking from fresh coconuts in the midday sun, the retreat to Bali, where, sun-kissed and skinny I would have proved to everyone – not least myself – that my decision to uproot my life had been the right one. Alas, I am still unable to either stand on my head or slide into the splits, any time I spend in yoga pants tends to be in a sweaty studio where at least one other person has the same pair as me; if I drink coconut water it’s more often that not from a carton not a coconut, and due to face-planting one too many chocolate puddings while on retreat, skinny I most certainly am not.
What I didn’t expect was thus: to make the most incredible network of friends through teacher training, most of whom I feel like I have known for years. To be welcomed with such open arms by the crew at Power Living and every single person I met on retreat, despite my somewhat unconventional reason for starting yoga. To spend two glorious, life-changing weeks in Bali; the first of which at retreat; the second exploring Bali’s shores with my now great friends, Ange, Ben, Jess and Zach. I never knew how close the practical exam would come to breaking me; nor how much fight I had in me to make sure it didn’t.
And as the four months of backbends, tears, downward-facing dogs and new friendships have reached their climax; I almost feel a sense of loss and longing at what is now in my past. From Toby’s legendary ‘Utkatasana’ to my first walk home with Ally, to Jase singing to us while in Shavasana; I have an abundance of memories that will stay with me always. My time in Sydney – and indeed training with Power Living – may not have worked out exactly as I had planned but it’s been life-changing and, without question the very best thing I’ve ever done. Duncan, founder of Power Living, said something at retreat that resonated with me then, but now, sitting in bed, a qualified yoga teacher, never has it rung truer: ‘Everything happens exactly as it’s supposed to.’