Looking Up

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga
 

I spend as much time as I possibly can outdoors. Even if it’s the middle of winter, I like to sit outside, rugged up and admire the environment that surrounds me. About ten years ago, around about the time I was massively struggling with anxiety, a dear friend pointed out that I walked with my head down. That I never looked up. He was right. It wasn’t that I was intentionally trying to avoid my surroundings, I just didn’t realize my natural tendency had become to look down. I was shying away from the world. For whatever reason, I consciously or unconsciously felt the need to make myself small.

Ever since that day, I have always made a conscious effort to look up when I walk. To admire the birds that sit on the branches above me, to appreciate the sheer enormity of the trees and the cloudy or crystal blue skies that are their backdrop. I will never forget on that very day when I began to lift my gaze high rather than keep it low, how immediate my appreciation for life became. How grateful I was for the beauty I was surrounded by yet for years had failed to truly see. My perspective on life shifted in an instant. It is for this very reason, I have become a lover of the outdoors. I work outdoors when I can (I’m writing this blog in my back garden), I exercise outdoors and I will often meditate outdoors. To be among nature relaxes my mind and lifts the worries from my shoulders because it reminds me that the possibilities of life are endless. I just need to have the courage to be open to them.

Because of my love for the outdoors, and as the weather is just so lovely and is only going to get better, I thought it would be wonderful to practice yoga outdoors. To give all the students of Jessica Dewar Yoga an opportunity to relax among the trees. As such, I’m super excited to announce we will be hosting a weekly Yoga in the Park class at two separate locations throughout the month of November.

Barkly Gardens, Richmond

&

Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy

Classes will all run simultaneously (including our regular studio classes) at 9.30am from 4 November – 25 November.  Should you like to get involved, be sure to sign up via the timetable page. There is no limit to the number of students who can attend but we do ask students register just like any other class.

If there is anything I have learned over the years, it is how important it is to take time to just be present with nature. We can learn so much from these experiences when we do.

Big hugs to you all and I hope to see you all at Yoga in the Park next month!

Jessica xx

It's In The Little Things

 
craig-whitehead-323263.jpg
 

I love candles. Growing up we weren’t allowed to burn them as my mother feared we’d burn the house down – fair call – but as an adult I can’t get enough of them. I burn candles all the time and at night I have at least eight tea light candles burning in different rooms of the house. Not to mention the incense I always have burning away beside Ganesha.

Last night I had one of those moments. A moment I cannot keep and can only be present to.  As Owen was preparing dinner, the dogs were at our feet waiting for extra food and I was lighting my candles, there was a moment of absolute joy.  A stark realization that - if ever anything were to happen to one of us, or if I’m away in India - these are the moments I would crave for. That I would give anything to do again. As you can see we weren’t doing anything extraordinary. It was a Saturday night, we’d ordered take out and we were planning on watching a movie, which is a weekly treat. But this was and is perfect for me. Spending time with my family, in our home, which is full of love, is simply - perfect.

I tend to have existential crises often. I think that’s what keeps me as focused on the here and now as I am. I never allow myself to forget about the finite life I, and everyone around me, leads. That it doesn’t matter how much money I have, how big my house is or how many new pairs of the latest yoga pants I have, it means nothing at the end of the day. Because these things, these material things, do not bring happiness. They can facilitate a temporary happiness and make life more comfortable – sure – but they do not create genuine happiness.

We spend so much of our lives looking for things out there to make us happy. We read books and go to seminars.  And whilst it is fantastic people are searching for what brings them joy, the reality is, true happiness cannot be bought. It cannot be taught. It cannot be handed down. True happiness is something that comes from within. Nowhere else.

I’ve bought new clothes, travelled the world, and sat among inspirational people. But to merely do these things is not enough. It does not bring me joy to achieve such things. Rather, it is in the presence of these experiences. The noticing of how I felt in those moments of walking through a temple, talking with my teachers or even trying on a new pair of pants I’ve worked hard to purchase. It is when I am truly present, just as I was last night as I lit my candles, that I feel absolute bliss. Happiness is in presence. And it is a choice. I choose to notice the little things. This is where my joy is and if you were to ask me, it is the little things that make life great.

Much love, Jessica xx

Thank you All For Sticking By Me

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Happy Pants_big.jpg
 

This morning, following my classes, I sat in the centre of our empty studio, legs crossed in padmasana (lotus pose) and just smiled. I smiled because I could feel the energy of our students even though I was alone. I smiled because we are, together, creating something profound. Something that is helping others to get through some of the toughest struggles life can throw at us. I smiled because every student who comes to practice brings the most wonderful presence, a presence that makes our studio what it is today.  I began Jessica Dewar Yoga with a dream to make yoga accessible for all in pursuit of a kinder world. Turns out, I’m not the only one with this dream because one year on, here we are – still going and stronger than ever.

Every single day there are new challenges, new hurdles to overcome. I’ve made MANY errors over the past 12 months (and I think you’ve all read about my latest error. Fail is probably the more accurate description…) and still you all stand by me. Let’s just say I’m extremely grateful for having such a forgiving community! Never could I have anticipated the journey ahead when I decided to let go of my career and start my own business. Seriously people – I had NO IDEA! I read so many business books before starting on this journey but the reality is, nothing prepares you for real business. For working with real people. In a business no one has attempted here in Melbourne. Eek!

But upon reflection, I wouldn’t change a thing. As yoga teaches us stern lessons through our practice, business does too. I can absorb only what I am ready to hear, just as I can perform/practice asanas only that I am ready to practice. The learning is constant. The ebbs and flows are relentless. But this is the reality – not just of business or of yoga, but of life. And rather than see this as a negative, I’ve chosen to see every experience as a positive one – even if it’s me sleeping through my own class (I honestly don’t think I’ll ever live that one down).

I know my yoga practice has been fundamental to my growth as a business woman. It’s helped me to breathe through the challenging times, appreciate the little moments, laugh when I stuff up, cry when I should probably be laughing. I’ve been all over the place over the past year – physically and emotionally – and I’ve learned more about myself through this experience than I have in my entire life.

So whilst I receive many thanks from the community for making the studio accessible to all, really it is me who wants to thank all of you. Your ongoing support makes me want to be a better person. You make me want to do bigger and better things in the world because you’ve all welcomed me and my philosophy so warmly. You’ve encouraged me to keep going when times have been tough. Whilst I may be the teacher for many who read this blog today, I am equally your student.

So to all the students, teachers, local businesses who sponsor us, media who have helped to spread the word, suppliers, my partner, mum, my (to be – I hope) parents-in-law, my pooches…. and everyone who has shown support for our studio, from the bottom of my heart – “Thank you.”  For without you, reaching our first birthday would not have been possible.

Here’s to many more happy years ahead.

Love and gratitude to the max!

Jessica xx

My most embarrassing teaching moment - EVER!

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga
 

Do I? Don’t I? As I left my yoga class this morning, the third for the morning to be exact, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. To pretend like it didn’t happen or share it with the world. Turns out, I’ve clearly chosen the latter. I figure, if I can’t laugh at myself then that’s not fun.

In my entire working life, I have never been as embarrassed as I was leaving my class today. And when I say my class, I mean, I’m the teacher. And if it weren’t for the fact that my students have gotten to know me having taught them weekly for over a year now, I’m not so sure I’d be invited back after what I just did. Yes, it was that bad!

But before sharing, I want to back myself up a little and put some context around why this might have happened. On an average day, I teach anywhere up to seven classes a day. It’s intense. I can teach up to 26 classes a week. Crazy right! Yes. I know. My day begins at 3.30am when I get up for my own yoga practice then head out the door for my first class at 6.00am. I’ve also had the added stress of my little Lola, our rescue pug, being in intensive care due to liver failure followed by repeated back and forth trips to the vet in Collingwood (in between classes) as she’s an outpatient who requires ongoing tests and reviews. With the stress of it all I’ve even gained four kilograms in the past month. Eek! So let’s just say I’ve been a little run down and over worked lately.

So what happened this morning… I arrived at my 9.30am class at an offsite location. A group of seniors who I just love to bits. Class was fantastic. A strong class followed by some beautiful relaxation at the end. One pose I love to bring students into is a supported ‘legs-up-the-wall’ pose. It’s deeply relaxing and has extraordinary benefits for the body.

I asked my students to bring their mats against the wall, my mat in between theirs so everyone could see the demonstration for how to come into the pose. We all settled into the pose, our legs totally supported against the wall, backs flat, eyes closed and palms gently resting on our bellies. It’s so lovely. I guided my students through a meditation to help them reach a deeper state of relaxation before being silent to give them an opportunity to focus on the instructions they’d been given. That was all wonderful. A beautiful, perfect end to our class. It was what happened next that I’m not sure I will ever live down…

Our class this morning started at 9.30am. We were scheduled to finish at 10.30am. When we moved into the legs up the wall pose, it was about 10.20am, so we could rest there for a good length of time. Well………………..

When I opened my eyes, somewhat startled, I noticed my students were up with shoes back on and getting ready to leave the class! I’d fallen asleep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I don’t mean I closed my eyes for a couple of minutes….. It was 10.55am! I’d been asleep for over 25 minutes. OMG!

I have never been so humiliated! It’s a worst nightmare as a teacher. And what could I say???? Oops. Clearly I’m a little tired…. I think the worst part was how awkward the students clearly felt, trying to come up with light hearted jokes to try and lessen the humiliation. Saying they know what posture to show insomniacs. I’m thinking… “Oh dear. I want to die! This did not just happen!” I tried the lame excuse that I’d had a rough night the night before with our Lola, urgently trying to change the topic, but I don’t think this one flew.

To make matters worse, I didn’t think about the possibility that I could have been lying there with my mouth open (like a dead person as my mother so delicately blurted out as she laughed uncontrollably on the other end of the line) and snoring (which I’ve been known to do when I’m absolutely exhausted). Before my confession to mum, I was at least visualizing me lying there looking peaceful and serene. Trust my mother to put this dreadful image into my head of what the more realistic state would have been as I napped in class. Mum always knows how to make me feel better. “Thanks mum!”

So there you have it. One of my most memorable moments in class, and I can’t say it’s a good memory. Rather, one of the most awkward, but also the funniest, I’ve ever experienced.

On that note, if anyone is so game to share something that has been utterly humiliating to the point of almost unspeakable – now is the time to share!

I hope this one gave you a laugh!

Sending zzzzzzz’s to you all,

Love Jessica

Getting Lost And Getting Found

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Ashtanga Retreat Qld
 

This past week I’ve been relaxing in the tropical rainforests of North Queensland. Mission Beach area to be more precise. An Ashtanga retreat, I decided three months ago when I booked this trip that it was time I stop feeling guilty for taking time out for me and just do it!

Whilst away I made a conscious effort to spend as minimal time working as possible. It is easy to get carried away with checking emails, answering calls and business planning. Instead, I was strict with myself and actually allowed myself time to stop. I read an entire fiction book from start to finish over the past five days! This is unheard of for me. To put this in context, I’m still working away at a book I started over a year ago. The only books I ever finish are audio books dedicated to business, not something purely for my own creative enjoyment.

Taking time out from my laptop meant I didn’t blog either. I kept my regular hand written journal, but I wanted to really challenge myself to keep away from anything I tend to affiliate with work. Why? Because my mind needed a rest. I needed to allow the thoughts to come and to go. I needed to remember how to sit with my feelings and explore them silently, no matter how uncomfortable this felt on occasion. Whilst journaling and blogging is a wonderful outlet for me, I can sometimes put pen to paper too soon before fully taking the time to delve in and explore what’s going on for me. So I did this this week. I just sat. Reflected. Read. Knowing I would write about this experience at some point but without rushing to do so, as I so often can.

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Ashtanga Yoga Retreat Rainforest
 

I once read we can learn more about ourselves sitting quietly for one hour than we can in five years of unfocused searching. I don’t know about the five years part, but I did sit in meditation for up to an hour every day and just watched. I watched where my thoughts darted off to. I watched when my mind would settle. I noticed how my physical body would interfere with the quietness of my mind. Then how I could choose the power of my mind to override the aches of my physical body from sitting for so long.

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_ Ashtanga Shala Retreat
 

As I sat quietly, I had a recurring thought come up. Guilt if you will about taking time out for myself. Guilt about not reading emails or having teachers cover my classes whilst I’m sitting in the middle of the rainforest, alone, in deep, selfish meditation. I pondered this for sometime over the week. I even raised it in conference.  My conclusion – well, there isn’t one really. But what I came to know about myself is that I tend to feel the only time I’m doing something worthwhile is when there is a tangible result at the end of it. Students attend a class, I meet with a partner, I make a phone call or send an email. What this also helped me to realize is how deeply ingrained the roots of my script, created throughout my childhood, has burrowed. The need to be a martyr, to achieve outstanding results to make my parents proud and compete with my elder brothers and sisters (I’m the baby of eight), the feeling of having to prove what I’m capable of as a woman, the desperate need to heal my body and rid it from pain. This is all neurotic stuff. I know this. What is exciting is the profound realizations I, and everyone, can have when I take some time to sit quietly with my thoughts, without judgment or force and actually accept myself for where I’m at in that moment.

The need to produce tangible results day in, day out is just a neurotic, socially fuelled expectation. My reality is, I don’t need to do this. It is OK to step back and be utterly selfish and care for myself once in a while. What I know to be true is – not doing this – can lead only down one very unhealthy path.

Having granted myself permission to take time out, however uncomfortable it was at times, has been fundamental to rejuvenating my body and mind. I’m now home, refreshed and renewed with memories that will last a lifetime.

And as I write this blog, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having introduced yoga into my life some time ago. It grounds me. It clears my mind and challenges every part of my being. For this, I am a better person.

Much love from a more centred place,

Jessica xx

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Jessica Dewar Ashtanga Yoga