Stop Doing This. It helps no one.

 
Jessica Dewar Gratitude.jpg
 

I grew up with very few friends. I was often the last to be chosen for team activities ,which led me to dread group work. In Year Four, I recall one girl, Irony, telling me every day that she’d be my friend (that day) if I gave her my lunch money. So I did. I literally bought my friends at the age of 7. It’s heartbreaking when I look back, and whilst it was a dreadful and damaging experience, it’s taught me many lessons that I value and draw upon in my life today. 

My mother avoids confrontation like the plague. She had a cow of a mother, my nana, and sadly mum grew up bending to her every demand. As a result, this has become a deeply ingrained habit of my mothers - to do what it takes to avoid confrontation, or worse still, to do what is needed to try and make people like her. Because if people like her, then she is safe. I grew up much the same - my mum was a very different mother thank goodness (mum is simply a wonderful human) - but I too have felt the need to try and people please. I wanted friends. I wanted to be the one everyone wants to know and hang out with. I wanted my brothers and sisters to want to play with me. I needed to be needed and liked. Sadly, this came at a high price of deep insecurity, feelings of unworthiness, and an overwhelming dissatisfaction with my life. The loneliness penetrated so deeply that it was paralyzing at times.

Which is where my yoga practice became so fundamental in my own healing. My personal journey to love, self compassion and acceptance. Every time I stepped onto my mat, I felt safe. I became curious about the inner workings of my mind and how my body would respond to the mind games I played. And whilst many years later, I continue to face the same insecurities and feelings of unworthiness, they are now something I look upon far more objectively, offering only love to myself in return. For when I do this, suddenly my entire world shifts.

What many years of practice, introspection and experience in life has taught me, is that it doesn’t pay to people please. That we CANNOT please everyone and that life is a far happier landscape when we come to terms with the fact that we cannot and will not be friends with everyone. I’ve had to adopt this mindset as a yoga teacher, for example. My approach to teaching will not, and cannot, suit everyone. And that’s totally OK. Because this now gives me the freedom to give 100% of what I do best and what I believe to the students ready to receive what I have to offer, whilst equally giving those students who do not resonate with me the same freedom to walk away and find a teacher whom they do connect with. 

To try and please everyone makes for a very unhappy life. One full of lies and deceit, whether we realise it or not. For if we try to please all, then we are lying to ourselves and to those we are trying to get onside. Rather, when we can show up as ourselves, we invite people to share that journey with us or to choose a different path. And the beautiful part of this, is in knowing that the people who join you are there because they genuinely want to be, just as you genuinely want to connect with them. Whilst the people who would only make life more difficult and uncomfortable for you, as you’re trying to constantly appease them, are no longer a part of that journey. 

This all comes down to self respect. Respect yourself enough to know who to invest in and who to let go. To know when you’re speaking your truth and when you’re saying what you think others want to hear. 

Be honest with yourself. For if you have the courage to show up in the world in a way that is true to your heart, true to what you value and believe, then you will be in your element. 

Sending love and light, 

Jessica x

Teach from the heart, not the head

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga
 

I’m thrilled to say the Jessica Dewar Yoga studio is beginning to thrive. Word is spreading and practitioners from all walks of life are getting on board. This means I need teachers!

On Monday night, I hosted my first Teachers Info Night, inviting teachers to learn about the studio model and the philosophy behind it. From a business perspective, an exciting step as it signifies growth. From a personal perspective, a real challenge. I’ve poured countless hours of work into building something from nothing. From pulling up carpet to walking the streets slipping flyers into mailboxes, I’ve worked my butt off to get to this point. This has made me quite protective of what I’ve built. For this studio is not the result of hefty capital injections, but rather a lot of love, sweat and tears. And so while I need teachers, I’m mindful I need the right teachers. Those who are excited to be part of an evolving community. Who are excited to share their craft. Who are authentic in everything part of their being.

Three key values of the studio, values I expect teachers to share, are: 

  • To cultivate wellness
  • To contribute to the community
  • To be authentic in all we do

Authenticity is a fundamental value. According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of authentic is; “Of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.” What a fabulous definition.

You see, I want teachers to teach from a place that is genuine to them. That they teach what they know rather than a mere copy of others. That they teach from the heart rather than the head.

You – our students – can feel when we as teachers are teaching from a place of authenticity. You know when we are teaching from a place of love and kindness, and when we are simply going through the motions. I do not want teachers of Jessica Dewar Yoga to conform to a set of rules regarding how they must teach. Rather, I want teachers to show their unique self. To trust in their knowledge, training and experience. To teach how they teach. To be honest about their experiences rather than wear the mask that says they have it all together – because believe me, none of us do. I talk about the importance of creating a safe space, where you can come and be seen without judgment. With this in mind, we as teachers need to allow ourselves to be seen also. In doing so we become an example of what it means to be vulnerable for it is through our imperfections as teachers, as practitioners, that we find authenticity. And through authenticity come strength, beauty and love.

So as I continue to meet with prospective new teachers, in pursuit of opening this space to a wider audience, I am searching for the authentic person. The person who speaks from the heart. Whilst 20 years of experience is great, it is not everything. This does not guarantee a place as a teacher at the studio. For if we cannot be true to ourselves, then it is impossible to be true to others. Food for thought.

Sending hugs,

Jessica xx

Be authentic. Be real. Don't settle.

 
 

An interesting thing occurred in the previous week. I was asked to demonstrate how I teach to a fellow teacher here in the west. As I’ve always maintained, an eastern trained teacher commonly teaches VERY differently to a western trained teacher. This particular person was trained here in the west, in the very famous Byron Bay (the hub of yoga here in Aus).

With a well known reputation here in Melbourne, I would be lying if I wasn’t nervous at first. I almost felt like I was being tested or something?! My immediate thought was to teach how I thought this woman would WANT me to teach. My ego kicked in and naturally I wanted to impress her. But as soon as the ego came, I was quick to let it go and remember what is most important to me and my practice.

  1. I wholeheartedly believe in the eastern approach to yoga. This is where I have gained most benefit (with little success under a western approach) so why should I compromise those beliefs to suit what I think someone else wants to see?

  2. It is not important to me what other teachers or students think of my approach to teaching. I’m so aware that my style will never resonate with everyone - I mean, how could it! We are all on different paths and we all need to do what feels right for us. In my case, I developed a deep respect for a traditional approach to yoga. So this is what I shall teach. Those who like it too - awesome. Those who do not - then that is totally ok!

  3. It’s good to be different. If I hear one more Gorilla pose or Wild Thing pose, I might just…. I’m not sure. But what I do know, is I have a profound respect for learning the traditional Sanskrit names and their correct translations and techniques. I feel this is fundamental to remaining respectful to the practice and its heritage. Whilst this particular teacher prefers to use terminology like Roadkill Pose and places little regard for guiding students into and out of the asanas, I on the other hand will not change my language/demonstrations to appeal to others. Not only would this be incorrect, but on a more personal level, it would be inauthentic.

In retrospect, this experience was so liberating for me. As the person who was never the popular girl at school, uni, work… as I was often too focused on my work to worry about anything social - the natural tendency is to do what others do to try and fit it. I also know this teacher was not fond of my approach to yoga. She didn’t tell me that of course, but after many years of working with all different types of people - the people pleasures, the outright liars, the worriers, the egotistical ones.. let’s just say I can pretty easily pick up what someone is thinking/feeling. The best part, however - for the first time in my life I was so pleased by this outcome. In the past I would have felt lesser than, judged, unimportant, questioned if i was any good at what i do. Not now. Now I take this as a sign of - “Yes! Look at how far I’ve come. How confident I’m becoming in myself and my abilities. To have the courage to remain true to myself despite probable judgement or ridicule. That I’m making my opinion matter” Woot!!

I went to India to train because I did not want to be like every other teacher out there. I went there because I wanted learn from those closest to the traditional heritage of this practice and then share this back here in the west. I don’t want to play Chinese whispers with this practice like many have (myself too to a degree of 10,000 years or so). So for me, it made sense to go to as close to the source as possible - to where it all began - for it is from this place that I believe that the most amazing benefits can be experienced.

What I’ve come to realise through my practice is - to hell with want I think others want of me. I love how I teach, and I have an amazing group of students who also appreciate my approach. Never before have I felt as empowered as I did in the moment I remained totally true to my practice. With nil capital and only a small audience, it’s very easy to be intimidated by the big boys. But at the end of the day - true passion, belief and guts cannot be bought. It comes from within.

One year ago today...

One year ago today I left Australia and everything comfortable in my life to embark upon a new, exciting but also terrifying journey in pursuit of something more meaningful. I can’t help but feel quite emotional when I think about what this day meant for myself and Owen in particular. Holding each other tightly at the airport, we were devastated by the knowledge that as soon as we let go we could not hold each other again for three long months. But this was a sacrifice we both needed to make. Owen made this sacrifice as a symbol of his unconditional love and support of me and my dreams; I made this sacrifice as a symbol of my determination and commitment to pursuing a life that has meaning, that is authentic and that is chosen by me. A sort of self respect if you will. But despite knowing how important this was - for both of us in the end - it didn’t make those goodbyes any easier. Owen and I, and our Chug (pug x chihuahua) Tyrone are an inseparable trio. We like to think of ourselves as a tripod. We support one another. We are always there for each other. So for me to step away from our little family for so long was immensely challenging.

But here I am, one year later and soon to return to India for a second time.  My life has become  everything yoga - and I’m committed to teaching yoga full time. I let the corporate world slip away as it no longer serves me. Rather I’m on a path that is focused on health and well-being. On encouraging self respect, self love, self awareness. A path that has brought some of the kindest, most gentle and compassionate souls into my life. Once upon a time, when I was the corporate employee trying to escape the prison I had created for myself, I was that person, that employee who was desperately seeking a way out. I was the person who turned to yoga in search of solace. To allow my tired mind to rest. To look for strength when I felt weak. It is now me who is offering this to others. I mean - what an incredible gift I now have. An amazing opportunity to support and nurture people who are in a similar boat to where I was and assure that life can be ok. We can get through the challenges. We really can find stillness among the chaos.

Now - to be clear - this is not to say that yoga has made my life perfect. Far from it in fact. It’s highlighted just how imperfect my life is. But that’s ok. My life is real and it’s mine. Rather than look at challenges as barriers, I see them as opportunities. Rather than feel angry with myself for not being ‘strong’ today, I see that as a chance to look a little deeper and find out why. Rather than feel bitter toward the world for my life not turning out as I had hoped, I feel gratitude, choice and acceptance. Of course there are days where I feel victimised if something doesn’t go as planned. I want to blame others and receive the quick fix to a problem. I wouldn’t be human if this weren’t true. But it is through my practice that I’m able to quickly return to a place of understanding, acceptance and peace in knowing that it’s ok if things don’t always work out like we imagine. There is a reason for this and we just need to open our eyes to understand why - rather than become arrogant or naive to this knowledge.

For me - typical me - by now I had ideas for having a full blown studio with people bursting through the doors trying to get in. Turns out - this isn’t how business necessarily operates. Harsh wake up call. Money is not being thrown at me for memberships, investors are not banging down my door to get in on a piece of the action and I’m certainly not about to have this happen in the next few weeks. It would be nice but it’s just not very likely. Rather, I’ve been exposed to how tough the market is out there. How competitive this industry is. I’m not interested in that game though. I’m here to teach yoga for the love of yoga. I won't sell out just to make a buck. It is my responsibility to make sure I remain true to my practice and the philosophy of my practice. This has meant learning to organically grow my business and establish a community of people who respect my approach. Who seek the deeper aspects of yoga rather than look to yoga as a weight loss fad. This sort of following doesn’t come overnight. It takes time to build. I know this now. I also appreciate this now. For had I had a studio thrown into my lap without having gone through these struggle times, the humbling experiences of  going from a six figure income to nil (initially), learning how to negotiate when you have next to no authority to do so - I would not be the person I am shaping up to be. You see, every experience is a stepping stone to being better - in the task at hand, a hobby, in how I communicate, how I think, how I live. Whilst I have days where I truly hate these tougher times and wish it were easy, but at the end of the day, it is through these experiences that I am becoming a more well rounded human being. Whilst I’ve always tried to think this way, it has only been since I’ve made such huge changes in my life, (and experienced the never ending challenges as a result of my decision I might add), that I am knowing this to be true.

So today, I’m continuing to work on my speech where I will be presenting to over 200 people in a weeks time about Strength through Vulnerability. At the #GoFestival - Melbourne’s Women’s Expo and Conference. I’m absolutely terrified, but I’m also super excited to share this crazy journey with the world to show what is possible in this life. A year ago today I had no idea I would be preparing for something like this - which is huge for me. Nor did I believe i would have taught at multiple festivals in front of hundreds of people. Never in my wildest dreams or imagination would I have believed this to be true. But, it is. My life has taken a completely different turn, through nothing other than my choices, and I’m now on a crazy, whirlwind adventure which certainly keeps me on my toes. There is never a dull moment.

In just over a month's time I will be returning to India - a place I now consider to be my second home. Assisting Guruji with his next teacher training and continuing my personal training, I cannot wait to begin the next chapter of my life. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s hard work. And, yes it’s overwhelming at times. But it is real and it makes me smile every day. This is what it’s all about.

Namaste.