You need the struggle

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga_Hollow Back_Handstand.jpg
 

We’ve all had those dark days. Those days when we wonder if it’s all worth it. What’s the point? I find myself going through existential crisis most days.

Life is not easy. I don’t believe it was ever meant to be. The greatest lessons any of us can learn are those given through adversity. Through pain and suffering. All too often we are quick to judge and compare our lives to those of others. We live in a world whereby magazines and even more immediate, social media, depicts these perfect lives of the rich and famous. But let me tell you my friends, the rich and  famous have problems too. Money does not equate to happiness. Fame does not guarantee happiness either. Just because people know your name is not a measure of a successful life. Far from it. Just look at the number of suicides, drug overdoses and broken families within Hollywood and you’ll see this is no lie.

Whilst going through difficult times are not fun, and of course we’d rather more happy times than sad, the reality is, these experiences, these lessons, are part of your journey. And you must go through them. Not only will they make you stronger and wiser, they will also help you to become a more understanding, empathetic person.

I do not teach what I do not know or have not been through. I have seen people hit rock bottom and rise again; I have also seen others never recover and give in to the forces around them. I’ve personally been through heartache, breakdowns, anxiety and physical pain I would never wish upon a worst enemy.  But through a stubborn will to keep going, and a belief that my life means something and that I have something to share that could be of value to others, I continue to pick myself up and keep going. Because let’s face it, what choice do I have! What choice do you have?

Struggle is a given. Life was not meant to be easy. Not only would it be extremely boring if it were, but where would the sense of achievement be if everything came easily? Achievements would no longer be achievements. Relationships will be of little value and happiness would dwindle. We need the challenges to live meaningful lives.

It is because I accept that life is challenging that I appreciate the ‘easier’ moments, the calm days, the cups of tea, the drives to the hills and walks along the beach. It’s because I’ve been through MANY challenges that I can guide my students from a genuine place of love and compassion.

Reflecting on my life, I wouldn’t change a thing. My path is my path. Just as your path is yours. It shapes who we are and who we choose to be in every moment of every day.

Life is a gift. Adversity and pain is a gift. If you can shift your perception to truly believe this, then suddenly your world will begin to open. 

Sending compassionate hugs,

Jessica xx

Through absolute devotion

 
 

I’ve been back in India for over a week now and I would be lying if I said this hasn’t been extremely challenging for me. On every possible level. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

So many assume the trips to Mysore are holidays. I can assure you, this is far from a holiday. I’m someone who likes to be comfortable. I like my bed, I like my washing machine, my kitchen. I like the familiar. I’ve done a lot of overseas travel alone and it turns out I’m really just a quiet soul who likes the simple things in life. My home, my pooch and my man. Oh and of course, my students. Perfect! So coming to India each year is a real struggle for me. (or character building put in a more positive way!)

Coming to India, which is super uncomfortable for me, is my commitment to myself, to my practice, to the practice. I appreciate and accept that if I want to progress as both student and teacher then I must continue to invest in my learning.  My philosophy is - “who am I to teach if I do not maintain my self-practice and self-study?” So I journey back to India where I can continue this learning under the guidance of Guruji, a man whom I feel so privileged to learn from.

But none of this makes it any easier. My back is in agony as I write this. Nothing to do with my practice. More to do with the rock hard mattress I’m sleeping on. I spent yesterday trying to get rid of nine or more of the biggest cockroaches I’ve ever seen in my life! Other times it’s just a little lonely.. I have a wonderful life back home, with a partner I adore and students who I can’t wait to see every day – so it’s really tough leaving that behind to be in near solitude for a month.

However, as I step into the Shala every morning and afternoon, I am reminded of why I come here. Every moment in the Shala is precious. Looking around the room this morning, listening to the subtle sounds of others as we all practice in silence; I was moved by the intense focus, discipline and commitment of every person in there. Everyone working at their own pace, challenging themselves a little more, pushing on despite how tired we all are.

There is nothing fancy about where we train. A simple room with bars on the windows and nothing to be heard except the breath, groans and snorts of other students. If you ask any Ashtanga practitioner who comes to Mysore to train, they will often say they come here for the same reason – the energy of the room. There is something so beautiful about how we as individuals, on our own unique journeys, unite when in the Shala. By hearing each other, by practicing beside one another, we are One.

It is this collective energy, this absolute devotion to the practice, and more so to ourselves, that draws students back each year. Certainly not the ease or glamour of India. It is having the eye of our teacher to help us see what we cannot that allows us to progress. It makes the difficulties of being away from loved ones or waking with a bad back worth it as there is something bigger going on here.

So, off I go to bed. Concrete slab and all. My back is paying for it but I shall maintain my practice. I will work with my body rather than give into it.

I miss home. I really do. But I know I will be home soon enough. So for now, I’m committing to being present, staying focused and appreciating the opportunity to continue my training.

Missing you all and sending hugs,

Jessica xx

P.S. I would love some hugs sent back. It really can be a little lonely here ;)

If it's easy, is it worth it?

 
 

Everything hurts. From the top of my head down to my little toes, it’s all sore. I forget how challenging it is training here in Mysore, India. But in saying that, my aching body is a fabulous reminder of why I come here each year! No, I’m not a sucker for punishment. Rather, I understand it is through this intense level of practice that I progress. That I am coming to know myself a little more every day.

There is a huge misunderstanding in the west that yoga is easy. That it’s all about relaxation and some gentle stretching. This couldn’t be more wrong. Whilst these classes exist, and I LOVE to attend them occasionally, for me this is not what the practice is about. The challenge of the practice, continuing to attend class even though everything hurts, is all yoga. The discipline is yoga. And what I’ve personally come to experience through this intensity is how quickly my body responds to it. Yes, there are the initial aches. The initial, “I can’t get off the toilet seat,” moments. And it’s going to last a few days. I know this. But this is good pain, and its temporary.

Nothing in life comes easily. Nothing. I believe how we practice is a symbol of how we live our lives. Do we look for the easy path or are we open to the challenge?

Whilst I hate to say it, and accept in some instances, to live a life we are truly proud of, one we are truly connected to and that is meaningful, requires effort. Work. With yoga, we talk about bringing the lessons we learn on our mats into our daily life, a statement I fully support. I’ve found that the more confronting the practice, the deeper the lessons. Conversely, the more detached or ‘going through the motions’ the practice, the less I learn.

Yoga does not discriminate and it will ruthlessly illuminate the bullshit we tell ourselves and the areas we need to work on. How we move our body on the mat is a reflection of how we live our lives. Does the alarm go off in the morning and you think, “I can’t be bothered today, I’m going back to sleep,” or does the alarm go off and you still think, “I’m tired, I can’t be bothered with my practice, but I know it’s important so up I get!” BIG difference between these two mindsets and something to really contemplate as it will set the tone for your day and your life. I too, struggle with this. I am not some yoga machine who does not feel pain, get tired or want to run away and hide sometimes. As I mentioned earlier, my entire body is in pain right now. To sleep, to eat, to shower has all become an effort. If anything, I just want to sleep for the next month because I’m human and I’m bloody tired!

But I won’t give up on my practice as I would consider it an injustice to myself should I give up and allow the temporary aches dictate how I approach each day. Why? Because this would not just be a reflection of my practice, but it would also be a reflection of my life. Of my approach to life.

So with all that said – I figure it is a new year and let’s all take advantage of that. We have new ambitions, desires, goals we want to achieve – all of which can only be achieved through action. Even when you don’t feel like it, or it’s been a shitty day that you want well behind you – act. Don’t give up on You. Try not to allow external forces out there dictate how you live your life. Develop rituals to ensure each and every day is bringing you a little nearer to your goals. Try not to fixate on the goal either. Enjoy the journey. The struggles. The aches and pains. View these challenges as growth. Learning. An opportunity to deepen your connection with yourself. If you practice yoga and a posture is tough that day. Work with it. Don’t give up. Explore it a little more. Challenge yourself a little further. You might be surprised what you uncover in the process.

And remember, it is the moments when you want to run and hide that you need to face head on. Sure, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it may hurt a little. But at the end of the day, there is nothing more satisfying than achieving something you have worked hard for.

So get back on your mat, be present in the moment, don’t give up and enjoy the bumps along the way :)

Sending hugs from India

Jessica xx

Why following your passion can change the world

 
 

Disrupting an industry. Challenging the status quo. This is not for personal gain or a publicity stunt. But rather a pursuit for positive change. For me, yoga is not about money. It never has been. Rather, I want to offer those who desire happier and healthier lives access to a practice, which has been instrumental in shaping who I am today. To teach others how to reconnect with their body and mind in a society that is becoming increasingly desensitized. In doing so, I believe this can lead to a kinder world, one person at a time.

I’m green when it comes to business. Whilst my career has involved management roles, having your own business is a very different story, and what I’m quickly learning is that creating change is no easy task. But there are a few things I’m sure of…

Naming the studio Jessica Dewar Yoga has both its advantages and disadvantages. A key disadvantage is the risk to my reputation should something go wrong at the studio. For example, poor quality teaching. But whilst this is a risk, I also see consider this an advantage as it symbolises the high standards I set for my teachers and myself. I want people to associate this name with a space that offers the utmost respect, kindness and support to every single person who walks in the door. I’m still unsure if this will be a long-term decision, but for a grass roots studio, I want people to know my values are underpinning the culture we develop and that I am prepared to put myself out there as we disrupt tired industries in pursuit of creating much-needed change.

I’m quickly learning about up’s and down’s of business. This is an extraordinarily challenging process, in all forms of the word challenging. But what I feel stops many people from giving their own businesses a try is the fear of inexperience. Whilst I’m naïve to many things, I feel this has been a blessing in disguise. It’s forcing me to ask questions, to chat with our community and be vulnerable about the entire process. In doing so, people are willingly offering their suggestions and advice, which I believe is crucial if we want to build something people actually want. Rather than looking at other business models and trying to copy them in an attempt to compete, we are doing our own thing! Why? Because it’s not about the competition of business, but rather it’s about offering a quality service. One that people have helped to build. Sure, I don’t have an MBA, but I don’t think you need an MBA to work this out? I’m not interested in doing things the ‘right way’. The ‘right way’ (whatever that is) can be a very rigid and stifling way of thinking. It’s in the flexibility to pivot and change things (that aren’t working) quickly where I’ve found the most benefit. I consider this common sense…

What I know to be true is that I must continue to dream big even though the odds are stacked against me. I know there are many who do not believe a successful donation-based yoga studio is possible, but I intend to prove otherwise. With a model that embraces the uniqueness of teachers, allowing them to teach as they teach, and a philosophy that yoga should be accessible to all, I believe change to the industry is bound to follow.

And with that, I also believe we all have the power to change the world. Driven by our passion to do so, and a relentless vision for something better, change is inevitable in whatever industry you’re in. For me, the studio is a success with just one student before me. For if that student walks away from the class feeling a little more centred, relaxed and aware, then the benefits will extend well beyond this one person.

If you have a vision for something better, to challenge the status quo, remember it’s the combination of little wins that will ultimately lead to the success of that vision. I’m in no way qualified to talk about what it means to run a financially thriving business. Absolutely not. But I do feel qualified to speak about what it means to live a life that is chosen by you, not for you. We all have the potential to do incredible things in this lifetime. We just need to find the courage to take that first step. From there, the rest will follow.

I’m inspired by all the people who set out to live their lives according to their own doing. I believe you need to do just three things to realise your biggest dreams: Keep going, believe in yourself and dare to be different. Why? Because ultimately they are the people who change the world.

To become a part of our community, be sure to book into a class! You’re also most welcome to attend an upcoming Beginners Yoga workshop should you be new to the practice and a little unsure where to start. You can reserve your space here.

Sending hugs,

Jessica xx

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.