Keeping an open mind

Jessica Dewar Yoga_Bharath Shetty

It took many years before finding a teacher I truly connected with. I'm pretty direct and I've never been a 'new-age' kind of person. As a side note - I find it disappointing yoga has been labeled as new age, which is ironic considering the practice is thousands of years old, but that's neither here nor there. Regardless of how yoga is labeled, new age or not, for many years I struggled with the practice. I kept with it as I knew there was something powerful within it that I was yet to unlock or experience (consciously anyway), but this didn't make it an easy practice to maintain. It turns out, one of the biggest barriers for me was my teacher. I've had many (teachers) over the years - my teachers varied as I moved house many times in my twenties. I was also quick to leave a studio if I didn't connect with a teacher. I found it particularly difficult practicing with teachers who behaved as though they were floating in a cloud of unshakable inner silence and pure elation. Whilst I have no doubt this state is attainable, and this is something we all work towards, I struggled with the voice that was so soft I thought the room would explode if my voice were to be heard in comparison. It wasn't me. And if you've met me, you know I have anything but a calm, serene, unshakable stillness in my voice. I'm loud, nasal and have a twang in my accent that no-one can quite pick, especially myself. I'm from Adelaide so maybe that explains something...

So where am I headed with this? That's right, finding a teacher I connected with. It wasn't until I began practicing with Guiji in India that I began to feel more connected with the practice and with myself. There is absolutely nothing new-agey about him. He is strict, he is direct and he has no issue with forcefully pulling and pushing my body around to bring it into alignment. There is nothing soft about this type of practice. It is what it is and I like that. It's about the art of yoga, the discipline of yoga and maintaining a deep respect for what the practice represents. The seriousness with which the practice is taught has captured my full attention and is what draws me back to India each year.

But whilst it is wonderful I have a teacher whom I connect with and trust implicitly, I appreciate maintaining a self-practice here in Australia is quite limiting in itself. With the guidance of my teacher, my practice accelerates. A momentum that is hard to achieve when practicing on your own every morning. So I have decided it is time to venture out and seek experienced Ashtanga teachers, those who too, travel to Mysore. I shall seek out a teacher who shares this same devotion and respect for the practice. Someone who is about the practice, not the idea of it.

This is going to be a confronting experience for me as I've not given myself the opportunity to continue a regular practice with a new teacher in Australia. This is in part due to having struggled for so long to find a quality teacher I resonate with, and also if I'm honest with myself, is partly due to an arrogant mindset that no other teacher could measure up to Him. But this is a mindset that I know does not serve me. It prevents me from expanding my horizons and indirectly minimises not only the brilliance of many teachers out there, but also my own potential to be a brilliant teacher one day also. If I do not allow myself to connect and learn from others back here, then I shall be very limited in my long term potential and growth.

Moral of the story - we need teachers and we need to be open to what others can show us. This does not mean we take advice or guidance from just anyone. Be particular about who you practice/work with. But unless we give others a try, we can never know what potential we are missing.

Sending open minded hugs,

Jessica xx

Life: sometimes you just gotta close your eyes, hold on tight and enjoy the ride


This has been one of the toughest years of my entire life. Pursing the dream of sharing yoga with the world has meant many sacrifices. I’ve had to skimp and save, I’ve worked 80+ hour weeks, I’ve travelled interstate and overseas for meetings and training. I’ve nearly gone bankrupt multiple times. Little luxuries like going out for lunches or dinners have gone out the window. I’ve waited in the studio countless times for students who never arrive. I’ve interviewed many teachers, met with great leaders in the industry, met with some not so great leaders… I’ve learned how to manage conflicts with staff and teachers, how to maintain a website, walked countless miles dropping flyers into letterboxes. I’ve cried, laughed, fallen flat on my face and then cried again. I mean, seriously, this has been a tough, busy year.

But despite all the challenges, I can hands down say it has been the most phenomenal year of my life. My personal growth has been unbelievable. Sure, I’ve taken on some pretty significant risks, and I feel like I’m on the edge of a precipice every day, but watching as our studio unfolds has been nothing short of amazing.

Truth be told - I’m pretty tough on myself. I’m committed to making this donation yoga model work. I feel so passionate about helping others access this practice that I really will do whatever it takes to make it work. I’ve heard the term Type A overachiever flying around lately, so let’s work with that to help describe my personality. This means I place myself under huge levels of pressure to see things through. There is always a feeling like I could be doing more. That I am always behind -especially during these early stages of the business. I have no funding for support with administrative tasks etc so it is constantly GO GO GO. This can be tiring. But I still push on, because I must. The challenge for me is to be a little kinder to myself and grant myself permission to not have to do every task on the To-Do list completed all at once. That it’s ok if I can’t get to everything. And if I don’t know everything.

I’m sharing this with you all because I know I’m not the only one who is hard on myself when it comes to building something you’re excited about. We all tend to be pretty tough on ourselves a little too often. We are our own harshest critic. Our toughest competitor. There tends to be this common theme of always looking at what hasn’t been done, rather than focusing on what has been done or achieved.

This way of thinking, this mindset of never having done a good enough job, is tiring. Rather than allowing ourselves to feel happy with our achievements and enjoying the ride, it drains us. It quickly depletes whatever energy we have left for the things we love as its been wasted on negative thinking.

I chatted with Guruji recently about this rollercoaster ride I’m currently on. I explained to him I’ve been feeling anxious. That my moods are very up and down lately, all because of the uncertainty of running a studio, let alone the type of studio I’ve opened. I found his reply so reassuring and comforting.

First, he reminded me not to rush my Finishing Sequence (during my own personal training sessions). How did he know I’ve been rushing it?! In doing so, my body is not being given a chance to properly relax and rest. He was right – there are many mornings where time gets away from me and I need to rush through my finishing sequence. Doh!

He also assured this stage of the business, especially a brand new studio, will be very trying. But that I must go through this process to grow as a teacher, a student, business owner and human being. I find it so helpful to be reminded that this is a tough journey. That it’s not just me that finds it tough. That everyone finds it tough. Being alone most of the time, I often forget other studio owners have often experienced similar, with these same ups and downs.

With a final reminder from Guruji to maintain my Naddi Suddhi practice daily, I felt reassured that I’m not going crazy. Rather that I need to take more time to slow down, accept the journey, be patient with the journey and enjoy the ride.

Because hey, if we don’t enjoy the ride, whatever the ride looks like, then what’s the point?

I want to end this post with a reminder to myself and to all who read this, that life is meant for living. That there will always be challenges. Hurdles. Dramas. Things that just don’t work. But that it is good to have these challenges, hurdles and dramas. For it is through these experiences, and how we respond to them, that ultimately define us.

Sending hugs,

Jessica xx

Growth happens when you get uncomfortable


I’m aware that most of the people in my life think I’m a little crazy. I’ve always been the one who steps outside of ordinary life to experience what I believe is truly living. Unpredictable, new and exciting. More often than not this translates into “bloody uncomfortable!”.

When I reflect upon my life so far, all 30 years of it, I can’t help but look fondly upon some of the weird and wacky things I’ve done. From creating my first roadside stall selling coloured drinking straws, to taking 48 hour train rides on an Indian train - alone! - and now starting my own yoga studio in pursuit of a dream - my life is full of experiences that have always fostered learning, growth and on the odd occasion, sheer terror (and not just on my end.. “It’s ok mum. Keep breathing!”).

As a little girl I use to dream about the big things I was destined to do with my life. I’ve always been aware this life is short and with that in mind, I’ve been absolutely clear I want to make a really good go of it. What I naturally always did, and continue to do, was to place myself in different and always challenging situations. Learning to dance when I really have two left feet for one! Singing in public, signing up for presentation opportunities even though I’m absolutely shit scared terrified getting up there! Quitting a six figure income and leaving my entire life as I knew it behind to follow a dream… Intelligent? Maybe. Maybe not… Regardless, why do I do these things? Because I believe my life is meant to be lived how I choose. Not how someone else chose for me.

Do you  remember those Careers Advising Tests you did in years 10, 11 and 12 at school – you know, the ones which are meant to tell you what your ideal path in life is? Your perfect job. I remember being excited about one of the options which consistently came up for me – drama (despite my terror on stage). The rest offered very little by way of excitement for me personally. Law for one.. But having an academic family (lawyers, teachers and business owners) combined with very little self esteem, I never felt the unique path of something like acting was ever going to happen. I recall electing all the same subjects as my siblings when choosing university preferences. Law. Psychology. Criminology etc. I had no idea what I wanted to be, and couldn’t help but feel like a failure because I was now an adult (surely finishing school makes you an adult???) and had NO idea who I was, what I wanted to be, what I was capable of. As such, the easy option was to do what everyone in my family did. I had no mind of my own. I had no answers yet - and upon reflection, nor should I (and nor do I come to think of it!).

I fell into the classic path of school, university, full-time career. I’ll never forget bursting into tears on my first lunch hour of my first full time job. I called my mother crying and asked, “Is this it?!!!”. I was devastated that the rest of my life was to look like this 9-5 job. Answering to someone else and sacrificing my time, my life in exchange for money. Surely there was more to life. Wasn’t there?

It took almost 10 years for me to finally wake up and realize life didn’t need to be that way. Yes – the money was great  - but was it enough? Of course not. My life was falling apart. The work I did brought little meaning. When I eventually found the courage to let it all go and begin from scratch, I felt so liberated. So in control. And whilst times are tough at the moment (trying to get a new studio off the ground) I’m living my dream. I’m living my life, my way. I answer to myself. Every day I’m growing, evolving, becoming a more powerful human being in my own right. And whilst there are days where I worry (maybe panic is a better word here) everything is about to fall apart, I know there will always be a way to get through it. How do I know this? Because no other option exists.

So if you feel your life is disappearing down a path you’ve not chosen, ask yourself these questions to bring about some clarity. Be sure you take a good 20-30 minutes to really think through your answers. Don’t rip yourself off here. Your time, or more correctly, your life is too precious for that:

  1. “Whose path am I on? Mine or the one I feel has been expected of me by others?”

  2. “If I could do anything in the world and not fail at it, it would be ……………………?”

  3. “What’s holding me back?”

  4. “Am I making excuses to keep myself small when really I have the potential to live a fulfilling and happy life?”

  5. “What steps do I need to take next to make this happen?”

And now, hold on and enjoy the ride!

Sending huge hugs, love and congratulations your way. You can do this.

Jessica xx