They're crazy but I love them!

 
Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor
 

As I write this I’m sitting on my mothers balcony in my favourite part of the world, Encounter Bay. I have a view of the ocean, the sun has just risen and the world around me is still asleep. I’ve just finished my practice, watching as the world goes from dark to light, and as I sip my cup of tea writing this, I feel nothing but an overwhelming sense gratitude.

The Easter weekend just been has been nothing short of chaotic – to put it frankly. My entire family would agree. This is a time of year when we all get together – countless children, extended family, dogs, cats… Everyone is here and we are all under the same roof. Brady Bunch eat your heart out! And yet chaos aside, I am always so saddened to leave and so grateful for having been a part of it.

There are tears, the odd argument, many laughs and a lot of catching up. Whilst my family get togethers are the surest way of promoting anxiety even in the calmest of person, I really do love them. Owen and I are really quiet people and considering we have no family back in Melbourne, these hectic gatherings are now few and far between. And let’s not pretend that our distance doesn’t contribute to making them (our gatherings) more bearable every year. But chaos aside, at the end of the day, this is my family and I love and miss them all. We decided to move to Melbourne for many reasons, a primary reason being that there are many more opportunities as compared with Adelaide. But this has come at a rather large sacrifice – being that we are no longer near to our families.

Growing up, I recall this desperation to get out of the house, travel and be away from everyone. I wanted to find myself and learn to stand on my own two feet. I was tired of everyone elses opinions and the feeling that I will never be taken seriously (as I’m the baby). Interestingly enough, however, having taken this time and space through travel and moving away, I’ve come to realize just how important my family is. How much they mean to me – craziness and all. The little things that use to frustrate me no longer do. Rather I can laugh at these things. I can appreciate and accept the vast differences between us, as well as the similarities we share.

Owen and I have no intention of moving back to Adelaide any time soon. Our life is now in Melbourne and we love it there. But this doesn’t mean it is easy to leave our family each and every time our little holidays are over. Sitting here, overlooking my favourite view in the world with mum in the room next to me is so comforting. I’m always sad to leave and wish I could just make time stand still for a little while longer. But the reality is, I can’t. Nor can any of us. Which leaves me with no choice but to feel grateful for the time we’ve shared.

I’ve been very present this weekend which has not always been easy for me to do, but has been important for my own peace of mind and happiness. I was always desperate to hold onto moments in fear of weekends or holidays ending – so much so I didn’t enjoy the time at all. My dread of good things coming to an end always came, something I use to feel so bitter about. But not now. I believe happiness is found through presence – through ones ability to be present. If we can be present then we deeply experience each and every moment – chaos and all!

If we are in the moment, then we will never experience that feeling of regret or longing for we know we made the most of something important to us. This is where I find happiness and I hope others will find it too.

We will drive home to Melbourne today – Owen and our two furry babies – and we will reflect fondly on the weekend just been, knowing we made the most of it and that there are more special times ahead.

Sending grateful hugs,

Jessica xx

 

Patience is a virtue... that I lack.

 
Jessica Dewar Yoga Urdhva Padmasana
 

Patience. Pfffftttt. Who has patience!

If anyone knows what it feels like to want something and want it now, it’s me. Patience is not exactly something I would consider one of my stronger traits. In my career, as a typical ‘overachiever’, I was determined to accelerate my way to the top of the corporate ladder. I wanted to be in management, have the salary and prestige (how wrong I was) that goes with saying I’m a manager. I’ll be damned if I’m just an employee. Without realizing, I began Jessica Dewar Yoga with a similar mindset. I wanted to have the perfect branding, studio setup, marketing plans in place, policies organized, bookkeeping set up, legal work drawn up, professional website… I wanted a polished product because I didn’t want to open a studio that was nothing less than the highest possible standard that I set for myself, because I wanted my students to experience nothing less.

Well, it turns out this was not to be. Never before have I had to scrape and scrounge and get quite as resourceful as I have with Jessica Dewar Yoga. And in retrospect, this has not only helped ground me, but it’s reminded me of a few home truths, namely: 1) we don’t all get what we want when we want it. And 2) even if everything were handed to us on a silver platter, then where is the learning, much less the appreciation for the journey?

The earliest months of starting Jessica Dewar Yoga were by far some of the toughest I’ve ever experienced in my life. The uncertainty of being able to pay my rent – for the roof over my head and the studio, the challenges with trying to juggle bills and basic living expenses. It was, and in many respects continues to be, a constant challenge. Whilst I dreamed of the day coming when I wouldn’t need to panic that rent was looming and that I had the perfect studio with a great marketing team in place, what I’ve come to understand is that I was in no way ready for this. As a business owner I mean. I wasn’t ready to manage anything larger than what I had in the beginning (which was just myself). I could have had the best marketing plan laid out, but if I didn’t truly understand our studio and the needs of the community (which I only partially know now), then how could I have possibly given my students what they want? It would have been misguided energy and the loss of a large sum of money no doubt. Rather, by being forced to take this entire process slowly, and make a million and one mistakes along the way, I’ve learned invaluable lessons in business and in life.

When I felt like the walls were closing in (not too long ago) I knew it was important to hold on. To trust the process. I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel where I would see the studio start to pick up organically through the small means of marketing I have available to me – primarily word of mouth. And it really has. On the Wednesday just been, our studio was featured in The Urban List! So sure – it is nice to get lots of publicity and funding overnight, but if I don’t know what to do with it, then what’s the point? Now, I’m in a place where the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place and I can maximize the support we receive to try and grow the awareness a little further.

So as a final note – to myself and for those who care to learn – don’t wish the journey away. Rather, experience it. Enjoy the messy and uncertain times. There is profound learning to be had in these places. Oh, and a little bit of patience can go a long way it seems.. ;)

Sending hugs,

Jessica xx (the always uncertain one!)

What artists, musicians and yoga practitioners have in common

 
 

As a little girl, I tried many things – drama, singing, acting… but none of these activities stuck. They didn’t resonate. Upon reflection, I know a primary reason for not furthering my singing career (I loved singing) was due to feeling disconnected from my teachers. As a somewhat insecure child who had big dreams but lacked the confidence to chase them, I needed a teacher who was nurturing, understanding and encouraging. Not to fall to the back of the class and feel like a number in the room.

Being the baby of eight children meant funds were tight, so unfortunately access for private tuition was not available to me. This meant I needed to train with whoever was available in the average classes. Whilst many of these classes were still excellent and I had some lovely teachers over the years, I never had the opportunity to really step up my learning. I needed to stick with the course curriculum.

Yoga was another area of my life where I felt I wasn’t progressing the way I would like to. Whilst I enjoyed my regular group classes for years, there was something missing. The teacher could only offer so much attention to me. I needed a space where I could work on my practice and have the support of my teacher to improve and grow.

You see – to develop a skill, takes patience, practice and commitment. I began to realise that yoga was no different to any other activity out there. For example, when you look at the best athletes, artists, musicians and yes, yoga practitioners in the world, there is one thing they all have in common. A teacher. An experienced practitioner who can guide the student along a path that encourages ongoing growth and development. 

So when we translate this concept into that of a yoga practitioner, I often have people come to me and ask why they’re not progressing with their practice. Why the pain is still there, why the body remains rigid, why the stress levels remain high and (despite how egoistic this may sound), why they can’t perform the more advanced asanas after years of trying.

There are two very key reasons to explain the above:

1)    A lack of consistency. More often than not people expect a weekly practice is sufficient. Whilst any practice is better than no practice, the truth is, the best results come from a consistent, regular practice. No Olympian has ever won a gold medal through sporadic practice.

So what does this look like in terms of days to practice yoga? 6 days a week, minimum 30 minutes a day. For the serious ones, and I don’t mean Olympians, just those who seek strong change, this is where it begins. 

2)    A lack of guidance. How many professional athletes, musicians, singers and so on have reached world record standards without the support of a teacher? Whilst I’m aware there are odd cases, generally speaking, everyone has a coach of some sort, a mentor if you will. These are the people who help to set goals, inspire the practitioner/student to push a little harder even when they (the student) feel like there is nothing more to give, who encourage the student to get up and try again every time he/she falls.

You see, there is nothing more powerful than the relationship between a teacher and student. The bond they share is unbreakable. The trust and belief they have for one another is so intimate and profoundly important that nothing could come between them. It is in this space, in this place of trust, that they will both excel. The teacher will be motivated and inspired to keep raising the bar whilst the student will continue to aim for it.

Whilst I appreciate not all people can have the opportunity to build this type of relationship via private tuition, in the yoga world, there is one very powerful way the same bond and learning can be achieved without the expense of such classes – and this is through a practice known as Mysore Style yoga. A traditional way of learning yoga, it is where practitioners learn the discipline of self-practice whilst having the support of their teacher to observe and progress the student as he/she is deemed ready. Since returning to Mysore and practicing in this way, it’s reminded me of how powerful this practice is. Through kind but also strict instruction, I’ve been reminded of areas where I have become lazy and forced to work harder. I’vealso been challenged to take my practice to the next level as I demonstrate the strength and body/mind awareness to do so. From here I now have more tools to implement into my regular practice back home before returning again next year.

I’m therefore excited and passionate about sharing Mysore Style yoga with my students, as I genuinely believe it is the best form of learning. That it is through this approach to yoga that practitioners can see the quickest results re freeing themselves of ailments and stress whilst also building strength and flexibility in their body and mind. It is the consistent and guided practice that allows the space for this growth to occur. And then what’s on the other side of this? Health. A feeling of connection with ourselves and others. Reduced stress… Life! People can start focusing on living again rather than healing. Why? Because the practice will make it so.

So if ever you’re feeling stagnant in your practice (whatever your practice could be- art, music, yoga…) look for opportunities to learn from others. Who can you seek out as a mentor, a teacher that you believe could take you to the next level? Take the time to find this person and invest in this training – because at the end of the day, this will be your biggest investment.

Sending huge hugs and love,

Jessica xx