- the back (& forward!) story
Words by Ally
There's an open intention borne of huge wonder & boundless love, and the rest is up to Life!
I found meditation, then the other aspects of Yoga, twenty years ago, in that very humanesque seeking of 'yeh-no-but-really,-what-is-this-whole-life-bizzo?'-ness. That was long before an accident that resulted in an incomplete spinal cord injury, which made for a few changes. I received back most of the use of my legs for which I'm every day grateful, and like every moment in each of our lives - that month moved the trajectory of things, inwardly and outwardly, a notch or three. Particularly since that time, as I explore life with a new (each day) experience of my body and mind - curiosities, confusions and connections, the teachings are born anew within me, & me within them. Like so many others, I find within yoga tools to nurture ever-growing openness, a constantly shifting and deepening understanding, and a more expansive letting go of the mind clingings that limit experience of Life. Within the exploration and beautiful fallings, I find challenges, immense freedom, and huge love.
Partway through my teacher training, my teacher asked me to teach in his studio, and I said yes only because 'no' would have been out of fear - I was more scared than I can word: I was nothing like him, & I sure as heck wasn't enlightened. He stood me down one end of the big room and made me teach him from there, trying to help me learn to speak so that someone could hear me. But when I gave a restorative class, I felt the shared humanity in the room drop effortlessly and wordlessly into itself - pre-class fear & all...sign me up scotty-ji, that was it.
After getting tired of teaching in rented halls (& hauling mats, props, lamps, curtains, candles...you name it haha I hauled it), in 2014 a little haven-to-be in my long-term home suburb of Paddo finally turned up in my search, & with a lot of elbow grease & support from my yoga teacher who was also conveniently a painter, very little sleep but so much love, Santosha unfurled into our lives! Wendy & Jaimee, and a few others who we completed our initial teacher training together with, jumped in (including Rick, half of Brisbane's best sign-writing/mural painting duo Frank & Mimi, who still paints our signs by hand in exchange for yoga!); you guys wandered down the stairs and into our lives; and we've been loving exploring together with you ever since :)
When dreaming this shared space into being, a few elements were key:
1. Small classes.
No halls full of nameless faces with a teacher in a headset giving a performance. No receptionists. Community: a place to connect inwardly AND outwardly. Because in the end those ain't any different. Quality teaching with individual attention - as close to the real deal of One-with-One as possible in a studio.
2. Passionate authenticity. Real Yoga for real humans.
No fluff, shiny pants or 'yoga shred' for tight abs & buns. The best teachers, deeply dedicated to what they do, wise enough to know they'll always be fallible, & courageous enough to not only live their humanity, but to humbly unfurl right there along with you.
3. Accessibility & Community.
Affordable classes, open and welcoming to all. A weekly community class for a nominal charge for those not able to pay more, & to support newly graduated teacher trainees to find their confidence, nurturing the greater yoga community. To pay it forward - to always be in service somehow in a volunteer capacity, and to gift on at Santosha what my teacher gave me, offering energy exchanges instead of financial payment wherever possible - and so to nurture the expansion of our perception as a society, about how our shared lot can roll.
As I began to experience the fullness of life that is the running of a held-in-Heart yoga space, I began to teach a little less to make room for that. In 2014 I moved into my van, to keep Santosha thriving and able to continue to offer small individualised classes with some of Brisbane's best teachers, for affordable prices, in a heart-nourishing space on the city fringe (no mean feat!). And to tell you the truth, most of the time I couldn't be happier than life in the van! When your office is the park or ocean, stuff is okay - so for that too, thankyou Santosha family!
In early 2017, Life informed us we suddenly had to find a new home for Santosha, & just in the nick of time, our incredible secret-garden haven we abide in now, fell into our hands. (And I got to fit out another studio - secretly one of my very favourite things! Once my knees forgive me ;))
Interestingly, it was around the same time that our current crew of teachers manifested. I've always followed the deepest wisdom of the Heart with teachers, trusting that knowing completely - and I see now the much higher perspective that Life serves when you can completely let go into it. This crew is incredible beyond any hopes I could have held - both individually, wow so much, and especially as a collective. With access to practice with each of these beings, I truly feel the full spectrum of the Wisdom of Yoga is served and shared - with deep respect, huge passion and great joy, and immense, always expanding, knowledge and understanding.
Personally in addition to running the studio, I am currently completing a long-awaited three year course in Yoga Therapy with Saraswathi Vasudevan, through Yoga Therapy Australia. My practice and teaching are beginning to be infused by these studies, and are also influenced by Restorative, Iyengar, Trauma-informed, Accessible Yoga, Ashtanga/Vinyasa approaches, as well as by the Yogic, Non-Dualist, Buddhist & Taoist approaches to Life. I am also certified as a Yin Yoga teacher, and as a Children's and Teens Yoga teacher. l hold a Bachelor of Social Science (Community Development), and believe passionately in the capacity of individual inner awareness, and outward conscious, compassionate connection and action, to positively affect the world. In addition, I am studying for my vet science degree, towards over time as it unfolds, creating the second part of Santosha - a human-animal sanctuary out of the city, where animals who have been mistreated in mass food production and other situations, as well as any humans who are drawn to, can come to be in simplicity with the earth, to help each other, and to heal.
My personal focus is simple, wordless union with Life itself, but everyone's exploration is unique, and should be celebrated as such!
I'm hugely grateful that Santosha serves as a space of inner (& outer) connection and nourishment for all who share it; to the other amazing teachers sharing the space and filling it with Love; and especially for the Heart - the wisdom - of the people who come and practise here together. Santosha is such a cockles-warming community, my Heart bursts open on the regular! Thankyou for the opportunity to share part of this beautiful journey of Life together with all of you, it's truly a huge honour, and a WHOLE lot of fun and love.
I hope that we can, individually and as community, learn to drop the fight, the over-protection, the craving to become something other than what we are - and with a sense of wonder and awe, allow Life - ourselves, each other, the natural world - to Be. Flowing, falling, flying - exactly as it perfectly Is.
And I hope that as body and mind open to this quietness of Heart, that an inner calm and freeing joy naturally arises :)
Life eh? What a wonderful idea!