Interview by Milda Urban, Summersalt Yoga finder
We’re so happy to welcome back the incredible SUP yoga teacher Rosie Markwick to our Summersalt for the 2 weeks of SUP yoga retreats in summer 2020. Besides the exciting classes on paddleboards, Rosie offers so much more – her deep knowledge of the practice, the inward journey and finding your own true voice. Enjoy this wonderful interview and come and meet Rosie this summer on our beautiful island!
Why and when did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
For a long time I didn’t think I would embark on a yoga teacher training, I loved the practice personally and I loved being a part of the yoga community where I lived but I sort of had this idea that it was something I wanted to ‘keep for myself’. As a psychologist and a natural ‘giver’ in lots of parts of my life I think I had this belief that yoga was going to be the one thing I would hold as a ‘me’ thing. Of course things change and I believe that most people, after they have been practicing for a while, crave a deepening of the vast study of yoga. A yoga teacher training is a great way to do this. I had also been called on in my work to teach morning classes to my colleagues and so in some ways the role of the teacher chose me as opposed to the other way round.
At a transitional time in my own life I found myself in Bali early 2016 where I embarked on an intense and deeply transformational personal development course (that happened to also be a yoga teacher training 🙂 ) and before I knew what was happening I had cultivated a deep knowing that I wanted to share some of what I had experienced with others. Roll on a really magical few years, a lot more trainings and countless humans met, taught and practiced with. I couldn’t have made a better non-decision decision I think! I will always think of myself as student first and teacher second and believe that this practice is meant to be shared. It seems funny that I would have once thought that teaching yoga would be anything other than a hugely rewarding and energetically giving experience. Now I believe it is me time, you time and us time!
What do you enjoy most about teaching yoga?
I love seeing the moment, or moments, when students realize how good it can feel to be really in your own body. For many of us we are lead to believe it’s not a place where joy, peace, love etc. can all be found and our default is to distract ourselves, allow our thoughts to take us somewhere else or even assume there is something wrong with us. Yoga, bodywork, getting outside, physical adventures are all incredible tools to explore what it is like to really be in your body. And the journey to embodiment really is a beautiful one to witness.
Potentially even more so though, I love the chats! Sounds odd perhaps, but teaching yoga means I get to have all these incredible interactions with incredible humans all day every day. Sometimes the chats are long, deep, sometimes quick, sometimes light, and at times they are heavy. And I love them all! Little moments of honest connection is probably what I enjoy most about teaching yoga.
Name your personal favorite benefits of yoga?
- Refined Intuition. Yoga really helps me find a greater trust in my physical body and enables me to really listen and tune into my energetic body. Typically it is our thoughts that get in the way of our intuition (sure there is a quote in there somewhere?!) and so by honing these other parts of ourselves, just like we learn and feed the mind, we are able to drop more easily into that intuitive, deeply wise space that exists within all of us already.
- Stronger core, stronger power center! I am a bit of a pelvic stability / core geek, I believe it is central for injury healing and prevention as well as improved posture, digestion and balance (to name just a few). In my own yoga practice I have seen big changes to my overall physical strength and have been able to heal old injuries through finding and maintaining a deeper connection to the core. And to take things off the mat and board, it was when working with the core in my own yoga and SUP practice that I began to notice shifts in my ability to live more fully in my power centre as well. Win win!
- Authentic Living. My yoga practice gently challenges me to ‘meet’ myself. To get to know more about my body, find my edges, my resistance, to notice where I hold limits about what I can and can’t do to find my comfort zone and learn what I like am out of it. This regular check-in inspires me to get real, to get comfortable with my strengths and my vulnerabilities and keeps me on track in the pursuit of living a life authentic to me.
Do you have any advice for new yoga students and why they should not be afraid to start practicing?
Just start! There is nothing like the beginning and it is a place to be inspired within and not afraid of. If you need a more personal motivation – when I first began practicing, years of running meant that I couldn’t sit with my legs crossed as the teacher kept asking for, let alone touch my toes! The early yoga practice I think is fast and slow, all at once.
But I assure you before you know it the body will open a little, and even sooner than that you will notice how you can step away from the ‘you’ of your mind and find a little space between the thoughts. Find a teacher that you resonate with and that you trust and makes it feel like being with a good friend and most of all always hold true this simple truth; Yoga is for every single body.
Why do you think participating in a yoga retreat is a good experience?
Well firstly I think there are the more obvious reasons; you get to be somewhere most likely very beautiful, you get to have exciting, interesting experiences in that beautiful place and those experiences will make you feel really good!
On a practical level, retreats are a great way to deepen your yoga practice, the transformation that can be achieved through practicing up to twice a day everyday are huge. Even just a week on retreat has the potential to really up level your practice. So it is great if you are looking to depend your knowledge in this space.
Space I think is also a word that comes up a lot when I think about retreats. We give ourselves this space that might not normally be experienced in our day to day. Even with a schedule of yoga classes, adventurous activities, outdoor pursuits and all the other great things you get to fill your day with, a retreat really offers a (week-long) moment of space. Space out of our everyday lives to check in, take stock, figure out where we are at, perhaps become inspired again as to where we really want to go. Like a little roadside pit stop! And to continue the metaphor…
Think of it like this; on a yoga retreat the vehicle might be yoga, but the fuel is the environment, the steering wheel the sunshine, the windows are salty ocean swims and the seat-belts are the new friends and big chats. And the road is, well still the road. Only here you get to remember that it is your road, and there is a beautiful chance to pause and look at the map. All in a week!
Balance between healthy, “yogi” living and enjoying, indulging in life’s pleasures is often questioned by many. How do you think it’s best to reach that balance?
This is a really interesting one! And something that is certainly a continuity learning each day for me. But I think this is exactly how we should think of this concept. Balance to me is a choice, and one that can be made moment to moment. It is not something we acquire and then try to maintain.
Adding the wellness world here makes it extra interesting because so often we are told that the more exercise, the more green juice, the more yoga the better. And to a degree this is true. Having said that, this shouldn’t be at the risk of balance. In fact too much energy into our wellness routines can lead to injury and over stress on the body, not to mention the mental stress that can incur then when we miss a session of a tightly held routine. Too little, yes of course we won’t see development but too much and we run risk of overdoing it. What was once a positive intention becoming detrimental.
One of my favorite mantras to live by is… ‘follow your delight’. This derives from a concept called The Joy Current and this idea that one of the surefire ways for living happily and healthily is to find and follow what brings us deep, true, honest joy. Much easier said than done arguably and a practice in its own right. Complement this with the choice piece I mentioned above and these make my personal tools for reaching and continually choosing to be in balance. When I am truthful about what brings me joy I acknowledge that it is a beautiful mix of wellness, exercise, paddling, yoga, discipline as well as freedom, indulgence, rest and banana bread! And so in following all of these things I make a choice each day to be in balance.
To finish up this quote sums this idea of balance, choice and joy up perfectly;
‘If we do not push ourselves enough we do not grow, but if we push ourselves too much we regress. What is enough will change depending on where we are and what we are doing. In that sense, the present moment is always some kind of beginning.’ (Sakyong Mipham)