We’re very happy to introduce to you a wonderful teacher for our summer Balance Yoga Retreats – Sarah Henderson! She’s a passionate yogi who loves sharing her experience and guide her students through their yoga and growth journeys. Guys, we can’t wait for you to meet her! Join one of our Balance yoga retreats this May and June.
Why and when did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
When I started to steadily practice yoga I felt the most beautiful and unexpected changes in my mind and heart. I knew that this practice was changing my life, and I needed to learn more, so I signed up for teacher training in 2013. I didn’t go into the training thinking that I would teach – I simply wanted to deepen my knowledge and practice. During my teacher training, I felt immense connection and gratitude to the other students and teachers, to my mind and body, and to the ancient tradition. As we supported each other and shared conversation and discussion, I also became very aware of how much the practice had also benefited the lives of others. When I started practice teaching, I realized how rewarding it was to guide people to let go, tap into their inner wisdom, and be present. I’ve never been a comfortable public speaker, so this was something I definitely had to overcome. But sharing this practice is really something that comes from my heart, so though at first, I was very nervous, I learned to release that fear J I decided to start teaching shortly after completing the training because I knew the transformative potential of yoga and I wanted to share that with others. I feel honored to teach this practice and the gifts of self-acceptance, ease, and intuition that it can cultivate within our hearts and minds.
What do you enjoy most about teaching yoga?
I genuinely love sharing something that has been such a positive influence in my own life! I love the community that naturally develops from regularly sharing a space with others, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to connect to each and every beautiful and bright soul. I truly feel the mind-body-spirit connection that this practice fosters, and from experience know that it can facilitate an incredible journey of self-discovery. It brings me joy to hold space, guide students into stillness, help them reflect and hear the whispers of their heart. I love to see the changes both in my students and myself as we progress on our individual journeys. One of the greatest aspects of teaching yoga is the awareness of how much my students are teaching me. Teaching has opened something inside of me – I’ve grown immeasurably as a person, and have learned so much about myself by sharing this practice.
What are the biggest yoga benefits to you personally?
I can’t say enough good things about how yoga has benefited me personally, but everything points back to personal growth.
– Breathing: the connection to my breath, and my ability to use my breath as an anchor to steady and center myself. I can always come back to it in any situation and use it to control and unite my mind, body, and heart.
– Authenticity: being able to silence the inner critic and expectations of others, tap into my intuitive wisdom, and hear my truth. I’ve gotten to know myself through the self-study inherent in the practice and find it easier to make decisions that reflect my values and guide me towards living my best life. Yoga reminds me to live fully in the present, regardless of what arises.
– Body intelligence and self-confidence: I’ve experienced increased confidence through strength gained from my practice, watching my growth and my journey as I’m able to move into poses that I didn’t have the core stability to hold before, or that perhaps made me anxious (deep heart-openers!). I’ve gained body awareness, and a desire to take care of my health – both physical and mental.
Once I started on this journey and tasted the changes that it brought, there was no going back.
Yoga has helped me to live a more authentic, passionate, and peaceful life. I have learned tools that help me to ride the waves of life with more grace, wisdom, and acceptance – the lessons learned on the mat during practice definitely carry off the mat into my life.
Do you have any advice for new yoga students and why they should not be afraid to start practicing?
I’ll start with one of my favorite quotes about yoga:
“Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self” – The Bhagavad Gita.
None of this implies physical strength or abilities, but will instead occur through witnessing and connecting to your breath, and the gentle opening of your mind and heart. New students should never be afraid to start practicing – the hardest part is just finding the courage or desire to show up! Who you are and where you are at is already enough. Everyone practices for their own reason, and they’re focused on their own practice, and their own journey. If you are able to breathe, you are able to practice yoga J
My advice is to just get there! Find a style, a studio, and teacher that feels right to you – you will know pretty quickly if they don’t. Explore the journey one day at a time, and allow it to unfold. Trust yourself. And if it doesn’t feel right, don’t force it – yoga will find its way into your life if and when you need it.
What changes do you notice in students after some time practicing yoga?
Increased concentration, flexibility, strength, acceptance, and well-being are some of the major changes. I sometimes see the removal or healing of emotional, mental, or physical blocks with time. I notice students who initially have difficulty finding stillness or comfort in Savasana will over time find comfort with themselves and look forward to this silence. I see increased body intelligence and confidence as students find and play their edges. They are able to settle into stillness much quicker, often settling into meditation and tuning into their breath as soon as they arrive, before class starts. As their practice progresses, students learn to honor their bodies and energy levels, meeting themselves where they’re at that day for poses where modifications or different levels of challenge are offered. I always feel good if someone feels comfortable enough to take Child’s Pose instead of the pose I’m offering, or instead of taking Child’s Pose as they normally would, feel ready to challenge themselves to try a new pose.
Why do you think participating in a yoga retreat is a good experience?
Being away at a yoga retreat gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a different space for a while, removing distractions and responsibilities like work, school, family and social obligations. I think of it as a much-needed pause from day-to-day life, which can sometimes be very fast-paced and overwhelming. Taking a week to focus on yourself and your own wellness is self-care. By hitting pause and breathing deeply, there is healing that can occur simply by taking time to process and feel. Spiritual growth, new friendships, self-confidence, and joy are also great side effects of retreats and travel 😉
Do you have any examples of how to find the balance between living a healthy life, but still indulging in life’s pleasures?
Yes, balance is so necessary in life to avoid burnout and fill our own cups!
I’ve learned to reward myself for effort, not outcome. Like having a celebratory mimosa and delicious brunch after finishing my first half-marathon (regardless of my race time)! 😉
I try to eat healthy 70-80% of the time, but realize if I deprive myself and don’t indulge sometimes I’m missing out on some of the joys in life, and setting unrealistic expectations that I can’t possibly meet. I’ve also learned to not feel guilty about slowing down in life and savoring the moment, not needing to be busy or always doing something. I allow myself to sit down in the sunshine, read a book and enjoy the view, or close my eyes and nap in the warmth. I like to set goals to give myself direction and purpose, but I also want to be present, enjoy the little things, and celebrate life!