Tell us a bit more about your own journey
My journey into yoga really started, when I look back on it, in high school when I was diagnosed with anorexia. It was during this time that I was experiencing anxiety and depression and although after being diagnosed with the eating disorder I physically became well fairly quickly, mentally, the cloud of ‘doom’ so-to-speak lingered. And for many years.
I went through the rest of High School and then into University not quite the same sprightly, competitive girl I was growing up. One could say I’d lost that ‘fire in the belly’ and the girl who was once great at capturing everyone’s attention with both my sense of humour and athletic abilities was lost.
After many years in the advertising industry and a nine-month working stint over in the UK, I came back to Australia and decided to ‘ease’ my way back into fitness. I thought yoga would be a good place to start as I assumed it would give me long, lean muscles and it seemed like a soft re-entry back into fitness. I still remember my first class clearly. I fumbled my way through it like a drunk Bambi and, to my surprise, it was actually quite physically demanding. Upon walking home that night form class I stopped in my tracks to ‘feel’. For the very first time in a long time, I had an intensely overwhelming ‘feeling’ which was big for me because I’d been numb for so long. I kept practicing and within a month of going to yoga regularly I was off my medication and have never looked back. Yoga became my medicine.
What was the turning point that helped you find flow in your own life?
I guess you could say it was within my own mess of opening a business and running myself into the ground. I’d been encouraging students for a few years by this stage to be kind to themselves, to take life less seriously and slow down to savour the small things and when I realised I wasn’t doing any of these things myself anymore, I knew something had to change. The pain of being both burnt out and feeling like a fraud was too much. I took myself home to the country for a bit and not only made time but prioritised things like a slow walk without my phone, twice daily meditations, long chats and hangs with people who make me laugh and doing things for others without expecting anything in return. These are all simple things that can have a profound effect on the way we live and love. They soon became the core principles in my online course, The Space Between (designed to help people slow down) as well as eventually my book, Life in Flow.
One of your chapters is called Re-prioritising Joy. Do you think we have lost the art of being joyful and if so, how can we redress that?
I think those of us that are A-Type, over achieving women (which is pretty much every woman I know!) in particular tend to put joy on the lower end of the priorities. After kids, work, partners and social ‘obligations’, doing the things that bring us joy can get forgotten.
In my own personal experience with burnout, I was so focused on my career and getting over a hurtful break up that I buried myself in things that I thought would make me feel productive and fulfilled – usually work – but what I’ve actually worked out is that hanging out with a friend who gives me a good belly laugh for an hour ends up making me more productive because I’m happy, positive and energised; taking an hour out of my Sunday to make a soup brings me joy for no other reason than ‘it ‘just does’. Sometimes I think we feel like we have to justify our joy time to others when really just doing things because we ‘wanna’ and because we feel good doing it key to any kind of ‘balance’.
And I’ve been asked well how do you find what brings you joy when you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel and burnt out? Simple answer – slow down. From that place your body knows the way; from that place everything else gets clear. Not always immediately but eventually.
What are your three favourite wellness quotes and why?
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” – Lao Tzu
“The most wasted day of all is one without laughter.” Nicholas Chamfort (I also put this one in my book)
“Those who flow as life flows, know they need no other force.” Lao Tzu
What are your top tips for people who want to start meditating and don’t know how?
Ask friends who meditate what they do and enquire. Get curious. And just because one style doesn’t resonate with you doesn’t mean another won’t. Persistence will pay off.
Just because you can’t quieten the mind doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. Secret?…no one can fully quieten the mind but through the practice of meditation we learn to become less attached to the thoughts and realise they are just that – thoughts and mostly illusions.
Carve out the time to do it and practice consistently. It’s a game changer!
One conscious breath
This is my direct route to ‘grounded’. And unless I’m in the middle of some deep trauma or catastrophe (in those times I need something a little more heavy duty), it works. Every time.
This one can be done anywhere and anytime. It’s easy-peasy and something we do naturally all day, every day. It’s just that 98 per cent of the time, we’re unaware of the fact that we’re doing it because we’re lost in a trance of ‘busy-ness’.
Most of the time we zip from one thing to another unaware that we’re not breathing to our full potential. If stressed or anxious, we’ll tend to breathe into the chest region, leading to shallower breaths and possibly exacerbating the state we’re in.
If we learn to breath ‘consciously’ right down into the lower lobes of the lungs, we activate the parasympathetic nerve receptors, which chills us out and calms us right down.
One conscious breath will change your state. Immediately
Own the flow / SLOW BREATH
Wherever you are, take a moment to either softly gaze at a low point in front of you or close your eyes. Take one hand to the abdomen and the other just above. Take a generous but gentle breath in, feeling the hands lift and a long, slow breath out, feeling the hands drop. Repeat as many times as necessary.
Remind yourself: You are exactly where you are meant to be. This isn’t a mistake. Take a deep breath and root yourself in trust.
Extracted from Life in Flow by Kate Kendall, Photography by Amanda Prior, Murdoch Books RRP $35. Out March 4’