Why the yoga mat was first rolled out
I started regular attendance in Power Yoga and Yin Yoga classes from 2012, when I found out I had Osteoarthritis. I was attending class up to four times a week because I could feel the benefits. The yoga classes made a difference for me by improving my mobility and reducing potential flare ups. Recovery time from acute pain was also reduced when I practiced Metta, but I didn’t know about that word until later. Metta means loving kindness. It’s a word I can relate to both personally and in teaching others. It’s why you see “Metta on the Mat” as my motto. We all need a little self love and care. In context to my recovery time, Metta was being kind to myself and allowing space for healing.
After moving to Canberra, I was looking for a way to continue my yoga practice. One of my Brisbane teachers recommended I train with Yoga Trinity and this is where the teaching journey began in the Spring of 2016. I completed my first teacher training by January 2017 and four months after graduation, I finished up at my full-time Office Manager position to teach yoga.
What have I been up to since I started teaching?
I’ve had plenty of adventures, personal experiences and professional development. Where do I start? One of the first highlights I can remember is teaching yoga to the university students at University of Canberra (Ressies). I was on campus at UC FitX gym until 2020. My time has been donated for various causes: Canberra Pet Rescue and their Cats on Mats fundraising events to save and rehome kittens and cats, Yoga for Dignity by Share the Dignity to help women in need, and I held a fundraising class for Canteen’s Bandanna Day. There have been many events attended or taught at, both online and in person, like Summer’s End Yoga Festival, many Yoga Australia ACT events and online forums, International Women’s Day, Global Yoga Therapy Day, and the list goes on. Plus, in 2019 I held my first local suburban retreat. That was a great experience and I hope to hold a retreat in my home country, New Zealand, sometime in the future. I’m thinking the Southern Alps in Autumn, local food and day adventures!
Yoga is for Every Body
In 2018, I became an Accessible Yoga Ambassador and in 2020, a Certified Accessible Yoga Teacher. I advocate that the benefits of yoga should be accessible for everybody and every body. There are under served and excluded populations around the world that should not have to feel that way or miss out on being able to share in a yoga practice.
Being a plus sized yogi, I didn’t feel judged, excluded or treated like I was doing a lesser practice by my first teachers. They were awesome. However, many people believe that they cannot do yoga for one reason or another. When it comes to size, there is a common misconception the people practicing yoga are slender and super bendy. There are many plus sized yoga teachers and practitioners out there. It’s just that social media tends to focus on some things and not the broader picture. Having Osteoarthritis and other medical conditions can change what you can do, but the great part about yoga is that it adapts to your own personal practice. Yoga is not a one size fits all approach. You can do yoga, regardless of weight, age, ability, gender, religious belief, socioeconomic status or demographics. It’s a case of finding your definition of accessible.
My favourite thing to make yoga more accessible in classes is using props and sometimes even prop substitutes. There are so many things you can do with props. Sometimes you need to think outside the box and get creative to make a pose comfortable. It may require what I call a “bolster fort.” Ask me what that is after a class.
Yoga as Therapy
Not long after my first Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), I formed a goal in my mind to become a Yoga Therapist. Given my life experience with Osteoarthritis (OA) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and friends living with Fibromyalgia, I wanted to make a difference for them and others living with these and other conditions. I will also want to work with Allied Health Professionals in creating holistic team-oriented approaches to improving the health and well-being of people with these conditions.
I commenced Yoga Therapy training in May 2020. I was due to start training in August, but with closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I took the opportunity to get started. In 2021, instability in open travel between states and territories made it tricky. However, I completed my training in November 2021! For more information, visit the Yoga Therapy page.
Keep an eye on this page for more about my yoga journey. If you’d like to have a chat about what I can do to help you in yours, visit the Contact page.
Sarah Nuttridge is registered with Yoga Australia as a Level 2 Teacher.
“Yoga Australia is the peak professional body for Yoga in Australia.”
Member Number: 5324