As a yoga teacher, teaching roughly 30 classes a week, most of which are Yoga Flow - dynamic and athletic in style, being in lockdown is an abrupt change in pace.
Before lockdown was announced again, I was heavily booked with weekly classes and weekend yoga retreats each month for the rest of the year, so I was admittedly relieved at the idea of a 2 week break to catch up on sleep.
Then as the realization kicked in that lockdown was likely to continue for months, my mindset switched from being grateful for sleep ins and a mid-year reset, to knowing I had to put in place a food and workout plan to stay sharp mentally & emotionally, and hone my skill set physically.
I teach strong and progressive flow yoga classes and knew I have to stay on top of my training not only to be ready to return when we re-open, but also keep my emotional state upbeat. As a teacher who practices with almost 600 people a week, you are used to a real buzz in the workplace. It’s like being a performer who is used to doing live shows and hearing the crowds applaud with delight. There is a particular vibe one becomes used to experiencing daily and when that suddenly disappears, the quiet is lovely at first, but soon gets dull.
Know Your Values
Knowing my values was crucial for lockdown life, creating and sticking to a structured routine with self-respecting, healthy daily habits has completely removed the need for willpower. Thank goodness because willpower has never worked for me.
When our values are met, we feel happy, fulfilled, and super motivated, and we naturally want to keep feeling that way. In acknowledging this, I figured out which of my values were being realized as a yoga teacher, that made me feel alive and excited about life, and how I could transfer those values to lockdown life and reap the benefits of the rest and slower pace, but still enjoy the emotional highs, mental stimulation, and physical exertion of being at work.
My top values when busy at work are:
- Service & Appreciation
The first few days of lockdown I made the most of catching up on sleep which I desperately needed, time with my partner, eating whatever I wanted to, watching movies and going for cold dips in the ocean. But then the reality kicked in that if I didn’t keep moving and watch what I ate, I’d struggle to get back into my yoga tights before too long.
I began studying how eating foods 100% derived from nature would help keep my body in check. Which meant that all processed foods, even adding sauce to my vegetables, had to go as they contained sugar and preservatives that weren’t from nature and therefore, added extra kilos to my thighs.
After one week of eating nothing but fruit and vegetables, making my own sauces from vegetables, herbs and spices and eating dates to curb my sweet tooth, I had lost 3 kilos and my skin which had really erupted earlier this year, became completely clear.
This eating plan was the easiest I’d ever had in my life because I could eat as much as I wanted, and my body didn’t hold excess weight because the calories from nature derived foods were very low and fiber high, so they were filling.
And eating sweet potato chips made in the air fryer for breakfast is so fun!
With my new and super simple food plan sorted that took care of the ‘Health’ (and beauty) part of my values because I sure did feel great in my body and about myself knowing I was eating in a way that kept my me in good shape, looking healthy and feeling vibrant and happy.
Just before lockdown I’d signed up for an online yoga teacher training course so I could dive back into the fundamentals and history of yoga and to requalify as most yoga teachers love to do.
I hardly had a spare second to look at the course with my hectic work schedule, so lockdown was a god send giving me time to immerse myself into the material. It took up plenty of hours of each day, but I committed to it and before I knew, I had completed it! Giving me that yummy feeling of achievement everyone craves in my life.
Service & Appreciation
There’s no denying that helping others makes you feel amazing. When you help others, feel-good chemicals are released in your body, it gives you perspective and strengthens the important relationships in life.
For myself, this could only be fulfilled in one way. Teaching yoga.
I managed to rope in my cousin’s rowing team into weekly virtual classes, my brother and his wife who were struggling with post baby weight gain and some friends who needed to move due to their desk jobs making them stiff and sore.
This gave me a schedule which helped me structure my days, it got my creative juices flowing as I tailored classes to everyone’s different needs. The heartwarming feelings I get from teaching at Virgin Active rushed back.
I showed up fully, served to the best of my ability with the intention to spread joy and help people get out of their head and into their body to feel grounded, calm, connected and good in their own skin.
And, I received appreciation 😊
One thing I noticed as a yoga teacher, is that students love to progress. Sure, everyone comes to relax and release stress, but they absolutely love to have fun and progress in their practice too. Even just a little.
Yoga classes need to have a vibe, where people are excited to come because it’s always new and fresh and there’s an excited energy in the room as they wonder, ‘what’s the teacher got in store for us today?’. They know it’ll feel good, they know they’ll be challenged, and they know the teacher can see where they’re at, knowing when they can go further, encourage them to go for it, and celebrate their breakthroughs with them.
Acknowledging my values of progressing has inspired me to do super challenging yoga classes and skills-based courses with some of my favourite teachers around the world. I loved trying out arm balancing moves I previously avoided or had been too busy to practice and learning conditioning exercises that propel me into cool handstand variations that I know my students at Virgin Active would thoroughly enjoy having a crack at.
Having this time to learn new physical skills to add to my teaching repertoire has been priceless and certainly has been keeping me stimulated, motivated and returning to my yoga mat daily.
Enjoy This Time You Have
With all 4 of my top work values being met, the need for willpower to stay mentally and physically in shape has been redundant. Does a mother need external motivation or willpower to feed her child?
No. She is internally motivated.
Just like the feeling of having values fulfilled is so ingrained in our being and feels so good, that the need for external motivation isn’t necessary. The internal motivation of feeling fulfillment drives each waking moment.
Enjoy your lockdown friends. I cannot wait to see you back in our Virgin Active clubs soon. Make sure you keep moving in the meantime, because I have some seriously fun new moves for you and you better be ready!
Michelle is a former personal trainer, martial arts coach, and author of ‘In Love -Become Love and Love Comes’. She now channels her love of movement into yoga which has not only helped her physically but helped her overcome some major mental & emotional hurdles over the years as well. A dynamic yet nurturing yoga teacher of 8 years, Michelle has taught well over 3000 hours of classes in Sydney, interstate and overseas. Having acquired 5 yoga teaching certifications and attended numerous workshops, Michelle loves to keep progressing in her personal practise and pass fun new ways of moving onto her yoga students. Michelle believes that yoga is fun, and her students are often seen leaving with a big smile on their faces.
Interested to learn how getting active with Virgin Active can help your fitness journey? Talk to us today!