By Guest Author Jacinta Aalsma, Yoga Circle
The biggest obstacle for me when I moved from Auckland to Whangarei, was leaving behind my yoga studio, yoga community and yoga friends.
My yoga studio is my safe place and my yoga friends felt like my family. On the other hand, I knew this move was eventually a good thing for me to do.
So here I am in rural New Zealand; my home practice and me. Suddenly I spent heaps of time at home, instead of at yoga studios.
My partner prices himself lucky, since I’ve discovered a new hobby in doing lots of home baking and trying new recipes. Hardly any neighbours, instead heaps of birds, ducks and sheep.
One of the first things to do in a new town is of course discover new yoga studios.
Iyengar yoga studio, check. Asthanga yoga studio, check. Hatha yoga studio, check. Tibetan yoga, check. Vinyasa yoga studio?! Nope.
Yes, there is yoga. And no, I haven’t discovered a close yoga community yet.
Surprisingly, just a few yoga schools have their own website. The local paper seems to be one of the main ways to promote yourself as a yoga teacher, as well as the local organic store. No funky online login systems or free community classes in the local yoga clothes store.
I decided to stick to my home yoga practice for now and I discovered the advantages; I do yoga whenever it suits me and practice the poses I feel like doing. No travel time to the yoga studio and no comparing with other students or teachers. But of course I miss the social aspect and a teacher to guide and support me to the next level.
My yoga classes in Auckland were almost an obsession, you could say.
I felt frustrated, if I were not able to go to my favourite class. And at other times, I felt frustrated, because I didn’t learn anything exciting or new. I questioned myself if it was a good thing to go to class, if I could also have practiced at home at my own pace.
No doubts anymore about going to class or home practice. Now it is just me and I can focus on building up my personal practice and teaching skills. I keep on learning to listen closely, what kind of practice does my body and/or mind really feel like?
In the meantime, I talk about yoga to (almost) everyone who crosses my path (yes, I’m a yoga nerd).
While promoting myself as a teacher I come across a wide variety of ‘yoga excuses’:
- It is too slow!
- It is too hard!
- I’m too old!
- I’m too stiff!
I truly believe that everyone can enjoy yoga as long as you find the right style and teacher.
Yet I also meet lots of people who could benefit from yoga hugely and are motivated themselves as well. So, yes there is definitely a market!
At times, I feel a bit sad if I see all the interesting and amazing yoga events and workshops going on in Auckland.
I have left behind my few yoga students and yoga friends who were keen for me to cover their classes. Though, I have a gut feeling that this is the right place for me, only my mind is resisting now and then.
I love the friendliness and relaxed atmosphere what comes with moving from an urban area to a more rural area in almost every country.
People seem to have the time to chat with you and are willing to help you out setting up a yoga business. They’re interested and supportive and most people don’t have much yoga knowledge or experience yet which creates an open-minded attitude.
It is not so much a hype yet, which makes yoga less commercialized and competitive. On the other hand, you have less people practicing yoga, so you have to put more effort into marketing yoga and focus initially on small personal classes which could potentially develop into bigger affordable classes.
We’ve ended up in a beautiful house with a three acre garden, definitely a perfect place to practice and teach yoga during summer. Another great aspect of rural living is almost no traffic or parking issues!
My yoga life here is simpler and that is essentially what fits me the most.
My mum once told me;
A big city is probably too daunting for you, since there is so much going on and you’re enthusiastic about heaps of different things and at the same time you have a hard time making decisions. A busy stressed life is then easily created. You get lost in all your different activities and are not really developing yourself in a focused way. You’re more running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
I’ve a hard time admitting that she is probably right.
I love the city and I love all the excitement going on. But if I look back, I’m the most relaxed and at ease with myself and my life while living in a smaller town, village or rural area with the occasional trip to the big city for some excitement and stimulation.
While connecting with other yoga teachers, I came across a great opportunity; setting up a new yoga business in central Whangarei with another known and experienced teacher.
Most yoga studios here are small compared with Auckland, but who knows where we will be in a couple of years? I envision a popular yoga spot where you feel nourished, challenged and loved by the growing Whangarei yoga community.
More about Jacinta:
Jacinta is a Holland-born yogini and currently in the process of starting teaching at a new studio in Whangarei: Yoga Circle.
She has completed a Master degree in Health Sciences – including extensive travel to Africa, as well as the Journey Practitioner Programme developed by Brandon Bays. In 2011 she immigrated to New Zealand to be with her Kiwi partner. She loves to share her ideas and write about health, wellbeing and yoga on her blog.