In 1993 I decided to leave my career as a freelance TV Producer and move to Byron Bay to become a full time yoga teacher. This was a spur of the moment decision when my boyfriend at time asked me “what’s stopping you from moving in with me?” I knew in that moment I was leaving Sydney for good and 3 weeks later I left much to the shock and horror of my family and friends!
We bought a property in the hills overlooking the ocean on 8 acres with spectacular views, added 2 new Kelpies to keep my old girl company and my partner decided to work overseas for a further 8 weeks. So the landing was not so easy and I had to fend on my own, knowing no one in Byron and not having my old haunts to go to when I was in need of some company!
I decided I had to do something as there was hardly any film work in those days so I bought a “hippy” shop in the main street of Byron Bay and became a retailer for the first time. I took a friend to Bali with me and we walked the streets of Seminyak to find new stock and I produced my own label which enabled me to travel back to Bali 3-4 times a year. I transformed the shop and lasted for 4 years. I sold the shop in 1999 and a week later flew to India to study Astanga Yoga in Mysore.
It took a few days to aclimatise to the environment and the strong yoga. My indian teacher was very sweet and patient. The first week I became ill with a bad fever. I had to change hotels for a softer bed as my body was in so much pain. I was bed bound for 3 days and when I returned to the mat my teacher’s only comment was “very good”. Apparently my heart had opened! For me it felt like I went to hell and back!
I had an initiation that my teacher organised with a very holy Vishnava guru. This ceremony was to give me a new mantra and it went for about 2hrs. I was branded on each shoulder with a hot iron with the wheel and the conch that Vishnu holds. I was given a Sanyasin name “Sudasi” and a new mantra. A week later I was deported and landed back home in Byron Bay after being held in detention all night with 2 police women trying to bribe me and the light was on the whole time. That was a test in faith!
My landing back in Byron was bliss and as I swam in the ocean the next day the dolphins made themselves known right next to me surfing the waves. It was a perfect sunny day and water was crystal clear. Great to be home!
After that experience I had this very strong urge to run “holistic health retreats” somewhere in Byron. I told a friend of my idea and she knew of a place just down the road. I drove in, got out of my car, looked at the ocean and views and said “this is it”. 3 months later I ran my first Byron Bay yoga retreat for 3 days. I designed the program, hired the team and off we went. I just knew in my heart this was what I wanted to do. Other teachers asked why I didn’t want to run Yoga Teacher Trainings but I just felt this was my passion. To offer a place for people to come to learn yoga and meditation, eat healthy food, cleanse and de-stress but most importantly re-evaluate their lives and establish a deeper connection with ‘self’.
So my life changed from that moment in India to a life of service and meaning. I had been living a high flying, fast paced existence earning extremely good money but I was lost inside. I needed to find my “centre” and carry on the knowledge of what I had learned. It was pointed out to me at the time of my initiation that I was expected to do that.
The journey has been very rewarding and I feel very humble to have had the opportunity to teach and connect with so many beautiful friends world wide. At times the journey has been disheartening and lonely only to reinforce what I needed to learn and look at within myself. Who we think we are can change in a moment of self realisation and life takes on a different meaning again.