Lydia is another wonderful Yogi who I met while doing the IYTA’s Yoga Teacher Training Course.
Her journey has opened up a myriad of different pathways. She has run her own yoga centre and managed to combine a fascinating yoga career while bringing up three daughters.
She currently lives in Melbourne, Vic.
As a teenager, Lydia used to do the dishes standing on one leg, with her opposite foot resting against her inner thigh. Her family thought it was hilarious.
‘I had no idea what I was doing,’ Lydia recalls, ‘but it felt really good!’
It wasn’t until a decade later, Lydia discovered this funny posture was in fact the asana, Tree Pose.
‘I was in my second year at University and my friend persuaded me to attend a yoga class,’ says Lydia. ‘At the time, I led a busy life and had a lot of nervous tension. I giggled uncontrollably through the Yoga Nidra, but I kept going back because I felt there was something there for me.’
Lydia attended the class weekly until she graduated three years later and discovered the Yoga Education Centre run by Shri Vijayedev Yogendra and his wife Jill, in St Kilda, Melbourne.
‘At the time, a lot of their teaching methods were considered radical,’ says Lydia.
‘There was a great emphasis on meditation and we were encouraged to arrive early and start with a 20 minute meditation.
The classes were also segregated to help cater specifically to women’s needs, promoting the role of women in practice of yoga.
‘It was particularly inspiring for me, as a child of the 1950s and 60s, to observe how the practices empowered the women through their own self-development,’ says Lydia.
It was a purification process for Lydia who up until that time had been a self-confessed, reactive personality – highly-strung and nervous. But gradually Yoga helped her develop more self-control and compassion.
Another turning point came when she read the book ‘Yoga Physical Education’ by (Smt) Shrimati Sitadevi Yogendra , one of the first modern women yogis to write a teacher training handbook on yoga and meditation.
Practising Yoga and developing her meditation practice was a great balance to the demands of her job as a modern languages teacher at a senior school. And the subsequent challenges of raising a young family with her husband, Andrew.
Then in 2000, Lydia, Andrew and two of their three young daughters, Tanya and Catherine, (the oldest, Stephanie, stayed behind to attend Uni) moved from Melbourne to Sydney, where Lydia noticed a flyer advertising a yoga teacher training course run by the IYTA.
‘I was terribly excited when I filled in the form. It had always been a dream of mine to teach Yoga,’ she says.
‘The course lived up to my expectations. I was hugely impressed with the how comprehensive the course was and the quality of teaching.’
After Lydia qualified in 2001, she began teaching a class from her home. ‘At first I had just one student – for four weeks! But more students joined, and then one class became two, then three became four.
Two years later, Lydia was able to fulfill another dream – of opening her own Yoga studio. Calma Lifestyle quickly became a thriving centre offering natural therapies and a vast array of weekly yoga classes.
Lydia discovered running a yoga studio meant wearing many hats – CEO, finance, marketing, & business development and of course, teaching yoga & meditation classes. And she also discovered the value and healing that Natural Therapies can bring.
The centre grew exponentially and although Lydia loved it, she was also aware of the responsibility (and honour) of holding that space for so many people. After three years, the studio blitzed the community business awards on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, winning accolades for health, yoga and fitness.
After some unexpected plans to move back to Melbourne for family reasons fell through, Lydia felt the need to shift gears and focus on her inner growth.
‘I completed a Meditation Facilitators Certificate at Nature Care College and delved deeply into Christian Meditation and Contemplative Prayer.’
Lydia then became a member of ATMA – the Australian Teachers of Meditation Association.
Then in 2010, Lydia took on the role of Administrator for the IYTA’s Teacher Training course, where she lectured in Meditation and Business Practices for Yoga on the course. She has been a member of the Committee of Management and had a stint as chairperson of the Strategic Planning Committee.
Lydia also took this time to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage to an ashram in upstate New York where she revelled in the opportunity to deepen her own meditation practice.
Since then her yoga journey has gone full circle. She has undertaken training in Blueprint Healing – a fusion of Chiron & Pranic Healing and Pleiadean Light Work – and participated in a Hormone Yoga Therapy weekend put together by Dinah Rodrigues, from Brazil, herself an integral member of IYTA.
She says: ‘This system has revolutionised my yoga practice and brought back to the fore all those self-empowering aspects of my practice from the start of my journey and the importance of homeostasis.’
‘The wonderful thing about the study of yoga is that you never stop learning,’ says Lydia. ‘And it is only at this time in my life that I have fully begun to appreciate the hugely pivotal role that the hypophysis plays in endocrine health, influencing all metabolic processes in the body for both women and men.’
To those only just beginning their yoga journey, Lydia’s advice is to follow your dreams and to remember that self-reliance in your practice is paramount. And to be true to yourself – rather than doing what you think may be expected of you.
Today Lydia meditates daily, enjoying a yoga asana practice in the afternoons. One dream yet to be fulfilled in her yoga journey is to travel to India and immerse herself in its richness of spirituality. She also continues to look forward to growing, learning, participating and contemplating.
And as for doing the washing up in tree pose. ‘Not any more,’ laughs Lydia, ‘but it’s always been one of my favourite poses!’
This article, written by Katie Brown, first appeared in the IYTA’s International Light magazine