The Yoga from the Inside story
The Yoga from the Inside studio in Richmond was opened by me, Catherine Sherlock, in 2017. I had been teaching group classes in the Hawkesbury since 2012 and becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my teaching and was questioning my own practice. I felt captivated by the public images of yoga – young, slim, flexible bodies in amazingly contorted shapes. But I was also left feeling somewhat inadequate in measuring up to these. And, at my stage of life I wasn’t going to be moving any closer to achieving them.
Recognising that a lot of my own teaching and practice was about striving to attain something, be something else – the perfect pose, a different body shape, ridding myself of cellulite, or achieving some state of inner peace, somewhere off in the future – I knew I needed change. I noticed that I always wanted to be somewhere else, someone else. I was missing the miraculousness (I know it’s not a word) of my current state.
You don’t have to fix yourself to experience peace
My meditation training and practice was probably the greatest influence in this shift in understanding. I was learning, and experiencing, that the peace I was seeking could only ever be found in the present moment. That no matter what was happening in the external circumstances of my life, that peace was always here, beneath the surface, in the here and now.
The last thing I needed to do was to strive away from it towards some imagined future state. I didn’t need to fix my body, rid myself of disquieting and troubling thoughts or recover from grief. These were all part of my valid human experience. I discovered that in the midst of all of these things that peace was always present, just waiting to be welcomed. The pathway to it, was to be with these experiences, not to try to rid myself of them.
A new way of teaching
And so, my practice changed, my teaching changed. I stopped the striving to get somewhere else and made a practice of finding the peace amidst the challenges that my life brought me.
Through my years of teaching experience, I had often noticed in group classes, that what I was teaching didn’t really seem appropriate for many people in the room. I needed to find a way of teaching that met people where they are, celebrated this, and invited them to seek out the peace that is theirs just exactly as they are. This meant slowing things down, taking out the fancy poses in recognition that they aren’t necessary to gain the benefits of yoga. Challenging the cultural norm of striving towards some future improved state. More of a being practice than a doing practice.
The map metaphor
I’m not suggesting that we don’t want to make progress. That is our nature, we are constantly changing and evolving. Of course we want that to be in a positive direction. I like to use the metaphor of a map. If we have a destination that we want to make our way to, the very first thing we need to know is exactly where we are now, so that we can plan our route. In fact, I think both knowing where we are and knowing where we want to go are essential!
From the inside to the outside
Where we want to go needs to be informed by our hearts, our own inner longings, rather than expectations from outside of ourselves – family, society, culture. Tapping into these heart-felt desires allows us to discover the unique contribution that we bring to life, and thus from the inside we bring our best contribution to the outside, the best contribution we can make to life. Our authentic Self.
The values that guide our mission
- We all matter, everyone is good enough no matter what our experiences have been. At Yoga from the Inside we do not discriminate and recognise that we share a common humanity, that we’re all in this together. Our lives are interconnected. And even though equality might be an unrealisable dream in terms of circumstances, it is unquestionable in terms of our worth. We are all a part of something bigger than ourselves and this mystery supports us if we allow it.
- Our source of strength and empowerment comes from the inside. Self care and self compassion are our starting point, bringing acceptance and care to ourselves so that we can extend it outward in ever increasing ripples. It takes courage to live fully and we are all brave enough to find this within ourselves.
- We can trust life and trust our experiences. We live in balance between the natural world and the man made world. We have an inbuilt system to return us to balance that we can tap into and trust. Whatever life brings us is an opportunity for growth and transformation.
- Yoga and meditation are tools for transformation. We offer these tools for anyone and make particular efforts to make them available for anyone with mental health issues.
How do we live our values?
- Our classes are inclusive, everyone is welcome! Our approach to yoga is concerned with developing a mind body connection, through breath-centred movement, breathing practices and meditation.
- We offer presentations, workshops and events that provide information, education and experiences that reflect the above values.
- We provide outreach into the community: in prisons, hospitals, schools, the workplace and in community service organisations.
- Yoga from the Inside has a relationship with Cana Communities offering yoga and mindfulness at Cana Farm and within programs in correctional facilities.