Sorry Thanks I Love You
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Yoga And The Art of Washing Up

Yoga And The Art of Washing Up

This week our Yoga By Donation class will be taught by new recruit and one Sydney’s most in-demand yoga teachers, Misch Gomez.  Misch is a full time teacher at Redfern’s Humming Puppy, and also teaches at Paramount Recreation Club in Surry Hills, Barefoot Yoga in Paddington and corporate offices around Sydney. She talks us through the journey from yoga newbie in daggy clothes to full time yoga teacher, how she used yoga to deal with her severe anxiety and panic disorder diagnosis, and how yoga can help you wash the dishes and reply to emails.

“I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and panic disorder in my teens and had been prescribed a variety of medications which I was never very good at taking consistently. I would have severe panic attacks and anxious episodes multiple times a week - sometimes multiple times a day when I was having a bad patch… I had days where I couldn’t leave my house, couldn’t interact with other people, couldn’t even get out of bed and prepare a meal for myself.

I fell into yoga completely by accident. I’ve always been active and meditated for a long time but a very dear friend of mine was the first person to introduce me to yoga... I fell head over heels in love with yoga, it truly was love at first asana. My first real life teacher told me the reason I was so sweaty during class was because I had so much bad karma to work through! It’s funny now but at the time that made me work even harder as if I could sweat and stretch out all of my past life sins! 

I was practising twice a day, morning and afternoon, when I decided I should go on a week-long “yoga retreat” in Bali. While I was there, immersed in my daily practice, a fellow student asked me if I was a yoga teacher. It took me a moment to reply as the universe opened up around me as if singing “YES!” whilst I replied, haltingly, no. That’s when I decided that I needed to chase that feeling that yoga still gives me every time I practice and offer the practice: the humbling, space-holding, joyous place where we are one, and all one.

I came home and signed up to a 200 hour training in Bronte.  It was sheer convenience at first… I wanted somewhere I could "fit it in" to my life and study yoga part time.  [I was working] in middle management, under a lot of external and self imposed pressure and stress. When I found yoga I experienced a significant shift in the tension and soreness my body was physically manifesting. I had constant pain in my shoulders and upper back for as long as I can remember. All of a sudden it completely disappeared.

Along with this, I would remain in a kind of “bliss state” post yoga which I’d never encountered through any other kind of exercise - different to the endorphin high from lifting weights or doing cardio. Everything looked and felt slightly different - the world seemed to burn a little brighter. I was much more able to see the beauty in my day to day.

Two weeks into the five month teaching course, I quit my job and dove in head first!  

I did my first training at Sukha Mukha and studied further with Katie Manitsas (Jivamukti) including Ayurveda and pre & post-natal Yoga, Yin with Embodied Flow, Vinyasa Flow with Laughing Lotus and I’m about to do Hatha and Tantra training at The Practice in Bali.  One of the yogic observances is “svadhyaya” which translates to self study and it really is an ongoing, ever evolving practice. I read and practice A LOT which guides my teaching and offerings. 

When I first started teaching yoga I looked for that special place that felt like home - which for me was Humming Puppy in Redfern. I was practising and interning there and teaching small classes to my friends, colleagues and anyone else I could rope into my classes in a tiny room I’d made into a shala above a bar I was managing.

I was asked to come on board as a receptionist for nine hours per week -  which obviously is not enough to pay Sydney rent - but I saw a door and I jumped through it with a resounding yes. I’m definitely an “ask questions later” kind of person, when something feels right I go for it and I figure the rest out later. (So far, so good - thank you universe.)

I was teaching community classes, offering donations to The Yoga Foundation who “bring the benefits of yoga to disadvantaged people experiencing anxiety and depression” and slowly but surely started teaching regular classes in studios. I’ve really only been a full time yoga teacher for about two years now, teaching twenty classes a week or more, both in studios [like Paramount Recreation Club in Surry Hills, The Well in Bondi, Barefoot Yoga in Paddington and Veda Yoga by Yogibeings in Bondi and Paddington] as well as corporate and private yoga.

When I found out there was a yoga offering at Sorry Thanks I Love You I couldn’t say no to being on the teaching bench - especially with the new donation based Wednesday night classes supporting the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.  I love the ethos of Sorry Thanks I Love You and the carefully curated offering of handmade, unique products that make the best gifts!  A big part of the yoga tradition is being of service to others and I’m so grateful for the opportunity from Sorry Thanks I Love You to put the teachings into practice. 

In my experience, at first the hardest part of meeting yourself on your mat for yoga or meditation is that initial drop into stillness and quiet. All of a sudden all of the “stuff” (stress, to-do list, worries, anxiety, tension, bodily issues, mind chatter) comes rushing in like a wave. Most of the time it is challenging to be still and quiet while this is happening inside of us - I guess that’s why they call it a practice! 

The magic happens when you can sit in the discomfort of all of the things that are trying to draw you away from the moment and just begin to tune in. Begin to observe that you are not your thoughts, or even your body and that this “stuff” is like weather, it arises and falls away, changing rather quickly. Underneath all of it is the serene, peaceful, open nature of your true self. Joyful, loving, kind, abundant.

When you can find this place within, it becomes much easier to find this place throughout the challenges and discomfort off the mat, in “real life,” in places and people. I find that yoga can help find this place through the connection of breath and movement. It’s almost like the mind and body are so distracted by figuring out where the right hand and left leg go, whilst breathing deeply through it all, that your happy place finds you.

It becomes a moving meditation that is transferable to all situations - your morning pot of tea, replying to emails, packing your husband’s lunch, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth. Everything becomes yoga as you are able to become present and clear.

I have observed this “self improvement” work in many, many individuals... From something like weekly stress from your job being softened by a Friday night Yin practice, to severe and lifelong depression being improved by daily Vinyasa practice. There is a practice for everyone - and I haven’t even mentioned the benefits of releasing physical bodily stress!

[These days] my mornings are quite prescriptive with meditation, incense, tea and tarot cards with the yoga asana (physical movement practice) fitting into my day whenever it comes - as my schedule definitely isn’t 9am-5pm, and doing yoga for the sake of it isn’t appealing to me. It’s a moving meditation and the real yoga happens moment to moment, off the mat. 

Yoga has completely changed the state of my mind and I truly believe it is medicinal and healing in so many ways.   There are so many benefits to a yoga practice. Physical, mental, spiritual. It’s one of those things that is different for everyone and until you find the practice that is right for you, dabble in everything! Try different styles, studios, teachers… in person, online,  from a book - however you get the yoga, it is yours and will be ever evolving. It is a practice and if you don’t try, you will never know.”


We offer free yoga on Monday nights and Yoga By Donation on Wednesday nights in our Sydney store at No 1 Martin Place. Mats are provided and all levels are welcome. Misch will be teaching this Wednesday 17 May. To join us at either class, click here.