Life is like a wheel. Sooner or later, it always comes around to where you started again.
As I hurtled down the motorway, tears began streaming down my face. I had been strong up until now but I couldn’t hold it in any longer, so I turned the stereo up a little louder hoping to drown out the sound of my own voice.
I turned off at Henderson and was greeted by the familiar sight of the Waitakere Ranges gleaming at me from a distance. Once again, I was pulled to the rugged black sand beaches of where my journey began 4 years ago.
The windy road out to Piha hadn’t changed but there were now new houses being built opposite the beach, and where I once parked my camper van, there were signs saying “no overnight camping.”
It was a Sunday and the beach was littered with people so I decided to drive to the more quieter Northern end. Memories came flooding in as I parked my car next to the grassy patch where I had pitched my tent a few years ago. I flung my jandals off and as I walked up the black sand dune towards the beach, an image of my beloved dog Kyra popped into my head. She had lived with me here in my van and she would always lick my face when I practiced yoga in the sand. We watched sunsets together and she kept me company throughout my transition to a new life.
Then, I suddenly became acutely aware that I was alone.
It was here amongst the crashing waves and craggy cliffs that I decided to leave my old life behind. It was here that I decided to go overseas and become a yoga teacher. It was here that I decided to break up with my ex fiancé. Now I was here again and faced with another important decision.
I thought the last blog I wrote was my happily ever after, but it seems that impermanence always has a way of catching up on me.
One year went fast, very fast.
From the moment we first met, I loved him deeply.
We spent three months talking on the phone before he offered to fly me to Australia to meet him via my job in Bali. I had no idea that his offer would be a critical turning point in my life’s direction.
I was at the pinnacle of what I had been trying to manifest. I had finally landed my dream job teaching yoga in a luxury 5-star resort and now I found myself falling in love.
We spent an amazing 10 days together in Australia, then I ventured on to Bali, and two weeks later he joined me. While in Australia I had been given the opportunity to collaborate with his Jiu Jitsu teacher and open a yoga studio on the Central Coast, and now I was mulling over my options. It all felt like a whirlwind, but something inside of me whispered to be cautious.
I sat with the uncertainty and I decided to tell him before he arrived that I wasn’t ready to start a business and set up a home with him in Australia because we hadn’t known each other for long. He also had 3 young kids and that scared me.
I loved my alone time in Bali, but I also missed him.
Then out of nowhere, I started to feel anxious a couple of days before he was due to arrive. I was confused as to why I was feeling that way, but I decided to ignore it.
After he arrived, all the synchronicities between us continued to flow, and we talked about our hopes and dreams of wanting to create a business together. We co-existed with all of the other honeymooners in the resort, newly in-love and completely besotted with each other, then 4 weeks later I boarded a plane with him back to Australia.
He had lost his job as a result of taking time off to spend with me, so like me, he was now homeless. Going from staying in a luxury 5-star resort to sleeping in the back of a car was a complete shock and having Bali belly and needing to be by a toilet 24/7 didn’t help.
He managed to find us a temporary place to stay but the frustration of our situation resulted in us arguing, which culminated in a break up.
As quickly as it had started, it was now coming to an end and I began to mentally prepare myself to return to New Zealand. Then out of nowhere, he suddenly said “I will fly you home.”
After being put in an uncomfortable situation, having to stay at his ex-wife’s house so he could spend time with his kids, I was adamant that this guy wasn’t right for me, nonetheless a few days later we booked our flights to New Zealand and our miserable attempt at breaking up was put to the side. For now.
Feeling like a complete failure, I moved into my daughter’s garage in Whangarei. It was freezing cold and in the middle of winter, and to make matters worse, I had injured my wrist, and I was struggling to practice yoga.
My doctor referred me to see an orthopedic surgeon who told me that it was likely that I needed surgery and I would have to stop doing yoga. My heart sank, and I cried uncontrollably. I had faced so many fears and let go of so much to become a yoga teacher and now I was being told that I had to think about changing my career.
My relationship was on and off and I was confronted with my worst fear- constant separation. He spent his time between me, his grieving mum and his kids in Australia. However, for some reason we couldn’t let each other go.
I had no income, no job, no car, no bedroom to sleep in, and all of my clothes were sitting in my suitcase. I was house-bound most of the time and I had to walk to all of my specialist and doctor’s appointments. I was struggling with recurrent bouts of bladder infections and a chronically inflamed and infected eye that wouldn’t open. I looked and felt hideous. I guess in a way I was obviously pissed off and didn’t want to see something!
My doctor ended up referring me to see a psychotherapist and then she signed a medical certificate for stress and depression and I ended up at the local dole office.
How the fuck did my life end up like this?! In a matter of a few months I had gone from what felt like the pinnacle of my career, to an all-time low.
I spent five months in therapy where I was faced with digging up a whole lot of trauma that I had buried as a child. Feelings of unworthiness, not being good enough, abandonment, fear, and insecurity got dragged up to the surface.
I did a whole lot of inner work, while the relationship I was in forced me to face my shadow self. He reflected back to me what I was used to experiencing in my childhood and every day was a battle to remain conscious and pain-free.
I slowly began putting the pieces of the puzzle together and I made amends with family members that I had become estranged from.
As spring approached, the clouds started to clear, and life started to gain more momentum. It turned out that my wrist didn’t need surgery. I could still continue to practice yoga and I began teaching at a local high school. I started a detox to improve my health and I decided to contact a psychic medium who my friend had recommended. The reading was nothing short of a miracle and it reinforced to me that I was on the right path and that I would find happiness.
I also decided that I may as well make the garage feel more like a bedroom, so I bought a queen-sized mattress and some draws. It was a huge milestone for me buying furniture again! Up until then, I had avoided anything that vaguely meant I was settled! However, I had reached a place of acceptance of my life situation and I was finally ready to unpack my suitcase!
Slowly, the dreams we once shared together started to fall to the background, but we held on to each other as tightly as we could. We thought, if we lived together things might change.
So, we started to look for a house. Somewhere we could both call home, and we decided that place was going to be in Auckland. It didn’t take long for us to find a house. Amongst the grueling arguments that left me completely depleted, we signed a 1-year lease and a few weeks later we moved into my dream lifestyle property.
I was living in a beautiful house, yet I couldn’t enjoy it and I lacked feeling at peace because we were constantly arguing. I would lay in bed at night and feel sick to my stomach. I knew I had let everything slide. My life, my happiness, my passions. I had made him the center of my universe and I had been so busy investing all of my time and energy into trying to make it work that everything else in my life had come crashing down around me.
Three months later, when he told me he was leaving, I felt like a knife had been stabbed in my heart. I loved him so much, I didn’t want to let him go and I went into a state of panic and fear. I cried and went deep, deep, down into the depths of pain. I allowed myself to fully feel what was arising and it wasn’t pretty. It was as if all the pain I had ever experienced was unleashed into a sea of utter despair and in my mind, I was desperately searching for a way to escape the pain.
It came suddenly without any warning and within a few days, I was living on my own.
After days of crying, I woke up one morning and felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt a little lighter, a little relieved, then I was hit with the sudden realization that maybe it wasn’t the right time to be together.
We collided into each other’s lives and knocked each other off course because we weren’t ready.
He was a father and he needed to be with his kids in Australia and I was a healer and I needed to get back on my path.
I lost myself in the process of finding myself again. And now, I find myself once again, letting go. Accepting. Trusting my journey.
It felt like I had come full circle. I was back in Auckland, living in a house full of stuff with two cats to care for!
I spent 4 years living out of a suitcase and over 3 years trying to make a living from yoga. While I am grateful for the countries I went to because of yoga, I often missed my family, I lived in substandard conditions, I survived on little money and I felt displaced. I met phony gurus in India and I ended up working in a yoga school that was geared towards profits and run by a fraudulent director.
My eyes were opened wide to the yoga industry, especially in India. Yoga teachers are being churned out more than ever and exercise/aerobics classes are being taught under the guise of yoga.
I don’t practice asanas much anymore but my Svādhyāya is stronger than ever. With all the scandals coming out about large profit-driven companies such as the fall of Wanderlust NZ and the impact it had on the yoga community here, Alo Yoga filing lawsuits against yogis who they feel threaten their business and all the yoga ambassadors on Instagram that are cogs in the Alo money making machine, fraudulent Yoga Barn guru Uma Inder and all the sexual abuse claims that are now coming out about big name yoga gurus, my passion for what has become of yoga started to dwindle and I spent the past year questioning my path.
It’s easy to look at yogis on Instagram and want to have their gypsetter lifestyle of endless sunsets and beaches. What I didn’t realize was, most were getting sponsored by companies like Alo Yoga and all those photos were marketing pitches aimed at yogis like myself. They were selling the dream. I don’t regret all that I did. Yoga led me to some huge realizations and even though my practice has changed, being in a state of yoga is more accessible to me now thanks to all the asana I did.
One thing I’ve learned is that the only guru that exists is within. Anybody that tries to tell you otherwise is a sham. So I gave up the search and let go of the dream to make a living solely from yoga.
I now find myself settled in a house and I like it. I also know that true happiness is not found in another or in a relationship. True happiness comes from staying true to yourself, living authentically, following your passions and carrying out work that is fulfilling.
I will probably never fit into the box of what society constitutes as a success and I don’t want to be a part of the yoga ‘industry’ either.
For now, I will focus on what I feel I am here to do and I will continue to practice yoga my way, one breath at a time.
I will forever be grateful for all the lessons that I have learned, for the people that I met along the way…. and for the tiger that I fell in love with.
And so the decision was made.
I chose to believe in myself that day on the sand dunes.