Graduate Story: Lara Patterson – Graduated 2019

Lara’s Yoga Journey

I practiced yoga very briefly at an Iyengar studio around 20 years ago and really didn’t ‘get’ it at all….”why are we posing like warriors anyway? When on earth is that little bell going to sound so I can get out of here?”. 

Then around 8 years ago I started practicing yoga again, this time at the corporate gym where I was working. I had the very good fortune of meeting an amazing teacher there, with whom I still practice today (shout out to Ondine Savage – Hatha Yoga Sydney). I was hooked. 

I loved the asana side of the practice but I was even more intrigued by the philosophy, snippets of which Ondine would pepper throughout the practice. I couldn’t get enough. It started with a once a week practice and quickly went up to 3-4 times a week. I still practice most days. I bought books, I went on retreats, and I wanted to learn all the Sanskrit names of all the poses. I had found my true passion in life!

Having struggled with depression, anxiety and addiction issues, yoga offered me a way to help stop the constant unhelpful, and sometimes downright nasty, steady stream of thoughts that had plagued me my entire life. As Patanjali so succinctly puts it in the Yoga Sutras; “yoga chitta vritti nirodha” (this sutra is the subject of much debate around the correct translation, however meaning more or less: yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind).

In 2018, I found myself disillusioned around many aspects of my life. I was unhappy in my work, I had been through a break up, and I was living with a chronic lung condition. So I thought long and hard about what was bringing me joy in my life, and it was my yoga practice and the community of people I had met as a result of practicing yoga. 

Lara’s experience with The Yoga Institute

I started toying with the idea of teacher training, but the thoughts started again – “you’re not a yoga teacher, don’t be ridiculous!”, “people with chronic lung conditions don’t teach yoga”. 

But I persisted, and I very timidly told a couple of people what I was thinking. Part of me was waiting for them to start laughing at me, but everyone I spoke to was so encouraging. I met a Yoga Institute (TYI) graduate at The Billabong Retreat in Sydney (Phoebe Collins) who told me she completed her training at TYI. I started researching my options and was impressed with TYI and their thorough 500 hour approach. I signed up for the 2019 weekend course in September 2018.

The first weekend rolled around in March 2019 and it was a lot to take in. There were so many new faces and it was so much information all at once, but I LOVED IT! I left that first weekend, exhausted and exhilarated, and 100% certain I had made the right decision. 

The rest of the year was a blur of assignments and practical sessions. I remember the first time teaching just one pose in front of my cohorts, I was TERRIFIED! But for the first time in a long time, I was getting out of my comfort zone and I was thriving. TYI might not be the most glamorous training you can do and you might not go to the most stylish resort for your residential, but you will be the most thoroughly trained, and for me that was the most important thing.

Lara’s advice as a Yoga teacher

My advice is to keep teaching as soon as you get your certificate; teach friends, work colleagues, and as regularly as your schedule will allow. Keep in mind in the beginning you will need more time for preparation, so make sure to allow enough time for this. Don’t over commit and burn out. It is important to still enjoy the process and not lose the joy of teaching. Find your own voice, speak your own truth, share your own experiences and your tribe of students will find you. It will probably be a slow process, and that is fine. 

I am regularly teaching 2-3 students only at a time and that is perfect for me to be able to keep a close eye on them. It is normal to be nervous before EVERY SINGLE CLASS, but you will feel a sense of achievement afterwards that is totally worth the nerves. Get off your mat, walk around, don’t worry if you mix up your lefts and rights, make a joke out of it. You might be a yoga teacher but you are still a human being, and if anything this will make you more approachable.

Lara’s favourite daily Yoga practice

I practice yoga asana most days but I find as I deepen my practice I really do question more and more why I am wanting to practice certain poses; Is it my ego? Does it serve me to stand on my head? What is it that my body and mind need at this moment? The constant balancing of sthira and sukha, or effort and ease, both on and off the mat.

Lara’s Yoga goals and intentions

I want to continue refining my teaching and communication skills. I am finding that teaching is getting me outside my comfort zone as well as enabling me to deepen my own practice. I would love one day to open a wellness centre offering yoga & meditation as well as other therapies such as massage and reiki.

What Lara loves most about Yoga

I love the holistic nature of the practice and how it addresses both the mental and physical. I love that yoga is accessible to everyone. “If you can breathe, you can do yoga” – B.K.S. Iyengar. 

I love the vast subject that is ‘yoga’ and that there is always something new to learn and to explore physically in your body. For me personally yoga was the first physical exercise I actually found myself wanting to do rather than it being a chore. I love how yoga has taught me so much about myself and the nature of the mind. I really just love everything about it – apart from utkatasana – no one likes squat pose! 

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Our Teacher Training Course isn’t just for aspiring teachers, but for anyone who wants to deepen their personal practice and gain a better understanding of yoga.

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