Graduate Story: Natalie Haider – Graduated 2018

Natalie’s Yoga Story

I use yoga in every aspect of my life. It’s difficult to separate myself from the yoga training, as it has become such a huge part of who I am.”

I first encountered yoga whilst i was working as a psychologist in a psychiatric hospital in 2004. Each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, I was required to lead my patients upstairs to the dining room, which was converted to a yoga space, and supervise whilst they participated. I was gobsmacked at the difference in people at the end of the 60 minute practice. They appeared calm, happy, energised, and free. It was such a visceral transformation I decided to start participating along with the patients.

Initially my personal experience with practicing yoga was intermittent at best. I was heavily involved in a range of martial arts during my 20s, training 6 days per week. If I’m being honest, I thought yoga was a little boring for my then chaotic lifestyle.

In my late 20s, I developed a realisation through my work as a psychologist that exploring the mind was incomplete without incorporating its home – our body.  This became particularly pertinent in my work the Health At Every Size (HAES) ® non-diet space with women struggling with disordered eating and body image concerns.  I started inviting more yoga into my life, however it was often heated and intense vinyasa practices that I was drawn to. I instantly hooked after I attended my first retreat! 

One retreat changed my life. It was a “Yoga for Mental Health Practitioners” retreat in Byron Bay with psychologists and yoga therapists Janet Lowndes and Michael de Manincor.  I was drawn to the retreat because I was a huge fan girl of Janet and her work.  I remember Michael leading us through a simple breath-centred arm movement and my mind was completely blown! This retreat cemented the idea that I too wanted to become a yoga teacher and eventually a yoga therapist.

I still remember the day I received the news from The Yoga Institute that I was accepted into The Yoga Institute’s yoga teacher training course – i was beyond ecstatic! Shortly before the course commenced, i was driven into by a car as I rode my bike to work and thought I would have to cancel my training due to physical (and later psychological) injuries. I spoke to a faculty member – Natalie – in tears on the phone, and was encouraged to attend, and guaranteed that i would be looked after by my mentor Lisa and other faculty.

Turning up on day one was the scariest and best decision i’ve ever made. I felt held, nurtured, supported, and encouraged every step of the way. The teacher training experience was immensely therapeutic for me, which was not an expectation I had at all.

Each time I return to the Institute, it feels like I’m returning home. I feel so privileged to have had this learning and healing experience which has shaped not just the career i now have but my entire outlook on life. As cliche as it sounds, yoga truly is healing and transformative, and I don’t know where i would be without it.

I loved my yoga teacher training experience so much that I would happily sign up again!…though instead I am currently doing my yoga therapy Traning. Yoga is truly for every body, so don’t be put off by insta-yogi images of what you might need to look like in order to be a yoga teacher.

Natalie and her Approach to Teaching

I was surprised how quickly I went from yoga teacher training to living my dream of teaching yoga for 50% of my schedule and continuing to work as a Psychologist for the other 50%.

My teaching is a little different. If yoga isn’t adapted to suit each individual, in any given moment, then it is not yoga at all.

It’s not uncommon for me to be guiding a class through 4 or 5 different sequences at once. I might be leading someone through a sequence whilst they are seated in a chair, adapting that sequence for people seated on the floor, whilst another could be standing, and another in tabletop position. I empower my students to make choices to support their body in any given moment and want people to look like they are free styling rather than in a synchronised swimming class.

Where is Natalie Teaching?

The Yoga Foundation projects: one focusing on people experiencing mental health challenges and another for women who have experienced domestic violence;

I teach at a Private psychiatric hospital for both inpatients and outpatients; I have some private clients that I teach in person and via zoom.

I also teach for 2 yoga studios and specialise in providing accessible, body positive yoga primarily to women who live in larger bodies;

I teach a corporate chair yoga class, and I teach a one day accessible yoga module for a teacher training program.  

Thanks for sharing Natalie. You are truly an inspiration!


How can we support you?

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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