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?
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