Yoga Therapy Graduate Story – Catherine Sherlock
Written by guest author and graduate of the 650-hour Yoga Therapy Training Course, Catherine Sherlock
We become many things in life. Some just happen. Some we follow arduous routes to achieve, only to find they don’t feel as comfortable as we thought they would. Others are like a home coming. Becoming a yoga therapist feels just like that for me. An arrival. The completion of a lifelong pursuit to fulfil my personal mission. A true expression of my essence. My calling.
I am passionate about honouring the worth of all life. I believe that our life challenges are always our opportunities. I believe that everyone matters and that we’re all ok. Serving the relief of suffering in its many and varied forms in whatever way I can is my dedication. I have discovered through yoga therapy training that the system of yoga offers so much to this approach. So much that our mainstream approaches to healing don’t always offer. Not necessarily as a replacement. Sometimes, as an accompaniment to walk alongside mainstream approaches. Other times as a stand-alone intervention when that is the best response.
After a 30 year career, true to the ‘householder’ stage of life (i.e. driven by the need to put food on the table, establish myself in the world and gather ‘stuff’) I realised that I had progressed quite well up the ladder, only to recognise that the ladder was leaning on the wrong wall! I just couldn’t satisfy my sense of purpose in all the career pursuits that I’d made. This was despite studies in humanities and a long held desire to ‘make a difference’. I quit my ‘real job’ and decided to make my passion for yoga the centre of my life.
I’d already been teaching for five years. However, I was becoming more and more dismayed by the way yoga had been co-opted by Western culture. Yoga meant more to me than achieving fancy postures and wearing colourful lycra. Don’t get me wrong, I did love both these things, but I knew there was more to it. I wanted the real deal.
I discovered The Yoga Institute via the reputation of its founder and director Dr Michael de Manincor. I had heard in many circles about the work he was doing with yoga and mental health. I remember feeling really confirmed in the first interview that I had with him to be considered for the course. The direction I was beginning to take in my teaching was aligned with what The Yoga Institute was offering. It made sense for me to pursue yoga therapy as a fuller embrace of the system of yoga if I were to make it my career.
I commenced the Graduate Yoga Therapy Training in June 2018. As I look back some three years later, I see that I’ve taken a transformational journey to understand and adopt yoga as a wholistic approach to health, wellness and healing. This has required a degree of ‘unlearning’ and a substantial expansion of the foundational understanding that I originally brought to these studies.
Now, after reaching the finish line, I can see in front of me an exciting array of paths to follow as I contribute this knowledge and understanding to the world. The first challenge, and one that I am now well equipped to meet, is to educate people about what yoga therapy offers. Sadly, our culture has an understanding of a yoga teacher as someone who stands in front of a group of people and directs them through making a series of shapes with their bodies. That is no longer what I do (not all the time anyway).
True yoga offers so much more. A wholistic approach encompassing not just movement but breath, meditation and philosophy. I am excited about the vast array of tools that are now at my disposal. But, most importantly, an understanding that yoga is about wholeness – not perfection, not bliss, it isn’t an achievement. Rather, it is something to be recognised. Something that we all already have. Yoga is about coming home to what is natural within us and that is never, and can never be, disturbed by the surface complications of our lives.
I am so grateful for the traditional training that I have received at The Yoga Institute. I now feel well equipped to serve my mission in the world. That I have a map to help others find their way, and to share their journey of home coming.