Meet Sabina, Fashion designer, and creator/head coach of the inspiring and awesome Alternative Women's Fitness! I asked her a few questions about AWF
Firstly, Alternative Women's Fitness - What is it?
Alternative Women's Fitness AKA AWF; is a project that was created out of pure frustration and anxiety from leaving SO many gyms in tears... I missed my team sports and hangin with the girls.
I wanted to create a concept where I would feel comfortable to be myself, have fun and enjoy working out again!
We are NOT a gym, We are a gym alternative! - With no silly joining fees and contracts.
Group Fitness sessions for Women only, offering 8 week blocks (or less) all year round.
You lock in your favourite session/s from the timetable; for 8 weeks keeps you accountable and motivated to attend.
There are always fricken amazing sessions options, great venues, the best trainers, crazy cool crew and you train alongside likeminded Women.
AWF is an excessive (obsessive) hobby that i dearly love. Constantly pushing for it to be successful, so more Women can experience the benefits.
What are the differences between your classes and a class at a gym?
OMG. ok, hard to squeeze into a nut shell…
I thrive on details/concepts to make the experience unique.
We are always seeking alternative, snazzy, diverse venues/ spaces to workout in.
Each fortnight we have various Music themes like 'Glam Rock'… forever encouraging the girls to dress up, get amongst it and have fun!
Offering a unique/ diverse timetable motivating Women to be active.
The trainers are truly amazing - AWF loves to provide a platform for them to teach/share their passion, this intern gives the attendees a buzz to see the trainers so pumped to be there!
The concept attracts like minded people creating a non-judgemental and friendly vibe.
Many bonds and amazing friendships have been forming, from meeting at the classes - (making it much more than just a fitness project, It's developed into a community of Gals that support, learn and collaborate together on many other ventures).
You incorporated Yoga into your timetable. Why do you think Yoga is important for women today?
When we have an appropriate venue available for hire... Yoga is on the menu!
It's very important to incorporate what i call a 'forced' 'bend and stretch' into your week!
Many of us with intense work/ study/ travel, sit for far too long during our days and need to focus and spend time on our bodies,
By spending just 1 hour per week - with guided movements, breathing and stretching achieved during Yoga is not only great for your body but your mind too!
You've now been operating for 2 years, what's been your highlight (or most awesome moment) so far?
The most awesome moment so far, is not just one - i just love meeting so many amazing like minded Women, this has enabled me to collaborate and work back on so many other passions/ projects that wouldn't have happened if AWF didn't exist.
example: Gals that Rock and Game Changer campaigns - purely projects to show off women by using AWF as a platform to promote themselves, their passions and boost confidence.
Totally unrelated question, Do you have a favourite Melbourne hangout?
Favourite hangout would be at any of the AWF sessions, i love hanging out chatting and getting a rad workout,
The local Northside Roller Derby bouts, I also love the footy; so the MCG or Trippy Taco, i love that joint!
You can find all the details here:
Instagram @Alternativewomensfitness #alternativewomensfitness
Meet the amazing Nicole Mazurkiewicz. She is dedicated to sharing her anatomy / health / fitness / craniosacral and wellbeing knowledge to peeps around Melbourne.
I asked her a few questions about her awesome career change, craniosacral therapy and Yoga.
From flight attendant to Pilates instructor, Anatomy Guru and Craniosacral therapist - What happened? What a great question. I often ask myself the same thing. But what appears to be a seemingly unrelated career progression is starting to feel like the most appropriate.
After finishing High School I was disappointed I didn’t get into Physiotherapy but my Grandpa was encouraging me to travel – he couldn’t fathom someone settling into a career without first having seen the world. Having been a job gypsy for a few years after school, I decided I wanted to travel, but could never imagine myself back packing, affording the luxuries of travel or ever leaving Adelaide – I was 19 at the time.
Three years later I was living on the Gold Coast with my first job as Flight Attendant onboard QantasLink, and then I made the big move to Dubai to work for Emirates. It was in Dubai that I found my love of Pilates and Language, and further deepened my love of Arabic Arts – music, dance, and calligraphy.
After a suggestion to become a Pilates Instructor by my Pilates Teacher at the time, I got the chance to investigate where I wanted to do my training, and being a Flight Attendant gave me the luxury to travel to different countries to look at the education facilities. And then I found Breathe. What a glorious breath of fresh air. Within 6 months I had moved back to Australia to Melbourne; a city I’ve never lived in before. I had no job and nowhere to live, but I had my next career.
Pilates was a perfect fit. Within a few months I was hired to teach Pilates at Breathe and have been there ever since. The desire to become a Physiotherapist resurfaced and I applied for University as a mature age student. Fate, however, had other plans and I got into Podiatry: a fabulous profession, but not for me. I transferred after the first year into a degree that was solely focused on my current interest: Human Anatomy and Physiology.
During this time I was seeing an Osteopath. I recall one session with her that was especially profound. She was holding my feet and I started to become aware of parts of my body I had never ‘felt’ before – my stomach felt like it was adjusting – not my abdominal region, the actual organ! Then my shoulders started to release, dropping down to the table, I hadn’t been aware I was holding tension in them…. What the hell? She was holding my feet? What was this? Magic? After that session, things started to change. I started to change. An unraveling had started to take place. My osteopath told me I could learn to do the same treatments: it was called Craniosacral Therapy. I did my research and within a month, was signed up for my first course.
Craniosacral therapy feels like a way to integrate all facets of my personality with the accumulated skills from my varied careers. Something that I have only just noticed by writing this, is that my life to date reminds me of several ‘choose your own adventure’ books occurring simultaneously and along the way there were people at every stop suggesting something that might be beneficial to me… Argh the serendipity of human connection!
We all know the benefits of Yoga, but what affects do you feel most when you practice Yoga? For me, yoga practice, my belly dance practice and craniosacral therapy feel very complementary: they mobilize my energy and leave me feeling expansive and connected. What Yogis refer to as Prana, Craniosacral Therapists refer to as Potency. Yoga helps me become aware of this prana/potency in movement – where it is present &/or absent and is also a fabulous warm up/cool down for dancing :)
What is Craniosacral therapy? Craniosacral therapy is a light touch bodywork therapy that tracks the flow of prana (or as we call it ‘potency’) through the body. Our nervous system and skin are embryologically connected – they developed from the same layer so when a practitioner is making contact they are initiating a ‘neural conversation’ with that person. This stimulates a healing which is sort of like an energetic recharge of the cells, tissues and organs, where the body can see where it is healthy (prana/potency flows), and where it needs to ‘reboot’ health (prana/potency is stagnant or absent). The tracking of the health in the body is related to the whole body, including the Craniosacral System – the Cranium (skull), the sacrum (lower part of your spine) and the membranes that connect the two.
CST is so unique because it works with bodies’ innate healing mechanisms that facilitates the right changes at the right times based on what the body knows it needs to do. The therapist facilitates The Space – hence the name of my practice J - the body heals itself! As the saying goes: There are many ways to skin the cat… There are also many paths to health and our body knows the right one.
Although this may sound esoteric, CST was originally theorised to by Andrew T Stills the founder of Osteopathy, was initially researched into by Dr William Sutherland (one of Dr Stills first students, and Osteopath himself), and further developed into a stand alone practice by John E Upledger (an osteopathic physician, surgeon and clinical researcher) and thus is heavily rooted in a scientific background. A scientific background that recognizes the majestic beauty and intelligence of life. Due to the belief that, and growing research into, emotions being stored in the body, CST is often referred to as psychotherapy for the body.
Totally unrelated random question: What's your favourite breakfast food? Oh I love random questions!! I’m currently loving a European Breakfast at the moment:
Croissants and Coffee ;)
You can check out Nicole's facebook page here:
See below for her bullet-pointed journey:
Meet the very inspiring, Olivia Bryant. Yoga teacher, life coach and creator of the yoga, life, relationships, sex and conscious living blog, 'Courageous Yogi'.
I asked her a few questions about life and Yoga.
What made you attend your first Yoga class?
I think i was always a bit of an explorer. I got this from my dad who was an antarctic explorer. I'm more of a pychonaut. I was reading self help books at a young age though i have no idea why. I wanted answers to life's big questions like 'what am I supposed to do with my life?' and 'how can I get over that ex-boyfriend?' (I was 17). I think my questions got bigger the more I explored yoga (thankfully).
Can you describe how you felt in your first class (if you can remember)?
Er...bored! I really didn't understand why I was following a handout of poses and breathing. There wasn't an explanation and everyone seemed VERY serious. It took me a while to step into another yoga studio. The next time I did I was in New York. My friend Camilla Maling called me up and said 'I think we've found a teacher'. This was the now famous Sadie Nardini. Her classes made sense to me. She taught about how to deal with life when it suuuucks, how to perceive life from a higher pov and as a byproduct I began to cultivate a much deeper connection to myself. She started to answer the really big questions in a very practical way.
What advice can you give someone if they want to take their Yoga practice to a deeper level off the Yoga mat?
So many things! Self observation is one of the main things I practice off the mat.
I use self observation to bring unconscious behaviours to the surface so over time I stop repeating the same dumb mistakes! For example, self sabotage is a biggie that I would say everyone deals with ( eg procrastination, fear based action or inaction, negative thinking). So for example you feel scared and tend to avoid asking for the money you feel you deserve....next time you'll pay more attention and notice fear. What are you going to do with that energy? How will you transform it into fuel for personal growth? What is fear teaching you?
Owning up to what we do OUT LOUD is a great tool. But it means we have to get good at being vulnerable. The shadow side of everything we most want is great vulnerability. In order to contribute in a big way to life, vulnerability is part and parcel. So if we engage with negative emotion rather than rise above it, we can see it all as a gift and a teacher.
Is tantra all about sex?
No! There are three branches of tantra (and within them many schools). One branch has a more sexual focus and ultimately it's still about spirituality. The philosophical side of Tantra is magical and so relevant for the modern yogi. It's less about detachment, transcendence or simplifying and more about engagement and participation in life. It teaches that everything is the divine expressing itself including you! Even your cup of coffee or glass of wine. It teaches that your connection to universal consciousness is found through your body, through nature and through the whole experience of embodiment including the human traits that don't make us proud. We can know the divine by knowing ourselves.
Totally unrelated random question - what's one of your guilty pleasures you simply cannot give up?
hehe. Well I would say I love wine! But as a Tantrika - I don't feel guilt, I'm just interested in my attachment as it ebbs and flows. When I do feel guilt around pleasure, I wonder about what part of myself I'm not allowing or rejecting instead of just owning up. Gosh, it's all so interesting! Let me also clarify Tantra is not about over indulging, I'm a real moderate by nature. I'm a pleasure seeker. I think if we all leaned into pleasure more often the world would be a more connected place!
You can check out Olivia's blog here: http://www.courageousyogi.com/
Olivia will be presenting a workshop 'Living Yoga in the real world' at Breathe Wellbeing next Saturday 6th July. Check out the flyer below. http://breathewellbeing.com.au/
You can also check Olivia's 'Pleasure Ed' workshop this Sunday at The Yoga Lab http://theyogalab.com.au/
Meet Natasja Tokyo Electric Fox. Yoga teacher, Chinese doctor and co-founder of charity organisation Traditional Healthcare.
I asked her a few questions about Yoga and her Yoga practice.
Why do you practice Yoga?
Practicing asana releases tension from my body, it increases my awareness of my muscles and bones and my breathing patterns. It also brings focus to my mental and physical patterns. Awareness of these patterns then help shine a light on the mechanisms that lie behind my behavior and mood. After practicing asana, pranayama and pratyahara I find that my mind is calmer and I'm able to concentrate on my day to day activities without rapid thoughts or random emotions. In other words it brings me into the present.
What's your favourite Yoga pose and why?
My favorite yoga pose is adho mukha Vrksasana, (free stand hand stand) as it challenges my concentration, proprioception. It keeps me very present.
What's the main thing you struggle with in your own Yoga practice? How do you deal with this?
The main thing I struggle with is one of the Yamas called Aparigraha, the desire to acquire beautiful things. I love beautiful things whether it be plants, art, shoes, quilts, scarves, books, sculptures, jewelery etc ....I love being surrounded by beautiful things, the more the better, this is not very yogic. When I lose a possession I love, this Yama helps me deal with it quickly and get over it. I have this yama above my bed to remind me to not gather more things!
What's the best piece of advise you could give a complete beginner?
The best piece of advise I can give a beginner is to love your practice like a precious gem, find a competent teacher, read the Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikichar, take the teachings of yoga into your everyday life, learn about the limbs of yoga and not just the physical part of the practice, do not get caught up in the 'flexibility trap' its meaningless and can be dangerous on your joints.
Random (unrelated to yoga) question - What is your favourite song of ALL TIME and who sings it?
My favorite song of all time changes all the time. It swings between songs from these genres mostly: contemporary classical, minimal electronic, jazz, funk and could keep going but randomly Tears for Fears are doing it for me right now..'Everybody wants to rule the world', brings back really sweet childhood memories of chasing the ice-cream van in the Dandenong ranges in my older cousin's car.