Uma Spender (previously Jessie Neave) - name in transition - new website coming soon!
a sacred pause
David Bowie was, and is a hero of mine. You might recall being in a flow class with me and hearing his voice suddenly enter the otherwise non-pop playlist…I love watching the surprised little smiles appear around the room in those moments! The teenage me had an entire wall plastered with the bright and vastly contrasting portraits of his different explorations and expressions of life…I was fascinated by his ability to effortlessly walk tall in his own skin and simply live his truth with (seemingly) no compromise, to change direction at the blink of an eye with no need to please anyone or fit in. He gracefully carved his own path and inspired me at a really fundamental level; to understand what might really be possible if we dare to be ourselves.
When he passed recently I had huge sadness, and, I also had a good shake up. I was moved to take what I like to call “a sacred pause” - some time, maybe a week, to be in nature, take things slow, stop all of the habitual doing and ask some big questions. Thesacred pause goes a little beyond the daily practice of meditation - it's kind of like the difference between a little tidying up at home and a deep clean....you know the one where you turn out every drawer and cupboard. I knew the sacred pause needed to happen - there was absolutely no denying it. I was struck by the realisation that little by little I had slipped out of alignment with my highest intentions, it certainly didn't happen in an obvious way, it rarely does. We all compromise a little here, make little concessions there...or say "yes" to avoid disappointing others, or to perhaps simply make things a bit easier. I realised that I had stumbled a little off the path. So, I put a big, patient hold on all the stuff I was doing, and when the constant noise of all the doing fell away I was able to rest into that beautiful (and often uncomfortable) place of deep listening. I decided what seems pretty obvious now - I didn’t want to settle for anything less than steps towards my dreams and passions, even if those steps are small, or messy or don’t yet completely make sense. I decided it was time to make some ch-ch-ch-changes…
When it comes to Yoga I like to teach way, way outside of the box. I know I’m never going to please everyone and I’m pretty comfortable with it, so, with Bowie at my side I’m diving more deeply into a few of my (contrasting) passions. In no particular order, these are:
Singing, I just love singing. And playing Ukulele too. I'm not great at it but it makes my heart smile.
Presenting all kinds of Retreats so everyone can enjoy a “sacred pause”. Retreats that are family friendly (Sri Lanka), Retreats that are inclusive of men (Thailand), Retreats that offer other activities as well as Yoga (all of them!), and, Women only Retreats that explore the power of the divine feminine (Bali & Australia. Check it out below - I've been busy!
Playing more with my kids. I mean really playing. They're awesome.
Ethical living and putting the environment first in every way I can. I’m aiming for a zero waste home as inspired by Joost Bakker. I may never get there but I might as well try! I might even blog about that journey just to keep myself accountable.
Surfing. I can’t believe I waited til my 30s to get into that!
Collaborating with amazing, creative and inspiring people. Yoga doesn’t have to be a solo job.
Offering Yoga for Deep Healing - sessions that make Yoga accessible for people who are unwell, injured or recovering who need Yoga in their lives more than ever...also nice if you're just needing a good dose of rest & connection!
Offering some sessions, like hormone balancing, that are honouring the specific needs of women, ‘cos Lord knows we are different!
Teaching some regular sessions that are strong and dynamic as well as nourishing and healing, (Tuesdays at 10am in Fitzroy - yay!) and not having to choose between the two. Seriously, that’s an issue.
Teaching classes that are long enough to rest deeply at the end and never being ok to “cut back the savasana and the Oms”. Yes, someone asked me to do that.
Giving more. I'm in the middle of recording some big sessions to give away, and, I want to create a broader platform for Karma Yoga, or, in other words continuing and expanding the offering of Free Yoga. I passionately believe that when yoga is simplified it is a precious resource of preventative medicine that all people should have access to. We’ve just lost our way in the West a little to profit margins and aerobics.
Integrating it all....life, kids, yoga, gardening, cooking, friends - shouting "YES" to all the good stuff.
With all this in mind I’ve had a little shuffle around for my year and made some changes, added some new stuff and let go of much that no longer served my best & truest self - and it feels SO GOOD. That Bowie-inspired 'sacred pause' was the best possible way to start the year. All of my revised Retreat offerings for 2016 are below, and revised classes and workshops for the next couple of months too. I have to say I’m pretty excited about how this year of the Monkey is shaping up! My first Retreat of the year kicks off today in Margaret River, I’m feeling pretty lucky to be working with the very talented and gorgeous Lucy Peach & Mama Kin to share some women’s wisdom, music, adventure, fun, and hopefully, providing space for the participants to have their own sacred pause and realign with their best selves too.
Totally loving my job!
ps. I'm quietly over the moon that my passion for Mythology has scored me an invitation to present at an amazing Festival in India called “Welcome the Goddess”. They asked me to make a little video to introduce myself… HERE IT IS! I’d love to know what you think.
HUGE thanks to my gorgeous friends Emily & Hannah from Almond Tree Productions for snapping this together so quickly whilst on holiday from the UK, and to Wilk & Tommy for finishing it all off. I have truly excellent friends!
pps. My husband has just come back from Arnhem Land where he's been working on the sound for a truly incredible documentary. It's a passion project of Ben Strunin (and for all of us involved!) who has been working on it for 7 years. West Wind tells the story of Djalu Gurruwiwi, the current custodian of the Yidaki (didjeridoo). If you are interested to know more about it or help to get it to the next Australia Council funding check out the storyHERE - every bit of support is going to a story that needs to be told.