By Elodie Frati
As I write this, I am sat in the middle of the Gobi desert, surrounded only by herdsmen, a bunch of newly acquainted strangers and some camels. It is strange to think that after all the twists and turns that life provides, that is is yoga that brought me here.
As I reach my thirties, it seems that I have had many more lives than strictly required! I started out in France, moved to Leeds to pursue contemporary dance training in conservatoire, headed to London where I performed, partied, but also bartended in clubs, waitressed for burlesque nights, and served burgers and fries in a diner (“can I get you any sides?”). I landed a job in events and became an event manager for three years with a spot of DJing thrown in here and there. In this time it is yoga that kept me sane and fit, as I was no longer free to attend professional dance classes. Eventually, it became an essential daily practice, and something I needed to explore.
Maybe I could teach? Maybe even do it well? Fast forward a few years and I now teach Rocket, Jivamukti, Vinyasa, yoga nidra, I qualified as a barre instructor, an animal flow coach, I manage a yoga studio and run my own retreats, I am learning to play the harmonium, and am even a mentor for new teachers! More importantly, I am a loyal friend, a loving partner, an eager earner, an optimist, a traveler and a life lover. This September, I add a new ball to the juggling act, as I return to university to study osteopathy.
As I embarked on my first teacher training, I was confident my life would change in the direction I already loved: movement and people. I never thought it would propel me with such force into a world where every door seemed open.
I try to be very honest about life as a yoga teacher. When people ask me about training, the conversation usually goes something like this: ‘Yes, getting the certificate is the easy bit. It doesn’t make you a good teacher… Teaching makes you a teacher”. I tell them to stick the day job for a while, build their classes around it. It might turn out they enjoy practicing but not really teaching. It might turn out that paying the mortgage / rent becomes rather complicated. It is important not to glamourise a world that can also be highly competitive somewhere like London. When it is job that fulfils you, it is however a life that you would change for nothing.
I was lucky enough to get a lot of work, fast. With that came a lot of traveling. Over the years, I have refined my schedule to include less commuting, a day off, and only classes that I love (lucky me!). Some days it is hard to stand up in from of twenty people and speak (us teachers have the same ups and downs as everyone… broken hearts, grief, bad hair days, etc), but mostly I leave class feeling energised and uplifted from the moments shared with my students. I rarely feel depleted by that energy. I love watching people discover, progress…. have that Eureka moment.
In all of this, it has become clear that I have a huge thirst for learning. This has led me to travel around to world for teacher trainings, workshops, retreats… More recently, I have earned a place back at university and have been plugging away at a new instrument. I have made meaningful connections across the globe with people who truly want to make a difference, in a positive way.
When I first chose life as a performer, I chose a difficult life, but one that would be filled with passion. After feeling a little lost for a few years, I remember my Mum saying to me: “You know, for most people, a job is just that…a job!”. I refused to admit that I could spend most of my time doing something that I did not deeply care about.
A few years ago, I became an ambassador for a sportswear brand that encouraged me to dream big. It was about going beyond any barriers that I could create (money, time etc.). They encouraged me to see that anything is possible. Despite not being easy, I have truly come to believe that we can indeed all create “our best life”. Although more than once, I saw my friends and family look at each other with that “here we go again” look across their faces…it paid off.
I am so glad I persisted, and keep on persisting. Yoga has become much more than my job. It is my practice, my passion, it is part of my diet, it gives me a voice for what I believe is right and just, it is my community and my family away from home. It is my root, my breath and my release.
And in that all-encompassing love for what I do, I find a total joy for life, an energy that allows me to give more, be more available, embrace every moment. Whilst my life is incredibly busy, and sometimes stressful, it is all for things and people that I love, and I can therefore do it with a smile.
As I rest my eyes on the camels in the distance, I know there was some part of the winding path that was always going to land me here, on this retreat, with my teacher, and these new friendships. Somehow, everything is just right, and I look forward to the future turns this path will surprise me with.