Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, and after studying naturopathy there, I took off to travel the world for 6 years. Although I spend a lot of time in India and Nepal, I still call Perth home. It’s a great place to live, it’s sunny most of the year, it has beautiful beaches and the conscious community is growing bigger every year.
Where and what types of yoga do you currently teach and how many years have you been teaching?
I’ve been practicing various styles of yoga for the last 13 years, but I am drawn to the Ashtanga Vinyasa and Bihar traditions. I have recently received my teaching qualification in Ashtanga Vinyasa, up until now the yoga on our retreats has been taught by a very experienced Nepali Bihar instructor. I’m really looking forward to assisting with the yoga teaching on our retreat this year, as well as getting some classes going in my local area.
What is a typical day like for you?
My day begins with my own sadhana, or spiritual practice, usually consisting of some asana, pranayam breathing and cleansing techniques and then reflective meditation. Because I travel a lot, keeping a regular spiritual practice really helps me to stay grounded. As a naturopath I have a keen interest in nutrition, so after a yummy green smoothie or fruit salad, I usually get to work checking emails, following up with potential clients who are interested in our retreats, or writing blog posts and articles. The promotional side of running retreats is huge, and takes up a lot of my time. When the work day is over I might go for a walk, relax with my partner or invite some friends around for dinner.
Hmmm… definitely travelling! I am passionate about exploring other cultures and am endlessly fascinated by new places. To me there is nothing better than waking up in a new place and wondering how the day will unfold.
Who were you most influenced by?
I remember at quite a young age reading books by Louise Hay and becoming very fascinated by mind/body medicine, which I think is what propelled me to study naturopathy, bodywork and pranic healing once I grew up. And the great thing about studying healing is all the other students and teachers you meet on that path, and before you know it you have this vibrant community to tap into where you keep learning and discovering new things, so my friends definitely inspire me. I am an avid reader and am deeply inspired by Eckhart Tolle, Caroline Myss, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and Krishnamurti to name a few.
You have a retreat coming up, tell us about it.
Every October we run our “Healing Retreat in the Himalayas”, in Nepal. It’s more like a combined tour and retreat, we explore the extraordinary temples, palaces and monasteries of Kathmandu as well as visit villages and go hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas. The “retreat” side of it includes daily yoga and meditation classes as well as workshops led by a range of Tibetan and Nepali teachers on things like Tibetan massage techniques, healing with singing bowls and Buddhist thangka painting. It’s a lot of fun, I can’t wait to get back over there!
When and where did you lead your first retreat?
We first started running retreats in Nepal four years ago. Our first one went really well, but there were definitely some hairy moments, as I was still a bit “green”. I had unwittingly scheduled the first day of our retreat on the biggest Hindu religious holiday of the year in Nepal, when everything shuts down and no-one wants to work! I had guests arriving at the airport and our drivers deciding at the last minute that they wanted to go to the temple instead of picking them up and I was in a bit of a panic to say the least. Thankfully we found a reliable Buddhist driver who wasn’t celebrating the festival who picked everyone up in time. I’ve certainly learned my lesson though and I now check the Nepalese calendars very carefully before scheduling our retreats!
Why do you lead retreats?
Personally I lead retreats because it combines my passions of travel, wellness and spirituality so beautifully. But on a more altruistic level, there is nothing more satisfying and rewarding for me than to be able to witness and facilitate the incredible personal journey that our guests embark on during a retreat. It is truly a healing experience as people take time out of their lives to reconnect with their deeper selves and re-evaluate their own life. People transform on a retreat and they take a new way of being home with them. That’s pretty magical to see.
What advice do you give your students looking for transformation through yoga?
I really try to encourage people to go deeper into yogic philosophy and meditation. Yoga in the West has become so diluted, the focus is predominantly on physical postures or asana, when there is so much more to it. I recommend studying the yamas and niyamas, meditating regularly and taking the sensitivity and awareness cultivated on the mat out into your everyday life. Yoga is a 24 hour practice in living a more harmonious life.
How do you remind yourself to be grateful?
Travel has absolutely taught me about gratitude. Travelling to developing countries such as Nepal and India and seeing how little most people in the world have, both materially and in terms of opportunity, makes me acutely aware of how fortunate I am, and I take less and less for granted now. I often incorporate a gratitude prayer into my daily practice or just think of what I am thankful for before I drift off to sleep at night.
For more information about Sharee’s upcoming retreat, visit Healing Yoga Retreat in the Himalayas, October 2013!