Meet teacher and enthusiast of all things yoga, Rowie Geraerts- A local Yogi who is more than pleased to share her thoughts on why we should all be hitting our mats, every day! Her passion and smile are contagious and her classes are simply incredible!
Rowie, can you tell us a little about you and your journey to becoming a yoga teacher?
My dad first introduced me to yoga by bringing me along to a Bikram yoga class when I was 16 or 17 (a style I no longer practice), I was hooked straight away! I guess the high physical and the heat of Bikram caught my attention as I think I had tried yoga once or twice before this but felt bored and like I didn’t achieve anything in the yoga classes because they were a more hatha style. I just wanted ready for that stillness I guess and was more yang orientated. I practiced Bikram pretty strongly for a year and then on and off for a few more years. I just loved getting out of my head, stretching and opening up. There was something in the practice that really resonated with me. In 2009, I went on a big international trip for a year and a half by myself where I learned a lot about myself and at the end of it in 2011 I decided I really wanted to do something for myself and also really dive into my practice. So I enrolled in my first Teacher Training course in India. 200hr Ashtanga Teacher Training in South Goa. I enrolled in the course unsure if I wanted to teach but like I said I knew I wanted to delve deep into my practice and what better way to get into it and learn the basics then to immerse yourself in it in the motherland?!
As it turned out this teacher training changed me exponentially. I was officially hooked on the benefits of yoga and the community surrounding it. I can honestly say I have the relationships I have today because of yoga, and I am the person I am today because of yoga. After my first training I returned to Melbourne to finish my uni degree (communications at RMIT) however knew that I no longer wanted to work in that field and that I wanted to teach and spread the love of yoga. I wanted to be the kind of teacher that I wanted to have, so I spent 2011-2014 in self-study. I have virtually had an everyday practice since 2011 in Power Vinyasa/Hot Yoga style. In Feb 2014 I returned to India to do my 500hr Advanced Vinyasa teacher training with Sampoorna Yoga school of India (a school I cannot recommend more highly!) I left my job and life in Melbourne and took a large leap of faith on this trip. I was away for two months and was lucky enough to have a hugely supportive family and boyfriend behind me knowing that I had been working towards this for 3 years now. I returned from India in April unemployed and full of optimism. I was lucky enough to be fairly involved in the Melbourne yoga scene from having such a regular practice so I found myself working full time as a yoga teacher by June at some of my favourite and most respected studios in Melbourne.
I was very lucky and still feel so grateful for the opportunity I was given by studios and the faith they put in me. I guess I’ve been teaching now for six months so I’m still a baby, but I feel like I am living my dream of spreading the love of yoga. I just love being a part of the yoga community in Melbourne and seeing it grow. I think yoga is life changing in every sense of the word and I feel so blessed and (again) grateful that I am able to be a part of that change with students. I plan on going to America or Asia next to follow, meet and study under some of the well known and respected teachers like Bernie Clarke, Sarah Powers and Paul Grilley of the Yin Yoga world as well as Dana Flynn, Les Leventhal, Anna Forrest and Baron Baptiste (and many more that I’m yet to discover) of the vinyasa/more yang style practices.
Can you describe a day in the life of you!
I usually wake up at 5am or 5.30am to teach a 6 or 6.30am class. I get on my bike to ride the morning classes that I teach, then if I’m not teaching at 9.30am I’ll practice at that time. Get home, have some breakfast, walk and play with the dogs. Meet a friend or family member for chai or lunch. If I haven’t practiced in the morning I’ll practice a lunchtime or afternoon class- I try to get on my mat almost every day. I’ll do some admin, plan some classes and then teach again in the afternoon. Evenings; I’ll either be teaching and come home for a late light dinner and chill out with my boyfriend or I’ll organise to cook or go out for dinner with friends or family. I’m pretty social so I’m always doing something. I like to joke that I’m often ‘rushing from mediating, to mediating or from yoga to chai with friends. I’ve got it pretty good. I love what I do so it never feels like work and I have such a great work life balance. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are my pretty busy/full days. Thursday and Friday are much more chilled out so I try to practice sometimes twice on these days or do some yang exercise like PT or just chill out and wander. Weekends I teach few classes so Saturdays I’ll generally practice early morning, teach at 10.30am then I have the rest of the day off to lunch, laze, graze and play. Sundays I only teach a yin class in the afternoon which is such a nice way to start/end the week I love it. I try to spend Sundays with my boyfriend having a sleep in (till like 7.30/8am) then having breakfast, exploring Melbourne and doing something fun and different. I’ve never really felt settled in Melbourne until now so I just love chilling out here and enjoying just being.
When do you feel most balanced?
When I have a day where I teach, practice, eat healthy, spend time with friends and my lover and indulge. I think health is the best thing ever but so is an espresso martini!
Yoga is very much “having its moment” Are you worried the key components and philosophy in yoga will be lost amongst this new age of yoga?
I think this is definitely a concern/thought that a lot of people have and that is out there but I also think that the benefits of yoga are so profound that once you try it and feel the benefits of it, it’s hard to walk away from. I teach at Yoga213 which is a hip-hop yoga studio, which for a lot of people is quite unconventional and ‘not real yoga’, but I disagree. I think it is introducing yoga to a whole new group of students that would otherwise never try it, shying away from it’s overly spiritual and philosophical ways. Whether or not HipHop Yoga has lost the ‘key elements of yoga’ doesn’t matter. Because what is yoga? Yoga is different to everyone and every place. It’s not just asana practice, it’s everything. I know that especially from studying in India under Brahmans. There are so many different kinds of ‘yoga’ even just under the Hatha umbrella of yoga. At the end of the day, Yoga means union and whether you find that conventionally or unconventionally/traditionally or untraditionally I don’t think it really matters.
What feelings and experiences do you want students to gain from their time in your class?
It’s different for every class. I just want them to have a deeper experience mainly. So often we shy away from sensation or feelings. I would just like students to connect into themselves in their practice like I did. Open up, find out whats inside that is good for you and not- emotionally physically and spiritually. What you can let go of to make more space for what you want to hold onto what makes you you. Also I think yoga is just a nice break in your day/week to get out of your head. Feel rather than think your way through the hour and ride the wave of everything that comes up. I try to teach a fairly light hearted fun /happy class. I think music is really important and I focus a lot on the breath. Often our practice is the only time in our day where we consciously and actively breathe. It’s nice just to do that sometimes.
What do you believe is the most important change people should make if they want to be kinder to their bodies?
I think judgment is the hardest thing you can place on yourself mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. When we judge we hinder our ability to grow and move forward. Remove that judgment and you’ve got nothing to lose and you create space, light and love
Have you always been conscious of your own health and wellbeing?
I’ve definitely always been conscious about my health and active from a young age. It was always a apart of me but I’ve definitely increased my awareness and understanding what being healthy is. I used to look at it from a more physical or outward point of view but now it’s more holistic to me. I think anger, judgment and wanting people to change and resistance are some of the more toxic things you can do to yourself. More almost more toxic than what you put into yourself food wise. I also had a pretty big party animal stage which I like to call my balancing stage. I’m now balancing that out with the yogi life haha. I would say the biggest shift/and more holistic shift came when I went on my 16month world trip. I became vegetarian, I started being kinder to myself and yoga became a part of my everyday life.
If you are having a low day what do you do to lift your mood?
Practice, practice, and practice! Yoga always makes me feel better. And if all else fails, I nana nap to reset the day.
What are you passionate about?
Mindfulness. Yoga. Kindness.
Where will the world take you in a year?
From an outward perspective it might look like I haven’t achieved anything more or different in 1 years time but I think for me I will have grown a lot. Everyday I think I grow as a teacher and person. In a years time I see myself doing exactly what I’m doing now (hopefully) Spreading and sharing my love of yoga. In a few years time I’d like to perhaps run some workshops or retreats but I am very patient and like to take things slow. At the end of the day I’m a very new teacher and student of yoga and feel lucky enough to have achieved this much already. I never expected it to all come this easy to me. I feel like I’ve cheated a bit to be honest so I’m happy to just keep riding the wave and see where it takes me next. I guess I’d love to start doing more community/charity yoga work is one thing if I had to say anything.
What are your favorite yoga poses? And why?
Camel/Ustrasana or Urdhva Danurasana/Wheel Pose…
I love the opening you get from both these backbends. I think they are the most amazing poses for you spiritually, physically, energetically and emotionally. Total favourites!
For our lovely readers who are dying to try one of your amazing classes, can you tell us where are you currently teaching?
Rise Yoga Richmond- Mondays 4.30pm, Tuesdays 9.30am, Wednesdays 6.15pm& 7.30pm
Hotbox Yoga Windsor- Mondays 9.30am, Tuesdays 7.15pm, Wednesdays 4.30pm, Thursdays 6pm
Yoga 213 Mondays 6.30am & 7.45am, Saturdays 10.30am
KX Yoga Malvern Tuesdays 6am, Sundays 5pm
Goodlife Health Club Armadale Wednesdays & Fridays 6.15am
North Yoga Fitzroy Mondays 7.15pm
Plus Private classes
In the meantime…
Book into one of her many classes…Click on the studio names above
Follow her on Instagram for your everyday yogi inspiration @spiritualpretzel