After years spent running farms and working with animals, when Sandra Reed turned 60 she decided to try her hand at teaching yoga . Eleven years on, Sandra says it’s one of the best decisions she’s made. As she tells Flying Solo, doing something you love is the secret to success – no matter how late you start.
You started teaching yoga at 60, what did you do for work before then?
I ran a farm, I raced greyhounds and owned a very busy dog grooming salon. I’ve always loved working with animals and working outdoors.
What drew you to yoga teaching?
I enjoyed the yoga I was doing and I knew it was beneficial. I was at the point of retiring and I didn’t want to end up like my friends with injury problems. I’d always been fit and healthy and I wanted to remain that way. I thought I really needed to do something constantly everyday, so I asked my yoga teacher and she told me that there was a yoga training teacher coming up and it sounded like something I’d be interested in.
I was already teaching meditation. I started a 3 year yoga teaching training course and didn’t start teaching till I was 62. I wasn’t intending to teach initially, it was just for me. And I was talking to my friends as they encouraged me, that was a good way to start as it gave me the confidence to teach. It’s been a self development process, as yoga is. You can deepen your practice over a lifetime.
What type of yoga do you teach?
I teach the Drew method of yoga and meditation. It’s a type of yoga that is accessible to everyone, that inspires everybody to get involved by making yoga easy. I wanted to inspire everyone to do it. You can even modify it so you can do it sitting in a chair. Hence my business name EasiYoga. You don’t even have to do the physical poses. Doing some breath-work and meditation helps you get in touch with yourself and get to know yourself better. It changes your whole philosophy.
What are the benefits of yoga for older people?
When people age they carry injuries, usually. The benefit is being aware of how your body feels, so we scan through the body and make them aware of where it is tight and uncomfortable and work on those parts to improve the mobility of joints and balance, too. Falling is the biggest thing that puts older people in hospital, so it’s great if we can do something to avoid that.
What do you love most about teaching yoga?
I love the people that get involved and how inspired they are and how they don’t want to miss class every week. One of my oldest students was 85 and she said to me, “I feel like I’ve had a grease and oil change! I can touch my toes for the first time in years!” And when you get feedback like that it inspires you to keep going.
In what way is teaching yoga different to your own personal experience of yoga practice?
My personal yoga practice is very deep and spiritual, and I use meditation to deepen my understanding of that side of a yoga practice. Many people aren’t interested in that. That’s where I need to evolve as an individual and I am working on that at the moment. Most yoga teachers want to inspire others to teach yoga. The more we can spread it the more peace we can find to drop the anxiety and stress.
How many classes do you teach each week?
4 classes a week
That’s a lot of classes, how do you protect your energy levels?
I need to meditate before the class and take it easy afterwards. You do give out a lot of energy you want to make sure you’re giving the best of yourself. The concentration required is quite intense. I take the school holidays off and I need that break to keep me going through the year. I also meditate on a daily basis and I do some form of exercise everyday.
How many students in your classes?
8-10 people in my classes week to week. The students are mostly women and a few men. It’s about 45 women, 3 men all up.
Do you run a studio or rent a space or use other people’s studios?
I work for a community centre in their venue, it’s a purpose-built room for cooling and heating. I work from my lounge room right now so I can use Zoom. My original class members are very keen, and some have dropped off. I suppose about half of people can’t handle Zoom and they are frightened of IT. Mostly women, a few men (3 men) 45 women.
What do you think has contributed most to the success of this change for you?
I have always been adaptable and open to change. I have tried many different things.and I have always loved being outdoors. When I discovered yoga I’d been outdoors enough and didn’t want all the work of a farm. The yoga path gives me everything I am looking into the future. Anything that extends the mind is really good.
What’s your top piece of advice for others wanting to try a new business venture later in life?
Do what you’re passionate about because you won’t put the effort into something unless you really love it. I am passionate about becoming better at yoga because it inspires me. Do something that inspires you, don’t think it’s impossible and start with small steps. A step a day will eventually get you there.
Motto to live by
Learn to live in the moment: the past is gone, who knows what happens in the future. If you can learn what you have in your life. Wake up each morning and think of all the things you are grateful for in your life. Being in Australia, having the body we have, breathing in fresh air. It puts you right for the day and it gets you through the day. Be happy now while you’re alive. Don’t wait for that thing out there. Nobody’s promised tomorrow.
You can find more about Sandra via her website: easiyoga.com.au