Sunday, November 15, 2015

Yogi on a Mission: The Zuna Yoga teacher training scholarship winner


by Lauren Hurst, winner of a full-tuition scholarship to the December 2015 200 hour Zuna Yoga teacher training in Cambodia 

When I was ten years old my Dad passed away due to a long battle with alcoholism.  As a child, I found it difficult to cope with losing someone so close to me, and I went through my own experience of depression and was very socially withdrawn. Unable to relate to what felt like an unravelling world around me, I came to find solace in being able to control life by restricting my eating and obsessively exercising.  When I looked in the mirror and saw only ugliness- both inside and out.  I felt an overwhelming sense of worthlessness.  “I am not good enough,” rang through my ears every second of everyday, and my biggest fear was to be "fat", because that would mean that I was even less.  This unattainable desire to be perfect, however, did nothing more than return me right back to that same unravelling feeling.  It was a cycle of self-sabotage.  In my eyes I was a failure, and what was worse was that this is how I thought everyone else saw me, too. I soon came face to face with a severe eating disorder that landed me in the inpatient care unit of the hospital for three years. A long battle of ups and downs was ahead of me.  Today, however, I can confidently say that my eating disorder is far behind me. 

Lauren teaching in Sydney
How did I get to a place where that is possible?  My best and honest answer: Yoga. When I was in my first year of university I stumbled across a yoga studio not far from where I was living. I established a regular practice almost immediately. I felt so much vulnerability and fear diving into it all, but the breakthroughs I had then, and continue to experience today, have been life-changing. I allowed the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual practice to completely sink in, and I was hooked.  Yoga has played a meaningful role in reviving my love for my body and myself, just as I am. I have learned and grown so much through my struggles and suffering, but yoga has brought me many joys and successes, as well. Yoga has helped me reach full recovery. Yoga has helped me discover who I am, and to manifest my biggest and scariest dreams, goals, and visions.

Through yoga I have come to know that my purpose is to teach those with similar experiences to my own. I want to teach those who have either an eating disorder, a poor body image, or simply a low sense of self-worth about the lessons I came to find with the practice of yoga. Eating disorders and body issues often work to create disconnection from our body, while yoga helps to encourage body awareness and connection in a nurturing way. Through the practice of yoga we are able to become more of aware of our bodies from a place of respect, acceptance, and love. The lessons I learned from yoga inspired me to participate in a one week long yoga teacher training in 2013. Since then, I have had the amazing opportunity to live and work in New Zealand and Australia, teaching various styles of yoga including hatha, yin, restorative, and power vinyasa. I currently teach at a wonderful little studio in Sydney called Yoga Sivana, and I will continue to grow my teaching schedule once I have completed this intensive 200 hour Zuna Yoga Teacher Training in Cambodia.    

Lauren teaching in Sydney
Combining my Bachelors and Masters of Social Work degrees with my passion for teaching yoga, I have recently launched Love Body Yoga. This is an initiative in partnership with BodyMatters, an eating disorder treatment center that incorporates yoga as an additional step to eating disorder recovery and a pathway to loving our bodies. Love Body Yoga inspires me to share yoga with others, encouraging them to form a healthy and appreciative relationship with their bodies and with themselves. Eventually I will open my own yoga studio and counseling practice. I will work with women with eating disorders by combining social work therapy and the practice of yoga. 

Thanks, Zuna Yoga, for the opportunity to make these goals happen and for enabling me to be a part of this yoga teacher training.

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