International Women's Day Featuring Eastwest Yoga
In celebration of International Women's Day, we recently had the opportunity to interview the owners of a women-led yoga studio, Eastwest Auckland. This inspiring mother-daughter team, Sheryn and Amelia, have built a beautiful community centred around yoga, wellness, empowerment and connection.
How did your yoga journey start?
Sheryn: It started about 31 years ago. I went to my first yoga class because I wanted a night out from the kids.. ha ha. I played a lot of sports and so initially I thought it was a bit slow. Yet I went every so often until one day a cover teacher was filling in, an older woman late 50’s/early 60’s, and I was so amazed by the way she moved, her energy, the twinkle in her eyes. I didn’t know people of that age who looked and felt like that - it was a real paradigm shift for me. I thought there’s something in that yoga - and I’ve been committed ever since.
Amelia: Yoga has been around me for as long as I can remember. Mum and dad started practicing when I was 6 months old. Some of my earliest memories are lying next to our dog Kane, early in the morning, listening to the sound of my parents breath as they moved through their practice. As I got older I joined them sometimes, however in my teen years I really pushed away from anything I saw as spiritual. It wasn’t until I was 18 and had moved away from home that I started to really connect to my own practice. I was going through a challenging time in my life, both externally and internally. I found a local yoga studio because I was searching for something to support me. Very quickly I noticed a sense of peace and connection to myself as I lay in savasana. This feeling was not common in my life at that point in time and I knew that I needed to keep practicing to come home to myself. I’m so grateful for that challenging time now as my practice has been an anchor for me ever since.
What inspired you to open Eastwest?
Amelia: A yoga teacher Nikki Harris started Eastwest about 18 years ago. When we moved to Auckland I started teaching yoga there. I loved the community and feel of Eastwest and when after a year of teaching there Nikki announced she was selling the studio, it felt like a natural fit for us to step in. That was over 7 years ago.
Sheryn: I was looking for more community and to work in Auckland, having recently moved here. I had owned a couple of yoga studios over the years in Wellington, where I loved to share Yoga and in the second studio The Work of Byron Katie (a mindfulness practice). I felt like Eastwest was a space where I could do that here in Auckland.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced running Eastwest?
Amelia: As I’m sure many small business owners (and people in general!) feel, the last few years presented some really challenging moments with lockdowns, restrictions, uncertainties etc… In those moments it was really useful for me to zoom the lens out and focus on what is really important - The community, the practice of Yoga and how it supports both myself and so many to connect and heal. Finding ways to continue to share and connect through yoga, especially during lockdowns was a real anchor for me.
How do you support each other during challenging times?
Sheryn: Through The Work of Byron Katie. We both do The Work as a committed practice alongside our yoga practice. If one of us has something upsetting or challenging with each other or about something in the business or in life, we support each other to do The Work. The Work is about questioning the thoughts/stories that are causing my stress, taking responsibility and getting clearer about reality - rather than creating a story and dwelling in the resistance of the mind.
Amelia: The Work is our core foundation to work through challenges for us, so things aren’t held and resentment isn’t built,. This and of course our regular yoga practice means We work together with a great deal of ease and fun. We are also supportive of each other taking time out when needed, which is a great support!
What is your favourite mantra?
Amelia: As part of my yoga journey, I did a three-year mentorship with Dena Kingsberg. At the end of certain practices, we used to sit together and sing the Devi prayer as a group. That prayer drops me into a place of reverence, sweetness and love. The Devi prayer is a prayer for the mother so connecting to all aspects of her. Whether a devotion to my mother, mother nature or the mother inside of me- a part of me that’s nurturing and loving.
Sheryn: Mine would be breathe. Just breathe. One deep conscious breath can change anything. The other is accepting reality. One from Byron Katie, “every time I argue with reality I suffer” the power of reality and acceptance of it.