This week’s interview is with Shelley Fitness.
Shelly Fitness completed the CY 200-hour Teacher Training 2×9 day Intensive in 2022. She is a school principal who somehow finds time to teach two Yoga classes a week – one for pre-teens at her school, and the other for adults at Yoga and Oils Studio in Te Awamutu.
Find out more here: yogaandoils.co.nz
How fabulous it is to see Yoga and Meditation practices increasingly supported and introduced into schools and early childhood centres. These practices are a great way to support young people to connect with themselves, to focus and to calm the mind – providing real strategies for self-regulation and awareness. We hope the gentle art of Yoga continues to become a life-long practice for many young people in Aotearoa.
How great it is that teachers like Shelly are called to share Yoga with her school students. We asked Shelly about what Yoga practice is to her and how she became a Yoga teacher.
Contemporary Yoga (CY): Why do you practice Yoga?
Shelly: Yoga has so many benefits for me. When I think of all the “bits” that I’m made up of… body, mind, emotions, wairua… Yoga benefits them all. My body becomes malleable yet strong, my mind and emotions come to stillness, and my wairua is able to shine through and speak with clarity.
The busyness of the day, all the problems waiting to be solved, all of the worries dissipate and all that is left is my body which I am fully present in, and because my mind stills, there is space for wisdom and connection.
CY: Why did you decide to become a Yoga teacher?
Shelly: I didn’t really intend to become a Yoga teacher! I just wanted to learn more about Yoga so I signed up for the CY teacher training. Once I had learnt more, I felt a real calling to share it with people and to help people experience the huge benefits of this beautiful practice as I had.
CY: What do you remember to be the most challenging as a new Yoga teacher?
Shelly: For me the most challenging thing was getting stuck in my own head, worrying about whether my students were enjoying the class or not. I would look around the studio and think, “She looks really annoyed”, or “I don’t think he’s getting anything out of this”, and then I’d try and adjust my lesson plan and get a bit lost.
I’ve since found that it’s best to just teach a lesson you’re proud of. If people keep coming back, they’re obviously happy!
CY: So what are you doing with your Yoga training now?
Shelly: I’m teaching two weekly classes. One is a class focused on strength and stillness for pre-teen girls at the primary school I work at. This has been a fabulous class to practice my teaching as the girls turn up each week with zero expectations and I can make mistakes which are either not noticed or easily forgiven!
My other class is a Yin to Restorative class for adults at Yoga and Oils Studio in Te Awamutu. I have been very fortunate to be mentored by two of the teachers at this studio and this has been a real blessing as I start this journey out of training and into “real-life teaching”.
I’ve also started a new practice, suggested on the course, of meeting another Yoga teacher (and friend) at our studio once a week where we practice next to each other. We both do our own practice but in the same space and time. It’s a really magical thing - we motivate each other, inspire each other and can just “be” in Yoga together.
CY: What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Yoga teacher?
Shelly: My favourite part of any class, but particularly restorative classes, is when the students come out of shavasana and they sit up to face me and you can just see the change in their faces from how they arrived. They look more relaxed, easeful and some look completely blissed out. I feel so privileged that I’ve been part of that experience for them.