GUEST WRITER INFO
Richelle Ready is a 200 hour registered yoga teacher trained in yin, restorative, vinyasa, hatha, and Bhatki yoga. She is the creator of Bloom Yoga, a community-oriented company striving to offer yoga that is accessible for all. Richelle has a Bachelor of Social Work and offers Vinyasa, Restorative and Yin Yoga from a trauma-informed and healing-centered perspective.
As of late, I have found myself waking up in the morning excited for what my day brings. I feel joy more often than I feel sorrow. When I am feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, this does not define me and follow me throughout the entire day. I find myself sitting with hard emotions and then releasing them to continue on. I say yes to things that bring me happiness, and say no to requests that do not serve me. I feel genuinely happy and content with how I am spending my time.
When people ask how I am, or what I’ve been up to, “living my best life,” has been my go-to answer.
There are still bad days and stresses. I still worry about money, relationships and the state of the world. But in terms of the things that are in my control — I am living my best life right now.
This was not the case at the beginning of 2018. I was working as an assessment worker in the realm of child welfare. This means that I was assessing the safety of children within their families during times of crisis and hardships, as well as planning to ensure the safety and well-being of these children. It also meant that I was working from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and going in on weekends to complete paperwork, in a position that was scheduled to be from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. I felt overwhelmed by the stress and magnitude of the work I was doing, as well as the vicarious and experiential trauma I was absorbing daily. I lacked the time and energy to process and cope. I was also trying to start my business, teach yoga classes, stay on top of my additional casual positions, practice yoga, go to bootcamp, eat healthy, read books for book club, sleep and maintain relationships with those closest to me. Needless to say, there was not enough time in a day or a week to accomplish everything that I put on my to-do list.
One Friday evening, I came home from work four hours late. My partner and I were supposed to go to a friend’s wedding social. He came home to find me curled up in the doorway of our bedroom sobbing on my yoga mat. I couldn’t form a sentence or even begin to explain what was wrong. I had not eaten throughout the day so I had no energy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t go out that night. It was a social event we had been looking forward to for months.
I felt low and out of control.
Every day it seemed that my to-do list grew because I struggle with saying no and perfectionism. I had ideas about how I wanted my life to look, and those ideas were shaped by expectations shared with me by my parents, co-workers and friends, books, television, social media and my own inner critic. The weight of the expectations I was placing on myself was causing a downward spiral, so I kept adding to my to-do list.
There was a month where I insisted on pre-making all of my meals from scratch. It was as if my inner critic believed that making soup (like my mother lovingly does oh so often) defined my ability to be a good partner and roommate. So I spent several of my Sunday evenings in tears over the stove (not because of the onions). I was placing my worth as a person in the number of things I could accomplish daily and weekly because I didn’t feel good about my job in child welfare. It was out of alignment with how I wanted to live my life, and I didn’t feel like I was positively impacting people the way I wanted to. I want to help — my moon is in Cancer, it’s in my nature.
With a lot of pep talks and encouragement from those who love me, I made a decision to apply for a position outside of my academic education doing something I was passionate about: teaching yoga in a studio. I was scared. I was embarrassed that I had spent so much time and money on my education only to pursue something that did not require any academic involvement.
I was ashamed that I did not have what it took to work as a social worker. I was terrified to be without the level of income provided by government pay cheques. I was disappointed in myself. My inner critic had a field day with all of the things she had to say about me — failure, sap, suck, loser.
I had only lasted a year working in the realm of child welfare and this was where I was “supposed to” work until I was fifty-five and could retire successfully. I felt physically sick to my stomach when I shared my decision with my parents. But I also knew that I could not continue to live the way I was. When I received the position, I was excited and relieved. I had my out and began planning my new life.
But then I found out the new position fell through. Suddenly, I was headed for unemployment and into a place of uncertainty, a place I do not think I have experienced since I applied for my first job at fifteen.
It seemed like the easy option to turn around and ask for them to take me back in my old position.
Back to “Monday to Friday.” Back to misery. Back to stability.
Going back was the option many of the ‘adultiest’ adults in my life encouraged me to take. My heart knew and I knew — I couldn’t go back. Especially because some of my personal values are living in alignment and living my truth. I was tired of compromising. I was tired of spiraling into despair and drowning in lists of expectations. I was ready to stand up for myself and believe in myself. I was scared shitless but I was ready to move forward.
So I decided to go all in on Bloom Yoga and create a life I love. No longer sacrificing Saturdays to paperwork. No longer working for twelve hours in one day on something I did not wholeheartedly believe in. No longer witnessing the traumas of others day in and day out. I made a big change and a choice to honour myself and what I believe in.
Now, I am teaching yoga and providing access to yoga to those who may not typically have access to yoga. I have had the privilege to teach at residential treatment facilities for women who are experiencing challenges with addictions, poverty, trauma, mental health and the justice system. I have shared yoga with youth who live within the child welfare system. I share yoga with individuals who work within the world of social work and are exposed to experiential and vicarious trauma daily. I am travelling because it makes me feel alive and joyful, but also to learn about techniques and strategies for teaching yoga. I had the privilege in October to travel to St. Pete’s Beach, Florida with my mother and my nana to learn about accommodating for the needs of survivors of domestic violence during yoga practices. I co-created a yoga teacher training program to share my knowledge and experiences with others.
I am practicing yoga for myself. I am reading for enjoyment and interest. I am sleeping. I am eating in a manner that best suits the needs of my body. I am interacting with my loved ones in positive and meaningful ways. I am not saying this out of grandeur or bragging. These words come from a place of appreciation.
At the beginning of the year, I could have not pictured myself being where I am now, living the way that I am living. I am so grateful to be living my best life.
WHAT COMES NEXT FOR RICHELLE
Richelle is continuing to travel, learn, teach yoga and partner with organizations that fit her style of teaching and values. She recently launched Inner Light, a trauma-informed yoga teacher training, created in collaboration with Wild Path and Ash Bourgeois.
You can see what workshops and events she has coming up on her website here.