Welcome to Soul Chat where you can be Inspired by Empowered Women that are Living with Heart & Soul.
Meet Lisa Morrison from Yoga4Life.
- What was your path to becoming a Yoga teacher?
As someone who raced through her teens and twenties with a strong drive and expectation of career, family, house, travel etc, I was pretty burnt out by the time I reached the tender age of 30. I’d achieved all those things, and yet felt something fundamentally was missing from my life. My soul felt a little empty, although I didn’t quite know this at the time. Like many, I just thought I should perhaps work harder at being happy, but I had no framework for this!
My first Yoga class was quite simply, transformational for me. Like you Kate, I felt a strong sense of ‘coming home’, of a reconnection with the ‘me’ that did not wear the hats of Mum or Wife or Teacher or whatever…. I fell in love with all the aspects of Yoga: the physical and mental focus took care of balancing out my intensely active body and mind, and additionally, the magic of that, meant that my emotional, energetic and spiritual bodies were also taken care of. These last three parts are probably what has kept me incredibly passionate and a lifelong learner of Yoga.
About 5 years into my practice, I came across IYTA NZ (International Yoga Teachers Association) teacher training, with the full intention of it being a personal exploration (the study course) of Yoga, as I had no intention of becoming a Yoga teacher (I was at the time a primary school teacher, and this ‘Yoga stuff’ was for me personally!). But of course, being a natural-born teacher, there was no way I could keep the abundant gifts of Yoga to myself; I had started along this path, and there was no turning back!
- How has Yoga influenced your life?
For a long time, although I loved my Yoga classes, and was deeply interested in the history and philosophy of Yoga, I didn’t think that I could ‘be a Yogi’ within my current life. I felt too mainstream. Too middle class. Not ‘fringe’ enough. However, I took this idea, and decided that I could perhaps use all of Yoga’s gifts, and offer them (particularly but not exclusively) to women just like me, living fairly mainstream lives, with children, with jobs, with relationships.
Yoga4Life is not just about adjusting practices to fit unique and individual beings, it’s also about using our everyday lives and what is going on at any one time (different every single time we practice!) to inform and shape our practices. I see the Yoga in everything I do, think, feel, say…and so in a sense, my whole life becomes a practice. It’s taken me to a much truer, kinder and stronger version of myself; life is certainly not ever perfect, but I’m loving it more and more as I go on!
- How do you ‘live’ Yoga off the mat?
As I said above, Yoga is life to me. Ahimsa/loving-kindness is always at the forefront of my choices. With household purchases, groceries, etc, I try to live lightly, kindly and with the least amount of harm to people, animals, the earth herself. With relationships (and this is the biggie for me!) there are daily challenges and also celebrations at how far I have come. These practices start on the mat, and often they stay there for many, but for me, I work with those Yamas and Niyamas constantly.
I am a lot kinder and more forgiving of myself these days, and so it matters not if I don’t always get it right, what matters more, is that I keep digging deep for the light, the kindness, the truth inside. It’s always there and it’s there in all of us.
- Tell us your ‘why’. Why do you do the work you do? Why is it important to you? Why do you love what you do?
From the age of 14 I was inspired by a couple of teachers who showed me the respect, compassion and belief in me that I wasn’t aware I deserved. From that moment on, I wanted to be a person who made others feel respected, included and valued. My passion was children for many years, and always, it was about building strong and reciprocal relationships with children first; the subject matter was irrelevant. If you look after that first bit, the child thrives.
As my life path led towards teaching adults Yoga, I knew how vital these practices and teaching were in my own life, especially for my mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, and I aim to offer all this to students. I feel so privileged to share Yoga with others, to create a safe space for my students from all walks of life, to come to their classes and practice these Yamas and Niyamas on their mats. It is incredibly rewarding work, and although I have to really look after my energy, I often pinch myself at having found my true life’s purpose.
One of the quotes I have had for many years was: be the change you wish the world to be. This is so simple and yet so difficult. I try to live by this.
- What do you love most about being a Yoga teacher?
I love that I get to develop my creative side. Years in the NZ educational system left me feeling a little jaded and boxed in, so being able to take the classical teachings of Yoga, and the students that turn up for me, and creating an environment that serves them, is my greatest love.
It’s called enquiry learning and is a million miles away from the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ Yoga that I first encountered. This has allowed me to ‘play’ and find immense ‘joy’ in teaching and learning, and for most students, once they realise that they’re expected to be in charge of their practice, i.e. to FEEL and make choices within their practice, the freedom is incredibly satisfying.
- If you had one piece of advice for a woman considering starting a home Yoga practice, what would it be?
Gosh, assuming she is also working alongside a teacher within the class setting – I believe you do need some guidance from a teacher who understands modern functional anatomy and physiology as well as classical teaching of Yoga – my inclination is to set up a space for oneself that is pleasant, warm and invites you to practice.
Once that is taken care of, I’m all for lying down on your mat in supported Viparita Karani, FEELING into what the whole being needs (physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual), and then take it from there. Because we all lead very different lives, for some this will mean doing less and resting, for others it will mean doing more and moving.
Ideally, we practice at the same time of day, but I don’t think most of us have that luxury, so take it when you can. 5 minutes or 95 minutes…just start! But, begin to find the Yoga OFF the mat…this is most important to me.
- What is your favourite Yoga practice and why?
My practices are Somatic and are all informed by what my being needs at any one time. My favourite practice is the one that serves my current needs…the one that brings me home to my essence, my truth, my soul, my home base, my Spirit.
- Favourite wisdom leader
IYTA’s John Massey appeals a lot to me these days. The simpler the better. Loving-kindness. Silence. Nature. Such profound yet simple practices.
- Yin Yang questions –
Oh dear – my life’s work is to find balance… so I find these questions almost impossible because I find joy in all opposites! However…
River or lake? Lake
Chocolate or cake? Chocolate (although these are both sweet and I am not a sweet tooth! Give me chips and cheese any day 😉
Inside or out? Out
Walk or run? Walk
Comedy or drama? Drama (but I also love comedy, it’s a close 2nd!)
- Who and/or what inspires you in life?
This is such a tough one for me. I have worked hard over the years to learn from others, yet walk my own path. This means that I don’t get too overwhelmed and anxious by all the wonderful work of others, which can often happen if we ‘follow’ too many others. In saying this, my teachings and pedagogy are heavily influenced by Donna Farhi. I am drawn to other strong women, and I recently enjoyed the stories of Hilary Rodham Clinton, Michelle Obama, and of course feel incredibly proud of our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
What interests me most, is how people develop resilience and rise above the difficulties that they face in their lives. Of course, so many others I have gained inspiration from: Satish Kumar, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama….
In life, I find so much inspiration from the changing seasons, natural environments and always, my children and husband inspire me daily.