INTERVIEW WITH ARNHEM FOR WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY: YOGA IS FOR EVERYONEJun 16, 2022
For world Mental Health Day 2021, I had a chat with the lovely women behind Arnhem.
You can read the original interview here.
Hayley, please introduce yourself…
My name is Hayley Rose. I’m a full-time yoga teacher and wannabe artist. I’m conveniently small so I fit inside most nooks nicely. I am an excellent breakfast chef and I like to spend my spare time riding on my surfboard. This year I shaved my head and wished I did it ten years ago when I first had the compulsion. I have had the immense privilege of growing up on Bundjalung Country.
How have your childhood and life experiences shaped your work?
Growing up by the sea and surrounded by the bush, I spent much of my time at the beach, exploring rainforests and discovering waterfalls. I remember as a child on a Sunday, Dad would just get the family in the car and we would drive through the hinterland buying fruit and vegetables from honesty boxes and marveling at the sheer beauty of our surroundings. These early experiences of nature as well as exposure to alternative practices and ways of thinking have moulded who I am as a person. They influence my art, my teaching and my self-practices. I tried city-life… Turns out I’m a nature gal through and through.
Do you have any traditions or rituals that you hold onto?
My most treasured ritual is living in harmony with my menstrual cycle. Particularly with taking a day for myself, phone free, in the first couple of days of bleeding. This is something I’ve developed over the last five years and something that has influenced my life, my teaching and my relationships to others and myself in such a profound and unexpected way.
Also, my meditation practice and a cup of tea in the morning is a non-negotiable these days, something that used to seem so daunting is now my greatest ally.
Human connection to the natural elements is deep and complex: does this connection often translate into your work?
Absolutely. As I mentioned, I live my life in rhythm with my menstrual cycle, and at the same time, I try to do my best to live in harmony with the seasons. A cyclical life not just in relation to my menstrual cycle but the cyclical nature of all things. I do my best to adjust my life and my offerings accordingly. Traditional Chinese Medicine, which looks a lot at the seasons and how they affect us energetically and physically, is something that has become more and more prominent in my personal practice and filters down into my classes.
I’m always teaching what I am practicing myself.
What does wellness, balance, and mental health mean to you?
It means taking rest when I need it. It means nourishing my nervous system. It means cups of tea and real connection. Having purpose and meaning in my life.
For me, my wellness comes from a balance in my work and play relationship, my physical health and emotional wellbeing. These all generally equate to a fairly stable state of mind.
I feel like wellness or self-care can sometimes be packaged and sold to us, but there’s such importance in carving your own definitions of these things. Wellness looks different for different people.
Information, and our minds, are running fast. In a virtual age what strategies would you suggest to manage our body and mind, and cultivate a real experience of connectedness?
Mmm, good question. My first response is to lean into a yoga and meditation practice. Nothing connects me more to my body and breath. Simple, slow, nervous system calming practices.
I know it might seem obvious but phone free days are essential. We live in an age where we are more connected yet more distant than ever before, not to mention perpetually overstimulated. Remembering to take time away from my phone, or social media at least, actually leaves me feeling more connected than if I had been engaging in what my peers are doing.
Freelancing is hard, and if you’re like me and Instagram is a work thing, try deleting the app off your phone when you’re not ‘at work’. I delete the app in the evenings and reinstall it in the morning when I need it for work. 10/10 would recommend.
Other than that, time in nature. Even if it’s just a stroll through the park. No device, just trees and fresh air.
What are the different styles of meditation that you practice and what would you recommend for a beginner?
Anapanasati (breath focused meditation) and vipassana meditation are my go-to’s - both simple practices that require nothing more than a place to sit.
Incorporating pranayama (breath work) into your meditation practice is a useful tool for beginners, giving the mind a task to focus actively on is often less daunting than just sitting in silence with your mind whirling.
I have a range of meditations and breath work practices on my online platform that are so very beginner friendly. ARNHEMLOVE will get you a special discount.
How does your work examine the intricacies of body-love and body-loathing, anxiety, relationships, sex and sexuality, gender and the mind body function?
As someone who battled a fairly severe eating disorder for the majority of my teens, my work as a yoga teacher has required of me the type of fierce self-love that can sometimes be challenging. I know for certain that when I’m on the teachers’ mat, demonstrating shapes and offering my small tidbits of wisdom, there is no room for self-loathing. Being a teacher in a community comes with an immense responsibility.
One bad experience on the yoga mat can negatively affect someone's feelings towards yoga as a whole. We need to be creating safe and inclusive spaces for people to come and take from the offering that which serves them, and not feel pressured to participate in anything that doesn’t feel right.
Do you view your work as social activism?
To a degree, yes, even if not directly. I try my best to make my offerings as accessible to as many people as possible, both physically and financially. Inclusivity is so important to me.
Something that I’m noticing in yoga studios is the demographic is becoming smaller and smaller. Too often the yoga room is occupied by a particular demographic to the point where someone who doesn’t necessarily fit that description might feel intimidated or uncomfortable.
Yoga is for everyone. If you can breathe, you can do yoga.
I don’t care if you can stand on your hands or not.
I’m also in the process of developing a course with yoga for the phases of the menstrual cycle. On how to live a more cyclical life and adjust our yoga practices accordingly. As we become more aware of our cyclical bodies, in this disconnected and overstimulated world, honouring our bodies is a quiet form of feminism. So from that perspective, yes.
Who is your personal hero?
I don’t know that I believe in heroes. But let’s say my mum. She’s the most gracious, kind and loving person I know.
I am most looking forward to…
Learning. Always, The more I learn, the more I know, I don’t know much. I’m looking forward to life. I found something I love so young. I know that as I age, my practice will continue to be my pillar and I’m excited to see how this relationship develops as I am granted the time to deepen my practices.
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