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In conversation with… Mandy Scotney

People come to yoga from all walks of life.

Working as a high-profile executive in the corporate world, our GM Mandy Scotney didn’t step onto a mat until her late 30s.

As someone who used to only attend the early morning classes with darkened rooms so no one could see her try to bend into shapes, Mandy has now completed more than 500hrs of Yoga Teacher Training and leads classes at all four BodyMindLife studios.

We caught up with Mandy to find out how she transformed her life and career.

Tell us a little about yourself….

I’m both a yoga teacher and the general manager at BodyMindLife - and the blend of the two is pretty interesting! My role is really diverse. I’m across all aspects of the business and no two days are the same.

Ultimately, I’m responsible for making sure the business is moving forward, that everything is running smoothly and our students have the best possible experience in our studios.

I’ve been part of the BodyMindLife community for more than ten years now and I’m in the unique position where I’ve been a student, assistant and now a teacher.

Aside from the studios, the other love of my life is travel.  Before I worked at BodyMindLife, I spent years in the travel industry and had a few senior management and CEO roles. I’m fortunate to have worked in industries that I’m genuinely passionate about!

I also love singing and music (I’m kind of a frustrated musician) and I’ve started to introduce the harmonium and when the mood is right, chanting, into my classes.

I’m also a mother to an amazing daughter Shannon who has been practising with me in the studios for a while now - she was my guinea pig when I first did my training! It’s basically been the two of us since she was four years old and we’re very close.

When did you start practising yoga?

I’ve always been drawn to yoga - even before I really knew what it was about! I just loved the sound of it. I tried a few classes but it was tricky when Shannon was little - working in big jobs as a single mum meant I had very little time for myself.

Almost 10 years ago it was coming up to the Christmas holiday period and I simply wanted to get away and do something different. I heard about a seven day yoga retreat in Byron Bay - and I just knew I had to go!

It was an intensive with six hours of yoga practice every day. Some of our morning classes went for three hours and I have to say I met muscles in my body that I didn’t even know I had. But I left feeling amazing and made a commitment to myself to make that year a year of yoga. I started practising about three mornings a week at a local studio and then a little while later I found BodyMindLife. Soon after that, I was practising each morning and it was transforming my life.

What led you to the decision to sign up for your Yoga Teacher Training? Coming from a corporate background, were you intimidated?

I remember in my first few yoga classes hearing a voice in my head saying “you could teach this one day” and I almost fell over with laughter. I just couldn’t imagine that there was anyway that was possible. But then, I have to say it felt like a calling.

After about 18 months of solid practice, that voice telling me to go for it grew really strong. I went on another retreat and remember telling a fellow student that I wanted to sign up, but I felt my practice wasn’t good enough. She encouraged me to do it - and said I had a beautiful practice - so I took those words to heart and did it.

Funnily enough, I thought one of the biggest reasons I couldn’t do it was that I wasn’t able to do a handstand! I could barely do one against a wall let alone in the middle of the room.

When I got there, I realised that everyone was on their own journey and at different stages in their practice - this is the same at the trainings at BodyMindLife - there are yogis of all levels!

Now when I get asked about this, I also refer to Mazy Ezraty’s words when I did one of her trainings in inversions - “the true yogi doesn’t care if they kick up into a handstand. The true yogi is grateful to be on their mat in the first place.”

What changed for you after the course?

When I completed my training I was at a point in my career where, despite my external success and ‘doing well’, I was feeling a bit stuck.

I also had super itchy feet and was dealing with the fact that instead of spending my 20’s travelling and having a good time, I was a mum. I wouldn’t change it for a second but I was thinking about a plan once Shannon was out living her own life. The idea of teaching yoga seemed like an opportunity for me to spread my own wings in the future. And that’s kind of how it turned out…

Taking the step to do the training had a huge impact on my life. I’m now working four days a week as a general manager for what I think is simply the best yoga, meditation and Pilates businesses in Australia. I work alongside the most incredible teachers like Noelle and Kat, and owners Phil and Ferique are so inspiring - it’s amazing to be able to combine my passion for yoga with my love of running a business - and doing this for a space that I completely believe in.

And this month you're on the cover of Australian Yoga Journal! That's huge.

It is huge. I feel so incredibly grateful for all the decisions I made - the big and the small ones - that have led me here.

And I’m so humbled to be able to have the opportunity to share my story too. As I said in the article, I’m not that bendy and the physical side of the practice didn’t come naturally to me. I’ve had to work for every pose, every centimetre of flexibility and every ounce of strength.

When people say to me “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” I tell them - neither am I! But it’s a practice so you commit to it and make it happen…. day by day, breathe by breath, practice by practice.

What’s next for you?

I’ll continue to work with our incredible BodyMindLife team to make our studios the best we can possibly be. We’re working on so many exciting ventures - from more teacher trainings to overseas retreats.

As a teacher, I’ll keep learning and growing. Your training isn’t over at 500hrs - it never ends!

I’m booked in to do the 100hr training with Maty Ezraty this month and have another Yin training planned for 2018, and i’ll jump in and do as many workshops and events as I can with BodyMindLife. Yoga is one of those things... the more you learn the more you learn there is to learn!

For me, ongoing learning and growth is so important and as much as I love working with the body, the mind completely intrigues me. So I am also halfway through a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy. I’m not exactly sure where that will lead but I simply love it! I’m also learning to ride a motor-bike… just because.

And I’ll keep practicing because who knows - I might nail that handstand yet!


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