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JULIE BURKE'S JOURNEY

Everybody started somewhere. In the My Journey posts we ask an accomplished athlete / star / thought leader how they got where they are now. We hope their stories will inspire and motivate you.

In this forty sixth My Journey post, we had a chat with Julie Burke who is a Yogi. We hope you enjoy Julie's journey.
Julie Burke
Julie Burke
Tell us a little bit about yourself :)

I’m Julie, I’m a full time yoga teacher living in Dublin. I was born and raised in Dublin. I lived in London for 5 years but moved back last year to focus on setting up my own yoga business here.

Yoga takes up a lot of my time whether I’m teaching, class planning or doing my own practice. I try to practice every day- it’s like my morning coffee. If I don’t get on my mat even for a few minutes I just don’t feel right.

Apart from yoga I love to keep fit – running, pilates and barre mainly usually followed by brunch with my boyfriend or some friends- I love brunch ☺ I really enjoy cooking and trying new dishes…. Although I’m not always very good at sticking to the recipe- I like to experiment!

How did you get introduced to yoga?

My yoga journey began just over 10 years ago when I very reluctantly stepped onto a yoga mat after being dragged along by a friend at work. I was always into fitness and used to go to the gym a few times a week but I thought yoga was too slow for me and to be honest, a waste of time. If I was working out I wanted to sweat and feel my body ache. However, that first class showed me very quickly how wrong my preconceived ideas were about yoga. From then I was hooked.

When did yoga get “serious”?

After 2 years of building up my own practice and feeling both the physical and unexpected mental benefits both on and off the mat. I decided I wanted to explore yoga a little deeper and did my pregnancy yoga and mum & baby teacher training. I was teaching around my full time job as an events manager and really wanted to make teaching my full time job but I was nervous and afraid to take the leap. I moved to London in 2011 and after a year as a Marketing manager working crazy hours and feeling very stressed constantly with work I decided to bite the bullet. I’d had enough of the Sunday night fear and felt I could be so much happier doing what I loved so left my job and did my 200hr yoga teacher training.

It was daunting but also really exciting. It was one of the best decisions I ever made and has totally changed my life- for the better in every way. For me yoga is not my sport or my job it’s a lifestyle. My yoga doesn’t start and end when I step on and off the mat. It is a constant practice and a journey. I continue to be amazed by what I learn about myself physically and mentally both on and off the mat.

I went back to the corporate world for 2years before I left London and although I was smashing my targets I wasn’t happy, there was something missing. I was attacked in 2015, which left me with a range of physical and mental scars. It shattered my confidence and left me very anxious but it also allowed me to discover a whole new side to yoga. Initially leaving the house was a challenge, but I started going to a yoga class every day. Some days I just sat in the mat, many days I cried, I had no choice but to listen to my body and this was a huge discovery for me. Prior to this I always pushed myself hard in practice and didn’t give myself time to breathe, to connect and to tune in to how I felt or what I needed on a physical or mental level.

During this time though I had no choice but to listen- physically and mentally. It was very scary to start- but I found the fear of feeling the feelings was worse than actually feeling them. Every time I allowed myself to tune in I would heal a little. The emotional attachment would weaken and I became stronger mentally and physically. I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason and whilst I would never wish what I went through on anyone I have taken many positives from what I have learnt from it and how it has added to my yoga practice, teaching and journey.

Julie Burke
Julie Burke
Can you share your biggest challenges ?

As I touched on above for the first 5years of my practice and teaching I struggled with the mental side of yoga. I found it hard to switch off and be quiet in my own thoughts. I felt the need to constantly be on the go, pushing myself through my asana practice and other sports and put very little value on rest and relaxation time. The traumatic experience I went through magnified the reality of what I was doing- avoiding my feelings. Recognising this was a huge realization for me.

As a teacher I felt I had a duty to my students to help them in this area but as I struggled with it so much I felt I was almost being hypocritical. However, now I talk very openly to my students about my struggles and how it is an ongoing practice just as much as the physical postures.

The other big challenge for me is saying no- if I’m asked to teach a class, speak at an event or cover for someone I will automatically say yes. I often don’t stop to think what my day / week is like and consider how my energy levels will be or if I’ll have any time off for me. This is a constant challenge- trying to find the work life balance because for me yoga doesn’t feel like work, I never wake up and dread going to teach. I absolutely love it and feels so lucky to be able to do it every day that I sometimes forget to take time out. This is definitely a work in progress and needs more practice ☺

How do you handle pressure?

When I worked in the corporate world I had very intense and stressful jobs which involved a lot of pressure, long hours and I constantly felt the need to do better. In sales you are only as good as your last deal so the higher you raise the bar the higher you have to go next time.

Although I now have my dream job there is still a considerable amount of pressure- all be it in a different way. What I do now is personal- I put a huge amount of pressure on myself in everything from my teaching, to how I look to how to develop my business. It is very different to being in an office and having colleagues, mentors, bosses to bounce things off and get reassurance. As my own boss it can be very difficult not to let things get on top of me. However, I am extremely lucky to have a very supportive boyfriend who constantly reassures me and calms me down when my head starts to go into overdrive. He is my rock and I would not be where I am without him. My family and friends are hugely supportive too- having a close network of people around me is a huge factor in me being able to do what I do.

Julie Burke
Can you share your thoughts on self consciousness?

It’s funny, I often get nervous before events but the minute I step onto the mat or into the space it disappears. It’s not a physical thing for me- I don’t worry about what people think about how I look or how I perform. It’s more me hoping what I do will be the right fit for the audience, that people get what they need from whatever session I am delivering.

I absolutely love to teach and talk about yoga- whether it’s a private class, festival, workshop or public event. It gives me such an adrenaline rush every time and a genuine happy feeling.

Away from the mat and my teaching I am definitely self conscious at times and that’s a combination of the trauma I went through and my own expectations of myself but rather than dwelling on it I talk about it- to friends my boyfriend and I find by expressing how I feel and sharing it helps me work through it.

What was your most embarrassing moment (in regards to your yoga of course ;)

Eeek I honestly don't really have one!

How did yoga influence your life in other ways?

Yoga influences every part of my life, it’s not really something I can separate. I continue to be surprised and amazed by how much I learn about myself on so many levels through my yoga practice and teaching.

I used to find it impossible to switch off. Sitting still was a waste of time for me, or so I thought, I had to do everything at a million miles and hour and constantly pushed my body limits physically and was very hard on myself mentally. What I have learnt through my yoga is that I struggled to let me mind be calm and to turn my focus inwards, it was almost as if I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.

My yoga journey as a teacher and student has taught me to appreciate things in my life so much more. By things I don’t mean materialistic items but more people- friends, family, my partner and opportunities. I will always be a student of yoga and I love that I am not only constantly learning through my own practice but also through my teaching and the wonderful students I get to work with every day.

Julie Burke
What does your daily routine look like ?

There really isn’t a typical day as every day is so different- even week to week it changes. My day usually starts with me teaching or taking an early morning class. I am usually up by 6.00am. After class I grab a coffee and some breakfast somewhere and catch up on emails, social media and general admin stuff. I have a number of commitments as an ambassador for various brands so there is often stuff to be done there. Depending on when my next class is I might get some writing done- I write a blog and sometimes I just write. There is a novel in me somewhere! ☺

I usually have a lunchtime class and then refuel with a nutribullet- my new favourite thing. A great way to keep your energy levels up on the go. In the afternoon I either do some more admin (there is always admin to do) or get working on class plans, themes, upcoming events. Sometimes I do my own self practice before my evening classes or work on sequencing. The evenings are pretty chilled, I love cooking and trying new recipes- although if it has been an early start and late finish I just need something quick so I always have some healthy staples like avocado and eggs in the fridge.

I am definitely an early bird rather than a night owl so I often end up falling asleep in the middle of watching a movie with my boyfriend. I try not to work too many evenings and the same with early mornings. Although my boyfriend is unbelievably supportive and I am very lucky. It’s important to make time fur us too so I keep that in mind when planning my weekly schedule.

And what about your flexibility training ? Where does that fit in ?

I have always been very flexible which you might be surprised to hear is not necessarily a good thing. I did a lot of gymnastics and dance growing up and was always able to bend myself into all kinds of funny shapes. However, when I started yoga I realized I couldn’t isolate my muscles. I had great flexibility but very poor strength and awareness in my muscles. So for me it’s important to combine my stretching with strengthening and control movements.

What keeps you motivated?

I keep myself motivated, it’s not something I work really hard at it’s just how I am. I guess I know how lucky I am not only to be able to do what I love every day but to have found something I am truly passionate about. I have a curious and competitive nature. I like learning and I don’t like not being good at something. From when I was a child I have always set myself goals whether it was competing in dance competitions or school exams and it’s the same now with yoga. If I try something and it doesn’t go how I want it to I won’t give up until it does.

For me being healthy has always been important. I feel so much better when I’m exercising regularly and eating the right things. Don’t get me wrong I’m not obsessive about it and I have a very sweet tooth but I love that natural high I get from working out and staying fit.

What are your future plans/goals/dreams?

To continue to teach with the same passion and love for what I do, to never stop learning to make me a better student and teacher, to cherish every opportunity and to have a happy family.

‘Live, Laugh, Love’ live every moment, laugh every day and love beyond words.

Any tips for passionate people starting out yoga?

Remember why you started.

It sounds so simple but even the most passionate person has moments of doubt, fears and bumps in the road that can knock you off course. Stay true to what you want and why you want it. Surround yourself with people who support you unconditionally, who won’t just tell you what you want to hear. Don’t be afraid of failing; take every knock as an opportunity to learn and don’t make the same mistake twice.

Failure doesn’t come from falling down, it comes from not getting back up.

Julie Burke
Anything else?

You can't always control what happens in life but you can choose how you react. We are all dealt a tricky hand sometimes but there is always a choice in how you respond.

Don't let fear, lack of confidence stop you doing anything. You set your own limits.... we only live once.... set them sky high!

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2 Comment

  • Author Image
    Jess Posted October 02 2017

    Absolutely amazing photos!!! Will also try to go to your class :)

    Reply
  • Author Image
    Hannah Posted October 02 2017

    Very inspiring story! I was exactly in Julie's shoes before starting yoga and it was the best decision of my life to try it!

    Reply

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