Rosalind Southward tells us how she moved continents several times teaching English as a foreign language before she moved back to the UK to become a yoga teacher, and her plans to start a yoga teacher consultancy and to teach yoga online.
Rosalind Southward of Rosalind Southward Yoga
Website: Rosalind Southward Yoga
Facebook: Rosalind Forrest Yoga
Rosalind is a Forrest Yoga Guardian and senior Yoga Teacher based in Cornwall. She is currently running her yoga business by teaching online with students around the globe. An avid long distance runner and nature lover, when not teaching yoga Rosalind can be found running trails (or coastal paths!) and spending time in the ocean. She firmly believes we all have the possibility to make our dreams a reality and live the life we truly desire.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- How peer pressure makes us feel like we have to get a “proper” job
- The challenges of living and working abroad
- The importance of seeking regular “sanctuary” to take a break from real life
- How losing enthusiasm and feeling stale can be a sign of a need to move on
- The value of thoroughly researching a career change before taking the plunge, especially where the change involves running a business
- How, once we’ve taken a decision to do something, the obstacles fall away and things start to fall into place
- Why it’s not always best to accept what seems like a fantastic opportunity if it doesn’t fit with what you actually want
- The importance, when you are a freelancer, of recognising that you are in business
- How the best learning is done “on the job” and not in training courses
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
- Teaching English as a Foreign Language
- Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults
- International House
- The British Council
- Ana Forrest Yoga
- No Bull Business School (also check them out on Instagram)
- Quote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life”, from “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver
- Quote: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition”, Steve Jobs
To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 36: The journey to yoga - with Rosalind Southward of Rosalind Southward Yoga
Jeremy Cline 0:00
I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:17
Hello and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. My guest on this week's episode is Rosalind Southward of Rosalind Southward Yoga. She moved from marketing to teach English as a foreign language which led her to live in places like Barcelona, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur before she discovered yoga as a place of sanctuary which eventually led to her deciding to become a yoga teacher. Here's the interview with Rosalind Southward. Hi Roz, welcome to the show.
Rosalind Southward 0:47
Hi, Jeremy. Thanks for having me.
Jeremy Cline 0:49
Can you start by introducing yourself and telling us what you do?
Rosalind Southward 0:52
I certainly can. My name is Rosalind Southward, and I am a self-employed freelance yoga teacher.
Jeremy Cline 0:59
And when you say self-employed freelance, what sort of yoga do you teach, and where do you teach it?
Rosalind Southward 1:04
So I teach yoga in studios, I teach private clients - so one-to-one or small group classes that are arranged - I also teach workshops and I'm involved in teacher trainings as well. And currently at the moment, I live in Hitchin, but I teach in Cambridge and London, so commute between the two. And in terms of workshops, I teach those around the UK.
Jeremy Cline 1:33
When you first introduced yourself to me, you said that you changed careers and continents seven years ago to become a full-time self-employed yoga teacher. So what were you doing seven years ago, and where were you doing it?
Rosalind Southward 1:46
I was an English teacher overseas for about 11 years. I was teaching English as a foreign language and I started off living in Spain. I actually went to Barcelona for a month to do my TEFL course when I was about 23 years old, partly because I was in a sales job in London that I hated and I didn't know what to do, so I went off and did this course for a month and off the back of that ended up getting a job in Barcelona and I stayed there for five years, as you do! Then after that, I spent a year in Thailand working in Bangkok, came back to Barcelona for a year, and then I moved to Malaysia. So it was Malaysia that I was living in when I decided to change from teaching English to becoming a yoga teacher. So it was quite a move!
Jeremy Cline 2:37
Yeah, I'd like to talk about both those changes, actually. How did you end up in the sales job in the first place? Was this just first job after finishing education?
Rosalind Southward 2:46
The funny thing was, when I was at university, I always said that I wanted to go and teach English in China. I don't really know why that was the thing that I had in my head, but then when it got to around the time of graduation, it felt like all my friends or a lot of my friends were getting what at that time I would call a 'proper job'. So I had a lot of friends that were getting jobs on graduate schemes. I had some friends that were moving into further legal training and doing different things. And so I had a bit of a panic and was like, Oh, I have to find a proper job, and ended up working in media sales - honestly, partly because one of my friends had already got a job in as a recruitment consultant in London. I think it was through her agency that I actually ended up getting this first job. So I ended up working in media sales, and I worked for Reed Business Information in Sutton in Surrey. I worked for a couple of their magazines, but I'll be honest with you, media sales just wasn't my bag. It was one of those jobs where I ended up in it, I did it for a couple of years, but actually really, it was just not my thing. I didn't really enjoy it. It just got to the point where I wasn't really enjoying living in London either and I decided that I needed to change stuff up and decided to go and do this TEFL course. I wasn't 100% sure that I wanted to teach to be honest with you. But it was more a case of I figured it was something that would be a good qualification to do, and if I ended up teaching off of the back of it then great, but I also recognise that if I didn't go into teaching, it wasn't a bad certificate to do in terms of the skills that you get to develop and practice. The reason I went to Barcelona was actually because I was looking at doing the course in London, but because I was going to have quit my full time job in order to do the cause it was just quite expensive to do it in London with the living expenses, etc. And a friend of mine that I went to university with had done the course in Barcelona and was like, Oh, why don't you have a look at Barcelona in Spain? And I was like, right, yeah, it's cheaper, the dates work. So I just booked onto that. The interesting thing is obviously I ended up living there for five years, but I actually couldn't speak any Spanish before I went at all. So yeah, it was quite an interesting time!
Jeremy Cline 4:27
So what's actually involved with the TEFL course? How long does it last, and what's the form of it?
Rosalind Southward 5:00
Oh, gosh, it was such a long time ago now, Jeremy. It was when I was 23, pushing 20 years ago that I did it! So the course that I did was, if I remember correctly, it was about a month long, just under a month, say, and within it, you did a lot of input on theory of teaching, you did teaching practice, I think you might have got to teach real students actually on it as well. I think they maybe did free classes that people could attend, so you got to practice teaching and get feedback on it. I mean for me it was like a whole new thing. It really was completely different from anything that I'd done before. Plus, you're doing it in a country where for me where I didn't speak the language either. So it certainly was very interesting.
Jeremy Cline 5:51
Is it a formal teaching qualification? Is it something that you do and then you become a teacher?
Rosalind Southward 5:57
It's not the same as doing a PGCE. So the certificate that I did was a Cambridge University certificate, it's a CELTA - I don't know if that's what it's called now because obviously things could have changed since then. But at the time the CELTA was the certificate in English language teaching for adults and then later on in my English teaching career I went on and did a higher level diploma in teaching English as a foreign language - the exam board was Trinity for that one but Cambridge have their own diploma as well. So it's not the same as doing a PGCE, I wouldn't be able to teach like a regular school unless I'd been hired as an ELT specialist, because it's teaching English as a foreign language so it's not the same as teaching English to native speakers.
Jeremy Cline 6:42
So what does it enable you to do once you have the certificate?
Rosalind Southward 6:45
To go and teach English as a foreign language anywhere in the world where you can get a job and you want to go basically.
Jeremy Cline 6:52
Is that schools-based or something you do freelance?
Rosalind Southward 6:56
So I worked in language schools. I worked for a small independent language school that was actually in a town just outside of Barcelona called Sant Cugat del Valles - it's on the other side of the mountain just behind Barcelona, but I also worked for International House, which is a chain of language schools. And then my final posting in Malaysia was with the British Council.
Jeremy Cline 7:22
How did you end up in Malaysia?
Rosalind Southward 7:23
Well, basically I spent a year working in Bangkok - it was a really tough year that year actually. The school that I worked at was a small, privately run school, but it was all teaching kids and teenagers so it was a lot of private tuition. We did group classes as well. And but in the past, I'd always taught a mixture of children, teenagers and adults. You know, in Spain, typically the little kids will come to the slot that's right after they finish school, the teenagers will come a little bit later on. And then later in the evening you'll teach adults, so you get a little mixture of everything. I also taught some business classes as well in Spain so obviously they were adults. This job in in Bangkok, it was all little kids. I had to teach phonics which was something that I'd never done before. So all of a sudden I was teaching children how to read and write in English, which was completely new, but I actually ended up really enjoying that. And in Bangkok, we did a lot of stuff where we were teaching teenagers who wanted to pass the qualifications like IELTS to be able to go and study overseas. It was very full-on - I mean, teaching little kids - anyone who is a teacher of small children or teenagers knows how hard hard work that is. And so by the end of my year in Bangkok, I was like, Oh my gosh, just get me out of here because Bangkok also is a very crazy city. It's very hot, noisy, smelly. There needs to be an off button, like a volume switch on it - and there isn't. So 12 months there, I was like, get me back to Spain. But when I moved back to Spain, it was around the time that the economy had dropped in Europe - and so what I found when I got back to Spain was that the cost of living had gone up, the number of English teachers in Barcelona, the market was getting really saturated. And almost there were so many teachers that it diluted the market. So although, by that point I had six years experience - I was an experienced teacher and also having spent this year in Bangkok teaching exclusively kids and teenagers, I had skills that were quite desirable - but I just felt like the market was too saturated. And because I was trying to come back into the market having been away, the experience didn't really seem to count for anything. And it was just a case of last in the door getting the rubbish schedules in terms of I ended up working split shifts, so teaching in the morning and then teaching in the evening, which is actually kind of tough to be honest with you in terms of daily routine. And the cost of living had gone up and I spent most of the year going Oh, gosh, I almost just wish I was back in Asia. I ended up in Malaysia because I decided that I wanted to move back to Asia. The British Council I knew were one of the best places to work in terms of teaching English as a foreign language just in terms of the fact they do really look after you, they often include relocation packages to help you set up over there. Their rates of pay were higher as well. Typically, you have to commit to at least a two year contract. You know at the time, my friends in Spain were 'oh my gosh, you're committing to something for two years?' because in Spain, you commit to an academic year - so nine months tops - but I rationalised it was going to be worth it. And so basically when I decided that I wanted to move and I decided that I wanted to move back to Asia, I was looking for jobs that were coming up with the British Council and I interviewed with Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and I think maybe Colombo in Sri Lanka as well. I got offered a job Hong Kong, got offered Kuala Lumpur can't remember if the Sri Lanka interview happened a little bit later - I think it might have done because in hindsight I'm a bit like, 'Oh, I could have lived in Sri Lanka! Why did I never go for that one!' but basically I chose Kuala Lumpur because I still had some friends living in Bangkok in Thailand. And I rationalised that if I went to KL, and I didn't really like it, then, you know, I'd have friends relatively nearby that I could fly and go see at weekends and stuff. Hong Kong felt like it was a little bit out on a limb. And in terms of Hong Kong, I had this impression I'd either really love it or I might really hate it, whereas KL looked a bit more middle ground. That was why I picked KL, but I'd never been to Malaysia before. So really, once again, I didn't really know 100% what I was getting myself into, but it just felt like the right place to pick at the time.
Jeremy Cline 11:50
So these years teaching English, there's an awful lot of international stuff going on here. Was this something that you'd wanted to do whilst you were studying? Or is this something it just happened like this?
Rosalind Southward 12:03
It kind of just happened. I think because of the nature of the job, if you're teaching English as a foreign language it kind of goes without saying that there's a lot more job opportunities outside of the UK. And to be honest with you, the further afield you go, often the better kind of deal you get, because they need to entice teachers to go and work there. In terms of the travel side of it, when I was at university I was fortunate enough that I was able to make my first kind of long haul travel journey that I went on my own when I was about 19 or 20 - I was able to go to Japan and visit a friend who was older than me that was working in Japan at that time. I don't know did that give me the travel bug? I don't really remember to be honest. But I think for me, I'm quite comfortable travelling to places that I've never been to before on my own. If I can speak the language great, but if I can't I'll go anyway. There are some people out there who like to know the routine, and they like everything to be what they're expecting. And I guess I have less of that. I'm okay with, you know, just being like, okay, what's going to happen here? And I'll just deal with it. And maybe that's why I was able to make the move to changing my job and becoming self-employed, you know, because I'm a bit more open-minded and flexible in terms of that. I don't know. I think you need that when you travel, though, because you can't control stuff. And especially, you know, when you go to countries where things are more chaotic in terms of the infrastructure than we have here in the UK, you know, sometimes you just don't know what you're going to get or how long things are going to take. And you can either get upset by it or just kind of ride with it.
Jeremy Cline 13:45
So at what point in this process, do you discover yoga and start practising yoga?
Rosalind Southward 13:54
I discovered yoga when I was living in Bangkok, and I'll be honest with you, I was a long distance runner and never really had any interest in yoga. And also what's worth bearing in mind is the yoga business and industry has massively exploded, I would say over the past 10 years or so. When I lived in Barcelona, yoga wasn't really a thing. I knew one friend who went and did Ashtanga somewhere but it wasn't such a commonplace thing. My first experience of yoga actually was when I was living in London when I was in my early 20s. I remember buying a VHS video - this is how long ago it was - in the sale in Woolworths after Christmas, there was a yoga video. I did it once in my flat in rainy Streatham Hill, and this video had been shot on a beach in Ibiza and it was just all these bendy people wearing not very much clothing, doing all this yoga. And I just remember thinking, I'm not really into this, because it wasn't the thing that people were doing. That video got binned off, and I don't think I ever did it again. And then roll on to when I was in Bangkok - I was a runner but the year before I moved to Bangkok, I had a knee injury. I ripped, partially ripped one of my ACL ligaments, which is one of the ligaments that crosses over in the middle of your knee. Very, very painful injury. Couldn't walk, obviously couldn't run. I'd got back into my running but wasn't quite back to where I'd been before. I was training for a marathon actually, when that injury occurred. I joined a gym in Bangkok because it's so hot there that you can't run outside. The first day that I was in Bangkok, I decided to go for a run in the park and yeah, never again! It was the hottest, sweatiest most difficult thing ever! I joined this gym, it was opposite my work and I was just doing training on the treadmill and weights and stuff. This gym had a Bikram yoga like a hot yoga studio inside it, and I had no interest in yoga, but the studio was literally opposite the female changing rooms. So every now and again, when you were coming in and out of the women's changing rooms, hot yoga studio would get really hot so they had the sliding doors and at certain points in the class, they'd slide the doors open just to get a bit of air circulation. And if you were coming in and out of the female changing rooms, you'd see what was going on inside the yoga room, because I think otherwise the doors were frosted, so you couldn't see in. And every now and again these doors would slide open and you'd see all these people in this hot yoga class, tied in a knot sweating profusely doing this yoga, and then the door would mysteriously close again. And I was like, what goes on in that hot yoga room? I was quite intrigued by it. And I realised that when I joined the gym they give one of these Starter Pack things, and I actually had a free pass to go and attend a yoga class. So I found this free pass and I thought I'm going to go and try it just for a laugh, really, to see what's going on this room - and I actually really enjoyed it. I think because - I know this sounds a bit ironic because obviously I was living in a really hot country - but I think because I was really into my running and doing like quite sweaty cardio that actually doing yoga in a hot room appealed to me, because you did sweat and it was really hard work. You felt like you'd done a good workout by the end of it. I changed my gym membership so I was able to attend yoga classes, and I wasn't going whole hog into it, but I would maybe attend two classes a week. I actually got into it in Bangkok. One of the reasons I enjoyed it was because the job that I had in Bangkok, one of the reasons it was quite stressful was because there was a lot of one-to-one and small group classes that were being taught at the school and our teaching schedules would get changed very frequently and often very last minute, which was quite stressful because you'd plan your day for the following day the day before, and then sometimes you'd come in in the morning and they'd tell you that you had one or two extra, perhaps one to one classes that you didn't know you're going to be teaching - so then you planned your time, but that's kind of got messed up. You'd have to plan the classes and teach these extra classes. So over time that did get quite stressful. And one of the things that I liked about this hot yoga class, it's the same series of postures. And the teachers actually say the same thing. So it became this kind of 90 minutes of consistency in a job and living in a city - the job was a bit erratic in terms of you didn't know necessarily what you're going to get in your schedule. And Bangkok as a city is just crazy. So actually going to this yoga class became like a bit of a sanctuary because it was 90 minutes where I knew exactly what was going to happen. It didn't matter who the teacher was, they'd say the same thing, you'd do the same poses, and it was like 90 minutes where you could just be okay, I don't have to stress about anything because I know what I'm getting. That was how I got into yoga and then when I moved back to Spain, by that point fortunately there was a there was a hot yoga studio in Barcelona - so I was able to keep up practising that. It was obviously much more expensive to practice it in Europe than it was in Thailand, but I still went to at least one class a week, two classes a week. I was still doing my running and stuff, and then actually funnily enough, when I came to choose my job in Asia, when I moved to work for the British Council, I'd forgotten about this. One of the factors that did actually determine why I picked Kuala Lumpur was because the Bikram yoga studio in Hong Kong had closed and but there was a hot yoga studio in KL. And so that was actually one of my factors as to why I chose Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur, was because I knew I could keep doing hot yoga.
Jeremy Cline 19:37
So you were really into it by then?
Rosalind Southward 19:39
I had really got into it, yeah. And then during my time in Malaysia basically I was practising hot yoga, I started going on holiday to Bali, which was a place that I'd always wanted to visit when I was living in Thailand, just never ended up going. I think partly just because there are so many beautiful islands to visit in within Thailand itself that you almost don't really need to go to Bali to have a nice holiday. Anyway, when I moved to Malaysia I was itching to go to Bali. So the first chance I got for a holiday, I went to Bali and just really fell in love with Bali to be honest with you. So I started going to Bali really regularly on holiday. Every time I went to Bali, I would typically go to stay in this place called Ubud, which is really like the yoga epicentre of Bali. And so I started attending classes - there was a yoga studio there that did lots of like dropping classes, so you could just try loads of different styles. So I would go on these holidays to Bali, and I'd kind of like do like a DIY yoga retreat, you know, I'd go and stay somewhere, and I buy a 10-class pass for the studio and then just go and attend as many classes as I could in lots of different styles. So I started exploring different styles of yoga on those holidays, you know, but still practising hot yoga. I actually started having lots of back problems whilst I was living in Malaysia, and my yoga teacher told me that I should stop running - because I was still running on the treadmill as well as doing the yoga classes. So I actually got to the point where I stopped running and I just started doing yoga five times a week, sometimes six, depending on my week. So yeah, I got really serious about it. And then was taking all these holidays to Bali to do yoga as well. It almost became a joke in my office because my work colleague that sat next to me would be like 'Oh, Ros you're on holiday next week, right? I bet you're going to Bali to do yoga!' Yeah, you're right. Very predictable!
Jeremy Cline 21:33
So what point does this turn into something that you starting to think about doing professionally?
Rosalind Southward 21:38
So what happened was I moved to Malaysia in the role as an English teacher. All my hours were in the classroom teaching English as a foreign language. And then I did my diploma, which is higher level qualification, and then once I'd done that, I was able to apply for positions that came up wWithin management. I think within English teaching really there's a couple of ways you can go. You can either go down the academia routes - and you know, there are some people that do masters in TEFL, or like linguistics and you know, go down the academic route in terms of investigating topics or research areas that they're interested in taking that further - or depending on the organisation you're working for but obviously the British Council's got the infrastructure where there is lots of possibility to move up a career ladder if you like, and move into management. It was a coordinator position. So I worked with the manager for the young learners, helping with management stuff related to the administration and running of the young learners courses, that was like the kids and the teenagers. And then basically I ended up in a higher management position and I actually worked as the operations manager, so I did all the timetabling for the Teaching Centre, which at that time had about 60 teachers. The Teaching Centre was open seven days a week and about 12 hours a day - certainly Monday to Friday the centre ran classes from about 9, 9:30 in the morning till nine o'clock in the evening. And it was a mixture of full time classes. So you'd have students that came in and did classes three hours a day, five days a week, so they were doing 15 hours a week. You'd have people that came in the evenings that worked during the day and would do a 90 minute class so twice a week. And at the weekends, it was kids and teenagers. So basically, I was timetabling 60 teachers on a timetable that was 12 hours a day, seven days a week. And I had to make some changes to the timetable on a weekly basis to allow for people that were on leave and cover. Every two weeks the full time class schedule changed because those people that were coming three hours a day, five days a week, they would do 30 hour courses. So every two weeks, they would all change. And then on a termly basis, I'd rewrite the entire timetable from scratch. Yeah, it was actually a really stressful job. And I would deal with leave and I'd line manage people as well. Plus, I would still teach a little bit. I still did some teaching hours in the classroom too. So I ended up in a senior teacher operations job and it was hard, you know, when you're trying to timetable that many teachers, you can't please everybody. Of course, you can't. Sometimes it is hard work in terms of sometimes there were last minute changes,you know, things happen, where things need to change and also just, you know, trying to create this timetable that would appease everybody!It just ended up being really stressful to be honest with you to the point where it was actually making me a bit sick, quite anxious. I just got to the point where I think the other thing was as well, if I remember correctly, when I got this promotion obviously got a pay rise, but I think it actually pushed me into the next tax bracket. So for the extra work and stress that I had, the financial gain that I got from it wasn't really as much as I'd thought it was going to be just because of the tax bracket thing, which, you know, these things happen. Over time, it just started to get me down and I just got to the point where I was like I can't sustain this, and actually for the level of stress and how I feel on a, you know, five days a week doing this, for me, it's it's not worth it. What am I doing here? I liked teaching, but I'd also got to the point where with teaching English as a foreign language, you're teaching grammar and vocabulary, and I think you can reinvent the wheel a certain number of times, but I think by this point I'd taught for so long it was getting to the point where I was losing my enthusiasm and drive for teaching English because I was doing it for so long, which is why I moved into management. But then the management thing wasn't really working for me either. And so by this point I'd got really serious about my yoga. This was at the point where I was like probably practising yoga like five or six times a week. And I decided that I wanted to go back to teaching, but I actually wanted to teach yoga. So I started looking for yoga teacher training courses. I ended up on this five week course in Bali, and basically, I somehow managed to get permission to take five weeks unpaid leave from work to go and take this training course. So went off to Bali and did that for five weeks.
Jeremy Cline 26:44
Did you at any point feel like this was running from rather than running to, or whilst you were going through this process where you were dissatisfied with the job were you then starting to think, well, I like teaching, I like yoga - that's what I want to do?
Rosalind Southward 26:59
I think for me, that was my passion. I'll just continue this story because actually what happened, it wasn't quite such a clear step from teaching English into teaching yoga. So basically what happened was I went off and I did this five week course, the Operations Manager job that I'd been doing, I'd actually been doing it as a long term cover off of the back of somebody that was on maternity leave, and it had like a domino effect. So people had moved into different jobs. And basically what happened was, this job came up as a permanent position. I'd actually had to do an interview for my own job, I think before I went on this teacher training course, and whilst I was on the training, I got offered the job as a full time post. I can't remember if I actually accepted the job initially, but then basically, after I finished this five weeks yoga teacher training course I went back to Malaysia and I actually said to them, You know, I am going to move to Bali to be a yoga teacher. I can't take that job as a full time role. I think we'd arranged a two or three month notice period that I was working. Now, this idea of moving to Bali to become a yoga teacher, it was just not founded on good research shall we say, because what I found out as I started to try to kind of instigate that move was that Bali was saturated with yoga teachers. You can't just move to Bali to teach yoga, it's not that easy. And also, when you're a brand new yoga teacher, why do people want to hire you over people that have got more experience? They probably don't, right! In a way I'd kind of shot myself in the in the foot with that one because it was this idealistic idea I'd got that I'm going to move to this kind of tropical paradise to teach yoga actually wasn't very practical in reality at that time. And so basically what happened was whilst I was working my notice period - I stopped practising hot yoga by this time, so I actually did my teacher training and a different style of yoga - I went to this little yoga studio that was quite near where I was living, but I just had never been to the studio because I'd always been doing these hot yoga classes in a specialist studio. So I went into the class of this little studio and the receptionist. I told her that I'd just done my teacher training. She was like, well give me your phone number, I'll give it to the studio owner - she might contact you to cover some classes. And I was like, yeah, here's my card, here's my number. And I thought to myself, Oh, they're not gonna phone. You know, it's fine. And literally a week later, she phoned me up, can you cover this class? And I said, Yes. And then I put the phone down and probably had a bit of a panic attack about the fact I'd agreed to cover this class. And I was like, oh my gosh. And so I ended up starting teaching yoga, just by the way events kind of fell into place pretty early on. And what happened was, I ended up getting a couple of classes at the studio. I also started teaching my colleagues at work, so I was teaching like a few yoga classes and I wasn't making very much money from them. I ended up up staying in Malaysia for an extra year. And what I actually did was I went back into the classroom, which is kind of something that people don't often do when they've been in management, move back to teaching. So I went back to teaching English but I worked part time, so I didn't do the full number of hours. So I had a bit more time to work on the yoga stuff. And that was actually what I did for about nine months - I ended up staying in Malaysia, didn't move to Bali. That was how that one panned out.
Jeremy Cline 30:28
Was this part of your plan when you went back to teaching part time that this was intended to be a sort of transitionary thing whilst you built up your yoga teaching practice?
Rosalind Southward 30:37
To be honest with you I don't really think I thought that far ahead. I'm sure we'll probably come to this in the questions you're probably going to ask me a bit later in the interview. But one of the big issues with yoga teacher training is the initial courses that people do are only 200 hours long. I know 200 sounds like a lot of time, but actually when you're trying to learn all the skills to teach something that's as technical as yoga but also, you know, got all the history and philosophy behind it as yoga - what often happens is that the business side of teaching yoga, either doesn't really get included in courses, or many courses only dedicate a very small amount of time to it. I mean, there are some courses that dedicate more time to it, which is great, but I would say generally speaking within that 200 hours, not very much time is given to the business of teaching yoga because there just isn't time within this course to kind of fit it in. I'll be honest with you, I just think I was clueless. I was absolutely clueless about running a business. I didn't really think that far ahead. Obviously, I was in Malaysia, I was able to move back to being in the classroom, which I needed to do anyway, because being in a management job was making me so stressed, it was having a really negative impact on my mental health and also physical health to be perfectly honest with you. There was never like a big plan in my brain as to what I was doing, where I was going with it - it was literally just like, Okay, what next? I think it very much tied in to the fact that I'd travelled all around the world and gone to these countries where I didn't really know what to expect. And I was okay to just kind of rock up and go with the flow. And I just kind of kept doing that with the teaching I think, really.
Jeremy Cline 32:19
So when you're doing your part time job, and you're doing your teaching on the side, and you're saying that you kind of don't have a plan at that point - you're just doing the teaching to get the teaching done, and you're doing the yoga to get the yoga done - without your plan, how does that then come to moving back to the UK and doing what you're doing now?
Rosalind Southward 32:38
What happened was the first teacher training that I did - was the five weeks I did in Bali - it was with a teacher that I'd taken classes with when I'd been on holiday in Bali on my little self made yoga retreat, it wasn't in a specific yoga style. We looked at sequencing for many different styles, but this teacher had trained in a style of yoga called Forrest yoga, which is now the style of yoga that I am specialised in. This style of yoga has as an integral part of it quite a big focus on core work. As I mentioned, I'd started having a lot of back problems, which was I think one of the reasons why my hot yoga teacher told me to stop running. I actually don't think the running caused the back problems now, but at the time, that was what I was led to believe. What I realised was the core work in Forrest yoga really helped my back. So on my first teacher training, a lot of the morning practices included a lot of this Forrest yoga core work. And so whilst that first training wasn't my Forrest yoga training, basically what happened was when I started teaching, I was then just doing my own self practice, and I was teaching a lot of things that that were components of Forrest yoga in my classes, because it was what I was practising for myself to help alleviate my back pain. Essentially, I thought I had a strong core because I spent lots of time in the gym, throwing weights around and doing loads of those abdominal crunches on those cradle things and my core wasn't strong! - as the yoga revealed - but the yoga made a massive difference. Basically what happened was, as time kind of went on, I did some Forrest yoga workshops with Anna Forrest, who's the creator of Forrest yoga, and I realised that essentially what I wanted to teach was Forrest yoga, I needed to do a second teacher training in order to specialise in that type of yoga to be able to teach it and actually call my classes that. But this just wasn't really practical because obviously I'd taken five weeks unpaid leave off work, I'd paid out for my first teacher training - so I was just a bit like, okay, I'd really like to do the second teacher training but I just can't see how it's going to be possible. And basically what happened was the Forrest yoga teacher training was being held in the UK the following summer - it was held in the summer of 2012, in Peterborough in the UK - o in the January of 2012 I sent an email to the studio a bit like, oh, are there still places on this course? I'd really like to come and do it, but I just can't figure out if it's even possible. And they were like, yeah, yeah, there's still spaces. And basically what happened was, I was like, umming and ahhing over how I could make everything happen. And one of my work colleagues actually died of cancer. And this lady never came to my classes, but she was always really supportive of my yoga. She'd always ask me about it, ask me about my classes and stuff. Yeah, lovely lady. It was very sad when she died. And that happened. And I woke up one day and I was a bit like life is too short. Life is just too short to not be doing the thing that you're passionate about, the thing that you feel drawn to. And in my head I was just like, I don't know how I'm gonna make this second teacher training happen, but I just literally have to set my intention that I'm going to get myself there somehow. And as soon as I said that, all these little things happened that helped facilitate it. So it turned out that because I'd worked at the British Council for four years by that point that I was entitled to a free flight back to the UK. So that kind of solved that little bit of the equation. And then I realised that I had enough leave that I could put it together that I didn't have to take unpaid leave to be able to go and do the course. So there were all these like little things that were like obstacles that all of a sudden kind of resolved themselves.
Jeremy Cline 36:33
It sounds like that resolution happened once you'd taken the decision that this was what you were going to do.
Rosalind Southward 36:37
Exactly. It was just really crazy the way all these little things kind of fell into place. And so the long short of it was I was able to go back to the UK for four weeks and take the second teacher training. I'd lived overseas for about 11 years by this point, and I'd got a bit snobby about the UK, because I'd always lived in these hot places and whenever I came back to the UK, I'd always be like it's not good enough compared to where I'm living, and the weather's not nice and all this stuff. But I only ever been back for say like 10 days maximum, two weeks maximum at a time because it's always been, you know when I had holiday time. So the interesting thing about doing this teacher training, it was about four weeks long, I think it was 27 day training. So I was back in the UK, but also I wasn't on holiday because I was doing this teacher training. So it was a bit more like you've got your daily routine, you know, you've got to go to the supermarket, get your groceries - it wasn't a holiday, it was more like being in a daily routine and doing the regular everyday stuff that you do if you actually live in a place. During that teacher training, what I realised was that I actually enjoyed being back in the UK, way more than I expected that I would. And I just started to realise that actually, maybe moving back to the UK was actually quite an appealing idea. The idea of being nearer to my family, you know, because Malaysia is so far away, that people can't pop over for a quick visit to you, likewise, you can't pop back because it's just expensive, it's a long journey to take. So basically, what happened on the second teacher training was I had actually applied for some jobs back in management positions with the British Council, but this time jobs had come up in your work that I decided to apply for. So whilst I'm doing this second teacher training, I was actually on a lunch breaks, there was like a few days where I did telephone interviews for these jobs, in various places. I think actually, one of them was in Singapore, and I interviewed with a couple of places in Europe because jobs had come up and I got offered a job in Portugal. This job was a young learner manager job, something along those lines. It was a job I would have thought that I would have wanted, and to get offered this job in Europe was a big deal, because they these jobs in Europe weren't coming up all the time. And Portugal's a pretty nice place to live, right? So basically, I got offered this job. And it was the thing that you would have thought I would have jumped on. But I was a bit like, Oh my gosh, you know, I got this job and it's very much like they expected me to take it. The minute it was offered to me, I was a bit like, I don't know if I want this - you know when you feel in your gut that something's not right? You know, I had this couple of days to like, think about it to make my decision. And I just kept coming back to you know, if I take this job, and I move to Portugal, although I speak Spanish I don't speak Portuguese, and I just don't know how I'm going to teach yoga. If I move there, I'm probably not gonna be able to teach yoga, and I just don't think that's what I want. In the end. I said no to the job, and then I decided that I was going to move back to the UK and focus on teaching yoga full time in the UK. Yeah, basically, I went back to Malaysia, and I said to them I know this is kind of like deja vu, because last time, I did a teacher training I came back and I told you I was quitting my job to move to Bali but I was like, this time it is actually for real. I want to finish, and I'm going to move back to the UK. And I was like, let's just get my flight booked and get the ball rolling. That was what I did. So after that teacher training, I went back to Malaysia, handed in my resignation, and then worked the notice period and then moved back to the UK in I think it was September, October time of 2012. But once again, didn't have a plan. Didn't didn't have a greater plan for how I was going to make it work. I just followed my gut instinct, basically.
Jeremy Cline 40:30
When you said you didn't have a plan, you must have had to do something. How did you determine without a plan, what was going to be your first step whether it was to apply in studios or to start getting your own clients? What did you determine and how did you determine what was your first step?
Rosalind Southward 40:46
My first step actually, was that I knew I wanted to move back to the UK and I said to myself I might just move back and stay with my parents for a little bit just to figure out where I want to be where I want to go, but what actually happened was a job came up at a studio in Scotland and I applied for it and I got it. I have to emphasise this is actually quite unique in the yoga business that you would get offered enough hours at one studio to be able to move to that place and make it work. When you're a freelance yoga teacher, this isn't really the way things work. So anyone listening to this, just know that this was a bit of an anomaly. And but essentially what happened was I got offered this work up in Scotland, and it was enough to make it worthwhile for me to move there. So what actually happened was I moved back to the UK, I think had about two weeks or so with my parents just to have a bit of a breather, and then I actually moved straight up to Scotland and I started working a studio. Once again, it was just the way things aligned that position kind of landed in my lap and so I worked up in Scotland for about three or four months. Scotland, for me wasn't really where I wanted to be. I was quite far north and one of the reasons I wanted to move back to the UK was to be able to see my family more, but the schedule that I was working and the location that I was just meant that it wasn't really where I wanted to be. So three or four months later, I moved to Peterborough. I actually was offered some work at the studio that I did my teacher training - the studio in Peterborough. Which is so funny, because when I was in Malaysia, looking at where this teacher training was being held, I remember being like where is Peterborough and having to get a map out to see where it was, and yet I ended up moving there. So I moved to Peterborough and I was offered some work at the studio that I did my teacher training and at that time the studio owner I was actually doing a mentoring programme with her. So I went to work at the studio of my mentor/ teacher and she was just very kind in terms of her husband helped me to make that move by letting me stay with them for a little bit. She had these classes that I was able to pick up and teach. So I received a lot of help and support from them to be able to make that move, otherwise it just probably wouldn't have been possible. And then from there, I was able to build my schedule up and I got offered work in Cambridge and other classes so they gave me like a springboard to be able to develop from there basically. I would still say at this point, I was very much playing it kind of by ear and not didn't have a business plan. I think it's interesting when you move into something like teaching, you know, there's so much to focus on in terms of your teaching. I think many people particularly in the yoga world don't see themselves as a business. Sounds crazy to say this now, because I totally do see myself as a business now, but back then I didn't. And I see it now with lots of newer teachers as well - they just want to teach yoga. I remember you know, when I was in Malaysia, I had these studio classes. I wasn't really being paid very much for them at all. And back then it was fine because I had my English teaching job so it wasn't an issue, but I remember be a member saying, you know, I don't care how much I get paid, I just want to teach yoga. And, you know, I think now this is a bit of a problem, the way the yoga industry has boomed. The way like pricing has fluctuated or come down and rates of pay. I think it's a problem when people in this industry are saying that they don't care how much they get paid to do what they do, because yoga teacher training courses are very expensive. I mean, you have a look online, there's a massive variety of prices. But if you want to do a quality training, you're looking at spending 3000 pounds minimum, maybe more, to do a yoga teacher training. It's a lot of money to invest in yourself to then be like, Well, you know, I'm going to teach these classes but you don't have to pay me very much to do it. And don't get me wrong, I think there's a time and place for that. I think if you're doing charity work or you're offering classes to people who genuinely would not have the opportunity to do yoga that are maybe in a financial position where it wouldn't be accessible to them, I think that's a different thing. If you're offering classes back to the community, that's one thing, but I think if you're working as a business, yeah, I think there's, there's definitely something to be said for learning how to value yourself as a teacher, and what you're offering.
Jeremy Cline 45:29
So now you're seeing yourself as a business, what do you think your business is going to look like in say, three to five years? What is your business plan?
Rosalind Southward 45:37
Where I would like to go with what I'm offering over the next few years is I have noticed within the yoga industry that there are a lot of teachers who are inexperienced in terms of the time that they've actually spent delivering classes in the studio. And there is this tendency for people to keep doing teacher training courses or CPD courses. The yoga industry has kind of ended up with lots of people saying, 'oh, I've done x number of hundred hours training'. But when you actually look at how many hours experience teaching - actually teaching real people in a studio or wherever it is - it's actually disproportional. And I have to say, one of the things that I definitely learned in my English teaching career was - if I think about when I first started teaching English, and actually the same for when I first started teaching yoga - you can do all the training courses you want, but a lot of the real learning actually happens on the job, because you get in there and you start teaching and things don't go quite right or you know, you try and teach something and it kind of doesn't go the way you thought. And that's actually where you learn and where you develop your skills. What I'm seeing in the yoga world at the moment is a lot of teachers who are lacking practical skills and I also think that there's a bit of a lack of awareness as to how to run yourself as a business and perhaps as well how to be okay with being a yoga teacher, but being a business as well. Because typically in the yoga world, there is this thing where it's a bit like, 'oh, it's yoga - it can't be business'. And actually, if you want to survive off it financially - you have to be both and you have to be okay with being both. Where I want to head with what I'm offering is to start offering like a yoga teacher consultancy or mentoring service, which would be for teachers to be able to do mentoring online with me via Zoom or Skype to be able to get support for the practical skills that they need either in the studio, it might be teaching specific things, it might be advice on how to run their business, in terms of professional development - whatever it is - to try and fill these gaps that I perceive in the market where people are getting stuck because they just don't have those practical skills that to an extent, it's hard to get covered in a format of a teacher training course or CPD. So that's one area I want to specialise in. And the second area is online offerings. I mean it's great to be able to go and practice yoga in a studio, but the reality of it is for people's lives these days is people travel more in terms of their job, people have got families, they've got other commitments, that whilst they might really want to go and attend that yoga class at 6:30 on a Tuesday evening, in xyz studio, sometimes the rest of their life just doesn't permit them to be able to physically attend a yoga class, in real life in person. And so I want to work on developing online classes that people can subscribe to. So then they can practice with me whenever they want, wherever they are. And you know for me, this is what I've increasingly realised - obviously I have travelled a lot, so I know people in lots of different countries around the world. So an offering like this enables me to tap into this wider network that I have that if I'm only teaching studios, unless those people happen to be on holiday or business in a physical location that I'm teaching at, they can't practice with me. I want to basically take my business so it depends less on me physically being somewhere in a geographical location at a particular time. And so I have stuff that is more flexible and I think this is the way forwards actually in the yoga kind of business yoga industry in general, but particularly for me, as I'm getting older - when you're a yoga teacher, if you get injured or you are physically sick, you maybe can't physically be there to teach your yoga class. And then if you're not physically there, teaching your yoga class you don't get paid for it. And long term, this is an issue. So I'm looking at how to make my offerings and my long-term offerings more sustainable, actually, for myself, and also to provide into the gaps that I perceive have in the market, if that makes sense.
Jeremy Cline 50:16
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And from someone who didn't have a plan, I mean, this is really quite sophisticated thinking in terms of what you're looking at offering. So I think that's marvellous that you've got around to that.
Rosalind Southward 50:28
Well I would say over the past few years I realised the need to have a plan. I think once you get more comfortable with what you're teaching - obviously, there's always more you can learn and develop as a teacher - but certainly when you first start teaching something it can be quite overwhelming because you're just trying to deal with learning how to teach effectively what you're trying to teach. I think that goes whether you're an English teacher, a yoga teacher, a swimming teacher, a piano teacher, teaching is a real skill. And just because you can teach one thing doesn't necessarily mean, you're going to be great at teaching something different. There's always new stuff to learn. And I think you have to have that period where you're figuring out how to have the headspace to be able to think about the bigger picture perhaps.
Jeremy Cline 51:12
Ros this has been really interesting. What sort of resources, quotes, books, anything like that has helped you through your journey, or could you recommend to others?
Rosalind Southward 51:21
A resource that I have really appreciated for getting a better business head on - I spend quite a lot of time on Instagram, partly because I use social media a lot to promote my own business and my yoga and on there, there is a lady called Sarah Akwisombe. She runs a business school called the Noble Business School and I like to follow her on Instagram. She's a very savvy businesswoman. A lot of what she shares is really helpful, it's digestible. She has this online business school Academy type thing called the Noble Business School and it's got great resources on it as well. If you need to get some ideas for how to run a business - I think she's a great one to follow. She's very direct. Not fancy language that you can't understand. She tells it as it is. And I also find her very inspiring, actually, as a female entrepreneur - because that's the other thing that we haven't discussed, which is, as a woman going out there and being an entrepreneur has it's own challenges. And so it's very inspiring to see someone who's female, who's made a real success of herself and has got a lot to share. So yeah, Noble Business School, definitely working out. And then in terms of quotes, a thing that's really inspired me is this idea that we've only got one life, what are you doing with your life? There's a poem by Mary Oliver, and the last line of it is, 'Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?' To me what that quote hits home is the fact sometimes we think we've got all this time, and none of us know how much time we've got. So you can either spend your time doing a job, or living a life, that's not what you're passionate about. Or you can just take a deep breath and step out, try and follow what's true to you. And if you want another good quote, there's one by Steve Jobs, and he said, 'Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other people's opinions drown out your own inner voice, and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.' And for me, I think that just sums up everything that I've been doing over the past 10 years or so, following my heart and intuition and not following the tick boxes on someone else's list for better or for worse, but here I am sat talking to you.
Jeremy Cline 53:54
Thank you for those, those are great. Ros, where can people go to find you if they want to get in touch?
Rosalind Southward 53:59
Yes. So my website is rosalindsouthward.com - my name, so that's nice and easy. And if you want to find me on social media, my Instagram is Rosalind_runningYogi. And my business Facebook page is Rosalind Forrest Yoga. So yeah, you can find me on all of those places.
Jeremy Cline 54:21
Brilliant. I'll link to those all in the show notes. Ros, thank you so much. It's been really interesting talking to you. Thank you so much for your time.
Rosalind Southward 54:28
You're very welcome. Thanks for having me.
Jeremy Cline 54:31
What I particularly liked about this interview was the fact that Rosalind didn't develop a plan until she'd tried different things and taken the time for a direction to form in her mind. We don't need a life plan from the outset. And we often need to try out different things in different environments before we can really develop an idea of where we want to go in our head. It's having done that that Rosalind now has a much clearer direction in her mind about where she wants to go. Show Notes for this episode are on the website at changeworklife.com/36, where you'll find links to all the resources mentioned. And if you haven't already, please would you leave a review on Apple podcasts - or if you don't use Apple podcasts, then on whatever app it is that you use to get your podcasts. It would mean a heck of a lot to me if you were to leave an honest review. Five Star honest would be even better, and it really does help other people find the podcast - so you can go onto the website, if you go to changeworklife.com/apple, then that'll take you to Apple podcasts and you can leave a review there. A few weeks ago back in Episode 26. I interviewed Rob Dix about how property investment can change your life. Well, in next week's interview, it's with someone who's done exactly that. It's a really great interview, very interesting, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Thank you for listening!
If you have any questions or comments, please fill out the form on the Contact page.
I would be so grateful if you’d: