Welcome to 'At-Home With'...our new feature series where we (virtually) get up close and personal with some of Ireland's most interesting and creative women. They each give us an honest peek into what their "new normal" looks like–from life lessons they've learned in lockdown to the beauty and health products they've been using to self-soothe.
Taking care of oneself both physically and mentally has truly been pushed to the forefront during this crazy pandemic - a dramatic reminder of what is actually important but a silver lining nonetheless. Journalist, fashion lover and yoga instructor, Margaret Young took a leap of faith in embarking on her wellness journey, switching gears from a more traditional work life to becoming a dedicated yogi in training.
Following your passion at any stage in life can be a risky move, yet Margaret has been revelling in the benefits of doing what she loves and inspiring others to also prioritise their health - given yoga mats are super hard to come by at the moment it seems like everyone is on Margaret’s positive wavelength.
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Life is certainly not linear and is best enjoyed chasing dreams and staying true to yourself. With that in mind we caught up with Margaret to talk about these unprecedented times, lessons learned and the beauty of wellness. Namaste.
How has lockdown been treating you?
"I have experienced the full gauntlet of emotions and reactions, personally, from disbelief to being productive, to over-productivity, to distress, to acceptance, you name it. From what I can tell from other people, that was normal!"
Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
"I started yoga teacher training because I wanted to learn more about the philosophy of yoga as well as the physical practice. It was something that I had wanted to do “someday” for a long time and I just decided to enrol one day while I was at a yoga class. I just loved being on the mat and I was very comfortable with the studio I went with. I also had a vague business idea relating to starting a yoga product-based business, but it just evolved as time went on. Now, teaching is what I want to do. To watch other people reap the benefits of yoga is just a joy."
Do you have an ideal zen ritual after a busy day?
"I probably just have a slightly extended ritual than most people. As well as makeup off/skincare and dental hygiene, I write in a journal for less than 3 minutes, I use sleep sprays on my pillow and fall asleep to an app of rain falling. These little things usually help me fall asleep and stay asleep all night."
What advice would you give to someone hoping to make a career jump?
"Set the scene before you make the jump. If you are making the move from employment to self-employment, get in touch with Enterprise Ireland, and get advice, start your own business course, get networking. Get your website and social media accounts set up and start making marketing plans. Make sure you have enough savings to live on for a few months before you take the leap. Get all the ducks in a row before you resign! Get personal recommendations for your web developer, accountant, and financial advisor and any other supplier or vendors you will need."
For people who are hesitant to give yoga a try, what reassurance could you offer?
"Yoga is for everybody, according to The Heart of Yoga (by T.K.V. Desika), the only prerequisite is the ability to breathe. Basically, if you are alive, you can try it. “Anyone can practice yoga. Anybody can breathe; therefore anybody can practise yoga”. You don’t have to be fit, bendy, flexible, a vegetarian, a hipster, or any other typecasting you can think of!"
What does self-care mean for you?
"For me it’s about nutritious food, getting my vitamins in, making sure I move every day, treating myself. Spending time outdoors, with animals, things that make me happy. Yes it’s about getting my greys sorted and my nails done too, if you look good, you feel good."
Quarantine has seen a recent surge in fitness, with exercise equipment selling out quickly, what are your thoughts on this?
"My fitness and yoga journey started with VHS videos back in the day, so I have always had mats and weights at home. I think it’s great that more people have equipment at home now, as for lots of different reasons it isn’t always possible to get to a gym or a studio. After lockdown I think there is still a market for at-home workouts and for now at least, that’s the route I will be going down as I will be continuing teaching via zoom when I qualify in June hopefully. I think people looked to yoga in particular during lockdown, because of its calming and relaxing reputation and that’s what some needed during this stressful time."
What has changing careers taught you?
"You are never too old, too young, too anything to change direction. You can always learn new skills and old skills can help you in ways you don’t expect. Always ask for help, use resources that are available, find your people, your network; online, or in-person. Regardless of the industry, think collaboration not competition."
Can you destigmatize any myths about wellness?
"Wellness is not a trend, or shouldn’t be a trend, it’s not a 'diet' or a 'programme', it’s about your short AND long-term health: physical AND mental. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so please don’t think wellness is selfish or self-indulgent."
What is the ultimate goal on your yoga journey?
"There are big philosophical ultimate goals with yoga! But on a more realistic and personal level, I guess to be able to make a good living in an industry I love, getting clients 'yoga stoned', getting to experience their yoga glow. I don’t plan too far ahead; things evolve anyway."
What are you most looking forward to doing post-lockdown?
"Apart from seeing people again, normal stuff like just getting the bus to town and wandering around the shops, going for food, looking at clothes and books, going to gigs, things that I didn’t think twice about before. I never took travel for granted anyway but the thought of being able to book a flight anywhere will just seem like a dream when we get to do it again."
Main image by @magsmmyoung on Instagram