MY STORY: FROM STRESSED OUT TEACHER
TO WELLBEING PRACTITIONER
Kia ora! I'm Laura. Helping others to find their own sense of peace and calm - mauritau - has become my number one driving passion in life, and I’ve been on quite the journey to get here.
You see, I’ve had an intimate relationship with stress for as long as I can remember. My anxiety got so bad in my early 20’s that I withdrew from my visual arts degree and swore never to attempt university studies ever again.
But in 2009 I was at a complete crossroads in life, and I distinctly heard the karanga - call - of Te Reo Māori - the Māori language - calling me to face my fears and undertake tertiary study once again.
This two year full-immersion huarahi - journey - with Te Ātaarangi marked the start of the transformation of my relationship with stress. I started to work through my insecurities around my Pākehā cultural identity that had prevented me from fully owning who I am.
My wairua - soul - started to heal as I embraced karakia - prayers - and waiata - songs - allowing me to connect to my childhood spirituality. Te Reo Māori and Te Ao Māori - the Māori world - had gifted me so much that I felt called to give back to the community. In fact, it was a wero - challenge - laid down by my kaiako - teacher- that led me into teaching; “What are YOU going to do to ensure that our language survives Laura?”
So I embarked on another three years of tertiary study and completed my Bachelor of Education -Huarahi Māori specialisation- in 2013. However my anxiety was constantly keeping me in ‘fight or flight’ stress mode. In 2017, after three years of pouring my heart and soul into my job and my gorgeous tamariki, my body had enough and I ended up getting sick. What started as a fairly constant low-level anxiety led to mental exhaustion, physical sickness and ultimately, burn-out from the job I loved. Something had to shift.
In 2018 I made the heart-wrenching decision to leave teaching for a year to pursue my own wellbeing. What felt like a selfish choice at first became the best thing I’ve ever done. I studied relaxation massage at Wellpark College of Natural Therapies and there I discovered my gift of touch. I realised that helping others to find a greater sense of relaxation and wellbeing encouraged me to be fully present, and to pursue my own wellbeing too.
That same year, my wellbeing journey took me all the way to India to train as a yoga teacher. I spent 5 unreal weeks with Trimurti Yoga in Dharamshala and gained my Yoga Alliance 200hr yoga teacher certification.
I've since undertaken more yoga training here in Aotearoa with Sannyasi Pragyadhara from Pure Yoga NZ and Swami Karma Karuna from Anahata Yoga Retreat. Just before and during the 2020 covid19 lockdown I undertook a 150hr restorative yoga and Yoga Nidra training, which I started teaching immediately via Zoom to support the community through the stressful changes.
For the past 2.5 years I've taught English, bilingual and Te Reo Māori yoga classes in a wide variety of community settings, including the marae, school halls, beaches, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, workplaces, living rooms, and online.
I am so passionate about this body-mind medicine that that in August 2020 I returned to Wellpark to do another qualification in massage, this time a Diploma of Wellness and Relaxation Massage. My intellectual cup was filled with new knowledge about fascia, wellness and stress theory, applied anatomy and physiology and communication. And my tactile learning cup was filled with new techniques including sports massage, myofascial release, hot stone massage, chair massage and massage for the elderly. I'm excited to be able to share some new skills and knowledge with you all.
Massage, yoga and meditation form part of my preventative first aid kit.
They keep me mentally and physically well and able to return to the teaching job that I love. Over the past 2.5 years I’ve successfully found a way to balance part-time teaching in Māori medium classrooms, with running my wellness massage business and teaching community yoga classes.
Mauritau is a beautiful Māori term describing the state of being calm, relaxed, and without panic. Mauri refers to the life force or vital essence present in all living beings and physical objects. Chinese refer to this energy as chi, in the yogic tradition it is called prana. I believe that every culture has its own name for this life force, it is a universally binding principle. Tau means to settle or come to rest. So mauritau means the mauri or life force is settled and stable.
Through my massage, yoga and rongoā - Māori medicine - studies, I’ve come to learn that when our mauri is at rest, hauora - wellbeing - comes naturally.
I’m passionate about massage and yoga because of their ability to return us to our natural state of mauritau, which in turn stimulates our bodies’ own healing capacity. I would love to share these gifts with you and assist you in your journey towards greater wellbeing.