At Home is a portrait series by photographer Chloe Paul, documenting BodyMindLife’s teachers in the spaces they have created to play and practice. We take a glimpse into their lives, investigate how they hold space for the community both virtually and within the physical structure of the studios, and ask them about the silly things they are missing under the current restrictions.
Join us as we tune in with Yoga teacher Christian Ralston.
Who are you/What do you teach?
I’m Christian Ralston. I teach hybrid yoga/movement classes at BodyMindLife.
Why were you originally drawn to Yoga?
I had heard about yoga and tried it once, but hated it. A little while later (and a little bit older) I saw an advertisement for 10 days of yoga for $20 at a studio in Rozelle. It used to be BodyMindLife but it’s now Egg of the Universe. I decided to give it another go. It was a Bikram class. I won’t say I enjoyed it. I struggled hard in that scorching hot room, but as I lay down at the end I felt what the savasana was all about. I respected the brutal physicality of the experience. I made a commitment to go 3 times/week to make use of intro pass and after 6 sessions I was hooked. I felt great after each class so I kept going and never looked back.
Has your relationship with the practice changed over time?
Initially yoga was all about the feel good. That’s why I was going. It changed when I started to investigate other elements of feel good. Yoga opened up the door to all things health. I started eating better food, I started paying more attention to the physical aspect and work on things I needed to do extra work on (which was almost everything). I got curious about the spiritual element which ties back to the feel good.
These days I’m still 100% focused on all aspects of health, but I vary my physical practice quite a bit so it’s not all yoga. For example, a physical practice for me could be 10 rounds of 10 pull ups, 10 dips and a sprint for cardio. All the same yogic qualities still apply. Have to breathe, have to find just the right amount of effort, and have to be discipled to get through it.
Has your perception of home changed in the last few months?
No. I am forever grateful to live where I do. I love it even more. I constantly remind myself I could be living anywhere in this big wide world, but I’m lucky enough to live right here in Clovelly.
What do you love about what you do?
I love seeing people on the pathway to health. I love having to step up every class and make sure the people there have a great experience. I love being involved in something where you can never be good enough. It’s impossible to reach a point where you have mastered teaching a class. You can always teach a better class and I love the constant evolving nature of it. I love the variety. Every class is different with new people, new capacities and, of course, new tunes.
What does your home practice mean to you?
My home practice is my morning routine. I’m definitely a ‘do the important things first’ kind of person, so I load up my morning with practices generally recognised to be helpful. This involves walking the dog, meditation, writing down the things I’m grateful for, writing down my values and what I need to do to make the day great. I never miss this routine.
How do you feel when you’re in your flow?
Have you had any insights about yourself or life during the pandemic?
Less is more.
October is Mental Health Awareness Month? How do you foster your own mental wellbeing?
Meditate everyday, eat food that lifts my vibe, exercise everyday, serve people. These are the things I consider important to health in general and they put me in a place where I feel good physically and mentally. I also avoid sugar, have zero alcohol and avoid people who have a negative attitude.
You are almost unfailingly upbeat? Does anything get you down?
I have made a list of the things I value in my life. One of them is my health and vibrancy. I write this down every day as part of my morning routine. It’s serves as a reminder and guides my daily choices. I also avoid things that have a negative effect and that aren’t congruent with my values. I do get down but not that far. What pisses me off is the mistreatment of innocent animals (all of them), and mindless choices that have a negative impact on the environment.
Who are your teachers/who inspires you?
What are you watching/reading/listening to?
A great book called Darling Days by iO Tillett- Wright.
About Chloe Paul
Chloe Paul is a portrait and social photographer from Sydney, Australia. Over the last decade, she has created imagery for Prada, Dior, Moet&Chandon, Burberry and Christian Louboutin. Her work has featured in Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Elle and Instyle. When not working with influential publications and high profile personalities, she can be found capturing the world on her Hassleblad.