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, explore their relationship with the practice, and investigate how they hold space for the community both virtually and within the physical structure of the studios.
Join us as we tune in with Yoga teacher Norma Nelson.
Who are you/What do you teach?
Norma Nelson (aka Normz). I teach yoga at BodyMindLife. I have a real passion for creative and intelligent sequences. I also LOVE teaching arm balances and handstands.
Why were you originally drawn to Yoga?
I was originally drawn to yoga purely from a place of curiosity and attended my first class several years ago when I lived in Thailand. Though I remember feeling incredible after the class, I didn’t take up the practice regularly. It wasn’t until many years later when I moved to Sydney, that I rediscovered yoga again after a near mental breakdown caused by the stresses of working in a high pressure corporate role.
Has your relationship to the practice changed since you began?
Yes, it has definitely changed. Initially, I practiced yoga just for that ‘feel good factor’, to heal wounds and to keep myself in check mentally, emotionally and physically. Though I still practice yoga for my well being, the practice is no longer all about ME. Nothing brings me more joy, peace and that feeling of being completely present and of service, than when I share my practice and knowledge with others through teaching. I’ve pretty much come to the realisation that this is my dharma. My life’s purpose is to teach yoga…oh and handstands!
What does your home practice mean to you?
My home practice is where I find freedom from my overthinking mind, my worries, freedom of movement on the mat, freedom to create.
How do you choose what to focus on? Does it inform your teaching?
The focus of my home practice varies depending on my mood or what has inspired me. Sometimes I practice with the intention of creating new sequences with my students in mind and at other times, it’s purely for my own benefit and to further develop my personal practice.
Has your perception of home changed in the last year?
Well, they say ‘Home is where the heart is’ and that is truly my perception of home. I have not lived in the home I grew up in (London) since the age of 25 as I have been a bit of a nomad for several years, finding a multitude of places around the world to call ‘home’.
Currently Sydney is my home but having said that, living through the pandemic in the past year has made me yearn for my original home, partly due to the fact that I no longer have the option to travel freely and see my family at will. Being so disconnected physically from my loved ones has led me to the realisation that home is also where you are surrounded by the ones that love you unconditionally…whether they are your blood or chosen family.
Have you had any insights about yourself over this time?
Living through a pandemic over the past year, coupled with going through many transitions in my personal life has certainly had its challenges and insights. Dealing with break ups, change of environments, being separated from family and losing a lot of people I care very much for, made isolation even more difficult to grapple with. I was forced to be with myself and confront all the emotions that come with that – the good, the bad and the ugly.
I have gotten to know myself a lot more over the past year and have had a lot of time to reflect on the things that are truly important to me. I have learned to relinquish control over certain things in life and also learned the importance of surrendering to the process. Everything happens for a reason. I’ve learned to be more present and less attached to material things. I’ve been reminded of how important it is to love and feel loved. We should always count our blessings and treasure every moment we share with loved ones because life can throw us a curveball at any given time. Life is so precious and short.
What do you love about teaching?
The connection I have with my students, and the sense of belonging to a community brought together by the practice of yoga. I love sharing what I have learned along my journey and most of all seeing my students grow in their practice.
How do you feel when you’re in your flow?
You have a workshop coming up soon. Tell us about that?
I am so excited about my upcoming workshop Quest To Press. I LOVE all things handstand related! Nothing makes me happier than teaching what I love. Pressing to handstand seems impossible to many at first, until they embrace the challenge! In this workshop, we will explore principles, efficient techniques and drills to help you build the foundations to develop a strong press to handstand. Most of all, it will be lots of fun! I can’t wait to share all that I have learned and help others embark on or further their journey to the upside world!
What are you watching/reading/listening to?
I just watched High Ground a brutal retelling of Australia’s First Nations peoples horrific treatment in the hands of the British Colonists. I’m currently reading a book called Untamed by Glennon Doyle. The most recent podcast I listened to was Honestly Unbalanced by international Yoga teacher Daniel Rama. One piece of music I can’t stop listening to at the moment is Colby Park by Calibre.
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.