Senior legal counsel-turned-yoga instructor Amity St Clair (pictured) said she first took up yoga as a law student and – upon realising that she was spending too much time in her own head, as she progressed through the profession – decided to start doing it more and more often.
“It's a very cerebral profession, and we are trained to analyse and think and review. Going to yoga for me was that opportunity to not think and just to be on the mat and be,” she reflected recently on The Corporate Counsel Show.
“So, I suppose I enjoyed that feeling and kept going back for more.”
Ms St Clair recently left her in-house role to take up yoga instructing full-time, deciding such work was more important to her at this juncture given that she has two young children.
“I was trying to balance work and family, and for me it started as a bit of a whisper and then it grew louder, and I thought, ‘Well I’m just going to try this. I’m going to start the course and see what happens’.”
“Some advice from one of my teachers was, ‘You can always press pause or defer if it’s all too much, but if you don’t start, then you won’t know’. And so, for me that was a helpful thing to have in the back of my mind that, ‘If it all got too much I can pull back, but I need to see where this may take me’.”
For her – both as a student and instructor – yoga has provided “so many benefits”.
“I think, firstly, it's created some space. In the context of a schedule [whereby you are] constantly feeling like you need to achieve and tick things off your to-do list, when you have that time to just stop and be, you’re essentially training your brain to have that space to stop,” she explained.
“Then you start to understand and appreciate that, ‘Okay, maybe I could behave or take some of those insights into my everyday life’. It just gives you a bit more space to think [about the] big picture. I don’t have a to-do list anymore. Occasionally I will, if it’s for Christmas presents or a big event coming up, but these days I’m much more about big picture thinking: ‘Okay, rather than just ticking things off a list, let’s just sit back and think about what might need to be achieved over a medium or longer term perspective’. I think that that’s given me the opportunity to problem solve from a higher space.”
There are many other flow-on effects, she continued, such as increased consciousness and awareness of her breathing.
“Tuning into your body to see how you’re feeling. Is your heart racing? Are you a bit nervous about something? Did you react to something perhaps? Did you overreact to something that maybe you shouldn’t have,” she outlined.
“Just that awareness and observation, tuning into your body, tuning into your thoughts. I think those sorts of insights travel, not just on the mat, but beyond.
Ms St Clair also advised that “slowing down” can be helpful for in-house lawyers.
To listen to Jerome's full conversation with Amity St Clair, click below:
Jerome Doraisamy is a senior writer for Lawyers Weekly and Wellness Daily. He is also the author of The Wellness Doctrines book series, an admitted solicitor in NSW, an adjunct lecturer at The University of Western Australia and is a board director of Minds Count.