Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, the multi-talented Yoga Teacher and spiritual leader, Tessa Rae Hamelin, founder of Tessa Rae Yoga. Tessa grew up in Victoria, with dance being the main focus of her life from the age of eight onwards. In 2004 she had to give up her dance training due to a series of knee injuries. However, it was around that time she discovered yoga. She started with classes at her gym, and soon became obsessed with how it made her fee physically, mentally and spiritually. In 2009 she made one of the best decisions of her life when she moved to Thailand for a teacher training course at Pyramid Yoga. Inspired by all that she had learned abroad, she took another two-year teacher training course with Victoria Yoga School when she returned to the Island. Then she apprenticed with Michelle Rubin for 7 years, while her career grew. Tessa is a big believer in life-long education so in 2018 she took a Stretch Therapy Intensive Course in Vancouver with Olivia Allnutt, as well as a Neurobiology of Trauma and Trauma Informed Yoga Practices course in London, England with Alexandra Kat. In her 10+ years yoga teaching journey Tessa has taught 4-year olds, 92-year olds and everything in between! Accumulating thousands of hours of real world experience in the process. Tessa offers corporate yoga, public classes and is available for privates with women or pre-existing students. She has also just released a 20 minute recorded Yoga Nidra online (guided meditation/relaxation to shift habitual patterns and aid in healing or transitions). Tessa’s goal is to make yoga, which she believes is an act of self-care, accessible to EVERY BODY, regardless of age or ability. And to that we say YES! Summer is coming which means you’ll find Tessa teaching yoga in the park again this year, sometimes accompanied by her dog, Emilia, who does a perfect downward dog!
What makes you a Girl Warrior?
I’m a girl warrior because I’ve never allowed any hardship, or opposition I’ve faced, to break me. When I face difficult times in my life I become stronger and more determined.
The past two years have been life changing in many ways. How did the study of neurobiology of trauma and yoga affect the way you viewed your personal and professional relationships?
Professionally, it was reassuring to see people take an approach similar to mine, where there is sensitivity given to a student’s emotional and spiritual well-being, in addition to their physical well-being.
Personally, it made me more empathetic to other people and affirmed for me the importance of setting boundaries in my relationships, as well as being clear and direct in asking for what it is that I need.
How has The Holistic Psychologist impacted your self-healing journey?
The tools she gives on self-parenting have enhanced my emotional well-being beyond recognition. Now when I catch myself looking externally to feel comfort or love, I have tools so that I can provide it to myself. The really cool thing is that is gets easier and easier, which is awesome, because it’s a clear indicator to me that I am healing my trauma. Another tool she offers is “Future Self Journalling.” It rewires the brain by improving self-awareness, self-talk, and helps to create the “you” you have always wanted to be. CHECK HER OUT!
What’s unique/different about your Yoga Retreats and workshops?
My workshops and retreats are unique because I construct them to be as accessible, to as broad a spectrum of people, as possible. I pride myself on being able to teach different levels at the same time, which means that I can challenge advanced students, in the same class that I’m guiding first-timers through their poses. Anyone, no matter age or ability, can take classes with me and feel safe and empowered; I also like to think I take a balanced approach on retreats. Taking the yoga very seriously but also realizing the importance of having a margarita every once in a while.
How does meditation help with healing and transitions?
Honestly I haven’t always been as disciplined with my meditation practice as I would’ve liked. There have been times where the idea of sitting with myself, and my thoughts, seemed impossible. Lately, I’ve gotten back into it more and I realize that a lot of times the things that are the most difficult for us to do are the things we need the most. Meditation helps me achieve peace in my own mind, giving me a greater chance to make decisions from a healthy, rational place, and not an emotional, triggered one.
What does it mean to have your heart “open” and why is this so important?
Opening your heart means physically opening your chest and releasing the slouching/ protection posture that so many people, particularly in this day and age, have adopted.
Generally, a closed off heart posture, equals neck and upper back tension, pain, headaches, shoulder discomfort, and a domino effect through the arms/wrists/hands and back. It allows us to become open and vulnerable in our heart centre (chakra), consequently allowing us to release fear and trauma. Initially it can be challenging for some, but often is a catalyst to deeper body awareness. When done right it feels like something you’ve been wanting to do for yourself for a long time, but weren’t sure how.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles that you’ve overcome – personally and/or professionally?
Through a large part of my adult life I didn’t trust myself the way that I do now. I valued other people’s opinions more than I valued my own and was involved in relationships, personally and professionally, where I too often allowed others to dictate to me how I was supposed to be. My biggest challenge was learning how to value myself, and my opinion, as much as I valued others. This led to the dissolution of a number of very close relationships in my life, which at times was very painful, but also totally necessary, and totally worth it.
What do we need to know “for sure” about the practice of yoga?
Know for sure, it should feel good. It can be scary; it can be challenging but if it doesn’t feel good physically, don’t do it. There should not be any physical pain. The mind resists the new, so get past the mind/ego and do what feels good. A lot of times the hardest part is going to class, we talk ourselves out of it. Show up. Show up for yourself.
What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior? And to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?
To my younger Girl Warrior, and future Girl Warriors, I would say: Consider the opinions of those you admire, but develop your own as well. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about who you are. Learn from your mistakes; don’t be hard on yourself. Do not follow, lead. Develop trust in yourself through thoughtful actions, and observing what does, and doesn’t serve you. Have fun! Run towards the things that scare the shit out of you. Never stop learning. Choose something and trust that it will lead you in a direction that gives you exactly what you need. Like energy attracts, so follow what inspires you. Always embody the change you wish to see in others. Embrace the mentality of non-attachment and non-grasping, if a relationship no longer serves you, despite the love you feel, it can be healthier to let go.
Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s) and why?
I feel like every woman is a Girl Warrior! I could create quite the list! But to summarize…
Brene Brown is an awesome display of vulnerability, courage, and entrepreneurship.
I love Rihanna, J-Lo, and Cardi B, for owning their talents, femininity, sexuality, and for working their butts off!
I recently joined a dance class with Monique at Linda Raino Dance Studio, and every single woman in my class inspires me.
#Angiesays challenges humans and dogs to step up, and wake up! She is fearless and she changes lives!
My beautiful friend Nicole Abbott is a natural new mother, her intuition and honesty is something to behold.
My wonderful friends Christina Gurton, Dez Dybdal, Chelsey Gardner and Danielle Bennett blow my mind with their passion, ability to lift people up, and to be brave women! They’re amazing!
My bestie Katie Plunkett who bravely moved to London 10 years ago and created a beautiful life for herself there.
Blue Sky it. No boundaries here, just limitless opportunities. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself owning a yoga studio here in Victoria, (preferably in the Gordon Head area.) Running yoga retreats consistently. Raising a family. Splitting time between living on Vancouver Island and somewhere tropical. Growing my yoga community, helping people heal themselves. Teaching others how to teach. I wouldn’t be against a regularly updated wardrobe of Spell & The Gypsy Collective clothing! Of course good health for me and my fam, healthy environment, equal rights for everyone, and peace on earth.
What makes you laugh uncontrollably? Cry out all the tears?
I like silly shows on Netflix. They make me laugh out loud a lot. My partner Garth and best friend are also really good at making me laugh, usually at myself. Crying tears is easier. I will watch a sappy YouTube video/commercial and bawl. If someone cries in front of me, I have to stop myself from joining them. Anything having to do with animals being hurt or feeling pain, if I allow myself to go too deep, the tears are unstoppable.
What has been your biggest disappointment/triumph?
It’s painful to admit and difficult to say that, my biggest disappointment has been coming to terms with the fact that my mom just hasn’t been, and I accept that she won’t be, the mother I want her to be. I’ve always longed to be loved and supported in a way that unfortunately isn’t possible for her. My greatest triumph is who I am today. I feel so empowered. I accept my lows and “slip ups.” I enjoy every day, and feel like I have so much to look forward to. Just the other day I was telling Garth that I used to feel determined to show those people from my past how amazing I am despite them, and the reality is that actually I am experiencing joy and love in a deeper way than ever before, because of what I learned from them.
What’s your personal mantra?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” and “I am worthy of all that I desire.”
Follow Tessa on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/tessaraeyoga/
And on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/tessaraeyoga/
And enjoy Tessa’s Relaxation & Stress Reduction Yoga Nidra on Bandcamp at: https://tessaraeyoga.bandcamp.com/album/relaxation-stress-reduction-yoga-nidra
Tessa has an upcoming yoga retreat in San Pancho, from November 16 to 23, 2019. To learn all about this wonderful opportunity head over to her website at: tessaraeyoga.com