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Q&A: Fern Ross, Following your dreams

Posted: by Sinade Tuesday, 30 May 2017 @ 17:27

Q&A: Fern Ross, following your dreams mantra

We caught up with Fern Ross, former Associate Editor at ELLE about following your dreams:

1. How did you get into yoga?

I first tried yoga 10 years ago, when I moved to London. I was working nights as a journalist and had a lot of free time by myself during the day. One morning, I went to my local gym in Highbury and Islington, gave the Hatha yoga class a go, and from then on I was hooked, going 2-3 times a week. I just loved how free I felt during the practice, and how calm and relaxed I felt afterwards, like I was floating. I’m naturally quite an anxious person, a real worrier, and yoga has had such a positive impact on my state of mind.

2. What made you decide to leave your career in journalism at ELLE and follow your dream of yoga teaching full time?

Well, the plan wasn’t initially to teach full time. I did my training while still working full-time at ELLE magazine, and started off teaching two classes a week once I qualified. But slowly, as yoga has a habit of doing, teaching began to take over my life. My classes grew, and I spent all of my time either doing or daydreaming about yoga. Then I had a health scare in May last year. I was teaching about 7-10 classes a week on top of working full time on one of the biggest magazine titles in the world, and one morning, as I was cycling to work, my body just said: ‘No more.’ I couldn’t breathe properly and my colleague Sophie (ELLE’s Beauty Director) came with me to the walk-in centre in Soho. There, I rather unexpectedly has an ECG, and was sent to hospital. After a series of heart scans, they found a slight arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), which they think was brought on by overdoing it. It was a real wake-up call and when I returned to work, I handed in my notice. My editor at the time, Lorraine Candy, was incredibly supportive and said I needed to do what made me happy, and that was that!

3. Do you use any mantras in your daily life and if so how?

I don’t really have a regular mantra, as it changes depending on what I’m experiencing, but I love the one that my teacher Carl told us on our teacher training (at Stretch): ‘Don’t be a dick.’ Simple as that. Just try to live your life humbly and with kindness, for yourself and others.

4. Any other favourite mantras to live by?

Let go. For me, my personal practice is very much about learning to let go and live freely: free of striving; free of the past stories and narratives that we don’t have to let shape us. Yoga, for me, is very much about liberation.

5. What advice would you give to someone thinking about following their dream?

I would say that if you’re passionate about something, and willing to put in the graft, then you’ll make it work. But also be pragmatic and don’t burn any bridges in the process. I worked full time while teaching initially, then I worked a three-month notice period at ELLE and saved as much as I could, so I had enough to survive on during the transition period.

6. Who inspires you?

My teachers, my students (I learn as much, if not more, from them as they do me), and my dog, Leo. He’s a rescue from Romania and was so scared of absolutely everything when we first got him, age five months. He’s taught me that patience and kindness, and also commitment, bring huge rewards. His confidence has grown so much in the past few months, and he’s transitioned from a scared, hungry puppy to a confident, happy dog.

7. What were the biggest challenges you experienced following your dream job?

Initially, it was that I suddenly had all this time to myself. I’d gone from working full-time at ELLE and fitting in classes around that, to teaching mornings, evenings and weekends, then spending the rest of the time rolling around on my mat and training the dog. I had a lot of time by myself, a lot of time to think. Too much time, perhaps. It can be quite an isolating job, so  you have to like your own company as a yoga teacher. But, slowly slowly, my business has taken off and I’ve built a wonderful support network of other teachers around me, who I can talk to if a class goes badly or I’m struggling with something: you take on a lot of other people’s energy as a teacher, and it’s important to process that in a way that doesn’t drain you.  If anything, now I find it hard to say ‘no’ and take time off for myself. As someone who is self-employed, it’s hard to find that balance. I’m very much learning as I go along.

8. How do you switch off?

Running, walking my dog, doing yoga, cooking, eating, drinking wine, seeing my friends… the usual!

9. What dream are you now focusing on?

Right now, I’m looking forward to beginning my advanced teacher training with Jason Crandell this Autumn. I do have some more stuff in the pipeline, but it’s top secret for now!

10. How has leaving your job and doing yoga teaching full time, helped you on your journey to #mybestself?

Ultimately, I just feel much happier, more at ease and comfortable in my own skin. While I loved working at ELLE, and was incredibly passionate about my career as a journalist, I don’t think the nature of the role suited me. I was the person who had to crack the whip and tell people off when they didn’t meet deadlines, and that never sat particularly well with me. Plus, I’m naturally a very active, energetic person and being at a desk 9-5 (often longer) made me very restless. I love being outdoors, cycling around London from class to class, being active all day, encouraging and motivating people to make positive shifts in their lives. It’s an incredibly rewarding profession and I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to make the transition from journalist to teaching yoga full time. I dreamed of teaching from the very first moment I set foot in a yoga class, so to actually be doing this 10 years down the line… well, some days I have to pinch myself. I think sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, trust your gut, and follow that conviction that you can make it work.


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