Get it’s Kathleen Loxton sits down with yoga powerhouse and January cover star Madonna Williams…

1. Where did your passion for yoga stem from?

Yoga and meditation first struck a chord with me while rehabilitating from a horse riding accident in 1993. It was a slow 12 months recovery, so I read books to learn and practise the benefits of meditation. This was my first experience with the incredible healing power of yoga. Also, understanding that yoga was not just about getting into a posture.

Later yoga classes came into my life when I needed support and healing from the grief of family passing. I quickly learnt the true gift of yoga for healing and I became fascinated with the benefits of every posture! I was amazed!

My new passion gave me a new lease on life and I also gained more focus and clarity about my life direction, what I wanted most and what I needed to do NOW. I felt more peace, harmony and balance than I had ever felt, and I gained a reassuring inner strength during hard times that helped me to believe wholeheartedly that I could always overcome the most difficult challenges and lowest points in life.

Most of all the subtle experiences in yoga helped me realise my deepest intimate loving self and strengthened my perception in relationships. What is not to be passionate about!

I also became obsessed about the whole yoga lifestyle and began to integrate daily rituals, foods, essential oils, crystals and all proven healing modalities and remedies. I wanted to understand and experience this universal wisdom that we tap into when we begin to purify our minds and bodies.

2. Starting and creating Zen Soul Life, what have been some of the best moments and
rewarding experiences?

My best moments are the highlights and transformations we experience on yoga teacher training courses and retreats. To see the changes of our Yogi’s, and growth of our teacher’s, is the ultimate reward. Such love and joy on people’s faces after classes fills me up! Also, when students graduate as new teachers and I rock up as one of their students. I literally cannot get the smile off my face.

Assistant teaching Chinese students to become yoga teachers in China earlier this year was amazing and something I never expected to achieve.

Probably the best moment though was when my beautiful husband (Scott) completed his yoga teacher training with me last year (2018) and shared his feedback on the course with his fellow students (at sunrise on our final retreat in Byron Bay). It was incredibly moving and a moment I will treasure. Inspired, our son Jack has now signed up for my next course in February-March this year.

I’m forever blessed to see how yoga helps and positively changes people’s lives in our courses and classes. Our overwhelming feedback and words of gratitude always remind me … “YES you’re doing a great thing! Keep going.”

3. What would your advice be to those wanting to learn more about yoga and try it for
themselves?

The first step is to turn up and to begin to understand that yoga is a process not an immediate outcome. Try different teachers or studios and feel who, and what, resonates with you the most. You may try classes that are unsuitable for your level, or you’re not quite ready for that style or that teacher so be prepared to try different classes. Yoga undoubtedly has a myriad of benefits and ways to enrich your life, so it’s worth it to keep trying classes until you feel like “YES – I need more of this!”

You will feel challenged and soothed. You will feel poked and provoked and transformed and changed over time. You may just experience sweet release and bliss the whole way through, however genuine healing always presents a level of intensity and challenge. Yoga can lovingly guide you through this.

Depending on what you need MOST there are so many styles to try – traditional Hatha or Vinyasa, Yin, Kundalini…the list goes on. When people ask me “Where should I start?” I ask them a few questions and I can usually assess in the first 5 minutes what is appropriate and what they need most at that point in time. Essentially you want to feel the vibe that yoga is non-competitive and ultimately it is a self-practice ‘guided’ by a teacher.

Lastly buy a good mat, take a water bottle for ‘before and after’ and embrace your bare feet on the Earth to get grounded!

4. You previously published a book ‘Zen Soul Your Life’ (2013). Would you consider publishing another?

My first book is precious to me because of the messages I received and how it makes people feel. Writing the book was a life changing and soul healing experience; of course confronting to commit the devotion and time but also liberating to finally finish, publish and sell 1500 books in the first 6 months. ‘Zen Soul Your Life’ is an A to Z guide for beginners or anyone completely new to yoga and needing healthy mind and food inspiration. I cover the A to Z of positive thoughts, the healthiest and alkalising foods (plus a few recipes) and yoga postures.

My passion for writing has inspired me to incorporate writing workshops on my retreats and courses. Watching students experience what I feel with writing brings me so much fulfilment. We explore writing as a means of self-awareness, communicating subconscious creativity and expressing emotions. The beauty, truthfulness and genius that pours out of students after yoga is truly outstanding!

Next book? …I’ve always wanted to write a book about my family and how they’ve shaped me into who I’ve become. My son Tom is a brilliant artist and illustrator and it’s one of my dreams to collaborate with him on something that lights him up as well. Maybe a fun children’s book with his quirky cartoon style. When the timing is right, I’m sure the support and the words will appear!

5. Do you have any goals or hopes in mind for 2019?

Yes, absolutely! I’m a Capricorn (goal setter) and on the cusp with Aquarian (dreamer). In 2019 I’ll jump in with a holiday, make some self-love time for me, and take off camping and surfing along the south coastline with Scott (we’re hoping Jack and Tom can join us in spots). As much as I love what I do, and I understand my purpose, my family comes first. Scott and the boys mean the world to me.

By mid-January it’s yoga teacher training prep for our first course kicking off in Feb-March. We also have another teacher training course planned in June-July, then a very special yoga retreat planned in Bali for September. This is something I’ve been brewing for quite some time and can’t wait to reveal the hidden gems planned!

We have more community classes planned in collaboration with the active & healthy program sponsored by the City of Gold Coast. I’m also incredibly blessed with a growing team of the most devoted, loving and sincere teachers.
One of my biggest dreams is to attract the ultimate assistant who is inspired by what we do and wants to join me on this incredible yoga mission!

In between projects and on days off, I intend to enjoy simple pleasures and fun times with my dearest loves and be there for my family who need support.

6. How do you see Zen Soul Life developing in the future?

Our classes are continuing to expand in the community – currently in Paradise Point, Coomera, Oxenford, Pacific Pines, Runaway Bay and Main Beach and in 2019 we’ll offer a class at Southport Broadwater Parklands and Burleigh Heads.

Kundalini classes are new on our timetable and very popular! Retreats will continue in Byron Bay and now also in Bali. I offer very limited one-on-one healing mini-retreats in my own private retreat shala.

We have a rapidly expanding essential oil tribe where we connect and share the therapeutic and emotional balance benefits of precious essential oils.

What I see developing most is my sacred yoga teacher training! The crème de la crème course and experience for personal and professional enrichment. We currently have Level 1 twice a year and the big goal is to expand to a scrumptious Level 2 and Yin Yoga teacher courses. Of course, there’s always few special surprises planned!

7. Yoga has such a rich history, why do you think it is especially important people make time
for this practice today?

The ultimate goal of yoga is to still or quieten the mind. We connect to the body and we use the breath as a portal to become more self-aware. When the mind begins to still and soften, we tap into the rich inner beauty of ourselves, the familiar loving warmth of our heart centre and the peacefulness of our true nature. Yoga means to unite mind body and spirit. This uniting and connection helps us feel more ‘whole’ and more authentically ourselves and so true yoga can be a deeply healing and soulful experience.

In today’s world day more people feel disconnected, lonely and suffer feelings of depression, anxiety and hopelessness. There’s a lack of belonging. There’s more information but less self-wisdom. The stats on suicides and stress related diseases (cancers, heart disease) continue to rise despite billions of dollars spent on raising money for the cures.

I feel now more than ever in history we need to apply these ancient teachings to modern day life as practises and prevention for the greatest problems on the planet! As a modern Yogi I feel responsible and compelled to share yoga teachings and make them accessible and digestible for everyone I meet.

It’s important to practise yoga so we can learn to unravel and unwind tension, to release emotions and negative thought patterns that sabotage our life choices and keep us stuck – anything that energetically blocks us from being the truest and loving versions of ourselves.

We need yoga as a life skill to help us relax, rebalance, energise and connect with each other so we can be aware of what it means to be truly deeply happy, peaceful and in love with life.

We also need yoga, so we can develop a more conscious loving relationship with Mother Nature and begin to save our beautiful planet from perishing – when we slow down our crazy minds, we realise we are all walking miracles of life with the human being opportunity to love and serve each other whilst enjoying the most beautiful planet called Earth. Yoga kind of helps us achieve this!

Keep up with Madonna at zensoulteachertraining.yoga

Our stunning cover girl Madonna Williams: photographed by Drishti Videography