Women's Feature: Sarah Highfield

We met with Sarah Highfield to talk about her life transition to being a Yoga teacher from her office job and her mission on achieving the perfect work-life balance. YogaClassesWithSarah@gmail.com Twitter / Instagram: @sarahhighfield

We met with Sarah Highfield to talk about her life transition to being a Yoga teacher from her office job and her mission on achieving the perfect work-life balance.

YogaClassesWithSarah@gmail.com

Twitter / Instagram: @sarahhighfield

 

Background

What is your professional background and what made you want to change?

Well, my professional background is in PR. I realised that in PR (I’m sure alot of people in PR will agree with me) that it is a lot of work for not very much money. I was a Senior Account Director.  This time last summer on a beautiful day like this (it was 26degrees) I was looking out the window from my office and thought- I’m not going to see any of this because I have to stay here till 8pm tonight doing a spreadsheet or some sort of admin. I am 32. These are supposed to be the best years of my life, why am I spending everyday sitting at a desk? I didn’t want to do it anymore and so I resigned without another job lined up and thought why don’t I just take some time out.

How did you transition from your previous PR role to teaching Yoga?

Being a Yoga teacher is something I have always wanted to do. I have been doing Yoga for a good 13 years and I thought if not now then when? I had been thinking of becoming a Yoga teacher for a long time but I was building my career. I didn’t want to risk my job security, everything was laid out in front of me and I could see it all happening. Then I thought, just do it. I had a little bit of money saved up so I thought, if it doesn’t work out, I still have enough money to live and could always just go back into work- A bit like a career break.  I eventually enrolled in  a 200 hour intensive course held in the Spanish mountains September last year. By the 1st October I was qualified. It’s not cheap to become a qualified Yoga teacher, courses average between £2.5k-£4k. So I came back to London and immediately began applying for Yoga Teacher roles but studios were requesting 2-5 years worth of experience so I decided to go down the Private route for a little while until I finally got a job at Bodyism. Bodysim was such a great Launchpad for me. During this time I also did classes for Edge and was contacted by Helios Retreat who invited me to join their retreat to Mykonos who I plan on continue working with in future.

 

Yoga

What would you say are the key benefits of Yoga and why would you recommend people do it?

There are a lot of different types of Yoga which are suitable for all different types of people. I would also tell people to not be put off by their first yoga experience as every class is different and every teacher is different. Yoga will definitely help you to become more body aware (how you are feeling internally) and mentally calmer. It’s a dynamic form of meditation.

  • Ashtanga - good for strengthening the body
  • Pranayama- Breathing exercises which help to calm you, balance you, some even cleanse you
  • Nidra and Restorative - good for relaxation
  • Iyengar - good for alignment
  • Hatha - good for beginners

Describe your perfect YOGA location.

Depends on how you are feelingand where you are but I think the ideal space would be a warm, quiet room which isn’t too bright. In Yoga, you have a soft gaze so too much lighting will be distracting. Beach yoga looks great in pictures but the sand isn’t ideal as you will sink into it. Indoor Yoga for me is more ideal than outdoor. However, on our retreats, the views are so beautiful that I would not want to do Yoga anywhere else but outside.

Why do you enjoy teaching Yoga to people? What are your goals for your classes?

I love it when I teach a class and can see a positive reaction from my students at the end. I am glad that I can help people to distress and feel internally feel better about themselves. I also very much enjoy being in charge of my own time, my own work and projects. There is so much joy in just walking around London in between each of my classes. I like that I am doing a little bit of everything. It keeps things very interesting.

 

Lifestyle

Do you feel like you have achieved the perfect work-life balance?

I am getting better at this. When I was working in PR, this definitely described me. I was consistently anxious about work, about things that have happened, about meeting deadlines etc. Now that I am a Yoga teacher, I very much more live in the present. My life is much more simple. Although I am still doing a lot of projects, it does feel like I am juggling a lot less things. I feel it is a lot easier. I have less pressure now as I am in charge of setting my own targets. I can now switch off when I want to and definitely live more in the present. I used to go on holidays and still was not able to switch off- constantly worrying about work whilst I was away. You just don’t relax but now, I can switch off as I set my own targets so therefore less pressure. I am not perfect but far better than before.

What is it like in a typical day like for you as a Yoga teacher?

It varies. There is no typical day anymore. I generally wake up later now than I would do for an office job. My days consist of a mix of classes- usually 1 Studio class and 2 private classes. I would not do any more than 3 classes a day, maybe 4 as travelling between classes can take a while. I devote my hours outside of my classes to admin as I’m working on so many different projects such as Yoga Teacher training, preparing for the retreats, following up on current students and sorting my tax returns. I am definitely doing a lot less hours now but because I am now freelance it is very important for me to maintain momentum.  Someone once told me to not become complacent even when I have become successful, never sit back too much to maintain your reputation.  I am also now very in charge of my own diet, which is great. Before, I would eat Pret for lunch everyday but now I have time to prep my own meals at home during the day.

In addition to Yoga, do you workout? What is your regime?

I run on the treadmill (5-6km) or outdoors(6-8km) depending on how I am feeling. I have a done a few outdoor runs with my boyfriend which is good because he is faster than me which means I need to keep up. I also do the cross trainer at times, spin class, body pump classes and I also walk everywhere, especially in between seeing clients.

What are your top tips on staying healthy?

Keep moving. Make sure you keep your heart rate up by running or cycling etc. Keep your diet balanced- don’t just eat junk. I used to feel really guilty 10 years ago whenever I ate bad but now I just make sure to balance it out. You won’t feel good about yourself if you keep making yourself feel guilty.

How do you stay calm in a busy city such as London?

It helps being a Yoga teacher. Now, I am doing what I enjoy and to my own schedule. I can relax in between my classes, I can go home and make a nice lunch,  avoid rush hour and walk to places instead.

How do you personally stay happy and upkeep a positive mindset?

By putting things into perspective. If I am having a rough day, I just remember that my problems are a lot smaller than everyone else’s. In fact, I am lucky to be doing what I do and live the life that I live now and LOVING my job.  Any set back I think I may have, in reality it’s nothing.