GUEST POST: Meet our beautiful friend ‘Heavenly Walnut’
Today’s Guest Post comes from our beautiful and inspiring soul sister ‘Heavenly Walnut’ (she also dubs as Ourania Karydis – see below). Total babe, right? (sorry lads, she’s spoken for!) Besides being hot stuff, she is one of Brisbane’s most highly regarded Yoga Teachers and at only 26 years old has her own gorgeous studio, ‘Ourano Yoga + Lifestyle’ in Geebung (that those of you coming to Friday’s nights RAW + Superfoods extravaganza will get to experience), as well as teaching at other popular studios across town.
If I could use one word to describe this beautiful woman it would be ‘fearless’. She’s a shining example to us all to drop the crap (+ the ego) and concentrate on what our hearts truly desire and live authentically, even when the going gets tough and regardless of what others may say! Today she shares with us how she went from a fish shop and working in retail, to becoming a florist, to then risking everything to become a full-time Yoga teacher. If you have ever wondered about any kind of career change, you are going to want to settle in and read this!
- Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you grew up, what careers you have had, etc.
My name is Ourania Karydis (which is of Greek origin and can be translated in English to Heavenly Walnut). I am 26 years on this earth, but know that I have been here before. I was born and grown in Brisbane, a place that I truly do love. I have the most beautiful family that are supporting and loving in every way shape and form.
My father has passed over…. 2 years ago but I still feel him with me every day. A lot of my growth in both my teachings and daily life derives from the experience I shared with him as he was nearing the end of his days here.
For as long as I can remember I was a child of self-enquiry – Mum why do I look the way I do? Dad why do I speak the way I do? Is my body really who I am?…. Well, I feel very blessed that instead of letting me know of their understanding they encouraged me to explore my own ……and so the journey started.
I used to have straight hair, when I turned 18 my hair turned into full curls. I have worked in fish shops, clothing stores. I was a head of department at the mere age of 18 for a chain store and then went on to do visual merchandising and styling. I grew from that further and ended up managing a clothing retail store and worked out it wasn’t really good for my soul.
“I worked out it wasn’t really good for my soul”
I have never been one to justify if something wasn’t working. I would literally move on with absolutely no idea where I was going next but I now look back at the decisions I’ve made in complete gratitude as I really do live with a high level of trust that it will all work out as the universe says.
I then went on to study floristry and work as a florist for several years. I get asked this question a lot….so what made you decide to teach yoga? It just happened, my intuitive self kicked in one Tuesday afternoon. I had a really incredible strong vision of me teaching and the rest is a blur. I quit my job 2 weeks later and immersed myself in the study of yoga.
Before I even completed my level 1 study I was teaching. I knew instantly that this was meant to be. Teaching a class here and there quickly became permanent classes, which then lead to opening a new studio on the north side of Brisbane (best thing I ever did even though people thought I was crazy).
I was then offered the most incredible position, a principle yoga teacher trainer. I am here now and know I will be doing this for the rest of my life. I will forever be a student and continue to pass on what has been passed to me.
As I prepare to teach my classes each week (currently 22) I notice that it is not coming from a text book, nor is it coming from an external source. My greatest guide in this life is my intuitive self. What comes out of me comes from an incredibly deep space within, to the point where I can’t remember always what I say. I believe that being authentic and honest with yourself and your students is of the best qualities a yoga teacher can have, everything else will just flow.
“If you come on to the yoga teaching path being one person on the mat and another outside in daily life perhaps there needs to be more enquiry as to why you are teaching”.
- What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
The gratitude for the life I have. This is not a journey to be wasted and I know what a gift I have been given. And I say that with full awareness that every day I am challenged by life just the same way as every other human is. I just use the opportunities and experiences I am given as a time of growth.
- Many people that are drawn to Yoga discover that they are dissatisfied with their current state of being and idealise the notion of opening their own studio without realising it can be a really tough gig, even harder than their current ‘day job’. What’s the biggest myth you would like to dispel for anyone thinking about opening their own studio?
Opening the studio and choosing to teach full time was the best decision that I have ever made, it is also the toughest. Probably the biggest thing I would share is that you won’t always be drinking tea, reading books and riding your bike to the park in between classes, particularly if you do decide to open your own business.
The additional work of being a business owner takes up a lot of time. Be prepared to work long hours. My average day starts at 5:30am and sometimes I don’t finish until 10pm (on an early night I’m home at 8pm). You work when majority of people aren’t; early mornings, late nights and weekends. This can create havoc with your eating times and even more for family & friends. I am only saying this from my point of view.
I have chosen to operate my business a little different which of course I put upon myself so I am completely aware of that. If you are teaching multiple classes in a day mind your energy levels (I learnt that the hard way) and prioritise your own practice.
The ego will play with you a lot too. As I know a lot of people can resonate with any business one day you’re a busy the next you are not. There are no more stable incomes you just trust that you will be looked after which will really test what you teach and that for me is one of the biggest things. If you come on to the yoga teaching path being one person on the mat and another outside in daily life perhaps there needs to be more enquiry as to why you are teaching.
“You won’t always be drinking tea, reading books and riding your bike to the park in between classes”
- What was the hardest part about starting your own business?
Honestly, for me personally it is constantly staying true to my intentions that I set at the beginning of the journey. This for me was not going to be another “job”. It’s very easy to get caught up in the “business world”. I needed to stop comparing my business to others and just be totally invested in what I set out to do without the influence of what everyone else is doing.
- What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“God laughs at those who plan” I constantly say this to myself and students because it is the truth. You think you’re going one way but you end up going in a completely different direction and when we surrender to the flow of our life, it becomes more of a fun adventure, everything works out as it’s meant to and you are OK.
- If you could invite 5 people from anywhere in the world to your dinner table who would it be, what would you cook and why?
Ok so firstly I have since realised that all people I listed are somewhat elderly men……haha!
Carlos Castanada – He would have some incredible stories to share from his life. One of my favourite books is journey to Ixtlan and a Yaqui way of knowledge. I continue to read them again and again. Native American teachings are something I take a lot of inspiration from (I believe it’s a past life thing for me)
Henry David Thoreau – Another man I would love to hear of his understandings and stories from his simple way of living (Walden). Both Carlos and Henry tested societies’ set beliefs. They found their own truth.
Kevin McCloud – I just love him! Haha I think he is incredibly honest, intelligent and knowledgeable. His love for architecture is unlike any I have ever seen and I saw a documentary once of when he built a house made mostly of recyclable materials by hand using ancient building techniques and EVERYTHING was self-sustainable. It was amazing!
Eddie Vedder – I mean who wouldn’t? His voice takes me into meditative states. I get goose bumps when I listen to his music, particularly his solo stuff. I went on my own to his concert the last time he was in Australia and it was like a deep 3 hour meditation. On that night my past and future definitely did not exist. It was just me and Eddie (and maybe 1000 other people but I certainly didn’t notice)
Woody Allen – I love his movies. They are strange. They are quirky. I get them. I think he would bring a very different element to the dinner table.
Entrée – would be some form of bruschetta & grilled asparagus with pine nuts
Main – Mushroom risotto, noodle salad and roast vegetables.
Desert – Sugar Free Baklava
Drink – Organic red wine, I’m having Woody Allen for dinner I certainly can’t just serve water & tea
I chose this menu because it is simple but tasty, and for me the simpler the food is to make the more room for conversation I would have. It’s a pretty general menu so that hopefully everyone’s taste buds are happy and bellies filled with love. I do believe the food you cook and love reflects the energy you are holding to some degree and right now I’m all about simple. Perhaps later on I will become more experimental and adventurous with my food. I’ll let it be an organic process.