Episode Focus: Reflecting on your Creative Project
Creativity: Reflecting on your creative project and exploring the idea of resistance
Podcast chat: Yoga teacher Suz Stokes
Productivity: Defining success for your creative project
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Podcast chat with Suz Stokes
In 2012 Suz returned to New Zealand from life as an executive in Dubai, burnt out and knowing she needed to change. She started by improving her diet and had already started yoga but did more training and became a yoga teacher. She began researching everything health and wellness. In 2014 she developed the 35 Day Detox programme which aims to help people to manifest change and transform their lives. Suz lives and breathes this programme and credits it with helping her deal with her own loss, grief and spiritual healing. If you’re interested in finding out more about Suz and her 35 day detox programme, visit her website.
Jordan: Suz. Welcome to the podcast, it’s awesome to have you. Tell me a little bit about yourself; you’re a yoga teacher and you do marathons and Ironman events. How did you get to that point where you’re doing all these amazing things?
Suz: OK, only one Ironman! I’ve been doing yoga now for 10 years. And I only did yoga for about two or three months before I did my teacher training, which is quite unusual. But I knew the moment I started that I really needed to know more about it. And it was a response to being a corporate executive. I was working in Dubai, and I was doing a lot of travelling. I was a sales account manager, company director – was all full on.
So I was stressed; I was quite sick and I needed to look after my health. And my mother had telling me to do yoga for years. I think that the defining moment was when I realised that you can invest in a lot of things, like chiropractors and facials, massages, all of the things that we do, but at the end of the day, unless you work from the inside out, it’s not going to make any difference. And it’s not going to give you any longevity.
So that was my realisation. If I really wanted to go into a healthy older age, then I needed to start working on cleaning it up. That was where the yoga came from. And then the endurance events really came from my desire, when I came back to New Zealand, to connect with other women and so I got into training. It was also a test of how much I was improving my health, because when I first started running, I couldn’t run at all. I had asthma. I had a long lot of reasons. So it was just showing me how much I was improving.
Jordan: So just going back to that point where you were living the corporate life and knew that you needed to change. What were you feeling? What was your body telling you – what symptoms did you have that you knew things weren’t going well?
Suz: Oh, my gosh. I had everything. I had rosacea, so my skin was breaking out; autoimmune psoriasis. A lot of digestive issues. The list was somewhat endless of things that were going wrong with me. Not enough to stop me functioning, but certainly enough to stop me enjoying life.
And when I work with women, I see a lot of those things. Yes, we can cope, we can just we keep getting by, but are we really enjoying life? I got to the point where I was intolerant to most foods. I couldn’t do dairy, gluten, red meat. It just got went on and on and on. And so that’s where it got to.
Jordan: So now you teach yoga. What is your personal yoga practice like on a daily basis?
Suz: I have a studio which is a converted garage, and some days I go down there and I only do ten minutes. Other days I’ll do an hour and a half. It depends on how I’m feeling and what other things are going on. Some days I really won’t want to, but I’ll just go down there and say, OK, I’ll just sit on my mat for a couple of minutes. And that leads me to think, well, actually I could probably stretch. It’s the idea that you just do something each day. I also do things during the day. If I take a moment or two to have a breather, I’ll lie flat on the floor and Shavasana because that’ll realign my spine. So things along those lines go just get incorporated into my life.
Jordan: I like this idea of just being able to do something small or something little each day, and it doesn’t have to be the same every day. Do you think that’s a good approach?
Suz: Oh, it’s a perfect approach because we are different every day. Some days we haven’t slept. Some days we’re hyper-stressed. Some days we’re lethargic. And I’m a great believer in people understanding what they need, and working out intuitively what they should do rather than saying, ‘oh, I’m going to do that class’. Because that class is, by its nature, general. It’s about looking internally as to what you need yourself.
Jordan: And what does it mean, to be able to know intuitively what your body needs on a certain day? What kind of signals do you get from your body? What should people listen to, in order to better intuitively understand where they’re at?
Suz: It’s such a hard one because we’re all so disconnected from our bodies. But the breath is the answer to it. If you are breathing and you know it’s not a resting breath, then that’s a fair indication that you need to do a calming practice. So, the breath is probably the first place to look. Because our brains tell us lies. They lie to us. They say, ‘no, no, we’re fine, let’s just rock it out,’ you know, but actually it’s the worst thing for us.
The worst place to listen to is your brain because that’s your ego telling you what you should be doing. Your best place to listen to is the body; ask yourself ‘what’s my breathing like? How am I feeling?’
Jordan: Amazing. You also work in the mindfulness space. What does mindfulness mean to you?’
Suz: Mindfulness is part of yoga. I hesitate to say mindfulness as opposed to meditation because most people can’t meditate – because most people’s brains are so full, including mine.
I had a client this morning and I was getting her to breathe and just watch the thought that came up – on the basis that all the thoughts are about something that’s already happened or something that you’re about to go and do. So it was about then recognising that while you’re sitting there. The only thing you’re doing is breathing. It comes back to the breath. Mindfulness is the ability to tap in and understand and catch when you’re taking a thought further than just a thought, i.e. going down a rabbit hole. That’s the core of mindfulness to me.
Jordan: You also do energy healing. How do you approach energy healing and why does it help?
Suz: Everything is healing; we’re trying to heal, so I think the journey we are on is to come back to health. I approach most of my teachings, as well as what I’m doing for myself, on the basis of ‘Can we vibrate higher today?’
So to me, it’s all about vibration. That’s the understanding that we are just a bunch of vibrating cells and everything we do will either raise our vibration or lower it. That’s where the chakra system comes in; we find energy blocks and move them with things like meditations, clearing reiki, those sorts of modalities. I send a lot of my clients off to do something along those lines when I think that’s where they’re at. I also use sound meditation and healing; music raises and changes vibration. And then within the most basic things, if you’re eating dead food, then you’re lowering your vibration. If you’re eating live food, then you’re raising your vibration. If you’re watching crap on TV, then you’re lowering your vibration. If you’re listening to something positive, you’re raising your vibration. So that’s all energy healing to me.
Jordan: That makes it sound easy and doable!
Suz: It is doable. It’s just about the practice… that’s where the mindfulness comes in; being aware of what you’re doing and then taking that decision. Am I going to feed myself coke or alcohol, or am I going to have a glass of water? You might decide that the wine looks far better tonight, but then tomorrow a green smoothie could be a really good idea. So it takes all the emotion and all the stories away. It just comes straight down to vibration. We’re vibrating our vibrating up here or we vibrating down here. Are we on the way up or are we dumbing ourselves down? And the moment we start going down, then we’re going to start feeling ill and that’s when we’re going to start getting sick.
Jordan: To what extent do you think people dumb themselves down intentionally?
Suz: Oh, 100 per cent. We can’t help it because what we have to face is something we’re not ready to face. But when we’re ready to face it then it’s really easy.
Jordan: So easier to say down in those low vibrations because it requires less work. But when we’re ready to do the work….
Suz: When we get sick of being down there, it’s like, right. OK, I’m over this, I’m going to sort myself out now.
Jordan: Tell us about your 35 day detox programme. Who’s that for?
Suz: It’s for everybody who’s ready to go up that level, to level up. My by-line is manifesting change. And it is about the fact that when you’re ready to change, you need to create the change. It’s not just going to happen. It’s a programme that runs off the lunar cycle. That’s especially great for women, but it also affects men as well. Beyond that, it’s it’s a framework to make changes and or to let change come in. It incorporates fit’s five things that you do each week for five weeks. You make 25 changes, all up. We start off at the basic level with the physical and then we move into the emotional and then we get into the mindset. We deepen down as we go through the programme. It’s a yoga based programme. But it has a lot of other things that I found interesting and helpful to me. Astrology, Feng Shui, numerology, fitness, food, recipes.
Jordan: That’s great. I have one last question for you. What does the good life look like to you?
Suz: That’s the Holy Grail, isn’t it? For me, it’s about finding a balance between working and living. Previously, all I was doing was about showing up for work. But for me now it’s like taking the time, being able to do what I like doing, so like for example, I always walk on the beach with my dogs. It’s about connecting down to nature on a daily basis. That’s a really important part for me. It’s about sharing the 35 day detox with people that want to go on their journey. And I get such joy out of seeing the transformations that people take and the journeys that they’re on. It’s being healthy. It’s life not being a struggle.
That doesn’t mean that things don’t happen. Lots of things have happened to me that I’ve had to overcome, but coming out the other side, feeling better and more empowered. It’s about connection with others and with myself. It’s being happy in my own skin. Somebody said to me the other day, ‘Oh, you’re really such a free spirit.’ And I thought, oh, this could be my new mantra. I’d love for that to be the case, because we get so tied down with so much. And wouldn’t it be cool just to be a free spirit?
Jordan: Sounds good!
Suz: Yeah. So that would be my ideal goal. It’s a work in progress!
Jordan: Thanks Suz!
Suz: You’re welcome. Thanks very much.