This week, I caught up with Sarah Brodie, a Canadian EPIK (English Program in Korean) teacher and aspiring yoga teacher with a lot on her mat. Sarah, though built like a supermodel, exudes effortless beauty and good vibes most when speaking about her many passions and interests. When around her, it is hard not to feel energized by her positivity and enthusiastic visions of world betterment. What makes this former professional basketball player tick? Read on to find out.
What is your hometown and what can you tell me about it?
London, Ontario. London’s a great city; it’s not too big. And it’s actually got a great yoga community there. It’s really close to Toronto – only about two hours away.
Did you go to college there?
No, I went to York University in Toronto. I majored in Fine Arts – sculpture.
Do you feel like that artistic side comes out in your yoga?
Yes, definitely. I love to make things with my hands, and yoga’s like an artistic expression with my body. It’s really cool.
And it probably addresses your athletic side, too. Tell me about your experiences as a basketball player.
I played basketball for five years in college. It was amazing, and my team-mates are still my best friends. We all were recruited together, and we had a lot of potential, but we weren’t good at that stage. We played together and we played for each other, and it was the best experience of my life. We started at nothing, and by the end of my last year, we were top 10 in Canada and went to the nationals twice.
What position did you play?
I played a five, post.
Then, you played after college, as well. How did that get started?
I graduated and then trained with a friend all summer. We went and tried out in Germany, where I ended up meeting the Finnish coach and signing the contract to play for his team. Then, I moved to Finland.
How did you find Finland?
It was an interesting experience. ... As soon as you’re put onto a team, you automatically have friends, which was really helpful. I lived with three Americans, but my other teammates didn't speak a great deal of English.
Was that your first experience abroad?
Yes. My try-out in Germany was the first time I’d left North America, so that was really cool. Finland was my first time living in a country where English wasn’t the first language, which was sort of shocking. It was such a funny experience because all of a sudden you’re like a celebrity in this tiny little town.
How long were you there?
I stayed there for half of the season and then I decided I wasn’t having fun anymore. I came from a team where I was with all my best friends, and it was amazing. Then all of a sudden it really was a job and I found I wasn’t loving it. So, I decided I was done with basketball. I came home for Christmas and decided I wasn’t going to go back. Then I was talking to a friend of mine in Perth, Australia, and she convinced me to come out there. So, I ended up deciding within a week to move to Australia for the year. She talked me into playing basketball while I was there. I wasn’t intending to, but I ended up playing semi-professional, just for fun. I was getting paid, but not really, so I scooped ice cream on the beach for my job. It was the best!
And after that year, what did you do?
Then I went back to London and got a job working at lululemon, a yoga apparel company.
Were you into yoga at all before that?
A little bit... for two years, I had been wanting to try yoga. But I was always around basketball people, and no one I knew was really doing yoga. Something about it was like, “Oh, I want to try yoga; I think I’d really love it.” But I didn’t have time or put effort into doing it. Then I met this guy in Australia – Neal, a yoga teacher, who took me to all these yoga classes. So, when I came back to London, I knew I needed to get a job working in yoga.
What was your job at lululemon?
I was working as a community manager there, so I got to go to all of the studios and basically make connections in the community. Take classes, do yoga with them. I got to try all these different styles of yoga, and it was amazing. I was there for a year and a half.
What made you decide to come to Jeju?
I met Brady at lululemon, and we decided we were ready for something different – a change. I wanted to teach English abroad, and he was up for that. Two of our friends who had worked at lululemon before were working on Jeju, as a couple. They told us about it, and we decided it’s where we wanted to be – very active and an island! How could it not be amazing? So, we came in September 2010.
And what have been your thoughts about Jeju?
Every day, we just feel so lucky to be here. We live right on the water, and waking up and just seeing the ocean is so amazing. I was really nervous when I came, especially as a vegetarian, but I have been pleasantly surprised. I’ve found things to eat, and it’s challenged me to make my own food. I love saunas and the culture’s really cool. There’s a lot about it that I really love.
Do you enjoy teaching?
I do enjoy teaching [laughs]… I do like it. There’s parts that have been really hard, because I haven’t been trained to teach. I’ve never done it before. So there’s parts where I’m like, am I doing this right? You sort of hit the ground running, you know? The kids, though, how could you not like them? They’re so great. And I do appreciate teaching ESL because it reminds me to choose my words carefully, which is great practice for teaching yoga… being mindful and clear!
Where are your favorite places on Jeju?
I really like Donnaeko, and Jungmun Beach. And we hiked Olle 1, and I loved that, because it was so much different scenery all around the east coast.
Favorite thing about Korea
I’m going to miss the sauna so much. Especially when it gets cold out, you need to go. It’s so warm, and it’s the most relaxing feeling just to go and sit in the sauna and close your eyes.
Favorite Korean food?
Sujaebi [potato noodle soup] at Mulmaegol – the vegan temple restaurant – in Susan-ri.
What are you involved in on the island?
Salsa, Ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, taekwondo, pottery, knitting... I also taught yoga in Sara-bong.
That's a lot! Do you love that there are so many things to get involved in?
I love it, but it’s almost like, right now, I’m at the point where I have to pull myself back and just focus on one or two things instead of everything. There’s always something that comes up, and it’s like “I want to do that!” When I was in university, it was basketball, that’s it. I didn’t think about anything else. But now, I can do whatever I want! I kind of have my hands in a little bit of everything. You meet so many great people and people invite you to things or start things, and I want to support them. Like, when I started teaching yoga, there was such a huge support. It was awesome.
Will you teach yoga again?
Yeah, I will. I just needed a bit of a break. Right at that time, I started doing so many activities, and I had no free nights. I taught yoga for three months and then got burnt out, but I will teach again — probably in the fall.
What do you want to do with yoga?
I want to be an Anusara yoga teacher. That will be a long path, but I’m really excited for it. I’ve already been reading the teacher manuals. My teacher at home is an inspired Anusara yoga teacher, which is the first level. Every time I left her yoga class I would just feel really amazing.
What’s different about Anusara?
It’s really focused on the universal principles of alignment, which spoke to me because of my basketball background. And then, I wasn’t expecting this, but the spiritual side also spoke to me. It’s about connecting to something greater than you and the tantric philosophy that we’re all the same. Every class beings with intention, and you talk about setting an intention for the class. John Friend, who founded Anusara, said “Yoga is an artistic expression of your heart.” He’s an inspiration to me, and I think you can use yoga to make the world a better place.
How long do you plan to stay on the island?
We’re going to stay for another year, then, we’ll probably take a few months off to travel before heading back to London. Then it’s really about me finding a yoga teacher that I want to train with, and I’ll go wherever they are.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Teaching yoga and living in Vancouver with Brady. Maybe with a family, and a little pottery studio in the basement.
Yeah, Vancouver’s awesome.
I’ve actually never been there! But it really speaks to me, being among the oceans the mountains. I just know I will love it.
Anybody who inspires you?
My yoga teacher, Mindy, from the Mindful Body studio in London. She’s awesome, but she’s closing that studio soon to teach in new places. Also, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She is a vegan and animal rights activist. I believe that adopting a compassionate diet will change the world!
What are the most important things in life to you?
Yoga, vegetarianism, my friends and family, and travel.
Where could you go if you could go anywhere in the world?
Iceland, Thailand, or India. I want to see the Taj Mahal and do yoga with the masters!
Any words to live by?
Don’t stress. Everything works out in the end.
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