Aleisha Leonard - Yoga, Kirtan and LGBTIQ+ Leadership


All right. Thank you so much for making it here today. We've been looking forward to speaking with you so I guess maybe we could just start with you telling us a little bit about your background and where you grew up. Thanks Ron and Joe. So much for having me on pleasure to be here. I grew up in Sydney in a fairly nice suburb. You know I didn't really want for anything and I moved to Melbourne about ten years ago and finally my mom used to practice IAGO. I remember memories of sort of lying on a per format in the living room doing funny things and I thought it was really boring and he. We are so my partner's actually English and so we sort of visit England every year or so. We go and see my family in Sydney every year or a couple times a year we can and we're about to move to England so that's a big so I know you said that you watched your mother to Yoga. Yeah it was really boring. What actually turned you around there. It's isn't it? I think he's sort of something. Might be right in front of you and it's not until you're in the right space or ready to receive whatever that is. Yeah I mean is to go along with attain to the yoga classes at the local kind of Rixon all just to spend time together but yeah in honesty. I thought it was quite boring. And then many's lytle. I came to your in a funny way because quite active I used to run a lot and do triathlons. And that's hard on the body. I was wandering taking up your your pilots for a while. But it's one of those things that you put off and actually my partner and I will planning our wedding in England also. We caught up with this guy. Who's a chef? He's English and he was dividing his time. Between England. Summa and Melvin muscle the so we caught up with him at a cafe in Fitzroy. Would you believe and he brought his partner and so we're planning our wedding in England and she said all. I'm actually yoga teacher and I teach around the corner. And this was Gertrude Street studio and so we decided that at a winning it might be a nice thing to have some younger classes because we had a small wedding with all our family and friends all staying together in a house and so we had yoga classes so that was my first sort of experiences an adult at my wedding the day before the the day of my wedding and I loved her and so when we came back. I thought this is really something I want to explore. And I've been pretty much in a monogamous relationship with the studio since then so that would have been about five just over five years. Yeah so I'd say I'm fairly new to yoga for someone who's a teacher heard newel. Dp A better introduction to just seeing all of your loved one useful. Celebratory way when you're about to move into this new phase of your life totally and it was pretty hilarious too because we had I think my dad and my partners mom and onto your uncle practice also sixty seven year olds by now. We had young kids running in and so really it just sort of teaches you. Mindfulness and acceptance and kindness. And things like that so yeah it was a moment. I think back on quite a lot. You know what a profound sort of moment in my life. Yeah in which she. She passed away about seven years ago. Yeah so I I think I you know as we all sort of failed that we're becoming parents a little bit as we get older and yeah I do do think only about a thing that she would really love that. I'm practicing and I've discovered that and it's a big part of my life so yeah I can imagine her thinking that like. Yeah that's right so since you found this love of Yoga. Have you found any hitches? Yeah I mean mostly in Melvin I would say Sheshona Arnstein. She was the wife of the chef who first introduced us. And so I've practiced with her for a bit at gertrude straight. And I guess a lot of the teachers I resonate with a vice gotree straight in Fitzroy and I sort of played around with a stronger practice but yeah for me. Because I'm quite fiery and Steven. I found that a softer more gentle practices better for me so I was sort of resonate with a lot of the trauma. Informed teaches a few had on the show so like Joe. Buick may lie. Alice Hope Day. Who's now in Berlin and Hannah Institute Street Studio and I guess I'd also say that more recently. I find that I'm friends with a lot of my teachers. So yeah a lot of my friends. I find them winning from constantly. Physical practice or meditation or sound practice as well and speaking of sound practice. I know that you have a real love of kitten. Yes how did you? How did that develop? Yeah it's funny. I used to play piano when I was a kid that I never really read music so I sort of got to a certain point and I always love singing and I wouldn't say I was a particularly amazing on it but I would love to do it and I think a lot of us remember seeing at Church you know. My family went really religious but I didn't mind going to church and I used to actually choose to Gar as a teenager so I could participate in singing which I find quite funny looking back because I'm not really religious. Yeah and so I. I've been practicing yoga and I'd noticed a few teachers would sometimes sing chanting. Mantra or one of my teachers may lie. Would sometimes have a little organ harmonium gold and seen in Jovana but I always thought it was nice but it didn't blow me away until I was doing teacher training not so much to teach bought more that I had these thirst for knowledge and I. I found you couldn't really. I couldn't satisfy my need through. Normal classes meant so. I thought I'd do a teacher training purely to learn as much as good and my life was one of the teachers so we had four amazing humans on that teaching tame and and so we went mantras and the meaning and about the daddies and it was a timer is probably quite role and yeah I just completely fell in love with it. It was quite funny because I didn't really know much about it and singing songs in Sanskrit in Indian and so you know the literal meaning all of the time but yeah after the teacher training I basically went and bought a harmonium with an idea to teach myself and it was pretty clunky from the first year was pretty clunky. So it's probably been about two years now that I've been playing. That background with piano must have helped. Maybe a tiny bit but not a huge amount. I think if you know if you know music theory and you can read music would that yeah I mean I have a different story to a lot of people who lead kids on. Because a lot of people might have lived in an Ashram or had an experience like that where they've been surrounded by people in that way whereas I the spock was ignited and then I sort of decided to discover to be myself and self taught forbid which was. Yeah as a bit clunky. So now I have an amazing teacher just enter. I do voice in some harmonium. Sort of licenses and afloat take jaw and yeah it's just accelerated my my winning. Yeah and saw I. I have a few people that I play with regularly. And we play around Melvin And it's a joy it's really like an amazing community different ages and abilities and yeah just to cycle back to something that you mentioned. Elia. I'm really interested in this because some teaches really. Don't go into the meaning of the chance at all and other teachers really explore that side of it and see it as a really important part of the practice. Where are you at on that continuum? Yeah for me. I really like to know what it is that I'm seeing about and the meaning and I find that quite important to convey to people so I tried to try to explain the meaning if it's in a class well more often it's in a kitten so there is an opportunity to do that and I think it changes the way that you save it and that you participate in it because you actually can. That's something for you to sort of ponder while your singing together and saw. Yeah it's also it's just sort of a nice story to have for people to to share with other people and and also most of the chance. I have been shed to me by teacher or by a friend and so I also think it's important to honor that where it's come from. I guess also in respect to the tradition of yoga and yes walk. I'm a white woman sharing these devotional practices. And the way I can sort of justify the whack and best be really authentic about that is to share everything. That's been taught to me or everything I know about that with other people. Sanskrit is a funny language because it doesn't translate literally so it's more like it can be described more like feeling that's translated through the vibration of the sounds so sometimes people will have a slightly different translation or interpretation of

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