We first met Heather Broadhead in her role as a yoga instructor at one of our favorite local farms, Star Bright Farm, who also happens to be one of our wonderful community partners!
Heather's journey to wellness (like all of us) had its fair share of twist, turns and curve balls (just read about her article in the latest issue of En Root, My Journey to Wellness). Through it all, Heather has remained dedicated to her yoga practice, a tool that has not only led to her healing, but to her living a life that is truly aligned. Enjoy our interview with Heather and prepare to be inspired to build a life aligned in 2020!
Tell us about your personal and professional journey to wellness.
I fell in love with yoga in 2011, and since then it has always been one of my higher priorities in my everyday life. Yoga provided an independent, physical and mental outlet that I had never had before. In 2014, I had an accident that fractured my heel bone and gave me a compression fracture in my spine, and the process of healing and recovering from that propelled me into wanting to practice and teach more. I was learning about my body's anatomy differently, and how I needed to move it functionally to strengthen and feel better. But yoga hasn't only physically healed me, it's been important through all of life's curve balls. It's a grounding practice while also being something that can challenge. When I teach, I hope to open doors for others so that they can get what they need out of the practice, much like I did, and take it with them where ever they go.
At OutGrowth, we are committed to giving access. Tell us about your approach to creating access to wellness, and what this concept of access has meant for you.
Yoga is everywhere now. You can find it through any internet application and you don't even need the fancy mat to do it. When I started, I didn't know anyone else who did it and I learned through research and discovery, whereas now we can open an app and find it anywhere. My yoga is inclusive. It welcomes any body from any walk of life, and has seen all kinds of people inside the studio (and outside). I've always stressed that just because you can't touch your toes or do the handstand from the 'gram doesn't mean you can't do yoga. Not only are there hundreds of different kinds of people who do it, there are so many different kinds of yoga from prenatal to power, chair classes and flying classes. There's a yoga for everyone, and it's different for everyone.
Tell us about a pinnacle point or moment in your personal or professional wellness journey.
A pinnacle point would have been my injuries in 2014. My spine wasn't bad enough for surgery, thankfully, but it is something I have to deal with for my entire life. My doctor's advice was to strengthen my core so that I could better support my compressed vertebra, and so I took his words and ran. During my recovery I would do three-limbed yoga in my hallway because the walls were close enough to catch me if I fell to one side, hah! I learned a lot about the structure of the spine too, both through my own research and through asking questions about my scans. This process changed my perception of yoga from being flexibility-focused to more strength-focused, and it was a change that has only developed further since.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?
I learned that I'm always a student. I'm always learning and discovering, and no one ever does everything perfectly, especially not the first time. So when things get hard or confusing, just work through it and ask questions. Figure it out and learn for the next thing to come. Every class is a new class, every day a new day, and it's all an experience that will build you and support you. Your body doesn't feel the same every day either, it needs new movement often. We have to be adaptable.
How do you believe wellness impacts one's career path? What are your top pieces of advice for students and professionals who may not know how to integrate personal and professional wellness practices?
It's all connected. If you're not happy where you're working, are you happy when you're not working? If you're not, are you okay with being only part-time happy? The first thing to go wonky when you're regularly feeling unhappy is your personal wellness. You are all you have, you are important. Make sure what you are doing/pursuing/thinking is something that aligns with every fiber of your body and makes you happy, and know that it's a process that doesn't happen overnight.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Your smile is real, and everyone sees it.
From your unique wellness perspective, what are some words of wisdom that you would offer people exploring the possibility of an immersive experience with OutGrowth?
Do it. It's an experience of learning and literally growing, and a way to connect passions between people who may never have crossed paths.
What is your favorite quote?
"Listen–are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?" -Mary Oliver
What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2020?
My word for 2020 is: simplicity. I don't want to run around anymore. I want to be able to move each day with purpose and passion for what I'm doing. If I have dozens of to-dos everyday, how many of those do I actually need to do? How many do I want to do? It's hard to slow down, but I need to, so that will be my 2020.
Heather is a yoga instructor and Computer Science teacher based in Baltimore, Maryland. You can attend her classes with our farm partner, Star Bright Farm, during the warmer months! Heather also works for Code in the Schools, an organization that empowers Baltimore City Youth to thrive in the 21st Century through Computer Science education.