Spirit Sister Series - Naomi Pham
What a joy it is to be back with our spirit Sister feature on Valentines day!
A day that I believe should be less about gifts and flowers for lovers, but rather about celebrating love in a greater sense and a beautiful reminder to think, act and align our consciousness with love.
To be more loving and kind to ourselves as well as our loved ones and all beings.
I see this day as an invitation, to align our vibration with the highest frequency which is love.
So what a beautiful day to celebrate and show some love for another beautiful member of our Spirit People community, our gorgeous Spirit Sister, Naomi Pham from @flowingwithnaomi
Based in Brisbane, Naomi is a beautiful mamma of two, and teaches yoga and meditation alongside her full time job in financial services. Having experienced severe burnout in the past, she is now a passionate advocate for mental health and openly shares her journey of healing, with the intention of helping others facing similar challenges.
Read our Interview with Naomi below where she shares with us how her journey with yoga began, what led her to become a yoga teacher as well as some generous and valuable advice for those of us who may have, or may be walking a similar path.
You could say that I’m 38 years young 😊
I was born in a small, rural village in South Vietnam. At the age of three, my family immigrated to Australia. I grew up in the Brisbane South suburbs of West End and Yeronga.
Where are you currently based?
I’m still based in Brisbane and although I’ve travelled far and wide, there’s no other place I’d rather call home.
What three words best describe you right now and your Intention/Essence/ offerings?
Can you share with us a little about your Journey with Yoga and or Spirituality, whatever that means to you?
I was first introduced to the concept of yoga at the age of 19, but at the time it was purely a physical practice. I had just broken up with my boyfriend and decided to join a gym to “get back in shape”. They had a Les Mills class called Body Balance which (if I remember correctly) was a fusion of Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi movements – that was my go-to every week. Shortly after, I discovered Bikram Yoga and fell in love with hot yoga. What drew me to the mat, was the heightened sense of mental focus and clarity that practising in a heated room offered. I found my flow state and this sparked intrigue to further deepen my knowledge about yoga.
Over time my practice began to plateau with Bikram Yoga – there were only 24 asanas and I become bored. It was at this time, that I discovered Hatha Yoga and the joy of combining this style in a heated room, was like a match made in heaven!
In my mid-twenties, I explored the idea of travelling to India to complete a Yoga teacher training course. But I was working full-time and studying my degree part-time, including summer semesters. I couldn’t find the space for it and eventually my yoga practice was placed on hold, because of these competing priorities.
In 2014, something magical happened – I fell pregnant and this re-ignited my passion for yoga. I had my second child in 2017 and things became different. Juggling two children, home life and full-time work – I started neglecting my self-care and became too proud to ask for help, which lead me to burnout in 2019. Within this darkness, there was a spark of light and it was yoga.
A few months later, in December 2019, with the love and support of my family and friends, I took a big risk and went to Bali by myself to fulfil that very longstanding dream of completing my YTT. It was the biggest act of self-love and the best thing that I have ever done for myself.
Can you Share with us a little about what led you to begin starting your biz/sharing your current offerings?
At the very core, what led me to begin my journey as a yoga teacher was the desire to play my part in creating the change that I hope to see in the world. To know that once all material aspects have disappeared, I can still leave some kind of positive legacy. We have a choice, to be a victim of our past trauma, or use the experience to help not only ourselves, but others.
When I became a yoga teacher, I began to see that all the challenges I faced from early childhood up until now have shaped me into a resilient, independent and sensitive individual. It is my passion, to help others ignite this within themselves.
What have been your biggest triumphs?
My biggest personal triumph in this journey so far was finding my voice. Finding my voice was not only just about vocalising my thoughts. It included removing fear of being judged by others, to speak authentically and confidently about my heart’s desires and to share my learnings and experiences, so that I may help others along the way.
What have been your biggest Fears, obstacles and challenges along the way? And what has really helped you in overcoming them?
OK… trying to condense this list is a challenge in itself!
The first part in overcoming any challenge is to become aware of them in the first place. Although I haven’t found the solutions to overcome all of my problems, yoga and meditation has given me the opportunity for introspection, to simply bring these issues to the surface.
One of the biggest challenges was overcoming the misconception that I was running out of time, that I was too old to start, and that it was too late for me to pursue my passion for yoga.
I worked hard to flip this mentality and I still need to remind myself from time-to-time:
You are not too old. It is never too late. You continue to grow wiser and stronger, putting your best foot forward to help others.
What lessons are you most grateful for in life and in what you do?
Thinking is good. Solving problems is useful. Overthinking problems is not.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an overthinking introvert with a mind that was always switched on. One of the few things that has helped me to stop spinning circles in my own head was a consistent meditation practice. It brought me out of my mind and into my heart space. In doing so, I began to open-up to people in my life on a deeper level. I began to experience the true value of taking care of myself, switching off auto-pilot and being present in my life. I am grateful for everyone who I have crossed paths with and to those who continue to walk with me, along this road to freedom.
I am grateful for the ancient wisdom school of Yoga and the opportunity to teach. This practice has enabled me to relish in being a teacher, forever student, artist and healer.
What advice would you give another facing a similar challenge?
Through my yoga and meditation journey, I unlocked two key aspects which were real catalysts in changing my mindset, the way I viewed myself and others. They relate to:
- Your energy, and
- Your attitude.
I can’t remember the exact origins, but I heard someone describing the three levels/forms of energy, that each and every one of us as spiritual beings can create. Three levels of energetic vibrations/frequencies.
The first and lowest form of energetic vibrations come from the thoughts, generated by our minds.
The middle and medium vibration comes from our spoken words.
The last, most positive and highest energetic frequency comes from our actions.
My interpretation of this is - whatever change you want to create or manifest in your life, the most important aspect in realising this, is to take action, rather than ruminating in your thoughts. We’re not talking leaps and bounds. Taking small, incremental steps will help you to evaluate the risks, establish momentum, overcome fears and anxiety, give you the opportunity to pivot if things don’t work out, while building your confidence along the way.
Know that it is acceptable and strongly encouraged for you to set high standards. Do not lower your standards for anyone, especially yourself.
I have high standards for myself as a yoga teacher, corporate professional, mother, friend, wife – all the roles that I play. Over time, my problems with stress and anxiety escalated, because I viewed my mistakes as failures. Near the end of 2019, I experienced burnout. I remember confiding to a close friend, I felt I had failed in every single role.
What I had to do (and still working on), was change my attitude and my expectations of the outcome, when those high standards were not met – by others and myself. I found more freedom, embodying the attitudes of gratefulness and compassion.
Know that you tried your best, be grateful for the opportunity to learn from mistakes. Shower yourself and others with kindness when things go right and compassion for when they don’t – this gives everyone the space they need to not only grow, but to flourish and thrive.
What are the biggest challenges you face now? either personally or in what you do? or both?
During my YTT, I asked my teacher a really tough question… “How will I know, when I’ve found my ‘true self’?” He gave me a profound answer, but unfortunately, I just can’t remember it!! I’m sure there’s a divine reason for that.
What I do remember from this conversation is his advice on what I might expect to face, throughout my journey of self-discovery.
When we begin our spiritual journey, we start to awaken parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed, because they’ve been hidden/supressed by our societal upbringing. Things also begin to shift in our external world, including our relationships with others – be prepared to face judgement and opposition. It wasn’t going to be “pretty”, but it will be worth it. He was right.
The most challenging part of this journey for me so far, was finding myself vulnerable. Peeling away the layers, has and continues to be very confronting, but each time I learn something valuable about myself.
We all deal with fears and insecurities; how do you combat overwhelm and self-doubt?
It took a lot of compassion and self-love for me to combat overwhelm and self-doubt. The most empowering moments I’ve had, were when I openly shared my fears and insecurities with others. It’s powerful when you embrace your unity with others – to know that we are all connected, and you are not alone. We are spiritual beings having the same human experience.
What do you currently most crave in life and in what you do?
I’ve always had a craving for learning. When I’m passionate about something, I like to dive deep. I have an intrinsic interest in the linkage between neuroscience psychology and yoga. If anyone has any resources about this – I would love it if you could share with me!
What’s next for you, any exciting plans on the horizon that you would like to share?
As much as I’m evolving as a teacher, life and opportunities are also unfolding for me at the same time and at a pace that has been quite (unexpectedly) rapid, but wonderful at the same time!
I have plans to facilitate intimate events, centred around yoga, meditation and mindfulness. My priority is to continue to collaborate with brands (big and small) and like-minded health and wellness professionals, to promote the power of yoga as far and wide as possible.
My goal is to keep learning, remain open, fluid and responsive to opportunities.
Spirit Rituals, can you share with us any practices or routines that you do to keep you feeling inspired, grounded and connected?
Meditate, meditate and meditate. Also, having a balanced yin and yang practice. Ensuring I make time for myself, without any feelings of guilt.
Who have been the most influential or inspirational people/ teachers/ Books or places on your path? and why?
My parents and family, because they taught me the value of hard work. More importantly, they showed me the true meaning of unconditional love.
An all-time favourite book, by one of my favourite authors is The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho. It has a permanent place on my bedside table, even when I’m not re-reading it.
The most influential place and travel experience I’ve had so far, was taking the four-day hike to Machu Picchu. The biggest influence and life lessons about friendship and forgiveness happened during this trip and continued for many years after I returned home.
What does #iamspirit mean to you?
#iamspirit means knowing that taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do to take care of others.
By learning how to nourish your mind and body, you will naturally begin to treat those around you with more compassion, love, and kindness. In doing so, you will create a more positive and lasting impact on the world around you as a whole.
Images captured by Still Wild Love