Pollen Q&A: Mona Godfrey
Ahead of Wanderlust Festival this weekend, we took the opportunity to catch up with a couple of our favourite teachers that will be joining us in Battersea Park, kicking things off with the lovely Mona Godfrey. A friend of Pollen since the beginning, ‘a ray of sunshine’ really is the best way to describe Mona, and we’re in awe of everything she is achieving in her career. We’re talking all things career advice, managing freelance life and food (you didn’t expect us to get through a whole Q&A without mentioning food, did you?). We hope you enjoy this Q&A as much as we did.
It’s amazing to see your career going from strength to strength – super woman! How did you get into yoga, and when did you know this is what you wanted to do?
When I was in my early twenties, I got into a car accident on the freeway. Driving home on a calm and sunny Sunday, my car was sideswiped at 70mph and went straight into concrete wall. Just under a month before the accident happened, immensely desperate for money after having traveled the summer through Europe, I accepted a low paying marketing job at a yoga studio. I thought it was a joke and was going to peace out as soon as I found a better marketing position. But after the accident, I felt absolutely broken. I had just enough in me to show up to work, and it just so happened that my doctor recommended yoga — which was suddenly free and too convenient for any excuse. Along side physical therapy, I began to practice gentle styles every day after or before work to aid in my recovery. Every. Single. Day. So, although I’d done some random gym-yoga before that whole incident, I would say that’s when my yoga journey truly began.
As life will have it, ironically, I continued to work there for almost three years, during which time I also completed my first 200-hour. That accident put me on a very different path than the one I'd previously been on. It was a forest fire. Only many years later was I able to see the blessings that came out of that very difficult situation — mainly it became clear when I decided to become a yoga teacher!
From the outside, working for yourself can seem like the dream. Any there any hard parts/difficulties?
As a yoga and meditation teacher, I am my own marketing team, customer service team, accountant, graphic designer, HR, and the list goes on. If I get sick, get injured, or need to take a break, there is no income. There are no set hours and always more I could be doing or new opportunities to pursue, so it can be difficult to create boundaries between work and rest & restore. I also don’t have a team or co-workers that share my same goal or to problem-shoot with, so it can also feel lonely sometimes.
It’s common to romanticise teaching yoga. I hear often people say how it sounds so nice (they mean easy) to be a yoga teacher, but ask any new yoga teacher about the shock of how exhausting it can be— because if you care, you really give all of yourself and that in and of itself drains a person. Even Lyengar teaches about it in Light on Life: “For Yogis who go out of their way to help those who come to them, fatigue always eats us. It is an occupational hazard of a yoga teacher. So we have to accept the fatigue and reapply ourselves with intense awareness to regenerate the body and to gain back energy.”
What would be the one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to follow a similar path?
Seek out transformational spaces and communities that encourage you to explore everything in your own body, your own heart. Spiritual teachers, even studios, often demand that we limit ourselves to one practice or style —“this is the way to the mountain top!” I am now weary of spaces that claim exclusive rights to my time, money, or energy. I say, go try it all. If something or someone doesn’t resonate, try something else! There is so much out there, so much to learn, from so many people. When a teacher, studio, or community begins to see themselves as having the perfect way, I would be extra alert.
With such a busy work life, Whats the one thing you do every day, just for you?
Yoga and meditation. Hahaha. (SURPRISE!) People often see my busy schedule and comment, “you must not have time to practice yourself” - I do.
If it get so hectic that I don’t practice for 2-3 days (!) it’s a huge red alarm and I adjust my schedule. I really do try to, as they say, practice what I preach.
“I hear often people say how it sounds so nice (they mean easy) to be a yoga teacher, but ASK any new yoga teacher about the shock of how exhausting it can be”
We’re big believers in balance - What’s your go-to meal when you need a bit of a health kick, and what’s your favourite indulgence?
If I’ve been unhealthy, all I need is a fresh apple, ginger, and lemon juice and I am brand new again. It resets my system (It’s all in my head but it works!).
Indulgence: a good fatty croissant, at least 3x a week.
“When a teacher, studio, or community begins to see themselves as having the perfect way, I would be extra alert”
We know you are a Pollen + Grace fan, What’s your favourite product?
The Probiotic Vitality Box. I wish I could eat it everyday.
What will you be doing at Wanderlust this year?
I’ll be teaching Restore & Yin at 1:30pm at the Uncommons. It’s a great way to finish up a day of running and dynamic yoga. I will also be on the main stage with my friend Julie Montagu, supporting her class. Come say hi!