I am a constantly, consciously evolving womxn.
What's easy for you as a womxn?
Whether by nature or nurture I have always believed that I could achieve anything I set my heart on and worked hard for. I never waited for life to simply happen to me, rather I have consciously created the life I wanted to lead. Naturally there have been upsets and obstacles throughout my personal and professional life, but I feel blessed to have discovered yoga in my twenties, a practice that equipped me with the tools to deal with life’s inevitable ups and downs. Now, through my yoga practice, I understand that life is in fact a process of co-creation with a higher consciousness – God, Nature, the Universal Spirit, whatever you like to call it - and I whole-heartedly embrace this concept of perpetual co-creation as I continue to consciously evolve as a human.
What's difficult for you as a womxn?
The greatest setback in my life was being unable to conceive a child of my own. Although I am now in my fifties with two grown-up stepchildren and a couple of fur babies, it still fills me with sadness that I never got to experience the joy of carrying, birthing, and raising a spirit child of my own in this lifetime. Taking on the role of stepmother to two young boys was the hardest thing I ever had to do and the highest education. Now they are grown up I am immensely grateful to have a wonderful network of extended family and friends around the world, but my greatest fear is of being alone in my old age without children of my own for emotional support.
How do you maintain mental fitness/mental health?
My yoga and meditation practice has been my therapy for over 25 years. Like many young women I was initially attracted to the physical benefits of the practice, but I soon discovered its many unexpected side effects – generally feeling calmer, more centred, and less stressed – and yoga in its many forms has remained with me ever since. It has been one of the few constants in my life, it is my spirituality, and the only therapy I have ever needed. I also find water very healing. A warm bath with essential oils in winter, plunging into a cool pool in summer, walking on the beach or taking a dip in the ocean at any time of the year always brings me back to myself.
What brings you joy?
I find joy in the simplest of pleasures; indulging in a book or a magazine in the middle of the day; waking up with the winter sun streaming into my bedroom curled up with my husband and my dog; the ferry ride to Waiheke Island in New Zealand (my favourite place in the world). But the most joy I felt in the past few years was being reunited with my whole family for my brother’s wedding in the UK pre-COVID. It was a very special occasion filled with so much love and made even more poignant by our subsequent forced separation.
How do you nurture your relationship with nature?
I feel I am an integral part of nature. We are all intimately and innately connected to each other and all other life forms. Every breath we take is an exchange of energy with the natural world around us. Every action we take and every purchase decision we make has a ripple effect on our environment and the lives of others. I nurture this relationship by researching and educating myself about the consequences of my actions and decisions, so I can make conscious choices that have a positive impact, or at least do not have a detrimental impact, on the natural world and the wellbeing of others.
Where do you feel a sense of belonging/community?
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to create and expand my own community of like-minded beings over the past 7 years through my business, SoHo Yoga. SoHo stands for ‘Soul Home’ and my mission was to create a space and a community where individuals could come to switch off from the stresses of the outside world and reconnect with their inner selves. Our community has gone from strength to strength - strangers have become friends, students have become teachers, teachers have become like family. Through forced relocations, COVID lockdowns and a lengthy illness I have regularly felt overwhelmed by the support of this amazing community.
Where do you live/work?
I live and work in Brisbane, on Turrbal and Jagera country.
What’s your theory about why womxn are more interested in contemplative practices?
I think that in general womxn are more highly evolved and more instinctively connected to their true nature as spiritual beings. Maybe it is because of the female role as child bearers, the only way a human can transform from a spiritual being to an earthly creature is through a womxn – being the portal between the spiritual and the physical realms. In contrast, I think the male of our species, especially, has regressed spiritually over the centuries, as humanity has become less connected with nature and more focussed on industrial, intellectual, and technological advancement.
What gave you the courage to start your own studio?
I worked in advertising and marketing for 20 years, but by my forties I had lost all passion for the industry, and I realised that my career was no longer compatible with my spiritual path or the lifestyle I wanted to lead. Making the leap from corporate executive to full-time yoga teacher and business owner wasn’t entirely unplanned - I had completed my yoga teacher training, created a vision board, and written a business plan - but the timing was unexpected. After a fourth retrenchment in seven years, I finally listened to the Universe and made the decision to follow my heart. Despite numerous unforeseen challenges and setbacks, I have never looked back.
Describe an influential woman in your life.
Both my parents and my maternal grandparents were married and divorced young, leaving my mother and my grandmother to raise their respective families almost entirely independently. Neither womxn ever remarried or received substantive support, and I think this subconsciously taught me to be fiercely independent and never to rely on a man. My mother always behaved and carried herself with the utmost grace and never demonstrated any bitterness or resentment towards my father, despite her difficult circumstances. She practiced yoga and studied holistic health well before it was fashionable and instilled in me my sense of self-love and self-acceptance.
When we allow ourselves to pause, to contemplate what is, to notice patterns, then like Amanda we may hear the Universe guiding us to follow our heart. Our society with its many distractions is designed to keep us busy, keep us consuming, keep us from advocating for systemic change. Tuti Scott who spearheads the Gender Money Power movement says "To make change in the world, we start where we can — with ourselves, our daily actions, and our choices, including how we spend and invest our money. Directing resources to women, girls, and women-led initiatives is critical to transforming our society." SoHo Yoga has a loyal community of womxn who are quietly doing just that.
Amanda Zdanowicz is owner/director of SoHo Yoga Brisbane. Amanda initially stepped onto the mat in her twenties inspired by the physical benefits of the practice, but soon discovered a sense of peace and grounding that has kept her returning to the mat ever since. Her passion for yoga developed as she experienced different styles and traditions and began to explore the deeper teachings, and for 15 years she became a dedicated practitioner while maintaining a successful corporate career in advertising & marketing.
After completing her first teacher training in 2011, Amanda eventually left the corporate world in 2014 to realise her dream of establishing SoHo Yoga. Amanda’s mission is to awaken her students to their own intuitive wisdom and the underlying nature of the universe. Her classes incorporate contemporary themes that empower students to take their practice off the mat and into their daily lives.