Yoga & Meditation Teacher, Founder / Big Love Yoga
Melissa Hudson is a glittering example of a strong, healthy body and mind. The passionate Yoga and Meditation teacher spent her schooling years crisscrossing the globe, and after a somewhat rocky start at University, planted her feet in the world of events, before finding her yoga career.
This energetic beauty was a cleverly gifted student, and despite attending a different high school, every three years, Melissa was very much a higher than average achiever at High School. Imagine spending summer camp in Italy or venturing to art excursions in Boston and Chicago – that’s the eclectic life that Melissa grew accustomed to, and inevitably that life fuelled her vivid love of experimentation after school. Despite advice from her peers to head into the career path of law, Melissa bucked the advice and dived head first into the arts – a seemingly fitting choice for a babe like Melissa and her plethora of passions.
In today’s #careerstory we take you on a journey across continents, a journey to the depths of University life and to the fun and frivolity of event management. We talk briefly about Melissa’s time working for BIG name events such as the Commonwealth Games and The Homeless World Cup, and explain how Yoga spiritually gripped Melissa and refused to let go.
Melissa is just as spirited, funny and radiant as she comes across in her pictures, and her chock-a-block yoga classes validate her career choice, time and time again. If you Ommm more then you Ummmm, then today’s #careerstory is for you.
It’s time to breathe, please meet Melissa Hudson.
Hi Melissa, we are so excited that you are here spilling the beans on your #careerstory. Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and how that experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I completed year 12 in Sydney after years of moving around across schools, countries and continents. My dad worked with a global bank so we moved every three years or so. I have spent time living in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, which was hard at the time, but exposed me to great opportunities to travel and study abroad. I had summer school in Italy, art excursions to Chicago and Boston, and rounded my studies completing my HSC at Queenwood, a girl’s school in Balmoral Beach, Sydney. I believe that my childhood experience has truly translated into my professional experience. I got into the event world early on, and had the opportunity to work on really diverse events both here in Australia and overseas. Most of the work has been contract jobs, so my average time in any role or organisation was a year at most. My experience so far has set me up to take risks, make the most of golden opportunities, and get to experience different organisations and meet an array of great people.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I attended high school in Toronto, Canada and Sydney, Australia. Both schools were private girl’s schools. High school was tough for me at times, moving around and constantly starting over but I studied hard, had a great time and applied myself. Getting to spend all day hanging out with your friends is pretty great, but I never had a clear vision about what life would look like after. I loved language, sport and arts and always enjoyed learning but never felt I knew what my calling was.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
I came out of high school with great grades but no idea where to go. I felt unsupported in finding my pathway, and felt like I was being pushed to complete Law because I got the marks. I actually had zero interest undertaking law after high school. I never considered not attending University, that was never not an option for me, so I pretty much sat on the fence and enrolled in an Arts Degree, as I was unsure what to do and I found that an Arts Degree gave me the opportunity to select subjects based on my interests, and not be so pigeonholed into a certain “career” so to say.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I completed a year of arts / philosophy at University of Sydney and came out the other side even more confused, so transferred to COFA (College of Fine Arts, UNSW) and completed three years of Art History. The Art History Degree created a pathway to become a curator, or work in the arts. I loved the small campus and the freedom and being surrounded by creative people but I just always felt like a frustrated artist. I couldn’t paint, or sculpt or design, and I felt like a lot of the jobs out there in the art world weren’t very real, there was not much funding and it just didn’t feel like the place for me. I loved art, but I felt I wasn’t passionate enough to make it my career choice so about halfway though I decided the art world wasn’t for me. During this course we had to reach out to organisations secure a work placement in the industry. This actually turned out to be very beneficial for me as I got to work for an amazing ‘start up event’ (now a hugely successful event) called Sculpture by the Sea. That event kick started my very satisfying and diverse (first) career in events and event management.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
I worked in events for 15 or so years. I had awesome experiences and met amazing people. Some of my highlights include working on Sculpture by the Sea from its inception, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, working in Doha and managing the cast for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Asian Games in 2008, and running a mind-blowing event called The Homeless World Cup (See image above) This event was incredible; we built a street soccer pitch in the middle of Federation Square and hosted teams from all over the world to compete. All participants were homeless, and were involved in street soccer programs across the world to try and improve their lives. It’s now an annual event and one of the things I am most proud of.
Wow, what an amazing start to your career, so tell us, how did you get into the job that you are in now?
Fast forward to the current day and I’m now a yoga teacher. I have always been into health and well-being, and yoga crept into my life between marathons and triathlons and it stuck. I thought about taking teacher training for about four years before I got the balls to do it. I really doubted myself and my capabilities but it was a gut instinct and I got there eventually. I found an inspiring teacher who really opened up for me the power of yoga beyond a physical activity, and into a lifestyle and a way of approaching life. The philosophy of yoga is fascinating and I studied with a Power Living, an amazing school that takes traditional yoga theory and makes it so relevant for our modern world. Once I made the call to study to be a teacher I knew I needed to find a complimentary job while I completed studies and got some experience. I snagged a job with lululemon, which is a global athletic apparel company that makes clothing for yoga, running and other sporting activities. It was here at lululemon that I met other like-minded people including studio owners. It was these studio owners that gave me my very first teaching opportunities. It rolled from there. Authentic relationships have been the key to all my best career moments. My best jobs came from personal connections rather than job interviews.
What is the hardest part of being a yoga teacher?
Like all jobs, yoga teaching has its pros and cons. There are always two sides to the coin. With huge flexibility and freedom comes financial instability (no sick pay, holiday pay and definitely not earning the big bucks). But I can work around my kids, make health and well-being the focus of my world, and most importantly I get to work with happy, like-minded people. The toughest part of my job is probably the balance of pay and child care costs. It’s the furthest thing from your mind when you are leaving school and choosing a career but having kids can have a huge impact on how you view your work and what you value.
Can you recommend some yoga teacher courses for our #girlgang?
If you are interested in becoming a Yoga Teacher then I would suggest twoworld class institutions to hone your craft. The minimum requirement to become a yoga teacher is 200 hours. I loved my course (powerliving.com.au) and the Australian Yoga Academy runs a 350 hour course. (australianyogaacademy.com). These two are the most established in Australia. Keep in mind that lots of international teachers also run courses out of Asia.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you?
I teach yoga at various studios in Victoria, so a typical day may see me teaching one or two classes. Behind the scenes of the class itself is lesson planning, I spend a couple of hours planning my lessons and I am constantly researching, reading and listening to other teachers to stay inspired and up to date with anatomy, meditation techniques, sequencing and philosophy. While you spend a lot of your time with students, there’s plenty of solo work involved. You need to be passionate and self-motivated.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
You know, this is a tough question for me; I never really had a hero or a mentor. I’m a pretty practical person, I’ve always been really inspired by people who fly by the seat of their pants, make up things as they go along, and always seem to land on their feet because they have a real sense of worth. I’ve got a few friends like that and they constantly make me excited about life’s possibilities.
So, what’s next for Big Love Yoga?
So many amazing things are in store for Big Love Yoga in 2017. I am currently in the middle of a re-brand and will be launching with a new strategic focus on parents. I will be creating resources to make meditation more ‘friendly’ for new parents. Those first five years of parenthood can be overwhelming and meditation is such a great way to handle the big emotions and challenges of parenthood. I’m planning short courses, workshops, online meditations etc. It’s going to be a big year.
Melissa, what media, classes, people etc, do you turn to constantly for inspiration?
As a yoga teacher I’m constantly self-educating. There are stacks of resources out there. A few of my favourite go-to’s are:
- Yogaglo.com – online subscription yoga portal. Some of the world’s best teachers right there, anytime.
- Brene Brown – her TED talks and books are the best.
- Thich Nat Hahn – mindfulness made simple in his books
- Attending any class, anywhere – As a teacher, to remain effective and relevant you have to be the eternal student.
- Finally, you need to build yourself a support system. Yoga teaching can be a lonely job sometimes, so I make the effort with another teacher friend to get together, chat about teaching and industry developments so we stay inspired and engaged. It’s always great to get another opinion so you don’t get stuck in your ways.