I'm super excited to introduce you to the Merrymaker Sisters, Emma and Carla Papas, who run an online Yoga, Pilates and Meditation Studio (Merrybody).
I invited them on to the show because of their perspective on the body, and how to find peace in your own skin through finding an anchor in self-acceptance, joy, gratitude, and enoughness.
This is a very important fitness topic for anyone who struggles with feeling like you always need to do more, or you're comparing yourself to others, or always looking for something to fix yourself. I hope their message and passion for why they do what they do resonates with you as much as it does with me.
Here are some helpful timestamps:
- The Merrymaker Sisters share their “messy and magic ride of a lifetime” since leaving their 9-5 jobs to “follow their bliss”: 01:03
- Merrybody isn't about before and after transformations, but it's about how moving your body just invites that joy back into your life: 09:33
- The BS of fitness messages like “hey, you're not good enough, if you look like this before, but if you join, you're going to get to this after and then then you're okay, then you're worthy, then you're worthy of all the love in the world.”: 10:45
- Why being obsessed with the external body keeps us small: 12:20
- The practice of self-acceptance: 13:24
- The inner transformations they see every day: 16:19
- Breath, connection, gratitude, and welcoming in joy: 20:23
- When women finally realize that they are absolutely 100 million times enough: 23:23
- Redefining Beauty’s TEDx Talk (Body Positivity or Body Obsession? How to See More and Be More...And how self-objectification, worrying about how we seem to others, and if we can every break free of not-enoughness: 25:49
- Get tools, and always practice using them often: 27:44
- The magic of gratitude: 35:19
- Top myths or misconceptions that people might have about yoga and pilates: 38:52
- The investment in strength and health over beauty leads TO a beautiful, long, able, easeful, aware life: 48:11
- Parting Wisdom: 50:26
I hope you enjoyed our discussion. Please share your thoughts (and share this post) before you leave 🙂
Download the Transcript PDF:
Hello everyone, it's Marianne Kane here and we're back with the Equipped with Strength Podcast. Today we have Emma and Carla of the Merrymaker Sisters, and they're joining us from the Gold Coast in Australia. They run a yoga and pilates community online, it's like a membership and it's called Merrybody - which I love - and what I, what resonated with me so much I had to write it down was that you, you talk about the path to feeling amazing, and also at home in your body. Would you share with us a little bit about how the merrymakers came about, as she said, Your "messy and magic" your messy and magic ride of a lifetime from your nine to five job into the what's now, I'm sure much bigger than you ever imagined it would be. And just how even the name came about, because it definitely emotes joy and merryness, for sure.
Oh, thank you so much for having us, Marianne. It is such an honor to be on your show. Wow. Well, let's begin way back when in 2012, when it kind of all started.
Yeah, so I guess it all really began with being not happy. So we will forever on diets, we were continuously obsessing about losing weight, like our whole minds were consumed with what we had eaten what we needed to do for our workout to kind of like counteract that was counting calories, it was counting workouts, it was counting down the treadmill. And this was our lives. And I mean, how old were we I was like 24, Carla was in her early 20s. And we just kind of had this like realization of like, wow, there's got to be more to life. And at the same time, we discovered this new way of eating the Paleo Diet back then. Carla started sharing it on Instagram, and it kind of just took off. And we realized, hey, there's something to this, let's, let's kind of like, keep going. And it was at that same time, we also discovered a philosopher Joseph Campbell, and he would speak about this thing about bliss, and how important it is to follow your bliss. And we have this other big realization was, oh my god, we found our bliss. So we were kind of in these lives where we were stuck, the negative spin with the food and the diet. And then we found this thing that brought so much joy to our lives. So we're like, let's, let's do this. Let's like make this a thing.
Yeah, at that stage, we were just blogging and sharing our own story, just through writing, as well as on Instagram, as Emma said, and we fell in love with the sharing of our story like that was the bliss part, like the sharing and the building of the community, like we love We couldn't have made, we couldn't imagine that you could kind of build an amazing community, like not in real life, like, Oh, you can do this online, we thought the internet was just for checking the weather and the movie times. So we knew nothing about really the internet, even though we were kind of in that last generation where people were like, Oh, you grew up with it. We weren't really into it. But then when we discovered what we could create, we got really excited about it. And it was at least and at that stage, we were working in government nine to five jobs. So we started we kept blogging, we blogged for about another year and a half while still working full time. And at that point, we just realized, look, we've got to jump in with two feet. We've got to give it out all we heard the word what you focus on grows. And that was just a big lightbulb moment for us. Like Imagine if we could spend all of our time working on merrymakers, like, what would it become? What could it become? So we just thought, you know, the bigger risk is staying in the nine to five job, the bigger risk is getting to our 50s. And looking back and wondering what if, or I wish I would have done that. And so for us, we just jumped right in. And it was a journey of really throwing spaghetti at the wall and trying everything in anything and learning so much new stuff, so many new languages, like not literally languages, but it felt like learning new languages, all of the internet marketing and all of that. And that really is the rest, I guess is history when now like at this point where we've found a whole new bliss through our journey, which is yoga, pilates, and meditation. And we then created Merrybody, which is an online Yoga, pilates, and meditation studio. But the big difference is that it's about acceptance. And I think we'll talk more about that later. Let's go back to the the name Merrymaker. Because when we were starting the blog, we'll have What should I call this thing?
Yeah, we were literally like we were in the government jobs we worked at the same office. And we were on that like instant messenger, you know how like all being departments or big corporations have like, like their own personal chat. Yes. And we would be chatting on that. Like, if they looked at like the chat history, they'd be like, ah, did you guys do any work? Ah don't tell anyone. But we were like, Okay, what does this new way of living and what this work, what does it bring to our lives and we thought joy, you know, like it brings a sense of joy and we literally googled synonyms for joy. And this word merrymaker came up and we're like, oh, that's a cool word. And then it was like my sisters in real life said, marry mega sisters. And you know how many people were like that is a ridiculous name. Like, do not name yourself that you should name yourselves, because we were all about recipes and food back then you should name yourselves healthy recipes, or whatever it was. And you know, like, thankfully we didn't, because like, we still do recipes, we're still passionate about healthy food. But I tell you what, I do not want to be posting recipes anymore, because we got totally, what's that word burnt out by the cooking and the recipes, we lost the joy, and that this name, and this, this thing we created, almost accidental allowed us to pivot and continue to follow the bliss. And you know that who knows what we're going to be doing in 10 years, but that brand will come with us that that joy will come with us. And we'll keep walking towards our bliss. Whatever road that might be.
Yeah, it sounds like quite the journey. And it also, it reminds me a little bit of my own story, getting into things and also even the name my name is not any, you can't really emote anything from my name. My other name not equipped with strength is My Oh My, it was My Oh My TV. And but I'm curious, whenever you were talking about this transition, and when you were blogging and things like that, what was the response from your colleagues and your like, friends that they support? Were they supportive? Or were they kind of like, Don't risk your secure job type of thing?
Yeah, look, we had a bit of both. There were the people who were like, Wow, this is so amazing. Like, what so proud of you like yes, do it, do it all jump in. And then it will also the the people who you could kind of they were a little bit like my like jealous, I'm a little bit like, Oh, I want to do something like that. But I haven't found it like so then it would kind of be a little bit harsh towards us. But we knew that we were just like, we would just stay in our own lane, we wouldn't really let it affect us. And then there were definitely people like what the hell are you doing? Like you have a mortgage, you have an amazing government job. You live in the dream? Like why would you let all of this go for like a maybe. And again, we just wouldn't listen to them. Because we just knew in our hearts, we knew from the beginning, that we were going to make it work. However, we were going to make work. We didn't know how, but we knew we were going to make it work.
Yeah, you know, like you hear or you might read books, spiritual books, especially. And they talk about, you know, this knowing. And this is the one thing in my life for sure that I've had this sense of like, I know, we're meant to be doing this. And I know, you know, on paper, the risk is so big on paper, it looks like it's like Why the hell would you do that. But in our hearts, we just knew it was the right way. And I think that's really amazing feeling. And it's really amazing to connect to it and listen to it. And I think we all get little feelings like this, and we all get signs, but sometimes we ignore them. And it's really important in our, in our minds and hearts to tune into this. And this is why we love you know, yoga and meditation so much as well. Because you know that time to yourself, that connection to yourself, that stillness, that simply being just as you are that allows you to really connect to your heart, connect to your truth, connect to what is right in front of you. But you know, all that other stuff gets in the way you know that other stuff from maybe your friends talking to your partner talking your parents, or the "should be's" all the advertising in your face. We're surrounded by this noise and stuff coming at us left, right and center. And if we don't give ourselves time to just be with ourselves to connect, alone time even, even if it's just five minutes of me time. If we don't give ourselves that we lose sight of what we truly want and desire in our lives. And then you know, the days go by the weeks go by the years go by and next minute you're like holy moly, like I haven't even been living my life because I'm living someone else's vision and someone else's goals. So it doesn't matter if you've been doing that for 60 years. It's like, okay, we realize now, okay, I'm going to give myself this opportunity to connect this opportunity to take a take a step forward for me, instead of somebody else or society or whatever it might be.
Yeah, it sounds like it's such a path to freedom. Of your, your true self. Yeah. Or like it's almost like an unlearning, or Yeah, they have all the "shoulds" and "have to's" choose and even like yeah, like how you used to describe yourselves beforehand. There was just so many things, the boxes to tick that you had to learn details and you'd get get caught up in them and they seem so much more important than what really is important, and that is the present and being still and all of the things that you're just describing. And one of the things you said, I believe it was in on of your podcasts that it isn't. It isn't about Merrybody isn't about before and after transformations, but it's about how moving your body just invites that joy back into your life. Yeah, and I really like that, because I don't know about you. But I've noticed like, a lot of women especially get into fitness and diets and things because they believe they're broken, and they believe dysfunctional, or they have to be fixed by these things. But really, what I'm seeing coming out from, from your podcasts and your your Instagram feed and things is that your movement is an expression of who you are. So you have to be still and peaceful and know who you are first. And I can feed back in like even just the idea of so my you do like yoga and pilates and I'm more like strength and kettlebells, and things like that, and they complement each other really well. And but it is about being present with yourself and those movements.
You know, that's what we truly believe. It's, it's like it's not even a particular movement. It's the intention behind the movement. And it's like how you're doing it. And you're exactly right, Marianne, it's like, you know, if you're present, and you're coming from a sense of hate, like, I'm doing this to feel empowered, and strong and feel amazing, right now, instead of you know, what we see, in most fitness industry as a whole. It's like, you know, to get to a certain point, it's to get to a goal. And usually, for women, especially, what we're marketed to is that before and after image, it's like, hey, you're not good enough, if you look like this before, but if you join, you're going to get to this after and then then you're okay, then you're worthy, then you're worthy of all the love in the world.
And, and then you're and then you're being marketed another before and where the the new before looks like you're after. And now suddenly, you need a six pack. Well now suddenly, you need a peachy booty. And now suddenly, you need a thigh gap. And suddenly you need an hourglass figure. And if you don't have that, then you just simply not good enough...
Or oops, I accidentally had too much fun on my holiday and I put two kilos on or three kilos or whatever it is, doesn't matter what it is. And then you lived your life and you had fun and you had joy and then you come home and you feel crap about yourself again. And or maybe you had a baby and it's like, oh, naughty you you put on weight when you got pregnant? Far out. It's like this world of the obsession with the external body. And this this pressure, this unrealistic ideal body, it's it's impossible to keep up with absolutely impossible. And what it does, it keeps us all small. It keeps our ideas small, it keeps our vision small, it keeps our creativity small. It keeps our focus on this external thing that actually doesn't mean anything. So then what does it stop us from? It stops us from allowing to live a life filled with abundance, magic love, because we're so focused on what we are not. Instead of all the magic that we are, and we don't even need to change anything. We just need to open our eyes and our hearts to the magic that we are. Yeah, it's I mean, the
Yeah, the journey of yoga and meditation and pilates and any movement where the intention is like, I'm doing this to make myself like I want to feel good. I want to feel amazing, I feel strong. I want to feel as empowered, energized, focused, productive, all these things that come from moving our bodies, all these more way more amazing things than transforming your body. Sure you can transform your body. But what about everything else that comes along with it? It's like, that's the real magic. And we we forget about that. Because every day we're seeing images, and we're hearing things and we're watching things where we are made to feel like we need to change the external body in order to be good enough. But the truth is, and the truth inside everyone's heart is we're actually all amazing right here right now. Like, even if we didn't change anything, we're still amazing. And that's the lesson. And the lesson is learned through the practice of acceptance, accepting exactly what is right now. And it's hard. It's not an easy practice because we've been taught not to accept we've been taught to make sure you need to change have goals. You need to lose weight, like what's number one on probably the majority of everyone's New Year's resolutions lose five kilos. I remember that was like on my top of my goals for 10 years. It was the same goal lose five kilos. Even if I lost weight, lose five kilos. Like why is that my one core focus. So through the practice of acceptance, we can learn that Oh, actually. My body is amazing. I'm amazing. And with a mindset like that, wow, you wake up feeling joyful.
You have like so much more capacity for other challenges, then it's this cycle of not enoughness always feel always a failure, because you can all you're always going to fall short. And you're speaking my language is like, you know, we're, we're totally on the same page of the Equipped with Strength name comes from the idea that you come equipped. You don't need to be equipped by anybody else. That's how you come and show up is strength. Perseverance is strength. And the, and the effort should be more valued than the outcome.
So true. And I love that so much.
Yeah, I just it's so it's so powerful to just when you It's when I get into some of the other questions, it's really about the the inner transformation, I guess, that many of your members will probably go through, and the journey that they take from maybe some of the things that they believe before they're coming in, what are some of the I guess I'll just skip right to that question, because it's like a meaty question, because it's important. Where are the people typically when they're coming in? And what is it you find that they are maybe letting go off or embodying more and more of?
Oh, my gosh, we love our members so much. And yeah, we see, we hear these amazing stories each and every day, what the magic of yoga, pilates and meditation can bring to these amazing people's lives. And majority of them are women, like 98% of all members of women, and they come into Merrybody, because there's a few, there's a few reasons why. Number one is, they feel like, you know, they've been feeling not good enough like that, they simply don't deserve to move their bodies, like they don't deserve it, because they're not good enough. They're sick of being told that they're not good enough, they're sick of all of the other kind of things that are being thrown at them that are saying you need to lose weight in order to be accepted, or you need to look like this in order to be accepted. That's why they join as well.
Yeah, I it's a lot of body image stuff. It's a lot of you know, and women who are like, okay, I've gotten to this age, whatever age it might be, and I'm just sick of feeling this about myself, I want to make a change to my health, but I want to do it in a way that is kind is is loving to myself. And that's what we're all about, you know, like, we know the importance of moving like we know the importance of eating well, and looking after ourselves. But we can do it in a way that is fun and joy filled, and we've balanced. So you know, like we talked about how, you know, we're going to go out and we're going to eat a real proper pizza, we're going to go out and eat pasta, we're going to have gelato, but just not every night. And we do it with fun and with joy. And it reduces the stress from you know, the day to day eating, because that's where a lot of people come to, you know, like this sick of feeling stressed about these little decisions, like what do I have for breakfast? What do I have for lunch, like, I can't do that. It's like this, this life where you're in your head. Instead, when you feel more relaxed about it, when you feel more joy about it, decisions are easier. You allow yourself to just be present and enjoy the social occasion instead of feeling stressed and instant guilt about what you just ate, and oh my god, I need a workout tomorrow.
And there's also you know, members who come in who may have stopped exercising because of a period in their life. Whether that is having a baby or an illness, something like that, where they just feel like Oh, they need like to come in and nurture themselves and and really like take it like a little bit slow at the beginning because we've got levels, all types of levels of classes. And then there's the women as well who just don't know how to prioritize themselves, like everyone else is on the top of the list. And they're way, way, way down the bottom, like there is absolutely no me time, never, not even one minute of the day. And they're sick of it. And they want they want to be able to create that, but they have no idea how. And so the kind of transformations that we see is people bringing this amazing practice into their lives, and realizing deep down I'm enough. Oh my gosh, I've never felt like this before I'm enough just as I am. And the practice allows you to be reminded of that. So everyone can have their own kind of practice might be kettlebells like for lots of people it would be definitely strength based training and lots of different movements can bring in this feeling. So whatever it is for you know that you can welcome in this feeling but the practice of yoga and the meditation especially because it's so I guess it goes way back 5000 years ago like ancient practices, really the practice of yoga is the practice of unity of like coming together and realizing like I'm hold that I am enough that I'm already here. And so that really is ingrained in the practice. And as you do yoga, meditation, even if you just show up and you do the practice without even the intention of like welcoming in acceptance, eventually that will happen. It's just it just happens because of the way that we move. And because of the, the way that we we speak through the movements, the way that we talk about the body, and the way that we sit in stillness and allow a moment for pause, that just happens. And I think that's the real amazing thing about this is you don't even need to try to make it happen. It just happens.
And you know, it's that's why there's such a big focus with movement with the breath. And that's in both yoga and pilates. And of course, meditation, you sit and you just breathe, because this allows us to really connect to ourselves, and to be more aware of our body. And you know, when we're more present, and we're more aware, then we can feel more grateful for ourselves and grateful for our bodies. And we talk about this often as well, you know, gratitude is a great tool for like joyful living, but it's a great tool for self acceptance, because then you start to change your focus. And this is what many members, you know, they come in thinking like they need to change, or they coming with a history of like, like looking at their bodies of disgust. And we can relate to that. We had However, many years of self loathing and thoughts of looking in the mirror, grabbing my stomach, grabbing my hip and being like, eww, that's disgusting. Literally, staring at myself thinking yuck. And I mean, that's heartbreaking for me to even reflect back, let alone to think, Wow, we have like, how many of our world population thinking these thoughts, taking up space in their mind taking away from the magic, the creativity of what could be because we're filling it up with these toxic thoughts. And you know, it's not even our fault. It's just like how the world is. This is kind of a brainwashed into us. So we have like a big job on our hands to unbrain wash it. And this is what connecting to the breath and yoga meditation can do. Because you feel oh my gosh, like I can stretch that feels so good.
Yeah, I think another big thing that people feel is they let go of the feeling that exercise is a chore. Hmm, like, for me, exercise used to be a thing I had to take off, like, I just need to tick it off. Like, once I've done it, I'm a good girl, like, I can go live a good job. And if I skipped it, oh, naughty, like very bad. So the real big of one real big change that members feel is like, I don't feel like I have to do it anymore. It's changed to I get to do it. And I'm excited to do it. And how amazing that a movement practice can be like one of the best parts of your day. And for me, that is what it is, like my yoga, my pilates, my meditation. I love those moments. And so many of our members feel that real big, like sense of joy, from their movement practice, like that is the thing that brings them happy moment in their day. And if they know that pressing play can bring that into their lives, like they're going to want to do it. And so that real big, letting go of that tool that to do list is you know, I just have to go for a run or I have to go on the treadmill and run for 20 minutes or whatever it might be. That's gone. And I think that's a really amazing thing. Yeah, but the biggest the biggest transformation is when women finally realize that they are absolutely 100 million times enough. And they were before they joined, they just forgot. And so now they've been reminded, and then their practices that reminder every single day, oh yeah. Like I'm okay, I'm good. I got this.
And even if it is like the five minute meditation instead of the 30 minutes of pilates, like they're are enough, even if they skip the class, like they're enough. It's just like, and it's like bringing it you know, it is a practice, as I said before, like we forget, because we have all those years of other brain wash of the negativity and like the toxic thoughts. So it's a practice of like just coming back to the truth come back to the truth that you're enough, you're enough and using that practice, whatever it might be as your anchor to the truth, because sometimes it's like we can't just think it we have to connect it to an action connected to something, you know, physical which it could be a kettlebell swing, or it could be a booty lift. I could be sitting in namaste, you know, like bowing your head like that's my anchor. We open every class with that. That's my anchor, I'm enough. So it's like all these little things that we welcome into life that makes such a big impact. And that's the magic of acceptance and practicing and making daily rituals
It's almost like you're having the practice, because I've seen your emails, and one of the things that always strikes me is I get the emails, it's like it's never just about the movement. And when you when you remove that it becomes, like there's just the depth is not it's like, your body is one part, but you can't separate your body from all the rest of you. And even though in the West, we're so good at compartmentalizing things, just because you want to compartmentalize your body into a box doesn't mean that it's in a box, so you can't contain it, because it's part of you. And it sounds like that is part of the journey to realizing that the physical part of you is enough. And there's more to you. And I don't know if you've ever seen, there's this TED Talk, or TEDx talk by. It's called redefining beauty. I don't know if you've ever heard of them. They're two sisters are twins, and they're both PhD people, PhD people. They have this wonderful talk. And it you'll this will resonate so much with you. And probably all of your members of your community would love to see this because it just was like, oh, my goodness, like a gold moment where the light bulb finally went off. Why is being such a hard journey and how we think about ourselves and our bodies. It talks about the idea that women, especially women, don't ever really see themselves as themselves or experienced themselves as themselves, but they, but we like are taught to self objectify. And always thinking about how we may appear to other people. What, what am I going to look like? How am I going to sound? How are people going to perceive me? And it's this, almost this life under the spotlight, and constantly knit. That's why we nitpick and we're constantly worrying about how we look. Because we're wondering how we're going to appear to other people not how we are expressing ourselves. And there are some lucky few that are, you know, get to do that. But I think a lot of women are carrying this around. And it's very hard to break free of that. And any little bit that we can do. Even if we don't ever fully overcome - this is one of the questions - like have, do you feel like there's still that imprint, like those little voices that bubble up and like, try to like, they're triggered by things again, and but will ever go away? I don't think it will ever go away.
You know if, and we can like blame so many things, right? I think if we live in the world that we live in, we won't be able to fully ever not be triggered. Because just look at what we have surrounded by. One scroll on Instagram, and I'm down a wormhole, right? I have to be really conscious about who I'm following. And what I'm doing. Why am I on this thing? Why am I looking at these photos. And if you're not conscious, if you're not present, which is really easy to not be present on social media, oh my gosh, it's designed to make you not feel present, right? It's designed to keep you on there and to keep you clicking. So if we are using these kinds of things in our day to day lives, which most of us in the Western world are because it's very much accepted, then I don't think we will never not be able to be triggered. But if we practice, and practice, and practice, and practice, we can be triggered and in an instant, we can come back, it can be a second of just being triggered and like I don't feel good enough. Actually, you're amazing. Like, you know, you could come back that quickly. And maybe it's five minutes, maybe it's an hour maybe it's a day maybe it's you fall off. You know it down into that that mind story narrative of not feeling good enough for for a week or a month. It's okay, that we fall back. It's just about coming back to the truth. And if you have the practices, if you've got the tools in your back pocket, you know the ones that work. You know the ones I remember what happened I've been doing Oh yeah, haven't been meditating this week. I'm going to sit down and I'm going to meditate. Oh, yeah. I haven't done yoga. This Oh, yeah, I haven't done that. And you've got these tools that can help you come back. But I think if Yeah, I think we would be being unrealistic to say yeah, we can overcome this. Like after however many years it's been ingrained to us that we're not good enough. I think we would be being very unrealistic and we have to be real about it. We have to, we have to know all of our not faults, but we have to know our triggers and know what can bring us down and sometimes we have to fall down in order to be able to practice to come back, right. And I think it's so counter, like intuitive. But whenever I do fall back, I'm like, actually, that was a moment where I was able to practice coming back. And look, I did pretty well. Yeah. So so I'm grateful for that. And you kind of turn it around on its head. Actually, that was a lesson. That was an opportunity to practice. And then you'd let go of it faster as well. It's when we hold on to it. It's when we think, oh, like, I was hating myself for a month. I suck. Like, you know, yeah, negative loophole. Like we're negative. I'm ongoing, ongoing, ongoing, ongoing, like that we feel guilty. Now, we feel angry. Now we feel frustrated. So we've just got to come back a little bit faster, and work out what works for you. Like, it's gonna look different for everyone. Everyone is going to have their own thing. And that's why trying new things and seeing what works for you, is really important. And I'm forever looking for new tools. I don't ever think I've got a full toolbox. I'm I'm open for more things into my life.
Yeah, I a hundred percent agree with everything Carla just said. And, like, that's why we talk about it is a practice. It's an ongoing practice... Exactly, because it's like, the thing is, the other stuff became unconscious, right? It just happened. that triggers the self loathing thoughts, that stuff with your body image, it happened by itself. So this feels like more effort, because you have to consciously be like, Ah, hey, I'm doing that be the be the observer, you have to welcome the self awareness. So it's like in a bit of an effort. Whereas the other stuff is a practice. It just is like, boom, it happens easily. So now it's like looking at Okay, well, I'm gonna change this practice, I'm going to repattern my brain. I'm going to rewire the stuff like in the most unscientific words, and then it's doing it every day, every hour if you have to. And you know, like, that's why affirmations are great for some people, because it's like, you stick it on your mirror. And for some other people, it's like, no, that's horrible. I hate that. So wankery. You know, but like, it's like finding what's right for you. So you might read self care, like self care practices, have bubble baths, tell yourself you love yourself. And you think like, I know, I used to think I'm gonna vomit like yuck. Like, I used to think that now I can look at that and be like, I get that would work for people like, yeah, that's really lovely. But you know, for me, it was like, ya know, I hate that. So it's really tuning in and discovering, like going on, like an actual discovery of what welcome self acceptance for you. And deciding that, hey, I'm worth it, I'm worth this journey of like, doing a little bit of making a little bit of effort to welcome in the sense of self acceptance, and it might be nothing what someone else says. So you have to go on this self discovery and how fun you didn't like even looking at great old art. And like realizing that the female body has been celebrated over the years, and it looks completely different in every decade, right? Every every era, the Renaissance period, the the modern art. Look at the photos of women, and you realize, Oh, my God, like the women's figures and the ideal body has changed forever. And then you realize, wait a minute, like I can hop off this bandwagon and just celebrate what I am. And you know, like every woman is beautiful. It's just that the world at different periods in the in the time in the eras have celebrated Hey, we like this about the woman in this decade. And then you realize it's actually a big joke. And it's actually ridiculous. But it isn't a joke, because it takes us all down until we step off. So it's like it can be this really fun self discovery thing. We can welcome joy to it. It doesn't have to be all like triggering and sad. We can we can work we can say hey, there's a trigger. Wait, what's the truth and like, kind of bring joy. And that's why we're all about bringing joy because as soon as we bring a sense of joy as soon as we laugh at it, laugh at this well, huh? How ridiculous. It's like, haha, I'm okay, here I go. I'm gonna take a step forward with that empowered sensation.
Life is a practice!
What you describe what you're describing there was reminding me of a time, you know, in terms of finding your own way. Way back, like, like, I don't know, like, maybe seven years ago, I was really trying to be into like gratitude and stuff. And I remember trying to find one thing, like, by any standard, I was in the best shape you could ever possibly be like, but I couldn't see it. But all I could see that I liked about myself that day was one of my eyebrows. It wasn't even both. They weren't even symmetrical, but I could find one shaped eyebrow I actually liked another was what I actually just had to hang on to that one thing. Yeah. Doing that opened up it oriented toward that. And that's I started to see more and more things then. And as ridiculous as that sounds like it's so it's but it had to be out one had to find one thing.
Yeah. And it all starts with that one tiny little thing that you find. Yeah, I think we probably found gratitude like that practice around the same time. And I remember at the start, I was like, What is this? What's hashtag grateful, I don't get it. Like, why am I being grateful. And then I felt really weird, like writing down my three things that I'm grateful for today. But then it just became like my natural state of like, wow, I'm grateful for everything. And I think, especially when we can become grateful for our bodies for taking us on this journey. Rather than looking at our bodies as like this, this object, as we was talking about before, oh, like, that's a body like, how's that arm? How's that leg, how's that stomach, like, you know, we've got a magnifying glass, when looking in the mirror, and we're holding it up to all of our faults, rather than looking at our body is just like this object to look at. We begin to be grateful for our bodies, and the way that it takes us on life's journey. Without this body, we wouldn't actually be able to experience life. So that is the real magic of the body is that it allows us to walk on this planet, and go through life and look at the magic and see the ocean and hear the birds and taste that ice cream. Like these are the things that the body is so amazing for, it's not like, Oh, you have a six pack, good job. It's like, you know what, I'm actually going through all of my digestion system for like digesting the food and giving them nutrients, and so on, we can begin to flip the way that we think about our body using gratitude. I think that is a really powerful thing.
Yeah. And I think, you know, just hearing Carla say all that like, and, you know, we can do all that we can experience all those things in our bodies, no matter what they look like. And really, so really the only thing that stops us from experiencing that magic with a sense of joy and presence, like, you know, actually experiencing it being there is our minds. So when we can bring the awareness to the thoughts and be like, hey, those thoughts don't serve me. It's like, you know, like, I could experience eating the ice cream, but I'm thinking at the same time, I need to work out, I'm really fat, I shouldn't be eating this. Am I really enjoying that ice cream? Not at all. So instead, whatever you look like, doesn't matter. When you bring this this acceptance. When you change your thoughts, when you work on your thoughts. You can fully enjoy those things. And life is forever changed. And you might not change at all physically. But your life becomes so much better. Because you've changed the way you think and how you see yourself.
It's like you put on you take off that old set of glasses, I'm going to put a new one on, like I'm going to see life, like in a different light. And that's really like, you know, the Yogi's, I think it was Iyengar said, like, you know, yoga doesn't change like the world, it changes the way you see the world. Because suddenly, the same thing that happened last week, it's happening again, but you're reacting differently, and you're experiencing it differently. Something that used to annoy you, is suddenly just like, just washes off you like oh, you know, what's that saying? the duck's back? Something about duck, and a back!
Um, there's one of the there's, there's a few of them. And I usually always get them, he always get them mixed up. Here's a good one. Because I might actually carry some of these, I might actually believe some of these myself. But what, from your perspective, Like, what are some of the top myths or misconceptions that people might have about yoga and pilates? I know, I know that they, from what I know, like more of a fan of yoga over pilates, but I know that both of them are very, like I said before, like the compatibility and a lot of my members and people in my community also really like the combination of having yoga along with their strength training. So I know that but what is if somebody is kind of like curious, but not sure, what are some of the things that they would might be believing that maybe aren't true?
Yeah, so many things, when you said pilates, well I was like, Well, I think let's Google thing pilates says snobs are like really snobby. And you know what I used to think this too. Or that you have to have like a ballerina body in order to do pilates. And for both of them. Oh, you have to be flexible in order to do either of these. So don't even thinking about coming to class, if you can't touch your toes, that kind of thing. What else? We would have thought these as well.
We thought all of them and, um, I just really felt like I wouldn't fit in, you know, like if you're going to a real life studio. And this is the joy of online memberships and online studios. Because you you get past that really easily. But yeah, I was scared because you know, I didn't have the right leggings. I didn't have the right outfit.
I didn't have a mat.
I would also see what like, Yogi's would look like, and they just looked so peaceful and beautiful all the time. And I was like, that's not me. Like, I don't work out like that. I know.
Like, yeah, you see a slit, so like a handstand or headstand and you just think, how on earth
Ooh, another one is Yoga is not even a workout. like Yoga: you just like roll around on the ground and stretch. How is that? How does that even do anything to your body? That was the big probably the biggest myth that like blew my mind. Because Wow, like yoga probably is the most transforming or forming thing I've ever done with my body. When we are actually talking external things.
It's really hard!
Oh my god, it's so hard. And it's so amazing for your mind and your heart as well. But yeah, that was a big one. And I think, um, pilates was definitely like, I think because Joseph Campbell, like the creator of pilates he, like, you know, you read some of his stuff.
Joseph Campbell, the bloody philosopher. Joseph Pilates. How funny name.
I didn't even notice.
Joseph Pilates, who was the creator of pilates, he called it Contrology before. Like, you read some of his words, and they are quite, you know, elitist. Quite snobby.
Yeah, and we don't agree with a lot of the words.
And then other ones I do agree with, like, you know, he talks about spinal health in that defining your age. Like, I totally agree with that. But a lot of the other words I don't like and, you know, he did bring it to the, to the world of ballet, and that has, like, a whole other set of feel to it, the ballerina world. So, you know, I would just think, yeah, I definitely don't fit in with pilates. And of course, there's, you know, traditionally, it's using a lot of equipment, and it's quite expensive as well. And then they developed the mat pilates. So that was when it was more affordable for everyone, and more like, doable and accessible. And I didn't need to book in with the fancy dancy equipment. So you know, there's all the little things.
And then, I mean, when we first started yoga, well, when we first started yoga and pilates, I would have been, I think, 13, when I went to yoga with Mum, and again, it was, I didn't think it was a workout. And it was like, it was my thing, like, go through my to do list of everything else I had to do like after yoga, I would think I'm like, I'm gonna do this, and I'm gonna, like organize my list as I do the movement. So I think that's also an interesting and silly little thing that people might think, Oh, this is just time to do that. But no, there's so much more to it.
And I think, um, you also might think, too slow, too boring. If you're really used to, like fast paced workouts. But this is the magic because you work on your mind. Because sometimes, you know, the thing we're trying to, like get away from is the thing we really need to lean into, step towards. And for me, that's what yoga was, you know, it was too slow. I was with my thoughts too much. But that's what I needed to do.
In order to, to let go of the mind and let go of the narrative and the story that goes and running around in our minds. Really creating, you know, stillness and presence through a yoga practice and pilates, because it's very much being present in your body, you have to be so present, otherwise, either gonna fall on your face in yoga, or you're just going to be like doing the move without any control or precision, which is really one or two of the most important things in pilates, is control and precision of movement. So you've got to be present, you've got to be within your body. And that is when you can realize what's going on in your mind. If we're not present, the mind runs the show, let it go. Like it's just telling you all the things. You've got a little narrative going on in your everyday life, you walking down the street, and suddenly your mind's telling you all the stories about that person, that person and you and this and get the coffee and this and all these things. So when we become present within your supplies and meditation, then we really hear the mind. And when you hear all of the stories, the mythology with yoga and how they talk about you know, when you sit still like this really is the churning of the mind. This is when all the BS comes out, and it's gonna feel really awful, probably you're going to be like really shocked by some of it and you're going to want to run away, but then you keep doing it and it churns, and then you realize that it's not real. So you let it go, and you keep letting it go. So I think that is really important to remember that's like right at the beginning, and especially with anything new, like it might, it's going to be a little bit hard and things are going to come up and you're going to be maybe a little bit like, Oh, this is uncomfortable. But of course, we will know, when we step outside our comfort zone, this is where the magic happens, right, and you build the list and all the good things. So I think that's just a really important thing to note that probably when you start you might not like it, and then suddenly, you've got to just keep going and do it a little bit more a little bit more. And it's that devotion, that discipline that really brings out the magic, like with any new movement, the first time you go, the next day, you're going to hurt, like if you do like if I was to go and do like a heavy weight session. Tomorrow, I know, my body's gonna hurt.
I've been doing the heavy stuff, and then I'll go and do a yoga class. And like, I can't walk. I'm moving in a totally different way of moving and that I'm not used to. And but it's, it's great, you feel great for doing it. And your point there, but just the discomfort of your own thoughts. That's, you know, that's probably why most of us end up on our phones so much is we can't suffer and hearing our own reality have our own feelings on what's going on.
So all the myths and all of the things that we just talked about, they're not true. They're not real. Like they can't touch your toes, like you can totally do yoga. We didn't we, we went to yoga, we couldn't touch our toes, both of us, we were probably like, over 30 centimeters away from the ground trying to touch our toes. And yeah, we were surrounded by people who could, and that was a little bit like, oh, like, you know, then that comparison comes in and you just go like, let that go. And then eventually, we could touch the ground. And do you know what? Nothing really changed about the person I was, I'm still the same person, I'm just someone now who can touch my toes. So it really doesn't change anything about you as who you are your amazing self, it just means that your body is a little bit more flexible. And flexibility is really important. When especially as we age, you know, as we get older, we want to look after our bodies, we want to make sure we're not just, we're not just letting the body go and, and like let go of all the muscles and things like that. We want to build strength, we want to build flexibility, we want to we want to be flexible and pull up the joints like you know, in yoga, when we do that when we stretch the joints as well, by building bone density, similar to what when you do strength training you This is the same thing, except at the end, you just get to lay there and like be in the stretch, which has so many benefits. So many benefits. And then of course the benefits of the mind, the mind begins to slow down, you begin to see what's real and unreal. And then life just becomes more joyful. And I think, Wow, what an amazing thing to happen. Just through a movement practice.
Yeah, it's, it's true that a lot of people in my, a lot of the women in my membership talked about the a lot of the reason they want is not they don't have like, an aesthetic goal, necessarily, although that might be nice, but they talk about being strong and healthy, just not ending up being like a burden on other people. And like, be self sufficient and independent.
Exactly. We always talk about that, like, you know what, as we age, we don't just want to live long lives. We want to live long, able lives and I want to live a long, able easeful life, like I want to be able to move and feel like it's easy. And I'm strong, and I can still lift that and I can still reach for that. And I can still, if I fall, I still catch myself, you know, before I do fall into the earth, or if I do fall, I can get myself back up. So they're the kind of things I think about too, like, you know, we're both in our 30s were young and we're strong. And I want to keep that up. Like I want to make sure I keep it feeling strong. And not just in my body, but also my mind. And as we move our bodies, we also keep the brain firing. When we do new movements with the body. Were really firing the brain rather than doing the same thing again and again. And again. This is why like dancing is a really amazing thing for the brain. Same with yoga. Same with any new kind of movement pattern that you're doing with the physical body, it affects the brain as well. So, you know, we're in a world where Alzheimer's and dementia is on the rise. But I don't want that. And I've seen my grandparents going through that right now. It's not nice. It's especially not nice for my parents, our parents. So Exactly. We don't want to be a burden on someone else and I want to live a really beautiful, long, able, easeful, aware life.
I know you want to move very efficiently and smoothly, but also what you're saying with the novelty. You need novel input in order to be more resilient, like a robust system. Not just physically but also mentally.
Yeah. Oh, my gosh.
I guess to kind of move to wrap up. I'd love to chat to you all day. It's been wonderful. I guess what are Or maybe there's maybe just one key thing you might if you were to go back to yourself, before you took this journey? And is there something that you would tell yourself or even just when you were just starting out, and maybe it was frustrating that that younger person needed to hear? And maybe it is that you're enough? But at Is there any other messages? Because I know there's probably people listening who maybe love exercise, but maybe they're still in that place of self punishment and that failure cycle?
Sometimes it's hard to like, look back, and like, try and think of that, because probably like me, younger me, if older me came up, I'd be like, shut up. I don't get that, like, What are you talking about? Because I mean, all the lessons that I learned that they kind of started that way, right, I read it once, and I was like, I don't get it. But yeah, I guess something, if I could actually fully understand it would just be to allow your true self, like to be the person that shows up every day. Like, don't think you have to change or bend for others. Like you, be you. Just so cliche, right. But but it's so true. And I think, you know, my younger self would always be very worried if I wasn't accepted by others. Why don't they like me? I should change like, what should I wear in order for them to like me? Or what should I do differently? I shouldn't have said that. Although these thoughts, you know, all of these, this this forever narrative going on, in my mind of all the things I did wrong in the day. I would just tell myself, no, you just keep doing being yourself and keep allowing that person to grow and shine. And if someone doesn't like you, it doesn't it doesn't matter. Yeah, I mean, Glennon Doyle said he says, It's so beautiful. You know, "if someone doesn't like you, it's not a problem, it's just a fact". Again, we have to let go of the idea of everyone liking us. Know what is the most important thing? That I like me that I like me. And if I'm not being my true self, then I'm not really liking me because I'm not really being me.
Yeah, kind of rejecting you. If you're
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I think, I'm gonna go with one that, with a message we did get like and it was very life changing. And it was to look sideways. And you know, like I didn't get it this this the founder of our school that we went to institute of integrative health I was like, what was that called?
And he said look sideways and we literally looked at each other we looked sideways and we were like heh? and then he said you know, no one is above you no one is below you. And I had forever had that idea of like, you know, she's better than me they're better than me. I'm better than them even you know like if we if we be real with ourselves and you know if we think that we need to change to be better than we obviously think there's below as well. So it was a big realization that you know what like we are all one we're all the same
What he said I'm you, you are me, and we are one.
Which is Yogi right? It's all about unity we're all connected we're all the same stop putting people on pedestals stop putting people below you maybe it's stopped put yourself stop putting yourself on a pedestal. I didn't have that problem. I put myself down the bottom but that was a big like whoa, and like yeah, I would go back until my frickin five year old version of myself that because I forever thought I wasn't good enough like I can clearly remember in primary school. I didn't have the Adidas tracksuit. I'm not good enough. Like it starts from a really young age. And you know if we can like provide
Mine was the scooter. I didn't have the cool scooter.
Yeah, not the right brand. If we can, like somehow, like get that when we're so young, like life will become so much more magical with way less stuff BS. Not real issues to deal with, we can just deal with the reality the real issues. And wow, what a magical thing. I think the world would be a better place. If we can get rid of this this narrative that doesn't actually mean anything. Like the I'm not good enoughs, that I don't have the right brand. I don't have enough money. I don't have the right looking body or the right face or the right hair. The right skin color, like all of it. Like, if we didn't have any of that, wow, what would our lives look like? What would the world look like? Probably a whole lot better than what it does today.
It's a good reminder to, you know, one of the reasons why I came across you on the Superfast Business podcast. And it just you your story, and just your your personalities resonated with me. And it was because of you're just so down to earth. And one of the motivators for me getting into the space back in 2010 was, and I couldn't stand other people in the fitness world putting themselves or being on pedestals whether they put themselves there, or because the people thought, because they couldn't do the things that they were doing that they were not good enough. That it was hopeless for them. And so when you say like, Look sideways, and just that reminder that You're no better than or worse than anyone else. That it just, it opens your, not just your mind, but also kind of your heart to everybody, because it's like, everyone's really just feeling the same things.
Yeah. And, and like, it also opens your heart for acceptance of yourself as well, because you stopped putting unrealistic expectations on yourself, because we make up that perfect idea of what we should look like. And if we look sideways, like you know, who do we have to compare ourselves to? We're just all the same. And if we make a mistake, then that's okay. Like, this is why, like, even when, you know, causes if we stumble and fall, like which we do, like we just keep it in, because that's real. And we do that in real life. And other people do that. And it's okay. It's like, it's not about the fall. It's like getting back up, right. So I think that lesson is just so powerful in so many ways. And it will get you out of your own way. That's what I will do.
Well, I, I wanted to show you to my, to my audience, because I know that they appreciate realness, and they appreciate people who are down-to-earth, and kind of, you know, will show the mistakes and will share the lessons over the years. And so I guess, to help to help them find out more about you where can anyone listening to this find you and your program, and also where to follow you on social media.
Thank you so much for having us. It was so much fun. I love this chat. So everything can be found over at the merrymakersisters.com. And you can also follow us on Instagram @themerrymakersisters and Facebook @themerrymakersisters as well. You'll find our podcast and Merrybody online studio over at the website.
Thank you very much. And it was wonderful to talk to you. Hopefully we'll cross paths again and I'll be following and seeing what happens as as things get your bliss takes you another place and beyond. So thank you very much for for being on the show.
About Emma and Carla Papas:
The real-life sisters are Yoga, Pilates and Meditation teachers.
They quit their full time government desk jobs in July 2014 to follow their bliss.
Since then it’s been a messy, magic ride of a life time (and they’re not afraid to share it all with you).
Founders of MerryBody Online Studio which gives you unlimited access to Yoga, Pilates and Meditation classes.
The classes make you strong, flexible and toned. But the real difference? It’s movement driven by acceptance, respect and above all… JOY.
Every month they reach over 200 000 people through their products and platforms, with a mission to live in a world where people finally accept, love and respect their bodies and themselves.
Making the move up to Australia’s sunny Gold Coast from their hometown of Canberra.
The real-life sisters and business partners love good coffee, yoga, pilates, real conversation, ideas that come with a sparkle in the eye, stories filled with truth and looking at the world in wonder.
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