WILD ONES | Fernanda Barros

Dr Fernanda Barros is a psychologist and awesome yoga teacher, who is based in Melbourne. She specialises in existential therapy, which is a philosophical approach to counselling that investigates the meaning and context of someone's lived experience within the context of their lives. Fernanda is passionate about the embodied experience, soulful yoga, and teaching others about integrating the body, mind and spirit to enable her clients and students to live to their full potential. Fernanda has some amazing workshops and classes coming up, so read on to learn more about this month's WILD ONE, Fernanda Barros!

Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself? 

I was born in Brazil and lived there until I was 13 years old. Then I moved to the Netherlands for 10 years, then London for about 9.5 years and I have been in Melbourne Australia since December 2012. 

You have a Bachelors Degree in psychology and a Doctorate in psychology and psychotherapy. What was it that inspired you to combine in psychology and yoga? What lead you to this realm of work?

Yes, I was always a shy kid and I thought people confused me. Their behaviours and motivations confused me. Maybe this is partly due to being exposed to a multicultural school were I grew up, with people from all over the world. In a way, it's wonderful, you get exposed to so many different cultures, really expands your world-view. I thought I need to 'figure them out', to keep myself safe, so to speak. I got into psychology by accident. There was one international University in Holland and my choices at the time for an English curriculum was Psychology, Business or Journalism. I didn't like deadlines so I chose psychology with a minor in business. Ended up doing a BA in psychology with honours because I was fascinated with hypnotherapy, getting into people's subconscious, I thought that would give me some kind of super power in this interesting world of ours. 

When I moved to London I decided to pursue a Masters in psychology which ended up as a doctorate because the British Psychological Society which I was a member of changed their regulations. In order to become a chartered psychologist you needed to have a doctorate. I wasn't much into the research aspect of it. I am more of a face to face practitioner. 

My own personal journey with yoga was a class at the gym many years ago. My balance was terrible and I didn't go back for three years. I had brain surgery in 2011. I had been working as a counselling psychologist in hospitals at the time whilst finishing my doctorate. I think 6 years of hearing people's severe trauma 5 days a week, 27 client's a week as an empath took its toll on my body. A long story short is that this opened my spiritual re-awakening journey. I moved to Melbourne, saw a yoga studio called somachi, walked in there, first class I fell in love with it and did my yoga teacher training (RYTT 200). Yoga suited my body post surgery more than all the running and kick boxing and weight lifting I had done in the past. My teacher told me that we all carry traumas in our body in different and specific ways. A good teacher can tell you quickly where you are holding trauma in the body by watching your practice. I don't necessarily think trauma is a horrible thing it's just negative points of tension, part of being human. This is where psychology comes in. If the body is the unconscious mind we can shift and transcend the stories without having to repeat them once a day every week for years. The body and the breath is the quickest way to transcend stories. Yoga is the union of the mind and the body whilst psychology tends to stay too much in the head as an energy focus. What I love about yoga and psychology is that it's a constant learning, constant evolving, Constant developing, never ending ceiling. You can always go deeper, further and access different layers of the journey which keeps changing. 

 Image via @fernandabarrosyoga

Image via @fernandabarrosyoga

So, you have a workshop coming up about understanding men. Can you tell us a little more about your offering?

Yes I'm so stoked about this. There's different things out there about dating but i have always been interested in compatibility. What makes a relationship work, what makes some marriages last let's say 50 years and others 5? From a psychological perspective, women and men are biologically, evolutionarily and genetically different. By teasing out and clarifying these differences we can then build bridges which allows for understanding, compassion and I would even dare to say mutuality, harmony and equality. The masculine and feminine are on a spectrum thus it is possible to have women with more masculine traits and men with more feminine traits. The first workshop focused on masculine men. Thousands of years of evolution means our bodies know what to do to survive if there was a catastrophe so how does our genetic and evolutionary differences fit in this day and age? How can we build strong relationships and improve communication between men and women? There's so much to this. I'm co-facilitating the workshop with Benny my partner and he is super straightforward, insightful masterful in telling it exactly as it is from a male perspective. It was wonderful watching him give tips and advice and answer participants questions. Quite hilarious, fun and informative. One of my girlfriends said it changed her life and relationships with men forever

Yoga teaching can be a surprisingly exhausting gig. How do you balance your own yoga practice and teaching full-time without burning out and losing motivation? 

Great question! It is always a balancing act. I make sure I teach a few yin classes as well as vinyasa so I'm not always in my yang energy. I need to meditate and breath a lot. Ideally I would have my own home practice which has been slack at the moment. My ideal scenario is practicing 3 times a week myself. In the winter I always need to pull back rest more, do more yin style practices. For motivation I go to another teachers class to feel inspired. I haven't got a definitive answer to this question it's always been a balancing act, listening to our body, what does the body need, does it need to move, does it need to rest? The nervous system never lies. I also do self-care trips to spa, massages or the hot springs when I'm needing a rest. 

 Image via @fernandabarrosyoga

Image via @fernandabarrosyoga

What does your ideal breakfast look like?

At the moment I have been craving vegan eggs (they do exist) I would say vegan pancakes if I'm not teaching (hard to teach on a full stomach) I love avocados. Something healthy, sexy and vegan or vegetarian full of protein with a chai latte and maybe a super healthy green smoothie.

Where do you find your inspiration for your yoga classes and spiritual practice?

I love this question. The truth is everywhere. I can look at my students and take my class from there. Sometimes looking at people's capacities, what they need and also what my body feels. I can literally sit in class and 'download' a sequence in my head. Otherwise I would have an end in mind like backbends, hips, twists and construct opening postures around a peak posture. My spiritual practice is a necessity to mediate. If I don't meditate the little tiny petty things in life will start affecting my mood. If I meditate and feel grounded then I'm happy-set for the whole day.

What’s next for you in the world of yoga, psychology and wellness?

I see retreats coming up. I'm still channelling so to speak the specifics. But I love workshop and retreats. I want to offer something new where people will dive so deep their lives will be changed forever. Maybe this will be a meditation/ yoga/ psychology retreat, or a relationships retreat. It's coming up soon! The more out there Amazing the better. I'm also building my own home studio in port Melbourne with regular classes every Thursday nights 6:30-7:30pm and workshops monthly on different themes of yoga, psychology and mindfulness/ meditation. For myself I also see more embodied practices, getting the discipline to build up my strength and continue to evolve my own practice so I can teach others to progress theirs. 

 Image Credit Fractal Fashion

Image Credit Fractal Fashion

And lastly, what is your favourite quote or piece of advice that keeps you motivated and inspires you?

My favourite quote is that you are exactly where you are meant to be physically, emotionally and spiritually. I'm not sure who said it first as I have said it so many times. It reminds me to take deep breaths, surrender and trust the journey. Enjoy the ride. We are so much in the doing we forget the Being. Without the being we are just headless chickens. We need more awareness, joy and magic I feel. I also like 'stay humble' because the more we know the more we realise just how little we Know. This is the great cosmic giggle.


Connect with Fernanda on Facebook & Instagram, and head along to one of her yoga offerings, if you know what's good for ya :)