Fee Zard has always been moved to move. She grew up going to gymnastics class, later found her flow in contemporary dance and hip hop, and then developed a passion for yoga, which she now teaches to students from all over the world in Byron Bay, the beautiful Australian coastal town she calls home. Fee even created her own style of yoga called Flowave, born out of her love for yoga and dance. It's all about using breath and movement to create fluid, rolling transitions and isolations that help bring awareness to each part of the body, and yes, it feels as amazing as it sounds. Curious to know more, we talked to Fee about her journey to yoga, Flowave, and herself.
Hi, Fee! Let's start at the beginning. Walk us through your background in gymnastics and dance.
I started out with gymnastics when I was three years old doing kindy gym! They selected me for an elite program—I think I was only four years old then, although they let my mum know that I'd probably be too tall to make it to the Olympics. Crazy, huh! I trained in gymnastics pretty intensely until the age of 13, when I injured my knee and just couldn't compete at the same level anymore. After letting go of gymnastics I found dancing and danced up until the end of high school. I trained mostly in contemporary back then. I decided to stop dancing for a few years while studying at university, but when I returned to it in my early twenties I began teaching, mostly hip hop dance. I really fell in love with it, and it became my life for several years. You can see some of my old hip hop videos way back in my Instagram feed when I was dancing more!
How did you get into yoga?
I found yoga in my mid-twenties. I got free classes at one of the gyms where I taught dance, so originally I started going to stretch and release after teaching. Not long after this my relationship fell apart. I think I was around 26. It was a really hard time, as we danced a lot together and even taught dance together. I found myself leaning into my yoga practice more, so I decided to do my teacher training. Thankfully, the yoga teacher Annie Carpenter was coming to Australia around that time to run a 200-hr training, so I signed myself up. I fell so in love with yoga and Annie's teachings after that training that I decided to follow her back to the states to train with her again! I stayed on for a month and danced my heart out at Millennium and Debbie Reynolds dance studios in L.A. I've been teaching yoga ever since and have never looked back.
Tell us about Flowave! What made you want to create your own style of yoga and how did your dance background play into it?
The creation of Flowave actually came about organically. As I began practicing more yoga and less dance, I found myself incorporating some of my old movement patterns from dancing into my yoga practice. Particularly the spinal undulation and the segmental control of the limbs and body. I found that the fluidity of the waving linked with the breath really moved prana and shifted energy in a different way inside my body, and I wanted to incorporate that feeling into my asana practice. I never intended to create my own style—I just started practicing this way because it's what I felt I needed, and others became curious and wanted to learn it as well.
I believe Flowave is a beautiful way of creating balance and symmetry in the body by awakening new pathways and opening up different energy channels. The continuous shift between engaging and relaxing the muscles, which is needed to isolate the vertebrae of the spine and master segmental control of the limbs, makes it easy to sense where there is either stress or weakness in the body. Through using breath and movement together, Flowave encourages these areas to be repeatedly strengthened and released.
In addition to your yoga teaching credentials you also have a degree in psychology. How does this inform your teaching?
I'm so grateful to have studied psychology. Even though I don't use my degree directly, it informs so many aspects of my teaching and my life. I think it really helped me recognize and understand the patterns in human behavior. You also learn so many ways to help people, like how to speak to them in a way that allows you to connect with them, how to become a better listener and how to stay focused and present for longer. These skills are so important for a yoga teacher!
Tell us about your beautiful new yoga series!
Yoga Series One has been a long time in the making! It's a collection of eight of my best studio classes, filmed with some of my senior students who live in Byron Bay. I have many students who come and practice with me for a couple months, and when they leave Byron Bay they always asking me for online content. I have wanted to make this series for them and for those who have never practiced with me but are keen to for such a long time. I'm so proud of the series—it was truly an amazing project. We filmed it at the beautiful Bende Byron Bay. To be able to film it with some of the girls who have trained so hard with me as well was even more special.
What has been the most difficult part of your yoga journey and how did you overcome it?
The most difficult part of my yoga journey is starting to see myself exactly as I am. The practice makes you face yourself in a very real way. You naturally start to take a deeper look at your pain and suffering instead of just trying to bury it. You face inconsistencies in your character that you would rather not see and begin to hold yourself accountable in a much more conscious way. As your awareness grows through the practice, memories that you may not even realize you had can surface and experiences arise to bring about more understanding, growth and acceptance. Teaching has always been a big part of my healing. It keeps me present and awake in the world, and, most importantly, it allows me to get lost in service to others. Often when we lose ourselves we find ourselves. Teaching has shown me in so many ways how we are all on the same journey, just walking different paths in different places.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I've been surfing since I was a kid! I never post any images of me surfing and honestly don't get out there as much as I'd like to anymore, but originally I was just an ocean girl who lived at the beach every day. Before dance and yoga I had a long love affair with the ocean.