What is your practice style of yoga?
The tradition I follow most closely is Satyananda (Bihar School). Satyananda yoga offers a holistic approach that is very inclusive. It’s perfect for beginners as it builds up from a foundation of core practices and techniques, gradually increasing complexity. Posture work is linked closely to the breath so that asanas are always practiced mindfully and at a steady pace. There is a huge variety of postures, and adaptations that make yoga accessible to pretty much anybody. Breathwork and meditation practices are included from the start. I love the fact that I have been able to vary and develop my practice according to what has been most appropriate at different times through life.
How long have you practised?
I first discovered yoga as a student in the late 80’s when it was still firmly outside the mainstream. It was a revelation to me that I was being encouraged to exercise for the simple joy of moving my body, and that any idea of competition or performance was actively discouraged. It was a revelation too that the emphasis was on listening to my body and being kind to myself, in contrast to the “mind over matter” fitness approach more popular at the time. I was hooked, and have continued to practise more or less ever since, exploring different styles of yoga and then going on to teach.
What do you get from practising?
Like most people, I started yoga classes to get some “exercise”, but have since become more interested in the holistic nature of yoga and its wider effects on physical and mental health. Over the years yoga has led me to a better understanding of the workings of my body and my mind. Yoga has helped me through good times and bad, pregnancy, parenting, family illness and loss. It has provided ways to find insight and balance. As Swami Pragyamurti says “don’t practice yoga to get better at yoga, practice yoga to get better at living!” It’s a work in progress…
What do you teach at the Reach?
I teach a general hatha class on a Monday morning. I include asanas, breath practices, relaxation and meditation techniques. I tend to work with a theme or focus over several weeks so there is always variety to the programme. The posture work tends to be fairly gentle, and I give options for stronger and easier versions. It is suitable for beginners and those with experience.
I also provide occasional cover for pregnancy classes, baby yoga and U3A seniors classes.
Who can benefit from yoga?
My advice to beginners
Do some research to find a style of yoga that might suit you and then try a few different classes. Don’t be put off if the first class you try isn’t right for you. There is a huge variety of styles, levels, teachers and venues and I really believe yoga is for everyone.
Who inspires you yogically?
Firstly, I am hugely grateful to my BWY diploma course tutors, Gillian Gee and Carolyn Clarke. Both amazingly knowledgeable and inspirational teachers. Then to Nicola at the Reach and to Chris and Hannah at the Sheffield Satyananda Yoga School. Whilst teaching yoga is an undeniably fantastic job, making your living from yoga and continuing to follow yogic principles in business and in life is a whole different challenge… Hats off to you. I could write a very long list, but it’s often small observations and insights from students and other teachers that make the greatest impact.