My Yoga Tool Kit

hamstring helpers
Photo by Mimi Kuo-Deemer

Originally appeared as an interview for the Life Centre, London

What, when and where was your first experience of yoga?

18 years old in my university gym. There was much awkward sweating, falling, and Sanskrit confusion involved but I left feeling relaxed and different in a way I couldn’t describe. I came back the next week and the week after and the week after…

What made you decide to move from student to teacher?

You couldn’t shut me up about yoga’s benefits and I eventually realised a studio setting was far more appropriate for my proselytising than a budget meeting. Not to mention the suspicious looks when daily classes extended my lunch hour to unreasonable lengths. So, I took the leap.

What teaching tip has had the biggest influence on the way you practice? And the way you teach?

I was led by Seane Corn through a series of sun salutations each expressing a different state of body or mind. One could be happy and the next could be working out anger. It was a great lesson in understanding that yoga posture practice isn’t one thing; it varies by student by day. As a practitioner I try to use yoga’s movements and shapes to express the good stuff and transform the bad. As a teacher I try to create an environment where students can use their practice in whatever way they need to process and feel all the ups and downs of their lives.

What does your own self-practice involve?

Depending on the day and how I am feeling it can either be a combination of several rounds of rhythmic sun salutation based movement followed by deeper exploration of a few postures or a totally free form rolling around on my mat (often with smooth soul music on in the background). Additionally, I frequently add some supported restorative postures followed by meditation. I try to follow my natural rhythms and impulses rather than anything regimented.

If you only had 10 minutes to practice, what would you do?

If I was that busy I would surely breathe, meditate, or nap – as I probably would need it. If, however, I needed a boost of energy, a few sun salutations and stretching what felt tight would be a good simple mini-practice.

Who/what is the biggest inspiration on your yoga journey at the moment?

Jason Crandell for posture practice. Pema Chodron for meditation and mindfulness. Tina Turner when all else fails.

What role does yoga play in the way you live?

I try to keep my life about life, family, and love rather than how good my handstand is. Yoga, for me, is a toolkit that helps me build and live a better life. What happens on the mat applies to life, and life frequently comes to meet me on the mat. It’s a constant interplay as my practice helps me feel comfortable in my body, deepens my attention span, and pacifies unpleasant emotions and neurotic behaviour.

What do you hope your students to experience when they practice with you?

A challenging yet accessible body practice that gives opportunity to connect to their own unique energetic flow, align and refine their experience of posture, and leave a bit more balanced and connected to a core of strength.

Describe the meaning of yoga in 10 words or less

Daily inquiry into myself and my relationship with the world