Listening to your body

Our bodies contain a mountain of wisdom inside. If we listen closely enough it will tell us what to eat and when to eat. It will tell us when we need to drink. For women our menstrual cycles will tell us when it is time to rest and tell us when we are fertile.

Over time we have stopped listening to our bodies, we use apps to tell us what is good for us and what is bad, we have apps that predict our monthly cycles and technology that tells us when the best time is to try for a baby. It’s all useful stuff and can help us in all sorts of ways but it shouldn’t be at the expense of listening to ourselves, our own wisdom. If we listen closely enough we know the answers, we know what is good for us and we know what is bad for us. The issue is to trust ourselves, honour ourselves and have the belief in ourselves.

Over the past 10 years I have been submerged in personal and spiritual growth. Through yoga I have learned to connect with my breath, body and mind and I actually listen. Through listening I’ve changed my yoga practice over the past 7 months. Before that my yoga practice was more energetic, perhaps four or five rounds of sun salutation at a pace, sometimes practice would be full of challenging postures but not now as I listened to my body and took action. My body needs a more gentle and nurturing routine especially after long shifts. Listening to your body is about honouring you’re self as much as it is about preventing injury. So next time you come to class set your intention to listen to and honour your own body.

“I am listening to and honouring my body”

Aspects of a Yoga Class

The prospect of a 90 minute class can be quite daunting one but more so a very enjoyable one. It offers the time and the opportunity to explore yoga, delve a little deeper within ourselves and most importantly relax. Classes are always supportive, friendly and provide a community feel, it’s lovely to see people come together to learn and grow through their yoga practice. The purpose of yoga is to do yoga, to combine mind, body and breath, and as our energy is stimulated and flows through our bodies the transformational aspect of yoga happens on its own. We just need to turn up and practice the 8 part sequence.

Have you ever noticed the body following a long working day at the office, perhaps you have been sat at your desk all day, or you have been on your feet for hours, some of you may have been driving for a long period of time in the car or perhaps just moving from one meeting to another with very little movement in between? If we take a moment to notice we can feel a series of aches and pains running through our bodies, tightness in our joints, stiffness in the neck and heavy tired eyes from hours of concentration. We can alleviate these symptoms by engaging in yoga practice but for it to be effective we need to combine the mind, body and breath with movement.

Any Yoga class should consist of an 8 part sequence, creating a sense of balance. For the majority of yoga classes you will usually start in Savasana also known as Corpse posture. As we settle and relax you may still be aware of the aches and pains that have been accumulating throughout the day but in yoga practice the smallest of movements can make a difference to how we feel. As we close our eyes and begin to move inwards (part 1) we immediately remove ourselves from our working day and we begin to prepare for the here and now, our yoga practice. As we begin to focus on our inward and outward breathing our bodies begin to respond and start to relax, we will start to feel the tension in our bodies that we have been holding in our bodies disappear and we begin to forget that the tension ever existed.

As we venture from relaxation into conscious yogic breathing (part 2) we become energized preparing for our intention setting through solar salutation (part 3). When we begin to move our bodies no muscles or pair of muscles or joint works in isolation, they work together. It is usually tension that causes restricted movement but by focusing inwards on our bodies and continuation of our conscious yogic breathing the tension releases and we can move more easily. With asana practice (part 4) we delve deeper into our yoga practice through exploration of postures (part 5) it provides further opportunity to observe the body, what tension is left can be released by focusing the breath on these areas. Asana practice impacts on the health and wellbeing of the spinal cord, allowing our energy to flow more easily.

As we return to stillness (part 6) our bodies are free from tension a result of the combined movement and yogic breathing. We are present, removed from the past that was just a few hours ago. We will recognise/know that a change has occurred, and have created an absolute balance of wellbeing on the physical, mental, emotional on spiritual levels (part 7). Following our yoga blessings we will leave our yoga session behind with a sense of peace, harmony and wellbeing just as we were meant to be (part 8).

Om Nema Sivaya


The Benefits of Yoga in Pregnancy

Just after I qualified as a yoga teacher and was preparing to set up my first ever yoga class, I was approached by a few pregnant ladies who asked me if they could attend my yoga classes. My yoga teacher training only covered pregnancy yoga very briefly and I honestly did not know enough about it to confidently teach it. I told them I would come back to them and booked myself onto a training afternoon so I could learn the basics and hopefully make a decision that was right for me as a yoga teacher and also the expectant ladies who wanted to attend a yoga class.

Through the training I learnt that there was so much more to consider in pregnancy yoga than just changing someone’s position, for example there are the symptoms of pregnancy, pelvic girdle pain, the risk of over extending due to the hormone relaxin, preparing for birth, letting go of fear, anxiety and also support systems. The decision was clear for me, if I was going to teach ladies who were pregnant it needed to be in a dedicated class. The last thing I wanted was to turn people away from class but it was important to me as the teacher that all yoga students who attended my class felt protected and supported and that they felt safe when they came to class. In order to do that for those who were pregnant I needed to know more and I booked myself onto the full Pregnancy Yoga Teacher Training course.

Yoga is a holistic practice, connecting the mind, body and breath. Yoga works on all the humanistic levels, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This is in fact the case for all types of yoga. As someone who practices and teaches yoga I have always found yoga very nurturing and helps you to reconnect with nature in the most subtlest of ways and from what I have learnt yoga in pregnancy is no different.

There is evidence available to demonstrate that yoga during pregnancy reduces pain experienced throughout pregnancy and can also reduce stress and anxiety, (Beddoe et al, 2009).

However, the positives of taking part in a yoga class during pregnancy go beyond the evidence and not only does this benefit mum but also her baby too. Techniques and movements learned during a class can assist a woman during labour, as well as supporting her and her baby postnatally as well.

With the natural skeletal changes that occur during pregnancy, a yoga practice can keep the body active, healthy and balanced. Movement with breath work together calms the mind and brings balance to the nervous system and reduces muscular tension, promoting deeper relaxation that crosses the placenta and benefits the baby.

Breathing techniques learned in class can bring a sense of calm and creates a sense of space in mind and in body too. Breathing techniques can support with reducing insomnia but also energise in times of fatigue. Practicing yoga in its ever so gentle nature provides us with confidence and empowerment and can really help a woman to prepare giving birth to her baby.

Practicing yoga at anytime increases body awareness but for a pregnant woman it is an opportunity to reconnect with her own body but her baby as well providing early bonding opportunities. Attending a yoga class also brings other expectant mums together creating a sense of community and support for each.

All my love



Beddoe, AE, Chin-Po, PY, Powell Kennedy, H, Weiss, SJ, Lee, KA. (2009). The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Yoga During Pregnancy on Maternal Psychological and Physical Distress. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing. Volume 38, Issue 3, May-June 2009, Pages 310-319.

Savasana: a foundation for our Yoga Practice

I need yoga in my life, it’s a fundamental necessity for my wellbeing. It serves me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I know you have heard me say this many times before but it’s true, yoga supports me to be a human being on all levels, my holistic whole self, all that I am, all that I am to be.

Through blog writings and poetry I often write about fears and some of the unhelpful thoughts I have that do not support me in any shape or form whatsoever. I like to see the bright side of things look for the positivity, when I am in a dark place I always look for the lessons, but sometimes my mind just takes a hold of me and runs away with itself dragging me a long in the process. My mind works fast and I can read something and see about 3 or 4 different sides to the story in an instant. At times it’s a real blessing in disguise when I have been working on an investigation, some kind of analysis but when it really gets a grip of me it can be quite troublesome and exhausting. It’s the time when I am most likely to experience anxiety or a panic attack. Over the years it has taken a lot of work and practice to settle my mind

There have been a few things that have helped me to settle the mind over the years for example engaging in any kind of creative pursuit such as writing, jewellery making, gardening but highest on my list is Yoga. Yoga is my saving grace, the moment I slip into Savasana my mind settles and I return to a natural state of wellbeing, calm relaxed and at peace. After 12 years of practice Savasana, is like slipping into a mould, the space that tells me it’s time to relax, it’s time to switch off and my mind responds. It is not often that is does not respond.

When my mind is relaxed and at peace I can obtain the clarity and peace that I need to move forwards instead of the chaotic noise of fear and negativity that confuses me so much. Over the years I have learnt to accept that this is part of me, it’s the part of me that needs to be loved. Through Yoga practice I have learnt the tools to help my mind feel better, soothe and nurture it

Savasana is said to be one of the hardest postures to master. We are not used to relaxing in this way. In today’s society where we rarely switch off and even when we are at home watching TV or listening to a podcast we are not really relaxing in its truest sense because we still have input coming in from an external source. Savasana cools the mind and body down and as we scan from the tips of the toes to the top of the head it’s a real opportunity to observe our own awareness of our bodies, our own sense of being and note how we are feeling, where is the tension? Where is the fatigue? In Savasana we learn and allow ourselves to experience a deeper relaxation, we train our minds not to judge, not to be distracted. It really is the foundation of our practice and from here we can heal ourselves with breath, movement and intention setting.

All my love


Stress, Anxiety and I

In 2005 I was experiencing panic attacks on a daily basis, sometimes 3 or 4 times on a particular bad day. When I look back and reflect on that time what alarms me the most is that I used to just carry on my day as normal. So for example, I would get up have a panic attack in the shower, I would be on my way to work and I would have another. I would have to pull over or park up somewhere until it passed. Perhaps I would have another mid morning or afternoon and then maybe one in the car on the way home. I was exhausted by the time I would get home. Yet each day I would just get myself up and go to work and relive the same day over and over again. At the time I was not particularly happy at home and in life, I just felt so unsettled all the time. I felt like I was existing but not living, I felt completely disconnected. I wasn’t particularly happy in my work either. I felt stagnant but I didn’t know the answers no body seemed to know either. I would take action to move forwards but nothing seemed to want to move forwards. I had counselling, I had CBT but nothing seemed to shift at the time.

Eventually I went to see a psychotherapist and during one session she asked me if I had thought about travelling-I said no, I can’t do that surely, I have a home, a pet, a job but in all honesty I knew I could and deep down I knew I wanted to. I needed space, I needed life and I needed inspiration. Once I decided that this was what I was going to do things seemed to fall into place pretty quickly, my house and car were sold within the space of a week. That confirmed it, I was meant to go. My panic attacks subsided, they didn’t go completely but a lot less than usual, but in September 2006 when I left the house they completely disappeared. I moved back home with my parents with my little cat Millie until I started to travel in January 2007. I spent time in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, South America and Miami. It had made me realise how narrow focused I was about myself and my own life, what I could be and what was possible. I needed more outdoor time in my life and creativity. I needed work that inspired me and kept my agile, fast thinking brain in check otherwise it would just spiral out of control into negative thinking.

On returning to work later on in 2007 I started my Diploma in Tropical Nursing in London at the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine there which was just an amazing course. I also returned to work and things were fine for a while until I picked up my MSc in Public Health Dissertation. The panic attacks returned with a vengeance. I was so upset and disappointed. It was at that time I started to go to yoga, I had to do something. The last thing I wanted was to relive those pre travelling years. My first session was horrible, I was in a state of panic the whole way through but eventually by the end it passed. That session is imprinted in my mind because although I struggled the whole way through I had a light bulb moment that if i just focused on my breath and practice yoga I can get past the anxiety and panic.

In 2009 we sadly lost 3 family members, I realised at the end of that year life was too short to sit at a table and write dissertations, I stopped doing it and started to embrace my creative side. Any remnants of anxiety I had just seemed to disappear completely. I started to get out into nature more. The penny finally dropped why did it take me so long?

When you are in a heightened states of stress and anxiety you cannot always see and end point, you think it’s going to be with you for the rest of your life. What I have learned is that stress and anxiety appear when I am not honouring myself, when I am not engaging in the things I love, I have to get myself outside, I have to be creative, I have to grow things from seed, I have to cook from scratch, I have to write, I have to exercise and practice yoga and I have to have a job that has lots of different elements to it rather than one focus. It’s all part of loving myself and being who I am. You don’t have to do anything drastic like sell your house or go travelling sometimes it’s just a small change that can make a difference.

I cannot remember last time I had a panic attack, although I did have a period of burnout in 2014. I promised myself I would never let myself be like that again and I’ve so far kept to my word. Sure I have had times of incredible stress since then but you know I am so much better at coping with it. I have my stress toolkit that contains all of the above. For me it’s about loving myself enough to honour all that I am and loving the beautiful life, talent and skill I have been given.

All my love


Turning up to Yoga

When we turn up to a yoga class we are opening ourselves up to bringing a sense of peace, balance and well-being to our lives. In What happens in Class I wrote about the 8 parts that make up a 90 minute yoga session. In each session we move into ourselves, become energised through the breath, we set our intentions, involve ourselves in action through asana, we explore and experience stillness through relaxation, then knowing that something has changed for us, we note a difference to how we were feeling before we began to practice our yoga. Finally, whatever we have learned on the mat we take with us to our worlds that we live in. If we miss out one of the parts in the sequence we are not truly practicing yoga and although we may feel good we may become unbalanced in our practice.

When we practice yoga we bring into union the mind, body and breath. When we bring these elements together we settle the mind. In the settled state the limitations, criticisms and unhelpful self beliefs start to break away and we can truly see who we are and what we are capable of. The problem is that we need to turn up, we need to show up for ourselves. On my own reflections I have been guilty of not turning up to practice, I make excuses, I am tired, I have so much to do, I have had a bad day at work and I haven’t gone. Sometimes disappointment in myself sets in for not going, sometimes it feels okay to miss a class but what I can tell you is that the times when I have worked through my own objections to yoga practice and turned up regardless I have learnt something valuable, I have learnt how flexible I am, I mastered chaturanga even though I thought I couldn’t do and I have also left class in a state of happiness.

When anyone engages on their own yoga path there will be obstacles and most of the time those obstacles will be a result of our own doing and our own mindset but through continued practice we learn to navigate our way around them. We just need to turn up and sit on the mat.

All my love


Discovering yourself through Yoga

“I was standing in my yoga class by myself, my body covered in white and pink scales. As I moved through the yoga sequence, my body in flow and with focus on my breath the scales started to fall and disappear into the ground. I could see parts of myself again. As I paused in Tadasana I felt the courage to remove the remaining pink and white scales from my face. I could see the whole of me and I finally revealed my true self.”

When I think of this dream or I tell others about it, the the little hairs on my arms and neck stand on end and I get the goosebumps. Throughout the years I have often had dreams like this that have been so clear with strange elements of symbolism that they have had me reaching for the dream dictionary. In short this dream was about myself being buried and hidden behind what I thought was right for me instead of embracing who I was and being more me in the world.

When I was small I used to spend time with my grandparents and I would make things, create stories and act them out. My Grandma was part of a writing group and she wrote poetry and short stories and I used to do so too. I remember really enjoying this time and being really happy but somehow it became lost, hidden and buried under exams, degrees, post graduate study, home improvements and the general expectation of a career, society and myself about what I ought to be doing. I felt unhappy like there was something missing.

Once yoga helped me past the anxiety and panic attack stage of my life and I started to explore deeper I began to listen to myself more. Through all the noise of day to day living I could finally hear myself speak. My body, heart, mind and soul was telling me to write again and I started to journal.

As I recall 2009 started out as such a promising time, I was 34, I obtained a new job, found a new home following some time out travelling and I thought I was all set. Sadly the remainder of the year was fraught with sadness as we lost three beautiful family members including my Grandma who encouraged me to create and write. As we move through life there are those times when we are reminded of the fragility of life and this was one of them. It was the wake up call I needed. I finally left the education system and I wrote the first draft of an idea I had for a book. I have re-wrote it a few times but never done anything else with it. Annoyingly it still sits upstairs just waiting to be used. There are a few reasons why it still sits there, one of them is because I never really understood what it was about until recently and secondly I have felt I needed more space to work on it a little more. I have always said it would have its place in time.

I do believe that Yoga brought me home, over the years it has helped me to understand who I truly am and encouraged me to show the world those parts of me too. My learning through Yoga hasn’t stopped there, it has healed me, encouraged me to surpass obstacles I have faced and challenged my beliefs and old worn out behaviour patterns. It is one of the reasons I teach students in class to focus in and listen to their body. I’m sure you have all seen the Jigar Gor quote, “Yoga is not about touching your toes it’s about what you learn on the way down.” It is certainly true for me.

All my love