I began teaching hatha yoga in 2016 in Hebden Bridge West Yorkshire. My yoga journey started in 2005 when I was dragged along to my first yoga class by a good friend who claimed it "would do me good because I was stuck". I was ruminating about the death of my partner and a severely frozen shoulder at the time. My friend was right, confined in the misery of my broken heart, I could not move forward. The grief I was holding in my neck and shoulders was causing me pain and affecting every area of my life. I was well and truly stuck — a nurse by background and a health educator with an established career in evidence-based medicine meant I was a bit of a sceptic when it came to complementary therapies, and unsure how yoga could help. What was yoga anyway? Was grief the cause of the pain in my shoulders? And so, one cold evening, and with great trepidation, I clambered reluctantly into my friend's car and drove to Todmorden for my first ever yoga class, little did I know it would change the course of my life.
That class was an ashtanga class, and the teacher was Joey Miles. I was inspired instantly. I continued to practice on a weekly and then twice-weekly basis with Donna Southwell. I found reassurance in the repetitive sequence and fluid nature of the practice, the experience all the better for being shared in sync with fellow yogis. The rigidity in my shoulders receded, I grew stronger, bendier, and my energy levels soared. With time I became more resilient and more capable of dealing with the inevitable problems that anguish brings. I learned to relax and stay alert to the signs of stress before becoming debilitated by them. I used asana practice to ease the physical aches and pains collected through inactivity during the day. Ashtanga, coupled with the support I received from the yoga community, helped to create for me a sense of belonging and well-being that I had not experienced previously.
Five years later, I signed up for the Yogacampus 200 hour teacher training diploma in Hebden Bridge. A well established and renowned course in my hometown was too good an opportunity to pass over. I had no intention of teaching; this was all about enriching my practice. I worried that teaching yoga would conflict with my beliefs and clinical background. The fantastic teachers on the course taught me way more than I expected. Their non-dogmatic instruction included a diversity of deep-rooted yoga traditions plus breath awareness, meditation, and philosophy, blended with western science, anatomy and physiology, movement and common health conditions. With relief, I realised that I could represent yoga alongside all my previous health knowledge, I did not have to choose between east and west. I could pay homage to tradition and value science. Now ten years on from that first yoga class, I am well-aware of the effects that my state of mind has on my body. I am no longer working for the NHS but sharing knowledge and experience, gained from both my worlds with my yoga students, and I love it. To cap it all I recently took over the management of Calderdale Yoga Centre with my much-loved friend and teacher Donna Southwell.