How did I find out about Yoga?
It all began because a friend of mine was trying to rebuild her life. She signed up for Badminton Tuesday, Yoga Wednesday and Fencing Thursday and asked me to be the Wednesday night friend.
By the end of the first week, she had strained a muscle in the Fencing lesson and nearly forty years on, I am still practising Yoga. I’ve lost touch with her but I’d love her to know how much she enriched my life.
What was your first lesson like?
It was alright, the teacher was a very slight petite gentleman with curly blonde hair and very, very blue eyes. His postures seemed terrific to me and I struggled to copy him but simply did my best. Then he started the relaxation and told us he always visualised himself sliding into the centre of a flower and I had visions of him like the Flower Fairies, sitting in the lotus position sliding into the flower and I got the giggles. Oh dear! But he let me back the next week!
What made you teach Yoga?
Teaching is in my blood. But I was really surprised when the yoga teacher asked if he could have a quiet word with me. He told me that he thought I would be a really good yoga teacher and he had put my name forward. And that was it.
Yes, now. When I started in the seventies, you didn’t need a certificate. At the time there was a cell of Iyengar trained teachers in Leicestershire and I had been lucky enough to find one as my first teacher. I’d been going in for lessons once or twice a week for nearly two years as well as going to the yoga lesson in Lutterworth and they thought I was ready to teach.
By the time certification came in I had been teaching for several years and was living in an isolated house in Dyffryn Woods near Neath with a small baby. Travelling backwards and forwards to London to satisfy the criteria for certification wasn’t an option.
I’m very proud of the fact that I was given a glowing testimonial from Kofi Busia who remembered me from the days he came to give classes in Neath . And that several decades on, gave me a Yoga Certificate!
Since then I have also studied as an Exercise Professional and have the Level 4 Back Care certification as well as the Level 3 GP Exercise Referral Instructor certification and a Level 2 Gym Instructor certificate. I had to do the Level 2 course to be allowed on the Level 3 course which I had to do to be allowed on the Level 4 course which was the course I really wanted to study.
I loved doing the Back Care course. It made so much sense of why the yoga postures seemed to help so many of my students who have had problems with their backs.
Is it true you adapt postures?
Certainly is. We are all different shapes and we all carry our lives experiences in our bodies. We are not all bendy toys and in many ways it is healthy if we are not.
J came to my class hardly capable of walking into the room. He had argued with a truck and it is fair to say the truck had come out the winner. J’s targets were to stand in Tadasana for a count of 20 secs. It was major effort for him. Sitting on the floor would have been impossible, so we used tables and helped him that way to practise the sitting postures.
E came to my class with osteoporosis. We had to be very careful as we worked on her posture and her yoga asanas. She really worked on it and gained over an inch of the height she had lost from the osteoporosis, simply be strengthening her muscles and allowing them to hold her body in place rather than rely on her bones to give her structural shape.
R came to my class pregnant. We adapted the postures so she wouldn’t squeeze the baby in utero and helped her work on postures that would make it easier for baby to arrive.
What do you use when you adapt postures?
Ordinary chairs and sturdy tables, martial art belts, blocks, blankets. It all depends on the person.
Should I get my own blocks and belts and blankets?
Please do. I always have some spare belts with me in class and some blocks but it’s much easier if you have your own.
Have you always been a yoga teacher?
Feels like it but for most of my life my yoga teaching was my hobby and my passion. Career wise, I started out as a Design Engineer working on Nuclear Reactors, did research in Plasticity of Metals, worked as a Structural Engineer and then entered the teaching profession, initially teaching Maths and Science and then Tech Drawing and following that Maths and Computing and finally I ended up teaching Computing and becoming the ICT Co-ordinator for a Bi-lingual School in the Swansea Valley.
So there are other qualifications?
Yes, a Physics degree from Imperial College London University and a Masters in Acoustics and Vibration Science also from Imperial. Also an M.Phil on Plasticity of Metals and a Diploma in Computing (distinction)
I’m a Chartered Engineer in Mechanical Engineer.
I’ve always found the logic behind the yoga postures seems to tie in with my understanding of structural engineering and physics.
Are you going to admit to anything else?
The Life Coaching Accreditation (distinction) is helpful, I had intended to seriously build up a Life Coaching Practise when I retired but life took a different turn as it often does but the skills I learnt then are often very helpful when teaching.
How often do you practise Yoga?
When I first started yoga I practised daily and felt as if I was walking on Cloud Nine; it was a wonderful feeling. Then the children arrived and me-time became less and less. I was lucky to practise once or twice a week.
Now I try to practise every day. I’m very aware that as I get older, it takes more effort to stay at the same level of depth to the asanas but actually asanas are not the be all and the end all. It is the search for Spiritual Peace that matters, the linking of one’s being to the Divine Spirit that we need to work towards.