My Story

My Story In Numbers

 

800+ plus happy hours spent working with my clients

15 year love affair with Tibetan Buddhism

31 years old

5 years working and travelling the world with the circus

5 months in India studying Buddhism and Meditation

5 years sober and living clean

3 more essays to complete my Counseling and Psychotherapy Qualification

3 Buddhism teacher bow downs – Tenzin Palmo, Jack Kornfield, Pema Chödrön

2 completed yoga trainings with – Kino MacGregor & Laruga Glaser

1 Vipassana 10-day Silent retreat completed

1 Yoga & Mindfulness for Addiction certified training completed

1 Total Yoga Nidra Facilitator Training with Yoga Campus

1st class Honours degree from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

1 Week intensive Rainbow of Desires (Boal) facilitator training done

1 year teaching dance and movement at a refugee camp in Berlin

1 month running the woman’s dance and movement program at a refugee camp in Athens

1 language Well Spoken – English,  2 not so well, yet 😉 – German and Tibetan

0 regrets

***

I try my best to live fully, play, laugh, enjoy myself and be kind.  I have no guru, master or lineage. I have no clear path or rules. I try to take it as it comes, not take things to seriously, not have a breakdown and not hurt anyone – these objectives alone are already pretty mighty. I am learning, it isn’t easy.

I try and give out to the world what I want to receive or would have wished for in my past when I needed support. I do not claim to cure anyone, I am not a healer and I do not think that I am better than anyone. I am coach and not a teacher – I still have a lot to learn.  I love my work and my life and I have no grand commercial aspirations for You Me Body Bliss; I believe in sustainable practice and ethical conduct. I don’t condone the consumerism that surrounds the fitness world. I tell my clients not to buy plastic resistance bands, buy an eco yoga mat if you absolutely must buy a new one, and really, how many pairs of yoga pants does one person need?

People keep seeking out my classes and so I will continue to do what I do as long as people want me to do it. I flit back and forth between feeling confident and self assured and then feeling deeply uncomfortable exposing myself in any way on Instagram and Facebook and even in my classes. I am one of a million or so people who has had some hard knocks, learnt to overcome them, grown into a new being, woken up one day and  felt compelled to help other people do the same. Everything I do is made with love.

The Long Story

 

Distant Past

As a kid I would watch  my Mum doing Hatha Yoga in the living room lying back in the plough and I would try to copy her, interested, but also thinking she was a bit weird . We had a corgi and it was always lying under her, rolling around as she did, on the living room floor, without a yoga mat! Shock shock horror. No blocks, no yoga gear, no Instagram selfies. Just my beautiful Mum and her faithful book Yoga for Beauty and Health  by Eugene Rawls and Eve Diskin. My Mum actually started doing Yoga with her Mama from this book when it hit the USA in the 60’s.

My Mum’s never had a Yoga lesson in her life, but even so has held her personal practice since she was 26; she is now 61. She is my biggest inspiration and teacher. She hasn’t missed more than 5 days practice in over 7 years. Queen.

My 20’s

Some years ago in the midst of my 20’s, when I was still a drinking party animal, I remember coming downstairs seeking coffee for the hangover and observing Mama upside down in her morning 3-minute headstand and thinking, she’s mad. I really did not understand the appeal – somehow the hangover was more normal and desirable. I was used to feeling like shit and was caught in the cycle of work, drink, party, crash, shame, work, drink etc etc… where was the time for healthy living and exercise and why waste precious coke money at the gym…..?!

Anyway, she spent a long, long time, telling me that when I started doing yoga regularly it would change my life. I rolled my eyes, and then I turned 26,  and it began – something finally clicked. I had tried ‘moving’ on and off over the years and experimented with running, pilates and spin classes, but I found exercise painful on many levels and had no motivation and no self-belief or connection with my body I have battled bulimia, body dysmorphia and panic attacks for years. My connection with my body has always been fragile and tenuous. For years I was 100% emotionally blocked from my physical being and treated it terribly.

But finally, I began the arduous journey of quitting alcohol, drugs, binge eating/purging and breaking my poor lifestyle habits and turning things around. And would you believe, lo and behold, the things that had been hanging in the air and suggested to me my whole life., namely exercise, movement, meditation, hypnosis and yoga became my best friend.

Movement became my replacement for the pub (along with learning how to sew, paint, play guitar and other things). I started going to Power Yoga classes with Ray at a gym in Cardiff – I spent a lot of time in child’s pose at the back trying not to cry, hoping it would be over soon. I tried spin classes a few more times and nearly lost my legs. I was also newly addicted to hypnosis audios, sometimes listening to up to 5 a day. It was the only thing that could calm my system and stop my chronic anxiety and panic attacks.

The thing that really clicked with me was when I bought Kino MacGregor’s beginner Yoga videos and religiously did them at home – secretly – mimicking her and learning the sun salutations and standing postures of the Ashtanga Yoga series by heart and getting them deep into my body. I took these DVD’s everywhere. On holiday, where I would persuade other people to do them with me (normally just my friends young daughter was interested) and they came on tour with me during my circus job where I would do them in my cramped little bunk wagon. (I never went beyond the first standing postures because I didn’t even realise there was more to do. It just felt good so I kept on doing it.

I also became Lesley Fightmaster’s biggest fan pushing myself through her 90 day fix YouTube series where I initially spent, again, a lot of time trying not to cry and resting in child’s pose, but also eventually feeling stronger, more secure in my body, more certain of my balance and far more focused. It was working. I must also admit that I became a Jilian Michaels fitness addict as well – I had 5 of her DVDs and learnt the routines by heart, loving that they were only 20 mins and I would be sweating and panting at the end. But only ever in the privacy of my room 🙂 I didn’t like group exercise at this point, still somewhat unsure and scared of it all. Fitness DVD and hypnosis audios were my new fix 🙂

Circus times

Slowly slowly though, it became difficult to hide my movement bug at work and I started running little yoga sessions for some of the other beautiful creatures of Nofit State’s show Bianco out in the grass in the morning before the day would begin. Then, on days-off we would do dancehall booty burning fitness in the tent – much to some of the other sleeping company member’s dismay. This became my biggest source of satisfaction. I loved the company and the show we were touring, but I didn’t love my job.

I was so excited to go to sleep so I could wake up and move and couldn’t wait for the day-off so that my bestie Blaze and I could do our fitness dancehall sessions – we had dreams of making tassle-laden outfits and just jiggling around for the rest of our lives (dreams slowly coming true). I also started going along to the peer-to-peer training sessions in which the magnificent Guillaime Blais would run 2-hour long splits stretch classes – I went religiously – and then I could do the splits, I was overwhelmed with excitement, baffled at how my body was changing and feeling confident with my practice! Finally!

I wanted to move move move all the time and really resented the time I had to sit in the converted prison truck doing the accounts sat in a chair. CHAIRS ARE EVIL. Any chance to escape the office and be in the tent stretching, rolling, splitting or cycling off to the lake with our stage manager to have a cheeky swim before show time or a quick yoga session on the pontoon with Jess the incredible swinging lady, was taken – movement was where my heart was.

 

Quitting my job

I was sober, feeling lighter, happier, healthier and stronger and building amazing habits that made me feel incredible. This, along with my return to buddhism (which I’d studied at university and as a teenager) was turning my life around – just like Mama said it would.

So, I ran away from the circus – the hardest breakup of my life. I went to India and spent 5 months (my 4th visit) living in the Tibetan Community in Exile. Here I spent my mornings doing a variety of yoga classes ranging from amazing to absolute shit. I struggled through  a week of led Ashtanga yoga classes somewhat accidentally and with no clue how insanely unprepared I was and in now way capable of doing it  at Vijay Ashtanga Yoga . (This was an incredible and unfortunate experience as it tainted my feelings towards this particular practice for years to come.)

My morning yoga was followed by meditation and Buddhism courses at Tushita Meditation centre,  doing a daily 4 hour  Tibetan Language course at Esukhia immersion school, followed by my English teaching placement at Lha Charitable Trust. A complete lifestyle turnaround. It was a time for solidifying my practice, testing new ways of being and spending time with like minded people. It was incredibly testing and I learnt more than I realised at the time about how transformative space, service, movement, study and meditation can be for the body and mind.

 

Berlin

 

After this, I ended up, by some twist of fate, in Berlin and started training people in fitness and movement whilst also offering my services as a dance and movement workshop facilitator at the Tempelhof refugee camp with Cabuwazi Cirkus’ project Beyond Borders.

 

In 2018 I took a month off to go live with my beautiful friend Emily Wilson who runs the education program at Project Elea in Eleonas refugee camp in Athens. Here I had the honour of leading the woman’s activities in the afternoons – this meant teaching yoga, helping facilitate woman’s self-expression times, woman’s dance circles and leading kids Zumba.

 

Back in Berlin I have become a partner with Urban Sports Club through whom I now run group classes. I completed the life changing yoga training intensive with Kino MacGregor, finally live and in person and Laruga Glaser.  It deepened my personal practice and helped show me what I was capable of.

In 2018 I completed a 4 day professional training with the Minded Institute in London in Yoga and Mindfulness for Addictions which shook my shit up. I did it because of my personal history of working through addiction and so I wanted to see what I could learn to help myself and also those that I work with who have similar issues.  But completely unexpectedly, not knowing it was part of the curriculum, I discovered my home, Yoga Nidra. It was like coming back to my nest after a long journey. It was just what I had been doing as a teenager alone in my room in Wales. Thinking I was practicing for astral traveling. It made sense to me, it was completely familiar and I left the course smitten. I could see the links with Tibetan dream yoga, hypnosis, lucid dreaming techniques, astral traveling and felt how deeply powerful it was.  Obsessed would be one word, I will not use addicted 😉 I bought all the books I could find and practice daily and immediately sought out other trainings I could do to get more of this new elixir of chilll and peace I had found.

In 2018 I attended a Yoga Nidra immersive weekend through the Yoga Campus in London taught by the incredible Uma Dinsmore Tuli , Nirlipta Tuli and Ben Wolff. In the winter of 2018 I challenged myself to the 10day silent Vipassana retreat and learnt a lot from this experience I will always carry with me.

Now in 2019 I’m very excited to have completed the Total Yoga Nidra Facilitator training and am deeply engrossed in my practice and finally offering Yoga Nidra to the beautiful people of Berlin.

Movement is life. Everything I do is made with love.x