My Story In Numbers
650 plus happy hours spent teaching one on one with my clients
15 year love affair with Tibetan Buddhism and Meditation
30 years old
5 year solid personal yoga practice
5 years working and travelling the world with the circus
5 months in India studying Buddhism and Meditation
4 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 Yoga & Mindfulness for Addiction certified training completed
1 1st class Honours degree from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
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
The Long Story
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 – so I guess it’s a family thing 🙂
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.
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 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.
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, and only now, 4 years later, have I started to develop a ‘real’ Ashtanga practice – I am a beginner, and it is my new love.)
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.
Slowly slowly though, it became difficult to hide my yoga, 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 resting 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 do yoga 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 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 Yoga and meditation can be for the body and mind.
After this, I ended up, by some twist of fate, in Berlin and started training people in fitness and yoga whilst also offering my services as a dance and movement workshop facilitator at the Tempelhof refugee camp with Cabuwazi Cirkus’ project Beyond Borders.
This year 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.
Now I am back in Berlin and have become a partner with Urban Sports Club through whom I now run group classes. I have just completely the life changing yoga training intensive with Kino MacGregor live in person (swoon) and Laruga Glaser (idols).
I am continuing to study Yoga, Buddhism and Psychotherapy : my passions : and to live a life I love and help people do the same.