I went to my first Yoga class over 25 years ago. I had just started university and my mother urged me to go to “calm me down a bit”. It must have worked as my flat mates complained repeatedly about how annoyingly smug and Zen I became after returning from each of my weekly Yoga sessions. Nothing like the stress ball of nerves and self-criticism I was for the rest of the week.
I was easily hooked into Yoga and have pretty much practiced since then. Throughout good times, strong times, pregnant times, bad times and very bad times. Yoga has always been there for me to sustain and support me, like a guide and companion. Yoga has become a mirror for me to reflect what is there, one day at a time. So that I can see into myself and have a better idea what I need, and when and how.
I started my teacher training through a year-long BWY Foundation Course with no intention of teaching, only an interest to learn more and feel better after the death of my husband. This course started me on a direct path into my teacher training Diploma with the Yoga Campus in London, one of the most hightly recognized teacher training colleges in the UK. I started my training in 2009, graduating in 2011. One of the joys of the course was that it was taught by individuals with particular interests and specialisms. The course offered an authentic approach to Yoga, recognising its origin, spirituality, depth, mysticism and expansiveness. We were not required to become clones of anyone, and only encouraged to find our own path, our own truth, authenticity and direction. Since qualifying I have sought out other authentic voices in Yoga, attending workshops and retreats taught by Liz Lark, Judith Lasater, Richard Freeman, Graham Burns, Jean Hall and Alexander Filmer Lorch.
One of my greatest pleasures now, as a qualified teacher, is to help the individuals I teach to also find their true path and direction. A huge reward for me is when I feel I have made a difference to someone’s life and woken something that might have been lying dormant for sometime. Yes, sometimes this can be moving the body in a new way, or strengthening and lengthening, a muscle or two but more often it is a shift in the head and heart. One woman reported that she was able to conquer her fear of flying after learning to breathe well in class, another has positively worked through a course of chemotherapy for breast cancer, more are finding ways to stay calm during the daily chaos that is our everyday western experience. An email I received just today read.. “I feel and have felt better ever since I saw you – which is a lovely thing to be able to say :)”
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So for me, it was important to create a space to teach in that was as individual as we all are. Somewhere inspiring, beautiful and calm. A space that reflects how we can all be when given the right tools to find those qualities, that Swan, within us. Flow is as much my personal haven as a haven for all of those who come here and find a little oasis of peace for themselves. Our building is unique and stunning, welcoming and friendly and we are creating a warm community of people who are not afraid to share their highs and lows together, to practice and to conspire together as a group. (from con- ‘together with’ + spirare ‘breathe’).
Working on a 1-2-1 basis is an ideal way to teach yoga and one I love to explore whenever possible. Working privately with a person gains the best advantage over the time we spend together learning to understand a student’s limitations and expectation, learning to appreciate what a teacher maybe able to offer the student. A teacher once described yoga teaching as a skill in reading bodies. “You need to learn to be able to see what a student really needs in a yoga class, how to see and understand bodies.” I whole-heartedly agree and enjoy looking at and learning from whatever I am presented with in class. After all, often it is the body that knows better than the Big Bad Brain!
Private sessions are not always possible of course and so our group class sizes are limited to a maximum of 12. This makes it possible to keep a close eye on students and to ensure their safety and offer the right kind of encouragement throughout each session. Each class is there for you, regardless of how many people are in the group, and you should be hand held to feel the best you can feel at the end of each and every session you attend. It’s not a competition and it’s not good teaching if you are left feeling inadequate, incapable or exhausted after a class. I like to see each and every class I teach as a mini journey. To have a start, middle and an end, a theme and a focus leaving you with some food for thought in between your Flow fix!
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I also have a wonderful and special advantage of being engaged to an osteopath, Ben Parker. Together, we can work to support people individually, physically, mentally and spiritually with the shared aim of getting people back onto their feet and into their bodies. . Our studio includes a treatment room and we have set up a new package at Flow called ROAD TO RECOVERY where an individual can come to us and take advantage of our individual skills. It stops just being about teaching Yoga postures to people and starts being about teaching people to take an interest in themselves and how they can best walk lightly through their days. This reflects in their happiness, health, relationships and state of mind.
I am so very proud of Flow. It is a dream come true for me personally and for Ben and I together. We have created a bespoke Yoga and Treatment experience and one where we aim to help you to move, feel and live better. Come and see for yourself and learn to go with the Flow!