Category Archives: All about Yoga

Everything Yoga related: Yoga Asanas, Mudras, Meditation, Yoga Therapy, Breah-work and Yoga Interviews.

Yoga brings me Joy

bow pose with strap
My Yoga story started back at university when a friend pleaded with me to tag along with her to a yoga class. I sighed and said OK, even though at that point of my life I just wanted to loaf on the sofa and eat Nachos. The yoga class itself was pretty standard and had no particular style and I really enjoyed it, but not enough to stick at it.
During the last 6 months of my Fine Art degree, I was building a room installation and creating a video performance to be projected into the room. The video performance was a fusion between a dream I had, research of ancient Hindu temple dancing and my alter-ego. During my studies of ancient dance forms (because I am also a belly dancer and wanted to create Art around ancient dance) I discovered that these particular dance styles like Odissi and Kathak were interconnected with Yoga, there is even a status of Shiva as Nataraja (meaning Lord of the Dance) and this particular statue can be found in Yoga studios; also a very beautiful and popular yoga pose is named after him and is called Natarajasana “Dancer’s Pose”. It was at this point in my life I learned that ancient temple dancing (of which Belly Dance evolved from) also had similarities to Yoga and by chance I met a woman who was in the midst of her Yoga teacher training and needed guinea pigs to teach sequences to for free which I thought would be great training to help my body look like a graceful, moving temple dancer. Through this woman I attended a weekly practice of Ashtanga in her home alongside the beginnings of my studies in Yoga Philosophy, more in-depth knowledge in the Chakras and Mudras (which are also used in classical Indian dance).

Coming to Plymouth to live with my partner (since we had been long distance for a year and a half), I had no money, no friends, no job, nothing but my degree certificate and plentiful ideas of where my life was to go. But my ideas didn’t go according to plan and even though I found work just to have some money to support myself, it wasn’t where I thought I’d end up and I became lost and very lonely. It was then I discovered the yoga loft, my teacher (in the photo) was offering community classes (essentially a donation based, pay what you can or it’s free). Which was a saving grace for me, it helped me get out of the house, socialize in a quiet room and continue to develop my yoga practice, then I’d go home and read a yoga book and spend my afternoon doing some belly dance practice.

That was four years ago. I remember I had a phone conversation with my mum during my time of struggle, it was very hard for me to open up to her but I did it. I remember telling her that it feels like I’m hitting my head against a brick wall whilst at the same time keeping my head above water so I don’t drown in my sadness. The reality that regardless of my skills and knowledge in mental health, psychological trauma, art as therapy and the community arts, nobody wanted me. As an outsider looking in, I realized that Plymouth is a city with small town mindedness, the people here are very cliquey and prefer to hire those they know, why hire a girl from the North “when my friend Jane has a daughter who can be an assistant care worker”, right? I’m not judging that mindset but it did cause a lot of issues for me to even make friends, let alone find work suited to my skill-set, so I’ve been working my butt off in a part time retail job to help fund my yoga classes, continuing professional development and travels for the past few years.

I told my mum “It feels like the universe is putting obstacles in my way to nudge me in a different direction, every door just closes on me as if to say ‘No this is not for you’ and I feel in my heart I want to teach belly dance and yoga, I know it sounds crazy and I know you may think it’s not a practical way of living but it feels right, I’ve tried so hard to be ‘Normal’ and it’s not working.” I was expecting my mum to tell me to grow up and be practical, that the world is a harsh place and to just stay in my retail job so that maybe I’ll be a manager one day. But she didn’t, her exact words were “Kate, I don’t ever want to see you end up like me, don’t waste your life in retail and I think your idea to be a belly dance and yoga teacher is a brilliant idea.” She wasn’t judging retail as a career path, it’s a perfectly decent job but this conversation was showing that my mum was beginning to see who her daughter really is.
I remember gasping for breath whilst at the same time sighing with relief, for the first time my mum fully understood and supported me and from that day on I began to work hard towards who I am becoming today.

I’ve spent almost over 4 years practicing yoga and learning so much about it, I’ve continued my studies in Belly Dance and performed on numerous stages around the UK. I’ve gained knowledge in Anatomy & Physiology, Nutrition, mental health, dance leadership, dance therapeutics, yoga philosophy and much more. Both Yoga and Belly Dance bring me so much joy and looking back, even as a child I always loved moving, I’d copy dance choreography from MTV because my Mum couldn’t afford to put me through dance school or gymnastics.

Yoga became my friend, it was the missing piece in my heart and now sits in the chambers next to belly dance. I’ve also recently had some lovely feedback from some cheery older women telling me my physical practice is beautiful and that I am really good at it. Obviously there is more to yoga than making it look pretty and I am far from being advanced but the compliments made me realize I’m no longer the awkward and stiff beginner and that has given me confidence to keep practicing and one day be a teacher.

Because I am so interested in all things holistic I want to combine the yoga with creative movement, belly dance, Reiki and much more. As a budding Pagan Priestess I want to create beautiful sacred feminine circles as well to encourage a sense of healing and love and as qualified kids yoga teacher, again the whole vibe will be holistic and include therapeutic yet playful art into the mix. I want to facilitate workshops for the homeless, refugees and those suffering with mental health issues so I have big plans and it’s so interesting to look back on where I was (and who I was) then to who I am now. I’m still the same person but I have so much more clarity and a bit more sass in regards to fighting for what I want and I think the combined energy of yoga and belly dance had given me the courage to realize my potential, to know I can manifest anything I want if I work hard for it. To see the physical changes in my body helps me see that if my body can change, then so can my life. Both Yoga and Belly dance keeps me aligned and true to myself which is why I’ve been as stubborn as an Ox when people have attempted to change me and my mind, I will not give up the two things in my life that have been constant and consistent forms of unconditional love I have given to myself. So I’m sticking with my gut feeling, my heart vessel is full to the brim with joy and I’m aiming true.

Yoga & Belly Dance Workshop

belly dance
A good friend of mine, Jodie and I are planning a yoga & belly dance workshop to be co-facilitated in and around Plymouth at community centres, festivals and the Yoga Loft. The aim of this workshop is to be a holistic one with Reiki at it’s core, although on a subtle level. With Jodie very interested in Shamanic work and myself a budding Pagan Priestess we do hope all our ideas evolve and grow in order to teach sacred feminine and goddess circles in the near future. But until then, the first few taster sessions will stay simple and to the point.

Jodie did her Yoga teacher training in India earlier this year, she is also a massage therapist and Reiki Practitioner. I’ve been a practicing belly dancer for 15 years, having taken classes with Rachel Brice (who teaches Vini Yoga in her belly dance classes), Petite Jamilla and Samanatha Emanuel. I’ve also studied under a Lebanese teacher in Cyprus. My fundamentals are in Turkish, tribal dances like Kalbelia and the drum solo, yet my style is tribal fusion which is basically a fusion of all dance forms with traditional belly dance at its core. I have qualifications in Anatomy & Physiology (L3), Chakra Balancing (L3), Nutrition & Health (L2) and I am a Reiki Practitioner also.

Belly Dancing is more like a lineage, there is no “Teacher Training” so to speak but the knowledge is passed on from one woman to another woman in order to teach others, there is an unspoken rule that you shouldn’t begin to teach belly dance until you’ve got a serious practice, are performing on stage and can show a decent skill set, able to create choreography and technique alongside general knowledge and history of folkloric dances. I believe one day someone somewhere will make an accredited Belly Dance teacher training but until then I will continue to develop my skills and knowledge in Dance Therapeutics as well as Yoga and general fitness.

I do intend on attending a yoga teacher training soon for many reasons. Firstly I love yoga but also because it’s a complimenting form of movement that works really well with teaching belly dance. It will also teach me basic skills on teaching sequences, give me a teaching voice plus fundamental knowledge about the body as it moves.

As stated above, in regards to the unspoken rule of teaching belly dance, this is why I have been reluctant to teach it until I felt ready and until I felt I had enough knowledge to share. Some women decide to teach after taking only a few classes, I personally think this is disrespectful of the dance because much like yoga there are so many layers to it other than it’s basic moves like the shimmy or the hip drop. I’ve grown as a person and a dancer and I feel like in order to continue growing as a student of creative movement I need to teach- Kind of like learning on the job. It’s all about taking that leap of faith. With Jodie at my side I feel supported, as does she with me since she is new to teaching Yoga. It feels really good cultivating this new friendship through our mutual love of all things holistic and creative.

These photos were taken by Jon Roberts Photography and will be used for promo material like flyers and banners to promote our workshop. So stay tuned for the date and venue announcement!

yoga & belly dance

yoga with belly dance workshop

tribal belly dance and Hatha yoga

dance and yoga workshop Plymouth

20 Things I want to do before I become a Mum

ustrasana, camel pose, Spring
A friend of mine Cara, who is also a lifestyle blogger recently published a blog post about turning 29 and listed all the things she’d like to try and do before she is 30. This inspired me to do the same, obviously I am no longer 30, I turned 31 last October but I have plenty of things I wish to achieve before I do the whole settle down-get married-have kids milestone. A lot of the things on this list will be travel related but there is no particular order. So this is my three year plan of things I want to do before I become a mum.

1: Get my 4th and 5th tattoos. I am already planning the 4th.
2: Publish a book, I’ve always wanted to do this & I’m working on an illustrated poetry book.
3: Visit Ireland & Scotland because these places are part of my heritage.
4: Learn how to drive a car and a moped.
5: Do my yoga teacher training in Thailand for 2 months in early 2018.
6: Visit Bali (after yoga teacher training).
7: Go skydiving just once, I’ll be petrified but I’ll do it!
8: Start learning how to grow my own herbs.
9: Organize or be a part of a yoga & belly dance community project to help others.
10: Attend Spanish evening classes, I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish.
11: Learn to trust people again, create close friendships.
12: Try doing a spoken word poem performance.
13: I’d love to be published with Kinfolk magazine.
14: Be able to do the splits (childhood dream).
15: Teach internationally (alongside my local classes), perhaps Spain and Portugal?
16: Visit Cambodia & Vietnam (perhaps before yoga teacher training?).
17: Swim with Dolphins (Making sure they are not in captivity).
18: Pluck up the courage to attend a Latin dance classes.
19: Go hot air ballooning somewhere amazing (not the UK).
20: Visit a place of paradise (like the Maldives) as part of my honeymoon.

Wish me luck! That’s a pretty epic list! A lot of these things I know I will achieve within the next year and you’ll notice I didn’t include any European destinations to travel to and that’s because, whilst I may go on mini breaks to maybe be a guest teacher (who knows), I am fully aware that places like Italy, Czech Republic and Spain are easy to visit with kids, so certain destinations will be put on hold until I have kids to go on family holidays in Europe. It’s a lot harder to visit the Far East with children and sometimes less fun when you know have to be responsible for little people. I already have ideas for a potential wedding and honeymoon and knowing me, it will be unconventional, not on purpose but if I ever did get married I really don’t want the fuss of dealing with a huge bunch of people, my wedding day will be simple and very minimal with a bohemian flare. I’d be totally happy getting married on a beach somewhere (for example) with only a small group of loved ones present with flower garlands and dream catchers dotted about.
In regards to number 11, I realized I’ve never truly enjoyed close relationships with others and it’s a massive shock when someone is kind to me. I’ve unfortunately had a rough time growing up in a difficult family life and meeting dishonest people who took advantage of my kindness. This, over the years made me reserved and I question peoples motives. I do have one best friend who I love dearly but I now want to cultivate strong bonds and happy friendships with more people, this has already started, I met two beautiful, sweet young women I consider my younger sisters and my yoga teacher is slowly becoming a true friend. It’s finding people on my life journey who truly love me no matter what and my heart is slowly healing, this feels good.
cherry blossoms
Photos by Jon Roberts.

Exciting News: Collaborative Yoga & Belly Dance Workshop!

yoga and belly dance

Last week I spent an afternoon with my good friend Jodie who is a newly certified yoga teacher. I am happy to announce we are organizing a collaborative workshop together which we hope will be delivered in May although an exact date has not been decided. The workshop will consist of 2.5 hours of Yoga, Belly Dance and a Chakra meditation. Both of us are Reiki practitioners too so Reiki will be included throughout. This is a tester workshop which we hope to facilitate in our local community centre and if it is successful we hope to continue creating workshops together as well as Reiki gatherings and sacred feminine circles not only in the community centre but perhaps in other venues around Plymouth too eventually.

This workshop will be open to all levels and even though it is targeted to a female audience, men are welcome too because men can belly dance (there are male belly dancers in Turkey).

We are at drafting stage so we are making lots of notes and exchanging ideas but we’ll be promoting the workshop very soon, we’ve already chosen a title and will be creating flyers to promote it.

I am also working very hard on setting up my Kids Yoga & Art workshop (age 7-12) too which I hope to be held at the Yoga Loft once my teaching Insurance is processed. My promo flyers for this are nearly finished and I currently planning a Tween Yoga & Belly Dance workshop for girls (age 9-13) to be facilitated in early summer also.

So, lots to plan and initiate, I’m excited because I finally feel ready within myself, I’m being patient for things to get started and to overcome mini hurdles (like waiting for insurance paper work) but I do believe in divine timing, it will all happen when the time is right. So stay tuned for more updates on my workshops!

January Thoughts

books
It’s been a quiet time here at our place. Must be the January lull. Jon is researching new lenses to buy as he wants to decrease the weight of his camera bag and I’m finishing my TEFL course (with one module left to go) and drafting up the latest articles, one is taking a while as it includes illustrations.
Soon I won’t be writing for Yogi Approved and Bad Yogi much anymore, I’ll remain a writer but only when I feel inspired to write. I have other endevours to concentrate on for the most part of the year and that includes travel, setting up my kids yoga classes (including creating promo material), and preparing myself for my 200hour yoga teacher training. I’ve found the training I like and not just like but feel drawn too, it resonates with me and I’ve spent the past 2 years saving for it as well as studying the Yoga Sutras, Anatomy & Physiology, Yoga Philosophy, The Chakras and learning different yoga styles; with my favourites being Hatha, Vinyasa & Yin.

I feel like it is time to start planning for that big event. I can see myself clear as crystal on this training and I am both nervous and excited because it is a huge life changing thing for me. Never in my life have I ever done anything big like this for myself, never have I put myself first and as a child I didn’t get a great start in life, not that I am not thankful to be alive, healthy and living in a part of the world where things are more accessible to me but I am aware I wasn’t fortunate to grow up in a stable family and we were very poor, so poor in fact, when I turned 16 my Mum couldn’t afford to help pay for driving lessons (or a car) and so I never learned to drive. Learning to drive is still on my to do list, it was just never something available to me during a time when most teens my age were enjoying that milestone.

My mum couldn’t ever afford to send me on extracurricular activities even though I desperately wanted to attend dance and piano classes. I remember when my mum sent my sister and I in our school uniforms with pigtails to fancy-dress parties and told us to tell everyone we were from “St Trinians”, I cried because I didn’t understand why my mum didn’t bother to make an effort, I understand now it was because she couldn’t afford to rent or buy a princess costume. I was that kid with holes in my shoes and dirt on my neck because sometimes we had no running, hot water or spare cash to buy the fancy Clarks shoes. I remember sharing the last cookie with my sister because that is all that was left in the cupboards, I remember learning to Iron mine and my sister’s school clothes at the age of 7 and cooking sausages under the grill for tea at age 8.

A lot of things I wished for myself weren’t ever going to be in my grasp, as a young artist I couldn’t afford art supplies and family didn’t support or understand my artistic streak so I’d use make-up brushes to paint my pictures and eye liners as charcoal. My mum was hardly there to watch me grow because she had to work and any kid who is in a harsh environment quickly learns to harden, adapt and accept. And so as an adults I’ve already had it ingrained in my very being that all the nice things people have, I will never have or never be allowed. There is a feeling of guilt and a feeling of undeserving.

But wanting to be a Yoga teacher is not a selfish thing for me and becoming a teacher keeps me balanced, it is both a treat and discipline. I may not be able to afford to attend classes every week but its the one happy thing in my life that remains reasonably consistent and it teaches me patience, kindness towards my body (and roaming mind) and the act of self-love mixed with being humble.

It is something I want and need to do for myself, to bring something beautiful into my life but I want to give yoga to others. With all my knowledge in creative and movement therapeutics, holistic health and in Yoga, why not fuse the three? Why not teach them to cancer patients, the homeless, the mentally ill, refugees and children from broken homes?

I know I am deserving of this and I know I can do it and I hope it will happen towards the end of this year, giving me plenty of time to truly focus on my practice, enroll at a gym and organize the travel itinerary and then off I go to Thailand for almost 3 months!