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A Yoga Instructor in Notts

11 May 21 illustrations: Kasia Kozakiewicz

"I practice yoga every day, and every session is an opportunity to meet new people, hear new stories."

I’ll be completely honest with you, I never thought my life would revolve around yoga. But I bet most of the people you talk to aren’t doing the jobs they thought they would, right? Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I think people rarely end up doing the things they wanted to when they were young. I know I didn’t – I don’t think I even knew what yoga was then! 

As far back as I can remember I wanted to be an actor. Part of it was due to the glamour, part of it was the attention, but the main reason was that I just really, really loved acting. My younger sister and I both trained to be actors and at the beginning were both getting some interesting work. We actually appeared together in something that was on TV, that I imagine quite a lot of people saw, but our careers took different directions after that. She’s still acting, and is quite successful, but life kind of got in the way for me. I got pregnant – and I don’t want to use the word ‘mistake’, because that has too many negative connotations – but let’s just say it was unplanned. I know mums are meant to say this, but it was honestly the best thing that ever happened to me. I realised that whatever I was trying to achieve with acting, you know, trying to find that purpose in life, I found with being a mum. 

The first time I ever tried yoga was at a place called Ubud in Bali. I remember being quite hungover, more than a little sunburnt, and absolutely knackered from hardly sleeping the night before. It doesn’t sound like the greatest introduction to something that’s meant to be tranquil, but it was just an incredible experience. I was always the sort of person that would do anything to avoid being left alone with my thoughts – I’d chatter away constantly, watch TV, listen to audiobooks, or just surround myself with people. I guess I was quite anxious as a person, but that one yoga session felt like the first time I’d been able to block everything out and just think. 

Living the kind of life I was doing led to a general disconnect between my body and my mind. I was never out of shape, but I certainly didn’t take care of my body. I guess I was blessed with good genes, so I’ve never been massively conscious about the way I look – my body was just the vessel that carried me around through life. But I think that’s part of the reason I had such a cluttered, unfocussed mind – that disconnect. Yoga helped me put that right – it taught me a level of discipline and focus that felt like it connected my mind and body together as one. I know that sounds really wanky, but for anyone that has practiced yoga extensively, I think they’ll know what I mean. 

She said that the peace she found during that last year of her life brought her more peace and happiness than anything else she had tried

Physically, yoga can do incredible things for people. From relieving stress to improving flexibility, it can help in so many ways. I’ve taught people who were cancer sufferers, people who were amputees, and others who were just generally in pretty awful health. Honestly, I’ve had people tell me that yoga saved their lives. It might look easy, and I recently had the husband of a woman I work with complain that he was just paying for her “to do stretches for an hour”, but it can be really punishing. A large part of the process is learning what your body can and cannot do, and people are often surprised to find that they’re capable of much more than they thought. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say the word ‘prick’, but that husband was a real prick, and there are still a lot of people that think like him! But if you go back seventy years you’ll find doctors that advertised certain brands of cigarettes as being healthy, you know? Medicine and forms of healing change and adapt all the time, but you always have naysayers. But people have been practicing yoga for thousands of years, so I think that says it all, really. 

A couple of years ago I worked with a lady who was terminally ill. She said that she’d always wanted to try yoga and, basically, thought that it was now or never. She said that the peace she found during that last year of her life brought her more peace and happiness than anything else she had tried, but also made her regret the fact that she’d waited so long. It was difficult, obviously more so for her than for me, but I was glad that I could play a small part in bringing her some peace. 

As for the future, I wouldn’t say that I have ambitions as such. I have my studio, two children, a husband, a dog and two mice. I practice yoga every day, and every session is an opportunity to meet new people, hear new stories and I always try to learn as much from the people attending as I hope they learn from me. I guess that’s what life is all about, right? Sharing experiences, and striving to find some semblance of peace. 

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