Celebrating ten years of teaching with a mentoring programme

This year marks ten years since I qualified as a yoga teacher. It also marks a big birthday for me. On my thirtieth birthday in 2010 I took what my teachers called a “very auspicious” dip in Ma Ganga. It was very refreshing.

When I look back over the past ten years, so much has changed. Then, I was single and seeing a lot of the world. Now I have a wonderful partner and two amazing children. I’m more settled.

I remember being told at the end of my Sivananda teacher training that we were being selfish if we didn’t share the teachings. So I came back to London and taught anyone who asked.

It was scary standing up in front of a group of people. I used to feel physically sick with nerves. I doubted myself. I worried what people thought (a lot). But then my confidence grew – not just in teaching but in all areas of my life. 

Yoga taught me to look beyond the surface, to pay attention. As a result, I’d say I’m a lot happier and at home in this body and with this mind. I know myself better.

Teaching yoga in Hertfordshire

Having taught in London for three years, I completed further training and moved to Hertfordshire. I started covering classes locally and began running classes, workshops and retreats. I felt a strong sense of community or ‘sangha’.

In the past seven years, the local St Albans/Harpenden yoga scene has changed and developed considerably. When I started, I wasn’t aware of any other yin yoga classes around here. Awareness of the style was far, far lower than it is now. It was also easier to find space in venues to start new classes. There are now so many more yoga teachers in the area. 

The growing popularity of yoga is brilliant. And people need yin to counter the increasingly hectic pace of modern living. There’s a reason why it’s the fastest growing style of yoga today.

More broadly, yoga has changed and developed too: the toppling of yoga ‘gurus’ from their pedestals in the #metoo era and the rise of the instayogi. Mindfulness is a workplace buzzword. There’s a growing awareness of yoga teachers’ pay thanks to the work of Norman Blair and others. Perhaps the London yoga market has now reached saturation point. Yoga is taught in many more schools.

What will be the next style of yoga to take the world by storm?

There’s a lot to think about and navigate. 

Mentoring programme

With this in mind, I am offering a mentoring programme for teachers of yoga and mind/body/wellness practices. It can be tough teaching out there. It can be isolating too.

We’d cover topics such as:

  • The student/teacher relationship
  • Communication with studio owners and contacts at hire spaces
  • Running classes, workshops, retreats and holidays
  • Promoting yourself and attracting new students
  • The business and financial aspects of teaching
  • Work/life balance
  • Self care.

It would be a small group and we’d meet one Sunday evening a month for four months from March. I’d facilitate and provide advice based on my experience but we’d all share and support each other.

If you’d like to find out more and book, visit the mentoring page.

A Bermondsey Village Hall mini-break

Sundeep and I outside Bermondsey Village Hall
Sundeep and I outside Bermondsey Village Hall

Last Thursday I taught my last Bermondsey Village Hall class for a while. I’ve taught there continuously for the last 18 months and it’s been great. I’ve taught old friends and made new friends. One week, my friend Sundeep came to a class while he was over from Mumbai for work, and another week even the Police made an appearance (burglar alarm-related).

It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve noticed a drop in numbers this year despite getting clued up with Google Adwords and it feels like there’s more and more competition for yoga in London. I don’t think the recession has helped much either. But I’m truly grateful for having some committed yogi regulars and I feel guilty for leaving them. 

“Then why are you having a break from teaching there?” I hear you say. Well, I reply, I’m going away soon to do more training. I’m doing a course for five weeks on Koh Samui in Thailand, then I’m going to Sri Lanka for a couple of weeks to see a friend. I’ve then got a bit of time in Mumbai on the way home. I’ll be away for just under three months and I can’t wait. 

I’ll be back in the Autumn and they’re keeping Thursday nights at the hall open for my return. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a class in the London Bridge area I can highly recommend Bermondsey Fayre on Bermondsey Street. Liz and her teachers are fab and I cover there from time to time.

If you’ve been to any of my classes over the last 18 months, thank you. You’ve been a joy to teach and keep up the practice! I’ll keep you updated on my travels over the next few months too.


Karma without the chameleon

It seems that quite a few of my blog posts stem from conversations with non-yogi friends but I found myself having another one the other day…

Pic of Culture Club
The boys of Culture Club

So there I was having a chat with a friend and we were talking about if it’s possible to make a living from teaching yoga (there’s a whole other blog post there…). I was teaching a class later that day at the Sivananda Centre in Putney and he asked how much I got paid for it. “Oh no, I don’t get paid for teaching there,” I replied. He couldn’t believe it: how was I ever going to be able to live off yoga if I taught for free, I was providing a service so I should be paid… you get the picture. I said, “I do it as selfless service – it’s karma yoga.” Now that opened a whole big can of worms. 

But what is karma yoga? I’d describe it as doing someone else’s ironing for them, knowing full well that you’ve got a stack of your own that’s been sitting at home for weeks untouched, but you’re doing theirs just because you want to do it. There’s no expectation of a reward whatsoever.

Swami Sivananda says of karma yoga,

Man generally plans to get the fruits of his works before he starts any kind of work. The mind is so framed that it cannot think of any kind of work without remuneration or reward. A selfish man cannot do any service. He will weigh the work and the money in a balance. Selfless Service is unknown to him.”

So it’s your attitude towards the work that counts. It’s also a central theme to the Bhagavad Gita, where Prince Arjuna looks to Krishna for advice on the battlefield. Arjuna doesn’t want to fight but Krishna says that it’s his duty and that he shouldn’t be so focused on the results:

“With the body, with the mind, with the intellect, even merely with the senses, the Yogis perform action toward self-purification, having abandoned attachment. He who is disciplined in Yoga, having abandoned the fruit of action, attains steady peace…”
Bhagavad Gita V.5.11.

You’re doing something not necessarily because you want to do it, or because it’s fun to do. Prince Arjuna didn’t want to fight members of his family, but you’re doing it in order to serve humanity, a god, or just for the greater good. It can be likened to helping in a soup kitchen on your day off work, or volunteering with the eldery. It’s just doing your bit in order to serve whoever you feel comfortable serving – God, your local community or whoever.

What I can say is that I feel a sense of wellbeing and happiness giving something back, and while that feeling lasts, I’ll continue to clean loos, iron and teach for free.