What, when and where was your first experience of yoga?
Hmm… lets just say from a young age. I became aware of this word ‘yoga’ when I was a kid, both my parents have always been into philosophy and spirituality from east and west and they had an old book on a bookshelf about yoga.
When I was 14 I had glandular fever and had to spend a lot of time at home, so I started reading and doing these weird exercises from the yoga book. It really helped the effects of the fatigue I was suffering from and from that point I was always fascinated by this thing called yoga.
What made you decide to move from student to teacher?
For a long time I had a feeling that I would/should become a yoga teacher. But it wasn’t a common career choice and I was really shy about it since I couldn’t touch my toes nor do chaturanga so I thought it was not meant to be!
But later on I came across Anusara yoga, and the methodology was really good for my body and helped it open up and get stronger. I went to Sianna Sherman’s first London workshop and fell in love with the way she blended myth, movement and was so creative. As soon as I said that I dreamt of being a yoga teacher (gulp!) I got so much support from my teachers, friends and family—I am so grateful to them all.
What teaching tip has had the biggest influence on the way you practice? And the way you teach?
I have received so many gems. Recently I was in this incredible class in Austin, Texas and the teacher afterwards reminded us as teachers to simply be our selves, allow our creativity to shine out and create an experience for the students. These three things really resonate with me right now.
What does your own self-practice involve?
At the moment I have been doing a 40-day sadhana (spiritual practice) which includes pranayama, chanting, mudra and meditation for about 30 minutes a day. It is a mission somedays but overall I am feeling amazing for it! My asana practice is very explorative and creative at the moment. I normally pop on some gorgeous music and flow with breath, trying to feel how my body wants to work—this is my favourite thing. And I try to include some poses that challenge me too—to evolve.
If you only had 10 minutes to practice, what would you do?
If I had been sitting all day I may need to move around, do some lunges and a down dog but generally meditation is the absolutely essential thing to do every day for my health.
Who/what is the biggest inspiration on your yoga journey at the moment?
So many people inspire me! But what is really fueling me at the moment is that since Nelson Mandela’s death last year I felt drawn to reconnect with South Africa and have been incredibly inspired by the people I have been working with.
I have started working with Africa Yoga Project and an NGO called Earthchild Project and to see yoga in action is 100% amazing. I see yoga teachers truly offering seva (loving service) and really enhancing people’s lives on a base level. For example by doing yoga some children’s school marks have increased massively, they have more hope and so can go on to study further, earn a better living and support their family—this is huge!
Since I have started doing this kind of work I have felt so fulfilled and determined to work in this way. It may sound like selfless work, but it is selfish because it uplifts me so much, it reminds me to appreciate every moment, every day—and that for me is the essence of yoga.
What role does yoga play in the way you live?
Yoga has changed my outlook on life and I am generally a much happier person. I appreciate much more and am more aware of what I do when I do it—physically, mentally and emotionally. I am most aligned with non-dual tantric philosophy which teaches that everything is one, and everything has value—this has taught me to let go of my head’s immediate judgement and to follow the call of my heart more frequently.
This life is weird, wonderful and times incredibly beautiful, at times bittersweet. Totally unexpected bizarre stuff can happen and then I can’t just listen to what my brain tells me, I have to connect to something more when I respond—gut, spirit, heart, intuition. Yoga helps me with that.
What do you hope your students to experience when they practice with you?
All of the above! My wish is that students feel as empowered and inspired as I do by their yoga practice. I want to be able to create a space where students learn to listen to their bodies, tune into what is really going on with them and connect to their inner wisdom. This is a work in progress.
And of course they can come simply to move, breathe, strengthen and stretch with other people, hopefully leave feeling happy. So—will it be the blue pill or the red pill?
Describe the meaning of yoga in 10 words or less
Awareness of the movement of Life and connection to Self.
Bridget teaches at Notting Hill on Monday evenings, 19.30–21.00.
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