“I grew up in the South of France with its big blue skies and sparkling seascape. Devon has a very similar vibe with the added beauty of fields rolling down to the sea. You could say water is where my spirit feels happiest. I first visited the South Hams in 2003 with a friend who was born here. I became a regular visitor and used to get on the train to Paddington on a Sunday night and feel very flat. Having built up my teaching experience across studios in London and on retreats, I knew I had to honour my need for space and nature so moved down in 2015. Every day I wake up and feel blessed to call Devon Heaven my home.”
How did you start your yoga journey?
“I had a very stressful corporate job in finance, working long hours. Over 20 years ago I tried a yoga class and was immediately taken by how disconnected from work I became, how natural and calming the movement with breath felt. It awakened something in me that felt very special. From that moment I started exploring yoga styles to stay more grounded and balanced. Rolling out a mat became my way of checking out of the stress and tuning in with myself.”
What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
“I was practicing yoga 3-4 times a week in group classes and then I went on retreat with one of my teachers. When you are on retreat, you typically do 2 classes a day and the day after I came home I rolled out my mat and started my own practice with her words still guiding me. From then my daily discipline involved my personal practice and taking a guided class. My friends used to ask me to teach them on holiday and I would guide them but always be looking to see if they were properly aligned. One day I realised I had to teach, it was the classic lightbulb moment and coincided with a period of going freelance. I knew a shift had occurred and I was ready.”
What is your favourite yoga pose?
“Pigeon pose for its hip opening qualities, I love the fact that I can incorporate it into a dynamic practice or luxuriate for longer in a restorative way, I could go to sleep in it!! It’s not for everyone though so check with a teacher before you attempt it. My restorative take away pose which works for most people is Legs up the Wall. People tell me all sorts of things once they find out I teach yoga and it’s one pose I feel everyone can benefit from. Enjoy 5-10 mins to rest and rebalance without checking your phone and focusing on the breath.”
Where is your favourite place to practice?
“Outdoors! I love a fresh air practice assuming it’s not pouring with rain, ideally with a sea view and the sound of the sea. I have a spot in the garden where I regularly roll out a mat so practice to the sound of the birds chirping and the bees buzzing. The dog has had his own mat since he came home at 8 weeks old which means I actually roll out 2 mats! Once he has tuned into the rhythm of my breath, he is invariably asleep next to me.”
Where did you go on holiday last and did you take your mat?
“I take my mat everywhere, I would take less clothes if there was a weight limit rather than not be with my mat. I’ve been known to keep friends waiting while I do my sun salutations before skiing to make sure my body is properly stretched! My last holiday was at Watergate Bay in Cornwall where I walked for hours along the coastal path and had my first surf lesson. The best thing is the hotel and beach are dog friendly so my four legged friend is rather smitten with it too.”
What else do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
“I need my fresh air fix and spend a lot of time outdoors exploring the beautiful Devon countryside and beaches. Connecting to nature is such a boost for the whole body. I have a working Labrador so we do daily training to keep him alert and healthy. He swims in the sea all year round whereas my swimming is brief if the coastal waters are 10 degrees! I also play tennis and am loving the new challenge of paddle boarding since moving to Devon.”
What would you say to someone who is new to yoga?
“Give it a try, make sure you don’t force anything and stop if you experience pain or strain. Take time to see how you feel at the end of the practice. Enjoy the beginner’s mind, everything is so fresh and new. If you think yoga is not for you after your first experience, don’t give up, try a different teacher or style. Yoga is such a personal journey that you have to connect with the teacher for your body to reap the benefits physically, mentally and emotionally. As teachers we are privileged to pass on the gift of yoga so find the teacher that inspires you to tune in and roll out a mat regularly.”
Best part of your job?
“Working with people of all ages and with a variety of health conditions. Everyone holds physical, mental and emotional tension in our bodies, sometimes we are not even aware of it. By observing my students and offering adjustments I can see a difference by the time they head home. These can be quite subtle like a softening of the face, releasing the jaw, relaxing of shoulders or watching the tiredness drain away. The pure joy on the faces of the babies that come to Baby Yoga really melts your heart.”
What is your daily mantra?
“Keep smiling and tuning in”. Smiling is infectious, it is an uplifting energy that radiates from your heart and envelopes you and those around you – it’s the equivalent of my Labrador wagging his tail every time you enter the room. I start each day with gratitude and tune in to how I feel, trusting my instinct. When you are true to yourself, you get the best out of life and can be a positive influence on the world around you. I also repeat these words by Mukunda Stiles “With great respect and love, I honour my heart, my inner teacher”.
To find out more about Sarah’s Yin Yoga class on a Friday at the Hub, contact Sarah on:
07879 627939 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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