Yoga teacher turned yoga copywriter
The Yoga Connection, the story of how I became a yoga copywriter, is a long one – one which began when I was just 17 years old, so I’ll try to cut it short. In fact, let’s skip the intro – you can read about my gradual transition from yoga student to yoga teacher, in an article I wrote for Yorkshire Life magazine when I was teaching in the city of York. It takes the reader from the moment when I first picked up a book on the subject in 1997 and subsequently found myself practising in the cemetery behind my dad’s house, to 2011 – the year when I went part-time at the BBC to set up my own yoga teaching business, or buzz-ness, as I liked to call it, having named my enterprise YogaBuzz.
Delving into deeper waters…
Three years after starting to teach, I decided to leave the BBC, hand over my well-established classes to one of my students (who’d recently graduated as a teacher and now runs some very successful classes under the name One Mindful Yoga), and wave goodbye to England for a year. Without divulging all the gory details (although you find a fair few in my travel blog, The Wright Path), it was the case that my yoga practice, along with various other unexpected people and events, had revealed something to me which I’d been trying to ignore – the need for change, for travel, and for self-inquiry…
Wherever I lay my mat…
While I was traveling, I took every opportunity to practise. As well as using various borrowed and cheaply bought ‘yoga mats’ for my personal practice (one was actually made of woven plastic strips, which left an interesting pattern on my flesh!), I attended a good few classes, and took whatever opportunities came my way to teach…
- Whilst in South Africa, I found an Ashtanga Mysore class in a large multi-story building in Cape Town, and an incredible teacher, Ulrike Lamprecht. I think her shala has now closed, but she’s still teaching in the city.
- Tucked away in an instantly likeable little place called Kommetjie, close to Cape Point, is a small community of shops – a general convenience store, a surf shop, a cheap and cheerful cafe, a bookshop, and….a yoga and therapy studio, offering everything from Beginners to Flow, to Ashtanga Yoga.
- Close to there, I discovered a workshop where a man was making kites. In his garden was a tree, with a yoga swing attached – made of the same material as his kites. It was there that I first discovered the joys of Ariel Yoga!
- I also managed to do a bit of yoga teaching while in South Africa – weekly lessons with the kids in the school where I was doing my Love TEFL internship, and a series of one-to-ones with a surf teacher, in exchange for some time in the water!
- Like Hanuman, I made a big leap from South Africa to Sri Lanka and, during the three months I spent there, I had a variety of yoga experiences (in between feeding my new passion for surfing!):
- Practising on the grubby floor of my guesthouse (alongside cockroaches), with just the woven plastic mat between me and the dirt. Mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter…
- Using the beautiful yoga shala at a luxury hotel in Galle for my personal practice, after discovering that the teacher had cancelled the class.
- Discovering a very understated, but effective yoga and meditation class in Mirissa, in a building within the grounds of a temple, at the top of a hill overlooking the coast.
- A whole week of yoga AND surf, at the Tallala Retreat – oh my days!
Pumped on three months of almost pure surfing (made much easier by having a strong yoga practice), it was time to catch the rickety train to Colombo, the island’s capital, and from there take a short flight to Southern India…
The Magic of India?
I thought my practice would really begin to evolve in Mysore, Karnataka – perhaps because I’d held an image in my mind for so long, of what it would look and feel like to be in the birthplace – ‘The Source’! – of Ashtanga yoga. And there was an evolution – a big one – but it came in the most unexpected way…
After a fortnight living and practising at the Mystic School (whilst also taking classes in Ayurvedic cooking, the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita elsewhere, and hanging out with the Acro Yoga folk at the local park) my asana practice came to an abrupt end. I’d accidentally drunk a bottle of contaminated water (and spent a whole night trying to rehydrate my vomiting, wilting self with the same, albeit unbeknown to me, contaminated water!), resulting in a trip to the hospital, where, by chance, they discovered a huge ovarian cyst that needed removing.
Bringin’ it all back home
Coming home 6 months into my year-long trip was never the plan and it led to a lot of frustration on my part, but when I look back, I can see that it was necessary. Not only because I needed medical attention, but because it gave me an opportunity to stop and look around, to assess where I was, think about what I wanted in life after my travels, how I might use my skills and interests to earn my keep, and where I might do it all. Weirdly, my cyst had given me an opportunity to connect with and listen to my heart.
Since then, I’ve made further Hanuman-scale leaps – travelling in Thailand and Cambodia (and practising anywhere and everywhere on my new Jade travel mat!), setting up my ‘base camp’ in France, establishing myself as a freelance yoga copywriter, and – at last – progressing to the Intermediate Series (the Ashtangis out there will know what a momentous development this is!!).
It took some proper clearing out (physically and mentally) to get here, but my goodness, I feel light on my feet these days. And that, I believe, is the power of yoga. Whether you’re practising on dirty floors, in a luxury shala, or right in front of the sea – or if you’re on the floor of your dad’s conservatory awaiting surgery! – yoga, practised consistently, will fine tune your intuition and help you move in the direction that is right for you. And when that happens, when you’re in ‘the flow’, then the world is your lobster, as my Auntie Jan would say!
Copywriting for yoga teachers, studios and retreats
And that’s partly why I’ve been carving out my niche as a yoga copywriter. I believe so much in the positive effect yoga can have on people’s lives, that I want to help yoga teachers, studios and retreats to attract more clients, using original, well-crafted on- and off-line copy that speaks their language. I also believe it’s the duty of any practitioner to share their understanding and experience of yoga. Oh, and you might’ve noticed – I rather like writing about yoga.
I might teach classes again one day, but right now, any teaching will be done through my new blog, The Cat on the Mat, where I’ll be offering yogic insights to help you build your business (yoga or otherwise), as well as copywriting tips and tricks. You can subscribe to my blog for free, using the form at either the bottom or the right-hand side of this page, or else contact me, if you need a yoga copywriter.
Om, shanti, shanti, shanti…