I started attending yoga classes 25 years ago at the recommendation of a physiotherapist, in order to try and manage chronic pain, a result of neck fractures sustained in a car crash some years previously.  Back then, although the practice did, to a degree, help me, there were still times when I found the yoga postures very challenging and not always possible. I then discovered the Desikachar tradition of yoga – sometimes known as ‘Viniyoga’.  TKV Desikachar (whose father/teacher, T Krishnamacharya, also taught BK Iyengar), believed that yoga should be taught from the starting place of the individual – whatever that might be – with poses adapted accordingly and very much based on moving with the breath. He famously said once that no matter what limitations people had “If they can breathe, they can do yoga!”

Having struggled somewhat with my yoga previously, I now felt as though I had ‘come home’, which was a very profound experience.  With the support of my teacher, Sabine Dahn, I soon realised that Desikachar’s methods, modifying the practice, were extremely effective and brought immense relief for my condition.  My yoga practice became a vital support, providing relief from physical pain and also a mental and emotional support.

In order to share this approach with others,  I undertook a 2-year/500-hour (AYS – Association for Yoga Studies/Sadhana Mala) yoga teacher training course for teaching group classes. The teacher training programme, taught by Ranju Roy and David Charlton, included the skills to teach asana (posture work) safely and effectively, the study of Indian philosophy (including Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra – the heart text of this tradition), study of anatomy and physiology and the study of pranayama (directing our energy through working with the breath).
A further 2-year/500 hour course in individual yoga therapy led to a qualification approved by the CNHC (Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council) which was set up by the Department of Health to register complementary health practitioners who meet a high standard of good practice.

In addition to offering individual yoga therapy, I teach small group classes in Lewes – both general classes and chair-supported classes. I have a particular interest in working with people who (for whatever reason) are no longer able to get up and down easily from the floor and for whom a modified, often chair-supported, practice with a mix of standing and seated practice, can enable them to access yoga.  I also take yoga into a local care home once a week, working with a group of residents, some in wheelchairs, for a seated practice.
I regularly attend training courses to continue to broaden my knowledge of the yoga tradition and of working with specific conditions including courses on yoga for Parkinsons and age-related conditions as well as lower back problems and menopause-related conditions in women.

In this tradition, we focus on the breath as our fundamental support,  finding a sense of spaciousness and freedom of body and mind which comes as welcome relief from the fast pace of modern life. The practice becomes a ‘moving meditation’.
As well as the more obvious physical benefits of building and maintaining our strength and flexibility and improving the quality of our breath, our practice can bring us towards that inner stability we all seek,  offering us a support when dealing with life’s obstacles and allowing us to be more open to the joy of life.