"The first time I remember feeling anxious, I was 10 years old. I remember quite vividly having an overwhelming belief that I was dying. I am now 38 and I still struggle with anxiety. But I am (most days) actually quite thankful for it. I am grateful because it gives me an awareness and a passion which without it I would not have. I have the awareness afforded to me through lived experience of mental health struggles and off the back of this I have the passion to help other people on their mental health journey.
This anxiety gremlin gave me my choice of degree (Psychology and Health Sciences), gave me the reason to train as a Yoga Teacher and ultimately allowed me to land at the most wonderful company I could imagine, The Yogi Group. I started working with the Yogi Group as a yoga teacher in 2018 and have now moved into the office a.k.a. The Zen Den where I support Miss Laura (our all-round awesome Director) with administration, product development and social media. The reasons I love working with The Yogi Group are vast but it actually boils down to one simple thing. We share the same values and the same purpose. We believe in the power of early intervention; of mindful movement; of conscious breath and of glittery shiny unicorny rainbows.
I believe that in this crazy fast beautiful world we all currently live in, being able to share the ancient wisdom of yoga, the power of gratitude and robust scientific psychological research findings to young people is an absolute privilege. I am 100% sure that if my 10 year old self had been taught these things, that I wouldn’t have then tortured myself for 28 years believing every bad thought that entered my mind. I believe that if I had been shown the simple yet ancient and wise practices of yoga that I would have developed a healthier more grounded relationship with my ego and my body. Practicing mindfulness and cultivating concentration would have also been extremely useful tools. Being 38 (as afore mentioned) I now realise the incredible power of mindful movement. And yoga is exactly this.
Helping children navigate and work out their own mental health is a calling which I feel incredibly passionate about. In the yoga sessions, not only do we teach children the yoga postures but we gently introduce concepts of positive psychology, resilience, neuroplasticity, body positivity, acceptance, affirmation and growth mindset. The beauty of yoga lies in its gentle and holistic view of wellbeing.
So what happens in a Yogi Group session?
The yoga asanas (postures) are taught in a fun and child friendly way and in themselves provide so many benefits. They promote balance, co-ordination, strength and flexibility. The pranayama (breathing exercises) also taught in a fun and age appropriate way is a powerful tool to teach young people. When we practice our reindeer breathing (for example) we are not only having fun but we are learning the art of controlled breathing. Teaching children about the power of their breath is a life-long skill they can take anywhere. In this fast paced world we live in, we often find ourselves living from our Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight) and simply by practicing conscious breathing we can access our Parasmpathetic Nervous System (rest and respond) which in turns gives our bodies and minds much needed breathing space to react to our strong emotions. It is an invaluable tool for anyone’s calm kit.
Our sessions often finish with a guided meditation and some yogi games. In the meditation we play music, we sing and listen to beautiful stories. This is my favourite part of the sessions. It is in these moments that we most like to use positive language to build up the children emotionally. I will never forget one particular session one year in the lead up to Christmas when 'The Greatest Showman' was extremely popular. All the children were laying down in a darkened sports hall filled with fairy lights. And I had decided that our meditation was going to be singing the song “This is Me”. We started off quietly and timidly and ended in a powerful happy chorus. Listening to 35 children singing;
“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown 'em out I am brave, I am bruised I am who I'm meant to be, this is me Look out 'cause here I come And I'm marching on to the beat I drum I'm not scared to be seen I make no apologies, this is me”
brought me to tears.
The yoga games always have a life lesson associated with them too. Whether it is mindful colouring to gentle music or an affirmation shower where we shower each person in the room with positive statements about themselves it is another particularly enjoyable part of the sessions.
Finally, Yoga opens the conversations. The important ones. The ones of failure and worries, the ones of gratitude and feelings. The ones we all want to be having with our children.
And it is for all these reasons and more that I am so proud to work with The Yogi Group and feel honoured to be able to support the company in it’s truly life changing work."