February is here and for some of us, a bit less energy and motivation for workouts than we had at the beginning of January. The nights are still dark and the weather feels colder than ever! With that in mind, we have now added a roster of yoga teachers to our ever growing team of on demand fitness experts. They can come straight to your house before or after work, so there’s no need to drag yourself out in the dark and the rain before or after class. We all know how annoying it is to break your zen energy by having to take the tube after a relaxing yoga session! Besides, we’ve found that if you don’t fancy hard exercise at this time of year but still want to do something active that your body will thank you for, yoga is the perfect remedy. 

When we were interviewing our new yoga instructors for the job, we were so struck by the passion and eloquence with which they spoke about the practice. As a result, we thought it was only fair to share their full answers with you, in order to help you to make the best decision about which practitioner will be the right match for you, and learn a little more about yoga.

Imogen

Imogen is an experienced and compassionate Yoga Instructor, Fascial Stretch Therapist and Tension Release specialist with an interest in the feminine divine.

What is stretch therapy versus yoga? Who does it benefit – just people who want to get more flexible for sports specific reasons or anybody who is desk bound?

FST – Fascial Stretch Therapy, is more of a treatment than an active session. Its a manual manipulation of the body where the clients lay on the bed and do nothing, apart from relax, whilst the therapist opens, moves and releases their body. Developed initially on sport personal for injury prevention and rehab, it’s now been created into a technique for everyone to ease tightness, tension, pain and help them get the best out their bodies. 

How long have you been working in fitness? How many years as a PT? How many years as a yoga instructor?

Fitness industry about 6 years – PT 5, Yogi 3. But dance background prior to that and studied movement at uni. 

Why did you move into yoga and stretch therapy instead of standard fitness training?

The holistic approach, seeing the mind, body, soul connection that is created and the effect it has on people’s lives. I find it more appropriate for all ages and abilities, less equipment needed therefore less reasons to say no and it suits my way of thinking and living better… more my vibe.  

What does yoga and stretch therapy bring to your life?

From a teaching and training perspective I adore the effects it has on people, enabling them to get fitter, strong, more flexible and agile whilst allowing them to have moments of stillness and calm and acceptance. 

From a personal perspective – helps me be the best version of myself, seeing, think and feel clearer, be present, act accordingly and keeps me in shape (I do still train, but yoga is what keeps me fluid and able, rather then continual DOMS)

What are your favourite things about being a yoga teacher? What makes it all worth it? Rewarding moments?

Teaching people that they are never too old, not flexible enough, not strong enough or whatever other thought they’ve begun to believe about themselves. Showing that stillness and acceptance is just as important as pushing yourself. And helping people come into a more balanced state. 

Where have you travelled to teach?

Turkey, Dubia, Morocco, Sardinia, Australia, Mauritus, Capri, Bali. 

Have done teacher training in India, Bali, Costa Rica, Chilli, UK, USA. 

Tell me about tension release? Tension release versus stretch therapy? 

Kind of the same thing, tension release involves more participation from the clients – using active exhales, mantras, imagery etc as well as maybe some dry needling (Accupuncture) and deeper tissue work (like Thai massage).

The feminine divine – what is it, will it be relevant to your work at Peach?

For me the divine feminine is that inner intuitive wisdom that we all have. Relevant to Peach this is enabling the clients to connect back to that; to act, rather than react. To work with their bodies to become better, stronger, more flexible etc, rather than fighting against it. And creating space to allow for fluidity and abundance. 

However, my main focus is on women and the movement suitable for their bodies. There is little awareness to our cycles, the seasons and the time of life we are in – adolescent, preconception, conception, post natal, peri, pre, post, menopausal and with most of my clients it’s about recognising, honouring and working with that to be the best version of yourself. So maybe targeting women of all ages. 

Kate

Kate can now offer Peach clients not only a technical yoga practice, but also Shamanic Flow and Breathwork for a full mind, body and spirit experience. 

How did you get started practicing yoga, and why did you decide to teach it full time?

I started practising yoga over 8 years ago when I wanted something that I felt would go deeper into my mind as well as my body. I have no dancer training and my flexibility was non existent. I found even the core poses very challenging. But every time I went to a class I felt so much more refreshed and clear and so it kept me going back again and again. Over time my body started to change and become stronger and bendier. But I learnt a lot about patience and the idea of building a practise from scratch with a strong foundation of breath and elevating the mind through a strong practise – no matter what the body looks like or how far you can move into a posture. The breath is key. 

After realising that yoga was part of my every day and had become a total way of life for me I reflected on how it had also changed not only my body, but also my mind, my outlook on life, my reactions and my stress levels. It had benefited me so hugely that I would not be the same person I am without it and it has kept my mind and body strong through many years and so I decided that I wanted to share that with others rather than just have it as a personal practice. I wanted to impart the amazing practise that I felt so passionate about. 

What is the difference / benefits of shamanic yoga vs standard for your clients?

Shamanic Yoga is based in a Vinyasa Flow style practise but I feel that it is more ‘Ceremonially Stretching’. It is a flow that enables us to get deep within ourselves and create a strong juicy practise which moves through all the chakras. The practise is elevated by bringing in elemental energies, live music, and creating a deeper connection to your higher power. 

What does a typical shamanic breathwork session look like?

Shamanic breathwork is a process and a powerful healing journey that inspires individuals to connect to the shaman within and re-connect to their own inner healer.

As old wounds and dysfunctional patterns are released and transformed through breath, individuals can begin to regain lost soul parts and remember the magic of who they really are. Empowerment brings wholeness and healing back into their own lives.

This process is highly experiential – it is real, it is visceral – and the wisdom and healing gained comes from each individual’s inner experience. Shamanic Breathwork honors and blends the timeless wisdom of ancient traditions with the emerging new paradigm methods of healing and teaching. It functions as the bridge between these two worlds, honoring the best of both and creates a space in which deep healing work and transformation can take place.

A typical session would involve me briefing and coaching the client through the specific breathwork technique. Once the client is comfortable and well versed in the practise, I would commence by laying them down on comfortable blankets preferably with a blindfold on to deepen the experiance. The four directions are called and then they undergo their breathwork journey for just under an hour. Durning that time I am present and at constant vigil to help them navigate the deeply individual experiance. In my experiance people can have very different journeys. Some elated and very peaceful and others can release trauma and it can be emotional. On completion of their journey and having been guided gently back to a present state of mind I leave time to talk through their experiance, share anything they may feel they want to express, and ensure that there is time for them to decompress and integrate any insights they may have received. 

How was your experience training in Bali? Was it long / intensive? Anything else special it has brought to your practice that other teachers might not have?

My training in Bali was an intensive month! Up every day at 6 and closing our day around 8.30pm. I love the training being based in Vinyasa and Restorative (which is what I base my own practise around) but because of the breathwork element that ran alongside the high level yoga training and the shamanic elements and techniques that were brought into the yogic side I feel it was a very special and particular training. I have all the understanding of teaching something standard and can tailor classes to fit cooperate or studios – but I have also had the opportunity to bring something special and individual to my teaching from the wonderful experiance I had on my training where I can involve the more Shamanic and healing elements. 

What does yoga bring to your own life on a personal level?

Yoga has totally changed my life! It brings me an understanding and huge connection with my body. It also keeps me strong, toned and fit. But it has deepened my connection to my mind and spirit. Yoga is practised off the mat as well as on and for me it is a way of life. Living in the amazing but busy and stressful city that is London it has enabled me to find peace and calm within myself and moments of precious stillness in my mind. The fact that I can meditate through movement really blows my mind – and all whilst creating a healthier and stronger, more flexible body. I really believe yoga is healing. It has healed my old injuries and my tendinitis and has made me a brighter, happier and more grounded person. 

And what is your favourite thing about being a yoga teacher – what are those moments that make it all worth it?

I really get a buzz from teaching. Creating a fun and interesting class for people and watching their progress really excites me. Someone trying something new and achieving something in their body and mind they didn’t think was possible. 

To have someone come up and say they feel better and what a beautiful hour they just had in their bodies makes my day! 

Nicola

Nicola likes to take a yin / yang approach to classes, integrating body, breath, expressive movement and meditative awareness; whatever best helps her clients feel reconnected with the body.

What was it that inspired you to go to that very first yoga class as a student? What was it that you fell in love with?

I was 17, just about to start dance school and was at the gym everyday and started to do yoga (Hatha) to help improve my flexibility. Once at dance school I found yoga helped me cope with my anxiety. Yoga (Vinyasa and Kundalini yoga) encouraged me to think and feel beyond the physical aesthetics of my body. Being a dancer there was a lot of external pressure and I was always striving for physical strength and unrealistic perfection. Yoga was a movement outlet which enabled me to escape from this. In my final year at dance school I started to go to Bikram classes. I became hooked on Hot yoga; not only did I love the effect it had on my body but also my mind. As I began to explore more classes I soon fell in love with the practice: especially the psychosomatic element. I became curious about the subtle association of pranayama (breath work) mind and the body. I found that the practice of “yoga” began to filter into my everyday life; it improved my relationship to myself and others and helped lift anxiety. 

Why did you decide to pursue yoga teaching full time (rather than say theatre arts/dance)?

I believe movement is life. I was always a curious and active child and at the time dance was the perfect outlet for this. As I have become older, I have realised that having a healthy body affects all aspects of an individual’s life. Being able to transfer my knowledge of how we move and ways to move safely in correlation with yoga principles and as a practice is something I love doing. It’s a privilege to meet people and help them feel a little better or more resilient to live, move and enjoy life. Working in theatre as a dancer is very relentless and came with huge highs and huge lows. I found it very ego driven and the constant pressure that came with this wasn’t healthy for me, I really struggled with this. Yoga came naturally, I feel liberated when teaching it. 

What does yoga bring to your life on a personal level?

Yoga has not only given me a healthy body, but it’s also given me tools to cope with my thoughts. Yoga grounds me, it brings me back to my authentic self and the simple and glorious aspects of life, like community, breathing, moving, stillness and being present – especially in moments when thought become overbearing. In essence, the practice helps me not to take myself or other people too seriously. I’m also so grateful for the practice, because it’s given me an anchor to express what’s really important and what I’m passionate about as a movement and fitness practitioner. 

What are your favourite things about being a yoga teacher? What makes it all worth it? Rewarding moments?

Creating a space in which people feel safe and comfortable to explore their body and breath. It’s also such a great feeling to help people feel better or a bit more resilient and able to cope with their day-to-day lives

What is your signature style? What makes your classes unique?

I teach vinyasa and restorative yoga. I often like to incorporate a yin yang approach: a combination of a slow flow in which asana (poses) are held so there is space to really release certain areas of the body, with a fast flow where asanas move from one to another at more of a pace. However it really depends who I’m teaching and the environment (private or group setting).

Matt

Matt typically likes to blend the traditions of Hatha with the power of Vinyasa in his classes, and describes his style as direct and to the point. He has been teaching at some of London’s top studios for six years now.

What was it that made you decide to take that very first yoga class? What was it that you liked about yoga in those early stages?

I was forced to practice yoga daily as part of my Actor training. We would start the day with a very simple sequence. I soon realised however how good it made me feel and the huge benefit it was having on my ability to stay grounded. It became the routine I needed after I completed my BA. In an industry where very little is constant this was exactly what I needed.

Why did you decide to take the jump into becoming a yoga teacher? 

I decided to train as a teacher of yoga in 2014 when I had gone through a long period of unemployment (acting) I thought it could be a great additional career where I’d get to interact with people and utilise my communication skills. Also to share my experiences. When I started I couldn’t touch my toes, I had terrible posture and my breath was terrible. The one thing I find myself repeating to people who say that they can’t practice yoga because they’re not flexible is ‘you never take up a new activity because you’ve already mastered it’. A simple interest and openness is all that’s needed. 

Sometimes I teach full time, sometimes I’m part time – the joy of having my toes in two industries is that there is always something to do and feel refreshed about. Having taught for 6 years now I can think of nothing else I’d rather be doing. 

What does yoga bring to your life on a personal level?

Yoga brings routine, flexibility, openness (mentally and physically) and a community. When you practice yoga you can go anywhere in the world and usually you’ll find a group of people who are also practicing yoga, in one way or another. An international community in which you can join and feel part of something. 

Michelle

A certified trainer of Bikram yoga, FG yoga, Yin and Vinyasa principles, Michelle will make you sweat in her classes. She has been teaching yoga for eight years now.

What was it that inspired you to go to your first yoga class as a student and what did you love about it in those early stages?

I took my first class almost 15 years ago. I was inspired by the discipline and the spiritual nature of the yoga class. I loved the feeling of moving my body: it felt like an internal massage. 

Why did you decide to pursue yoga teaching full time?

The old cliche: yoga saved my life ! Mentally more so than physically, as I’d always been into exercise and fitness. However, with yoga the community, the spiritual nature and discipline steered me into a whole new way of living, thinking and breathing. How could I not share this with others?

What does yoga bring to your life on a personal level today?

Yoga gives me inner strength and confidence to take on any challenge. It’s my go to whenI’m happy and when I’m feeling low! They say the only bad yoga class is the one you didn’t attend and I truly believe that. 

What are your favourite things about being a yoga teacher? What makes it all worth it? Rewarding moments?

Helping people, watching them get stronger and stronger. Most of my students now have a solid practice, some I dare to say better than mine .  

The moment that always makes it worthwhile for me is watching them let go in Savasana, and then seeing them emerge lighter and brighter.

What is your signature style? What makes your classes unique?

Fun! Always fun! Hard but fun. I am a certified trainer of Bikram yoga, FG yoga, Yin and Vinyasa principles so I can teach whatever my class or student wants.

To start training with one of our yogis, email info@www.getpeach.com or download the Peach app for iOS.