My life journey has been consciously shaped by a need to seek out meaning, creating a life rooted in authenticity and integrity, creative expression, freedom and the sacredness & beauty of nature. Over the years, I've come to recognise that all this has been driven by an underlying calling to walk a path towards healing & spiritual connection - with the divine life force pulsing through the natural world at the heart of it all.
I began a self-taught yoga practice in 1995 (using a 1960s book as my teacher), while studying Philosophy (western) at university. I spent a few years after graduation living and working all over the world, including Vancouver, New Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand and Spain (teaching English as a foreign language in the last 3). During these years abroad, disenchanted with the western rationalist/analytical/cerebral approach to philosophy, I encountered Taoism, Zen and Buddhism: these eastern, non-materialist, practical and spiritual philosophies spoke to me deeply, and in lasting ways. I still come back to those philosophies.
After a few years I returned to the UK and eventually, a Fine Art degree course brought me to Devon; this is where I've lived (mostly) since 2004. Here, after a decade of home yoga practice, I finally connected with a wonderful teacher, Duncan Hulin, founder & director of the Devon School of Yoga, and a deeper journey into yoga and my own healing process began. Duncan's Holistic Yoga classes (incorporating powerful kriyas, pranayama and meditation as well as asana) gave me a strong foundation in authentic yoga. From 2005 - 15, Duncan was my main teacher, and 2011-13 I trained as a yoga teacher with him on the Devon School of Yoga 500hr YTT. (I began teaching in 2012, 6 months into the course.)
During the years 2009-15, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga became my main personal yoga practice: and during my "peak Ashtanga" period in 2015 I alternated Primary & Second Series as my daily practice. I was a serious & committed Ashtangi for a time, seeking out American pioneers David Williams, Nancy Gilgoff and Doug Swenson, as well as local teacher Andrea Durant. I found the practice tremendously emotionally grounding and physically healing, and to this day my daily yoga practice includes a large portion of the Primary Series.
It was Ashtanga which took me to Maui, Hawaii, in late 2015 - but here, I realised the strictness and masculinity of traditional Ashtanga was no longer for me. I began exploring Maui's rich yoga culture and, in alongside sweetly gentle yin and restorative yoga classes, I discovered a heart-oriented, feminine, inspiring, joyfully creative and philosophically satisfying approach in Jennifer Lynn's Wisdom Flow Yoga (a style with Vinyasa and Anusara influences). I experienced a profound heart-opening in my first class with Jennifer: her teachings of bowing the head to the wisdom of the heart spoke deeply to my own heart and soul.
Maui marked a major turning point in my life, for so many reasons. I experienced profound soul retrieval and heart-opening alongside the awakening of more personal empowerment on this special island: something deep in my soul connected strongly to the energy and beauty of this land. I immersed myself in other aspects of Hawaiian healing too when I discovered a wonderful spa/massage training centre, Ho'omana, where I received the most beautiful lomi lomi treatments and invested in some personal one to one lomi lomi tuition while I had the chance. (On the subject of massage: I'd previously trained as a Thai yoga massage practitioner in Thailand, Portugal and the UK; I began professional practice in 2015 but in recent years have stepped away from this offering, needing to honour my own physical energies and health.)
THE SPIRIT OF CACAO
As I opened to the call of my heart ever-more, I found myself also gravitating more towards nature-based spirituality, especially through sacred plants. In the wake of my (non-cacao-related) heart-opening experiences on Maui, I began to explore cacao, a plant medicine known for its heart-stimulating/opening properties (and which I'd first heard about in 2014 whilst - first through making my own chocolate and then finally connecting with her medicine in ceremony in 2017. Following this, I began to experiment with holding "Yoga Cacao Nidra" workshops which included a little raw cacao and nidra.
Cacao was calling loud and clear by this point, and in spring 2018 I undertook a sacred cacaoista apprenticeship training on an intensive, deeply affecting & spiritually impactful training on the peaceful north coast of Ibiza. I held my first ceremony in April 2018 and have been holding regular group ceremonies for women ever since. Cacao has been a powerful teacher plant and ally for me; her medicine provided a missing piece for me, opening up a definitively spiritual, intuitive feminine path rooted in reverence for the sanctity of nature. Journeying with cacao has also deepened my meditation practice significantly, by allowing me to find much greater ease in sitting with myself. Many of my offerings these days incorporate practices such as guided meditation, yoga nidra and inner journeying - more subtle, interior practices centred around our consciousness and non-physical awareness.
As my path continues to unfold, I share sacred, nurturing, healing experiences tapping into the energetics of the subtle body and the way we store emotions as tension in the physical body; the joy of heart-opening practices, and the soul-nourishment and feminine healing of deepening spiritual experience and connection through nature and embodied awareness. This is really what I understand health and healing to be about, at the deepest level: the Hawaiian greeting which conveys so much of their spirit is "Aloha" - meaning "in the shared presence of ("alo) the sacred breath of life ("ha")"...