I share my various nurturing, heart-oriented offerings, whether yoga, cacao or massage, as spiritual, meditative, nourishing and healing practices which I hope will bring you as much body & soul medicine as they have gifted me over the years.
My life journey has been very much shaped by a conscious search for meaning, creative expression and natural beauty in life; but subconsciously, it's all been shaped by a deeper call to find healing & spiritual connection - with nature and beauty still at their heart...
I studied Philosophy (western) at university, spent a few years after graduation living and working all over the world doing various things including teaching English, and eventually returned to the UK and embarked on another path of study, this time Fine Art. I used to think my true path in life was somewhere between art & philosophy; in retrospect however, I think I was walking a path in search of healing and deepening spirituality long before I realised it.
My earliest years involved a lot of moving around; as an adult, I resumed that pattern for several years, living and working in Vancouver, New Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand and Spain. I moved around the UK a fair bit too, eventually finding some grounding in the lush green lands of Devon.
I thought I was moving to Devon to continue my fine art studies, but in retrospect I think I was being steered to the place where, after 10 years of self-taught home practice, I would finally deepen my yoga connection and begin to tap into my body's own healing wisdom, thanks to the wonderful guidance and instruction of Duncan Hulin. Duncan is a wonderful yoga teacher and shiatsu practitioner, deeply grounded and humble; a true yogi soul who I will be forever grateful to have met! He was my main teacher from 2005 - 15 and although I no longer go to his yoga classes, I still find myself often coming back to the rich wisdom he has shared over the years. From 2011-13 I trained as a yoga teacher with the Devon School of Yoga (Duncan is the director/founder of the school); I actually began teaching in 2012, 6 months into the course, and have been sharing yoga as a pathway to self-healing and greater harmony on all levels ever since.
From 2009-15, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga became my main yoga practice, and during my "peak Ashtanga" period 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 Andrea Durant, a wonderful, compassionate teacher who first brought Ashtanga to Devon. In late 2015 I travelled to Maui, Hawaii, for further study with Nancy Gilgoff, but I found myself instead drawn to more soft, nurturing, feminine approaches to yoga. I realised traditional Ashtanga was no longer for me and that, rather than seeking more external validation, my own experience and years of practice were all the authority and validation I needed for what I did, and what I shared. This was a powerful realisation for me about the importance of finding validation & power from within and not needing to justify ourselves & our choices to others. It also marked a definitive shift: I no longer had any interest in either "progressing" towards more challenging poses in my personal practice nor in encouraging my students to do this.
Maui marked a major turning point in my life. I experienced profound soul retrieval and heart-opening alongside the awakening of more personal empowerment on this Hawaiian island: something deep in my soul connected strongly to the energy and beauty of this land. I experienced an increasingly magical series of realisations unfolding during my time there.
Jennifer Lynn's hugely inspirational Wisdom Flow Yoga classes were a fundamental part of Maui's magic for me, with their combination of heart-oriented and nature-infused wisdom, inspired by Anusara and the Tantric philosophy of Kashmiri Shaivism, and shared in an emotionally insightful way. Maui's rich yoga culture also presented me with a chance to explore the softness & nurturing of Yin and Restorative approaches to yoga, a much-needed counterbalance to the often very harsh, strict, driven qualities which can easily creep into Ashtanga.
On Maui, I also discovered a wonderful authentic lomilomi massage school/spa in the jungly hills of Makawao, which began a magnet for me. I took private tuition there to learn the basics of this profoundly spiritual and healing form of massage. I had already been a professional Thai yoga massage therapist for a couple of years at that point (having taken my main training in a hill tribe village in the far north of Thailand, as well as a basic training in the UK and advanced techniques in Portugal). (Learn more about my massage work & training here.)
Post-Maui, my yoga practice & teaching has shifted away from particular styles & lineages and became more rooted in my own personal explorations...I spent the winter of 2016-17 teaching yoga & giving Thai-Hawaiian massages at a yoga retreat in Thailand and continuing to allow my yoga offerings to evolve alongside experimenting with fusion bodywork.
I've long been drawn to shamanist spirituality, rooted as it is in an ancient, deeply reverent sense of the sacredness of nature - indigenous to Earth. In the wake of my (non-cacao-related) heart-opening experiences on Maui, I felt the call of cacao, a heart-opening plant medicine indigenous to South and - more famously perhaps - Central America & Mexico. In 2017 I began to explore cacao more deeply and in spring 2018 I trained as a cacaoista (one who works with cacao as a plant spirit & medicine) on an intensive, deeply affecting & unexpectedly spiritually impactful training retreat in Ibiza. I have been sharing cacao in ceremonies in Devon ever since. Cacao has proved to be a powerful teacher plant and ally for me. Cacao plant medicine feels like the missing piece for me, opening up a definitively spiritual, intuitive feminine path I've been exploring ever since. Working with cacao, exploring the inner world and connection to the divine spirit in nature, has also deepened my meditation practice significantly. I love holding sacred space and sharing this beautiful heart medicine in these women's circles.
Over the years my practice & interests have continued to evolve, and although I still teach & practice a form of Hatha Yoga (ie physical practices), these days I am more drawn to the meditative and subtle energetic aspects, including the practice of Yoga Nidra to shift our state of consciousness. This all feeds into my work with cacao as a plant medicine, as I draw deeply on my years of holding safe, compassionate space to guide women on shamanic inner journeys, assisted by the heart-opening gentle plant medicine of cacao - an ancient sacred teacher plant originally cultivated in Mesoamerica & South America.
Cacao, meditation and yoga form my core daily personal practices, rooted in nature-based spirituality alongside my long-term exploration of eastern and western philosophies. These days I'd describe my spiritual orientation as some kind of blend of animist/shamanist and zen buddhist...infused with some Hawaiian indigenous spirituality.