Why I do what I do, and why i love doing it

Early Days

I was first introduced to Hatha Yoga by my mum. As a child I saw her practising at home and sometimes I would join in. However I didn’t stick at it once I left Dorset to go to Uni. I settled in Reading then London and attended yoga classes but usually let work and social life come first over exercise and at the time that is how I saw Yoga – exercise for my body.

In 1999 I spent 3 months in Sri Lanka, living with a Buddhist family, then I started to understand the part of my yoga practise that had been missing. During the day along with the other volunteers we helped with the family business – a sanctuary for retired working elephants. In the evenings we would talk to the family or hang out at the Buddhist monastery behind the house and chat to the monks or just learn to sit quietly. I didn’t think of it as meditation and mindfulness wasn’t a word we had even heard of, it was just a peaceful way to be and it felt really good!

I am so thankful for this experience; no electricity from 7pm to 7am, no mobiles, internet that worked for a couple of hours a day on a PC that took 15 minutes to warm up, and no stress based on money or deadlines.

Finding Balance

Returning home I endeavoured to keep the sense of quiet and balance I’d found but it was tough and soon I was sucked back into my old fast paced world.

Moving back to Dorset slowed me down again. I joined my mum’s Yoga class and found the teacher – Tamara created in her classes the space and calm that I had been craving. I saw fantastic improvements in my physical strength overall but especially in the areas around my lower back and hips that for so long had caused pain and discomfort.

Learning More

Through Tamara I found her teacher Saraswati and having attended different styles of Yoga class with different teachers over the years I knew I’d found my perfect balance between health for my body and my mind. I studied with Saraswati for 2 years. She is Sivananda trained and was one of the last teachers to have a certificate signed by Swami Vishnu Devananda before he died in 1993.

The message at the heart of this way of teaching is to make Yoga accessible to everyone. After 40+ years as a teacher Saraswati has passed on many other influences including her teachings as a Zen Buddhist. I qualified with the Yoga Alliance in 2018 and then started my own classes in Sherborne.

During this time I became a mum which being in my late 30’s meant new physical challenges, gradually old injuries flared up. The postures and understanding of my own body I had learnt through Yoga meant I could manage these changes with confidence.

Outside Yoga

Lockdown clearly had an impact on everyone and for my teaching it meant stopping when I had only just begun building up my classes. When we were able to meet in small groups outside I saw a way to connect with people again. I wasn’t sure how many people would want to do it and I was overwhelmed by the response. Over the months our sessions grew as we were allowed to meet in larger groups and I realised I was on to something! Connection with nature in the moment, fresh air, bird song, feeling the grass between your toes all underpin the principles of mindfulness so if we layered this on top of slow movement and breath work we created a powerful space.

Fast forward a couple of years and I now regularly run outside sessions at The Story Pig and The Potting Shed as well as venues in and around Sherborne with access to outside space whenever possible.

I continue to learn every time I teach, every person that comes into my class brings with them a story whether it this physical, mental or emotional and that is something I respect and feel honoured to share. I endeavour to make my classes both accessible and gently challenging helping you find your own boundaries and maybe lean into them a little more firmly.

Outdoor yoga class with Dawn Hart