The long story... how Yoga became my life.
When I slipped quietly into the back of my first yoga class back in 2000, I could barely touch my toes, my nose ran incessantly and I appeared to be sweating far more than anyone else in the class. There was much in the movement, however, that my body remembered from my early dancing days (I'd donned a tutu for the first time aged 3), and I was soon hooked.
Whilst I adored the physical practice, initially I had little interest in spirituality. Before long though, I was beginning to question my life choices and wonder about some higher purpose. Yoga can sneak up you like that. I had always been a traveller, had many friends and my life was very full, but there was a part of me that felt there must be more to it all than what I was experiencing. I was a party girl and binge drinker who had smoked 20 a day since her early teens. For more years than I care to admit, I was mostly either drunk or hung over, and whilst the good times were undoubtedly still good, the bad times that invariably followed were getting worse and worse. My visits to the dark side got darker, more desperate and more frequent as time went on.
In 2003 I took off on a year long backpacking trip around Asia and a few months into the adventure found myself in the Sivananda Ashram in Southern India. The daily pranayama, mantra, meditation, seva and satsang were unlike anything I had experienced before and brought up fierce resistance in me. I skipped out of classes, refused to do karma yoga, argued with staff and was ultimately asked to leave the ashram. As I left, my snorts of derision could likely have been heard from Sri Lanka - but seeds had been planted, and whether I liked it or not, they were beginning to grow.
The universe gives us signs. All we have to do is be open to seeing them. What we resist persists - we can either listen to the gentle suggestions life whispers to us, or we can ignore them, for a while. If it is meant to be, the universe will step in and make it happen. Back in London in 2005, I witnessed with open-mouthed awe as my entire life structure completely disintegrated in less than 7 weeks. My volatile and drunken relationship came to a violent end, I lost my home, my 3 closest friends told me they were moving away, my beloved grandmother died, my employer notified me of a huge pay cut, and finally the London bombings occurred right by my place of work. It was incredible, everything just fell apart. For a few weeks, I was numb. Then, I travelled to Egypt for a 2 week yoga retreat by the beach and despite (or more likely due to) spending the entire first week in tears, it was incredibly healing. I came away with a new determination to listen to my inner voice, take responsibility for my choices and what I had attracted into my life and to make some major life changes.
Six months later I headed off to Asia and took a 3 month profoundly transformative residential teacher training at Pyramid Yoga Center on the island of Koh Phangan. Here I essentially awakened. Everything I thought I believed in (and I had been very stubborn in my beliefs) was turned on its head and dramatic, unexpected changes began to filter through my life. I took this training for myself with no intention of teaching but 3 days after certification, I began teaching Yoga as part of a massage course. That was in April 2006 and have not stopped teaching since. I was assisting at Pyramid by the start of 2007 and a few months later had moved to Bangkok and thrown myself into powerful practice and study with many fantastic teachers. Within 6 months I was teaching at 4 studios in the city with a schedule of 17 classes per week and my new life had fully begun. The experience I gained during this time was incredible and invaluable but that pace of teaching was not sustainable for me and after almost 2 years in Thailand's City of Angels, I switched my base to Koh Phangan to focus more on immersions, private retreats and teacher training. After weaving in and out of California and Thailand for 4 or 5 years and what we can confidently call a 'bumpy' transition (ok it was world shattering and horrendous, but that's another story), I am now happily settled at home in my Motherland of Northern Ireland.
In the 18 years I have been practicing, and 12 I have been teaching, I have accumulated over 2500 hours of accredited training and taught more than 4000 hours of public and private classes, workshops, immersions, retreats and teacher trainings from Thailand to Panama, Costa Rica to Fiji, Australia to Ireland.
I am an E-RYT500 & YACEP holding the highest level of training recognised by Yoga Alliance. I have been recognised by my teacher Mark Whitwell as a Yogacharya - a lifelong teacher of Yoga who has overcome their own suffering. My certifications and ongoing trainings include:
- Senior Heart of Yoga Teacher
- Science of Chakra Yoga 340 hrs
- Anusara-Inspired Yoga 200 hrs
- Hatha Yoga 500 hrs (RYT500 from Anusara)
- Advanced Forrest Yoga Teacher Training
- Nada Yoga, Ancient Healing & Transformative Voice Work - Voices of Eden
- Tao Tantric Arts 200 hrs - Universal Healing Tao
- Ayurvedic Yoga Massage
- TRE Provider (Tension/Trauma Releasing Exercises)
- Embodied Anatomy & Yoga 100hrs with Amy Matthews
- Yoga Anatomy Principles with Leslie Kaminoff
- Yin & Yang Yoga Advanced Training 50hrs with Simon Low
- The Naked Voice with Chloe Goodchild
- Kirtan Flight School with Dave Stringer
- Mindfulness Mentoring & Facilitation with Team Up
plus many hundreds of additional hours with notable teachers worldwide.
I have studied, practiced, enjoyed and healed through many evolutionary and transformative healing modalities along the way such as Somatic Experiencing Trauma Healing, Body-Mind Centering, Gestalt Psychotherapy, Cranio Sacral Therapy, Thai Massage, Emotional Freedom Technique, Non Violent Communication, Family Constellations, Tantra, Sacred Sexuality & Women’s Sexual Empowerment, Vipassana, Mindfulness, Voice Work and Meditation. I have taken courses with the delightful Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living Organisation, and have been greatly inspired and touched by countless hours of audio teachings from master teachers such as Caroline Myss, David Deida, Wayne Dyer and many others. My spirit animals these days are the powerful women who keep me accountable to my own integrity and in my growth zone. They are Brenè Brown, Marie Forleo and Elizabeth Gilbert.
Through these practices, I have changed. I no longer have the rage issues and violent temper I once had, depression and anxiety do not plague me like they used to, I am able to communicate much better without becoming defensive or attacking. My relationships are mutually nourishing and supportive. I make healthier choices. I still have my moments and yoga did not suddenly make life easy – in fact it led me to delve deeper into my patterns of behaviour and to face many uncomfortable truths about myself. I have dealt with many injuries, overcome the darkness of chronic pain, beaten my addictions and recovered from the utter shattering of my self-esteem. I have rebuilt myself with yoga and transformational practices and am hugely passionate about sharing what I have learned.
It is my heart’s desire to teach deeply connected, empowering and inspirational yoga, to promote and facilitate self-love, awareness, healing and open-heartedness, and to effectively train others to do the same. I want to spread the message that transformation is possible for everyone who wants it – especially those who doubt themselves. To share my experience of healing who want it and are ready. The warriors whose spirit is calling them to transform their lives. There is a global movement of awakening, healing and transformation happening - it is spreading like wildfire, and I am honoured to be part of it.
I am extremely grateful for all my teachers and all the lessons they have brought me.
In love, Emma