Interview with Yoga Light Vibes teacher Sally-Anne Reynolds
Sally-Anne is one of my absolute favourite local yoga teachers. Her story is really inspiring when it comes to following your dreams. Sally used to be a lawyer and then decided it just wasn’t making her happy, read on to hear more about her journey from law firm to teacher training in India….
Question 1.) What was the moment you decided to become a yoga teacher?
So the moment I decided to at least train to become a yoga teacher was during a session with an amazing career coach, who was encouraging me to find my purpose having left the legal world. This coach asked me to talk about my passions, and yoga was one of them. It had always been such a constant thing in my life, through trauma, loss, times when I had not been at my best.
In the past I used yoga as a form of exercise and for relaxation. However, it was no more than that, there was no real spiritual connection. As I talked with this career coach over various sessions, it all started to make sense for me and I realised that I wanted to go to India to train. Luckily for me an amazing opportunity arose to train with a fantastic recommended teacher, Lara Baumann of Quantum Yoga. (http://www.quantumyoga.com/).
So, I just went for it and completely immersed myself in the yoga. Whilst I was on the course everything changed for me, I had a real spiritual awakening, I felt so inspired and connected to myself. Afterwards, I got an opportunity to work in Goa, so I stayed on in India, teaching my first ever classes at a retreat centre in Patnem and the rest is history!
Question 2.) What’s the best thing about your job?
God there are so many good things about my job. But the best thing is when you change someone’s day for the better, so different to my last job!
We all have moments of feeling overwhelmed and anxious, I definitely do and sometimes I go to a class thinking “gosh how can I inspire people when I’m feeling so frazzled?” But so often the class itself brings me into such a space of peace and contentment, almost more than when I’m doing my own practice, it just completely grounds me and then in turn grounds everyone else. When people come up to me at the end of class and say, “thank you, you’ve given me exactly what I needed today” really that’s the best feeling.
Question 3.) What’s the biggest challenge?
Having to manage your own time, keeping the balance, keeping grounded yourself. Everyone assumes you’re very zen as a yoga teacher, but as I just said, we’re all human. Keeping yourself calm and focused within such changeable days and weeks, when you are racing all over town to teach classes can be challenging. So you have to find your own ways of grounding yourself, bringing your own energy levels up, know when to say no to things.
You have to also know when to allow yourself an hour off. You work at such random times, so if you do get an hour to yourself do what you need to do with that hour, if you want to watch TV and veg out, do it and don’t feel guilty about it.
You also need to re-charge yourself as a yoga teacher, so you can keep your classes fresh, keep them moving forward. A key for me — almost more than the physical practice — is to carve out a time every day to meditate, even if its just 5 minutes. Those 5 minutes a day really sorts me out.
Question 4.) So this is a bit of a question for me, but I imagine there are a few others out there who feel the same way. I’m not bendy at all, when I go to classes and still can’t touch my toes, it can make me feel frustrated. What are your top tips for people who aren’t naturally flexible but love yoga?
I was never a bendy person, I wasn’t a dancer or a gymnast, a lot of yoga teachers are or were. It’s taken me a long time to be able to do some of the postures; time and compassion are my top tips. Give yourself a break. Looking a certain way is not what it’s about, you have to try and let go of that. If touching your toes is your goal, just try and do a bit of stretching every day. But every body is so different, I really try and encourage people to understand their body, don’t try and be someone else. And remember, yoga is about going inwards; it’s not about external beauty.
Question 5.) Best London spots for yoga
Ok so West London:
Sangye Yoga School (formerly Jivamukti London) You get so much more than just the physical practice — With Jivamukti Yoga it’s a lovely, strong practice, but they also do chanting, great adjustments, and they often share beautiful words during class, which make you reflect on your life and your practice, taking you to a much deeper level. https://www.sangyeyoga.com/
The Life Centre They’ve been running for years and have some of the best teachers. http://www.thelifecentre.com/
Triyoga Camden — go to Triyoga for Durga Devi’s class — she completely changed my yoga practice and opened my eyes to the new world! https://triyoga.co.uk/locations/triyoga-camden/
Yoga Home in Stoke Newington. http://yogahome.com/
The Well Garden in Hackney. http://thewellgarden.co.uk/
Yoke in Dalston — amazing. http://yokedalston.co.uk/
East of Eden in Walthamstow. http://www.edeneast.co.uk/
If you want a slightly more spiritual or nurturing practice then choose the smaller, more low-key studios, where they really care about what they do and make time for their students, paying more attention to the little details.
Question 6.) What is the one part of your yoga journey that has had the biggest impact on your life?
Actually I think it’s the meditation. Learning to be still and sit with myself has just been the most amazing gift. I definitely started yoga because of the physical movement, but doing meditation every day has been the most transformative thing. It took me about a year to even enjoy meditating, I found it really hard sitting in lotus, but slowly I’ve become to love the pose.
Question 7.) Favourite pose?
I would never have thought it would be as I used to find it so uncomfortable, but probably now lotus. Other more dynamic postures that I love are headstands and handstands, and again I used to hate going upside down! It’s amazing how your practice evolves and how the postures you find the most challenging soon become your favourites.
Questions 8.) What are your 5 tips for a happy life?
— Daily meditation — even if it’s just 5 minutes of sitting still and focusing on the breath coming in and out of your body. It will honestly change your day.
— Forgiveness and compassion for yourself if you forget to do your meditation!
— Eating healthily, putting good things into your body.
— Surrounding yourself with people who inspire you.
— Try and learn something new every day, always be open to learning.
Sally-Anne will be teaching in Obonjan, Croatia (https://obonjan-island.com/) from 14–21 August. Her next UK retreat is in Oxfordshire 29 Sept — 1st Oct, at the beautiful Poundon House — Indian Summer, collaboration with &Sister Retreats. http://andsister.co.uk/event/indian-summer-with-sally-anne-reynolds-29th-september-1st-october-2017/)
Also coming up towards the end of the year/early 2018:
Quantum Yoga Teacher Training Taster Weekend at Poundon House (1st Dec 2018)
Yoga Light Vibes x Yoga Ro — Sunshine Retreat in Goa, India (March 2018)
Quantum Yoga Teacher Training, Ahamgama, Sri Lanka (April/May 2018)
Sally-Anne takes her Yoga Light Vibes all over London, teaching at studios, offices and private homes. So get in touch if you’d like to know more about how you can organise yoga at work or home.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @yogalightvibes
Studios she teaches at:
The Well Garden, Hackney Downs
Yoga Home, Stoke Newington (Wednesday 7–8am, Friday 1–2pm)
East of Eden, Walthamstow
She will also be popping up at a few other studios this summer, including Studio One, Islington and Yoke, Dalston