Yoga therapy, from Sheffield to Fort Cochi

Hello to clients past, present and those yet to be introduced!


I arrived in Fort Cochin in the Indian state of Kerala on Tuesday 25th October on professional sabbatical. I’m here to learn more of the authentic process of yoga and how it enhances daily living. My interest is in part motivated by preparations to launch group work (coming in 2017) for existing clients and anyone who would like to benefit from yoga and psychotherapeutic techniques combined.

I have a total of  seven weeks here. I am having one to one yoga sessions daily and joining in with any groups. Additionally there are personal conversations about the philosophy of yoga and my own personal developmental needs. At the physical level, prior to arranging this study leave, I have been affected by a right hip, right knee and right ankle discomfort and movement limitation.

I have often wondered if sitting so still for prolonged periods in psychotherapy sessions over the last twenty years has contributed to this unease? I certainly developed a poor habit of crossing the right leg over left. Physiotherapist and yoga teacher Pam gave me adaptations to yoga asanas (postures) for five weeks before I set out to India, so I’m seeking to explore the musculoskeletal problems. Emotionally, I’m in transition as a full time mother launching the youngest child to her independence at University next October. This is a change we are both consciously preparing for and is probably generating excitement and apprehension for both!

The area Fort Cochi is made up of Christian, Hindu and Muslim householders. It has a rich history and seems to be hotchpotch with decayed and derelict plots interspersed with impressive ‘comfortably off ‘ residential buildings. People ride 2 to 5 abreast on mopeds and scooters and auto rickshaws zoom noisily here there and everywhere. Barefoot groups of young males play football on broken concrete surfaces and hockey on a patch surrounded by historical sites of interest.

I’m eating two vegan meals a day and drinking a lot of water. I have been offered suggestions to aid digestion including a seated upright posture (thunderbolt) 5 mins and side lying right (8 counts) left (16 counts)and supine (32 counts). He advocates a portion size that leaves no waste in the dish. I eat with a spoon and although one traditionally eats with one’s right hand fingers.

The climate is very humid. When outside of Santana Yog Sandesh I am thoughtful of being dressed modestly, although I have worn a knee length skirt and a short sleeved t shirt, but nothing tight or strappy. The mosquitos are an absolute pest and I have the inevitable bites and join the dots swollen lumps everywhere on the body. I was none too impressed by the sighting of an insect emerging from my packing that was identified as a large cockroach in a burgundy hue!img_2294-1

My scheme of work is to understand the relevance and suitability of yoga for anyone with mental health imbalance.

It’s essential for me to experience in my own body, mind and brain how yoga feels. In Sheffield I have been fortunate to meet a dedicated couple, Hannah Nunn and Chris Noon who teach in Walkley and have recently opened a new centre for day time and evening yoga classes, workshops and related events. Potentially my group work may be hosted in their space. Each month I attend Saturday whole day trainings for yoga teachers which they organise with guest teachers from all over the country. So why have I journeyed thousands of miles is a reasonable question?

I knew I wanted to be in an environment that supported my immersion and removed me from all that is known and familiar and habitual. Presently there are no other Europeans expected here and I speak English only.

Essentially I have volitionally put myself under healthy stress. This is not a spa setting nor a holiday with some backlit shots of extreme yoga poses on a rock by the sea.

Indeed, I laughed to myself that in the rooftop yoga hall, lovingly and painstakingly renovated, when I selected a mat and it rolled out with bird poop on!img_2298-1 Here I have the time, the focus and the patient teaching of someone who has a cultural reference point of yoga that is known to multiple generations. It is done without fuss and yet has ritual and tradition. It is for everyone on the street, in the factory, office, classroom, government forces. Age is of no significance. Gender and sex irrelevant. Diseased, immobile, incapacitated through injury – probably all people are aware of yoga here. It is a fact of life in India. I needed to come.

Feel free to contact me while I am away to enquire about yoga therapy in Sheffield from December 2016

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