There is no such thing as a guru. A teacher is just like you. I am just like you.
I currently live in Ningbo, China. I am dedicated to working with and sharing health and wellbeing practices. I am passionate about education, creativity, culture and the arts, and contemplative practices, both ancient and modern. So far I’ve lived in six countries and travelled to many more. This way of life shapes my living practice on and off the yoga mat.
I suppose this might mean that I am most interested in authenticity, in living as authentically as possible, for myself and for my students.
I am an active Integral Yoga teacher, a university lecturer in International Communications for our preliminary year programme, and am also working towards an educational doctorate at the same institution in which I work, the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC). My doctoral research focuses on integrating meditation (a combination of mindfulness and self-inquiry) within Higher Education Pedagogy (HEP) for the purposes of developing students interpersonally, as fundamental and foundational for their interpersonal development. If you are already familiar with meditative practices, you are probably aware of what this could offer university students. It is a challenge indeed, but becoming increasingly more common everyday within school, college and university modules, courses and programmes.
I love to share Integral Yoga (its philosophy and techniques) with those who wish to explore. During my time in China, I also love delving deeply into one of the greatest books in existence, Tao Te Ching as well as elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its various forms. I also write for my favourite online magazine Elephant Journal, soon I will also be writing a series of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healing tonic and tea recipes to demystify these health-giving ingredients.
Yoga came into my life after years of reading with enthusiasm about spirituality, meditation, esoteric religions (especially Taoism), ancient wisdoms, life energy, you name it . . . but purely on an intellectual level. I had never actually practised a discipline for an extended period of time to really understand the impact and place it would have in my life. For some reason, it came to me that my body needed more integration into my thinking and approach to life, as I had never truly worked with my own body, and wasn’t particularly happy or really connected with it either (a bit of an understatement). I had also had some challenging experiences in relationships, each time conflicts occurred I discovered that I wasn’t at all aware of who I was and the role I play in my interactions with those closest to me. But I’ll share all that with you another time.
I discovered a fuss-free practice that is so well-suited to the modern world (and my lifestyle).
I met my inspiring teachers in Valencia, Spain, Tao Prajnananda and Ananda Vir Kaur at Yoga Integral Dharma Ananda, while living in the city. There I began training to be an Integral Yoga teacher in 2011, after years of trying out different yoga classes as an occasional recreational activity.
I have since explored many forms of wellbeing practices through taught courses, workshops and classes across Asia and Europe, all of which greatly inform my practice and teaching. In addition to regular practice, I’ve also studied with Taoist master Mantak Chia in Thailand; Yin Yoga teacher Victor Chng in Singapore and Malaysia; Kundalini Yoga teachers (some children of the late great Yogi Bhajan) in several Asian and European countries; and I am a Vipassana meditator, having attended the highly recommendable Vipassana in the UK, India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, as per the teachings of S.N.Goenka. I continually work with the self-inquiry meditation gift of Byron Katie’s The Work, the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, and a number of short nutritional and holistic health courses. I am currently rigorously working on delving into the Chinese Herbalism, as well as deepening by Integral Yoga practice of course. But Integral Yoga is my favourite to teach and share for its simplicity, effectiveness, completeness and universality.
What I really noticed when I started practising Integral Yoga seriously, was firstly the lack of relax time I had in an average day. At the start of a session, we usually do a 30-minute meditation, and at the end of every session a minimum 10-minute relaxation to feel the work we’ve done in our bodies and experience a state of no-mind. This was foreign to me, and I was a young adult with little to no real responsibilities. My body was tense and areas of my body blocked, stiff, painful, but to look at me, I was in normal health like everyone else. But when you start this process, you begin to wake up.
Some now-so-obvious realisations come to you: I am not truly healthy, my body doesn’t really relax. My mind never relaxes. I rarely feel or pay attention to my own body. I so often ignore the needs of my body for more immediate, functional needs I have on a daily basis. Within me are deep-rooted unquestioned beliefs that dictate my entire life. My mind never stops berating. My mind never stops flicking between kind and cruel, happy and sad, weak and strong, comfortable and uncomfortable, active and passive, unsettled and settled, open and closed . . . extreme polarities.
My mind dominates everything I do, and I am totally blind to it.
This is not living.
This practice begins to create balance and connectedness in your life. A newfound perception of your world as an adult. That kind of balance you might have last experienced fully as a very young child playing freely, or as a backpacker glaring at a breath-taking sunset.
Practical guidance, exploratory talk and the didactic teachings of these tried-and-tested techniques are necessary at the start of your practice and lifestyle adjustments, so that is one important thing I am here to share with you.