I've been nomadic, philosophical and creative since childhood; over the decades, this path has ripened into one of holistic healing, deepening spiritual inquiry, reverence for nature, and conscious peaceful living and an intuitive path.
Yoga, cacao and meditation form my core daily practices, rooted in nature-based, feminine spirituality alongside my long-term exploration of eastern and western philosophies. Aspects of Zen, Buddhism, Taoism and Tantra particularly resonate with their practicality, emphasis on working with wherever we find ourselves in this moment, cultivating joyful acceptance and embrace of our lives in this physical world and an awareness which recognises the beauty to be found in the natural world and the wisdom and harmony we can tap into by observing and bringing ourselves into sync with nature's cycles and qualities.
I studied western philosophy at uni in the mid-90s (and around the same time began a self-taught home yoga practice using only a book as my teacher.) After graduation I spent the rest of my 20s living a very nomadic life (resuming an early-childhood pattern!) living, working & travelling throughout Canada, the USA, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Spain; New Mexico and Thailand in particular had a profound & lasting impact. During this period, I became interested in Taoist, Zen and Buddhist philosophies, and taught English as a foreign language for 5 years. After returning to the UK, I gravitated back towards my childhood love of art and ended up working my way through another degree, in fine art.
I began a self-taught traditional Hatha Yoga practice back in 1995; from 2005-2015 I studied with Duncan Hulin, an excellent, authentic and deeply grounded teacher and yogi, and also a gifted shiatsu therapist whose treatments and yoga teaching proved hugely healing for me. Duncan is the Founder & Director of the Devon School of Yoga, with whom I also trained as a teacher from 2011-13 (500hrs DSY Diploma). I began teaching yoga in 2012, 6 months into the course, and have been teaching ever since.
From 2009-15, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga became my main yoga practice, and during my "peak Ashtanga" period I alternated Primary & Second Series as my daily practice. I was a serious & committed Ashtangi for a time, seeking out American pioneers David Williams, Nancy Gilgoff and Doug Swenson as well as Andrea Durant, a wonderful, compassionate teacher who first brought Ashtanga to Devon. In late 2015 I travelled to Maui, Hawaii, for further study with Nancy Gilgoff, but I found myself instead drawn to more soft, nurturing, feminine approaches to yoga. I realised traditional Ashtanga was no longer for me and that, rather than seeking more external validation, my own experience and years of practice were all the authority and validation I needed for what I did, and what I shared. This was a powerful realisation for me about the importance of finding validation & power from within and not needing to justify ourselves & our choices to others. It also marked a definitive shift: I no longer had any interest in either "progressing" towards more challenging poses in my personal practice nor in encouraging my students to do this.
Maui marked a major turning point in my life. I experienced profound soul retrieval and heart-opening alongside the awakening of more personal empowerment on this Hawaiian island: something deep in my soul connected strongly to the energy and beauty of this land. I experienced an increasingly magical series of realisations unfolding during my time there.
Jennifer Lynn's hugely inspirational Wisdom Flow Yoga classes were a fundamental part of Maui's magic for me, with their combination of heart-oriented and nature-infused wisdom, inspired by Anusara and the Tantric philosophy of Kashmiri Shaivism, and shared in an emotionally insightful way. Maui's rich yoga culture also presented me with a chance to explore the softness & nurturing of Yin and Restorative approaches to yoga, a much-needed counterbalance to the often very harsh, strict, driven qualities which can easily creep into Ashtanga.
On Maui, I also discovered a wonderful authentic lomilomi massage school/spa, Ho'omana Spa, in the jungly hills of Makawao, which began a magnet for me. I took private tuition there to learn the basics of this profoundly spiritual and healing form of massage. I had already been a professional Thai yoga massage therapist for a couple of years at that point (having taken my main training in a hill tribe village in the far north of Thailand, as well as a basic training in the UK and advanced techniques in Portugal). (Learn more about my massage work & training here.) I've continued to study the culture, healing traditions and indigenous spiritual wisdom of Hawaii; I also continue to be inspired by the compassionate practice of traditional Thai massage. As a nature-spirituality-healing-oriented person, and as someone who's travelled and lived abroad for a fair chunk of time, I continue to be fascinated by indigenous cultures and traditional medicine practices rooted in a more Earth-honouring wisdom. (This is part of what also drew me towards working with cacao plant medicine - read on!)
Post-Maui, my yoga practice & teaching has shifted away from particular styles & lineages and became more rooted in my own personal explorations...I spent the winter of 2016-17 teaching yoga & giving Thai-Hawaiian massages at a yoga retreat in Thailand and continuing to allow my yoga offerings to evolve alongside experimenting with fusion bodywork.
I've long been drawn to shamanist spirituality, rooted as it is in an ancient, deeply reverent sense of the sacredness of nature - indigenous to Earth. In the wake of my heart-opening experiences on Maui, I felt the call of cacao, a heart-opening plant medicine indigenous to South and - more famously perhaps - Central America & Mexico. In 2017 I began to explore cacao more deeply and in spring 2018 I trained as a cacaoista (one who works shamanically with cacao as a plant spirit & medicine) on an intensive, deeply affecting & unexpectedly spiritually impactful training retreat in Ibiza. I have been sharing cacao in ceremonies in Devon ever since. Cacao has proved to be a powerful teacher plant and ally for me. Cacao plant medicine feels like the missing piece for me, opening up a definitively spiritual, intuitive feminine path I've been exploring ever since. Working with cacao, exploring the inner world, has also deepened my meditation practice significantly. I love holding sacred space and sharing this beautiful heart medicine in these women's circles.
I share my various nurturing, heart-oriented offerings, whether yoga, cacao or massage, as spiritual, meditative, nourishing and healing practices which I hope will bring you as much body & soul medicine as they have gifted me over the years.