This is the first of our new #yogateacherofthemonth blog posts… where we’ll be sharing Q&As with yoga teachers to see where they started, what makes them tick, and hopefully reveal the human side of our yoga teachers. I’m really excited about our first featured teacher, who is the yummiest yoga teacher – Natalie Farrell has just launched her amazing yoga & lifestyle website Yummy Yoga Girl . Natalie & I met after she commissioned photos from me for her new website – she found an amazing venue for us to shoot at, and with her incredible energy it was hard not to capture her uniqueness and joy. That same genergy comes across in her answers below. So just enjoy soaking up the energy from this beautiful teacher.
When and why did you start doing yoga?
Lol! I remember asking my Mum to buy me the Geri Halliwell Yoga workout video when I was 19. I dabbled a little with an awareness of how my body needed to stretch. I then came back to Yoga at the age of 32. I was feeling lost and upset as my singing teacher had lost his battle with cancer. A friend of mine was a newly qualified Kundalini Yoga teacher and I took up her kind offer for 1-2-1 tuition. I had been studying singing with Howard Milner in London for two years only. He was an amazing teacher and mentor. I felt I needed to continue the work we had begun. Subsequently, I have developed his work into The Milner Technique which I use in classes and 1-2-1 coaching. I was attracted to the breathing practise and discipline Kundalini Yoga offered. From here I began to explore and read further into philosophies such as the Tao Te Ching, Reiki, Chakras. I found they all related to Howard’s teaching. It was like I was putting pieces of a puzzle together. The idea of softening in my centre and drawing up the breath flow for strength and power as a singer was in fact more than a singing technique (thanks Howard.) It has become my entire ethos for life. In 2015, leaving my vocal coaching position at Sevenoaks School and The Voice Experience, a business I founded in 2008, I travelled to Santa Barbara to embark upon a 200 hour teacher training course with Ganga White and Tracy Rich.
Tell us about where you trained or whom you trained with as a yoga teacher?
I trained in Santa Barbara, California. I felt I wanted to reach out away from the known and my comfortable zone. Breaking barriers. I also wanted to study in America as I felt I needed to be around energetic, open minded people. It was an amazing two weeks of self exploration, meeting new friends, soaking up information under the Californian sun and speaking openly about who I was. Staying in a yurt with my roomies was fun and the food was divine. As I had hoped, becoming a Yoga Teacher offered me the opportunity to face my fears head on. Working through old issues that I no longer wanted in my life. One of my fab memories was our yurt gecko .We thought he was dead! Until he moved out a day before we all left…after shedding his skin. We are the makers of our own success, 100% responsible for our own actions. However I do believe there are little signs along the way, to encourage us towards success. I feel very comfortable in my new skin! I hope he does too… What’s been the most valuable lesson you have learnt since training as a yoga teacher? Repetition – Key to ALL Success. You repeat to achieve your goal with a positive & non judgemental attitude on yourself. You begin to unlock blockages, commit yourself to the progression work and shifts that arise. It’s like building your most desirable home. The plans chop and change, you hit pipes that burst that then become fixed, you find new ways to be energy and time efficient, so you can spend more time in your gorgeous home. This is what Yoga means to me and it is such fun. Even on the crappy days which still come, you are more equipped and this thing called life becomes easier and easier.
If you could choose only yoga 5 poses to practise every day, what would they be and why?
1. Cat/Cow – I love the fluid movement you gain in your spine in this gentle pose.
2. Ragdoll – Another amazing pose to bring movement into the spine and balance your postural alignment.
3. Downward Dog – Hamstring Love
4. Pigeon – Strong pose to open the hips.
5. Forward Fold – My nemesis! It’s a challenge seated and standing. I now enjoy the tension and breathe into the pain, it’s getting easier with patience and time.
What’s the most challenging yoga pose for you?
Now this is a question! Cow face.
Our body stores emotions on a level, as well as physical tension. For many of us the hipscan be an area of tightness. Mine included! I have been known to cry when holding this position. In fact it was another reason for my exploration of Yoga, I was intrigued to see if I could… with time, open my hips. And it’s happening. Which reminds me I will practise this today!
For physical health, do you only do yoga, or do you participate in other sports and activities?
I like to rollerblade, ride my bike and occasionally I run to enjoy the scenery and breathe in the beauty of the Kent countryside or wherever I may be in the world.
Do you make a living from yoga teaching? If yes, how do you do it, if no, what else do you do?
Yummy Yoga Girl is a newly launched online health and lifestyle business. As a health and lifestyle coach I offer 1-2-1 Wellbeing Coaching Programmes which run for 3 months. The coaching incorporates every aspect of my expertise including my gift as a Coach to
intuitively help each client find the right solutions for their personal development. Wellbeing began as a self taught journey. My tools box is full now with the following qualifications: NLP practitioner, Confidence Coach, Health and Lifestyle Coach, Yoga Teacher, The Milner Method and Reiki practitioner. Hypnosis coming soon… The site will be offering an online subscription to Yoga classes aimed at beginners helping them to experience Yoga practise in a space they feel comfortable in. Watch Out – Later on in the year I am launching the YYG yoga clothes range.
What is it that keeps you practising yoga?
1. By the time I am 90 I will be able to do the splits!!!
2. The benefits of the practise effect all areas of the body. For example it is important to keep your bones healthy and strong. The strength work helps with this aspect for sure.
3. The balance I gain from allowing my body to rest during relaxation. This has bought great calmness to my persona. I live 80% of my time in what I would call a clear free flowing state of being. We can all continue to grow and develop ourselves.
4. I can’t wait to expand to a 100% existence of being in my flow.
Do you prefer traditional styles of yoga or an evolved modern style? and what do you think about how yoga has evolved?
I appreciate the roots of traditional yoga but we are evolving beings. I work all of my learnings, philosophies and beliefs into my teaching/coaching. I am so excited about how Yoga is evolving. Rock on. More and more people are becoming Yoga Junkies. We are meant to move. We are meant to look after ourselves – to be highly functioning beings. It is one of the best remedies for stress release and can help as a support for people with anxiety, depression and self esteem issues. My classes are a mix of “chillman” versus “hotting it up” moves. With a strong emphasis on:
• helping people to understand how to ease into the stretch/strength work using their breath
• explore a deeper awareness of the practise with a principle of softening I developed called The Milner Technique allowing the fascia and muscle to release for more production and a healthier functioning body.
I trained Dame Kelly Holmes last year before her London Marathon challenge. After a hamstring and hip practise she exclaimed “I thought yoga was meant to be relaxing!” Relaxation is only one part of it and important as it helps to regulate the part of your
autonomic system, which controls the rest/digest response.
If you could give only one piece of advice to a complete beginner walking into a yoga class for the first time, what would it be?
Be kind to yourself. Yoga is about the long journey. It will hurt! But the excitement comes through learning to work beyond the pain. Which is part of the long term goal too, allowing to let go of the control your mind has over your body. This is what sets yoga aside from any other physical exercise. Hooked!!! The moment you achieve a move you believed “you couldn’t achieve’ the
rewards are amazing. I explain more about this on the YYG video page of my website click on the Why Yoga? Video for more information.
Could you share with us an important/touching moment you have experienced as a yoga teacher?
Judith Lasater, author of Yogabody, explains of her experience of coming to the mat as a nervous teacher for the first time;
“As soon as I sat on the mat, I felt the presence of all the great masters before. A sense of ease then came upon me.”
The feeling you get from sharing and channeling the teachings is embodied truly into the now. At the end of a class seeing or hearing people feeling refreshed and rebooted is yummy too!
Is there anything you wish your yoga students knew about you?
I once sung on channel 4’s The Last Leg dressed as a Panda!
Please give us details about where to find you online, where you teach and how to contact you.
Visit www.yummyyogagirl.com for online videos, blog posts, coaching programmes and information on my teachings.
I am also on Instagram under Yummy Yoga Girl, I tweet regularly too and have a Facebook page devoted to all things healthy and yummy to help you transform and be amazing.
Thank you to Natalie for taking the time to share her journey.
If you’re yoga teacher and would like to feature on the Yogahound, please get in touch.
All photos © 2017 by UK based Dance & Yoga Photographer Hanri van Wyk www.hanri.co.uk
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