1 of the Top 5: Changing Life and the Motherhood Experience
“In the end, yoga has less to do with what you can do with your body and more to do with the happiness that unfolds from realizing your full potential.” ~ Rod Stryker
Nine years ago I was inspired by this beautiful yogini, Tara Lee, who helped me find and instil peace and strength during both my pregnancies. She radiates such calm and joy and I would always think to myself “I want some of that! How do I get that?” And it was because of her I was inspired to continue and explore yoga as a student and eventually teacher. It was an honour and pleasure to have spoken with Tara this week. And it’s no secret why she’s notably “one of the top 5 teachers in the UK today” (Evening Standard). Through yoga, Tara is changing the experience of motherhood—and life—for women throughout the U.K. and abroad. For those of you interested in practicing with Tara keep reading for a chance to win one of her award-winning DVDs!
1) What’s your story?
I am a mother of two who lives in Notting Hill, London. I am originally from the U.K. so there’s no story there I’m afraid. London was where my father lived and my brothers so it was natural for me to move here after university. I have been teaching yoga for over 15 years (at the Life Centre) and have made 8 yoga DVDs (with 2 more in the pipe line!), a book and a yoga mat. I run training courses in pregnancy yoga.
2) How did you start your journey into yoga?
A friend took me to a yoga class at an Osho centre in Bristol when I was 19. I was at University at the time studying Psychology and Sociology. I loved it! It was a great time to discover yoga while I was studying so much and helped me to feel more clear headed.
3) What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
I had been practicing yoga for about 7 years and wanted to expand my knowledge and go deeper into my own practice so I enrolled onto a short teacher training course. After that I wanted to share what I had learnt with friends and family as it made me feel so good. I started teaching for fun and it just naturally grew from there. I had never planned on becoming a yoga teacher! At the beginning I would drive over an hour to teach my mother and her friends for an hour and then drive home! I was working in documentaries at the time and started teaching evenings and weekends. Eventually the teaching took over!
I wanted to help other women feel as good as I did during my pregnancy by sharing with them the yoga that I practiced as I was amazed how it helped keep me free of aches and pains throughout my pregnancies and helped me on so many levels during and after both pregnancies. I also wanted to offer mother and baby yoga to keep the continuity going so those women I had taught during their pregnancies could continue to do yoga with me and also I could then meet their babies and see how they were doing afterwards!
4) What style of yoga do you teach?
It is difficult for me to attach a label as it is a mixture of quite a few styles that I have learnt and adapted. Over the years I have practiced a variety of Ashtanga (when I was younger!), Jivamukti and a more general creative ‘Vinyasa flow’. My classes and personal practice are heavily influenced by my teacher of about 10 years Rod Stryker who teaches ‘Para yoga’. This way of practicing is based on ancient traditions and emphasises pranayama within the postures and the use of bandhas (energy locks) and meditation to build and connect to energy. It is a more subtle but very powerful way of practicing yoga.
5) Tell me more about the benefits of yoga for adults, pregnant women and new mums.
General benefits include increased awareness, clarity of mind, less aches and pains, a stronger body, better sleep, less stress and feeling more calm and a greater sense and connection to self. The benefits of yoga for pregnant women include the above and also it really helps them to connect to their babies and to prepare for the birth physically and mentally. There are breathing techniques and positions which can help during labour. It can also aid in the recovery after birth and it helps release tension (particularly in the neck, shoulders and thoracic region around the upper spine) which can accumulate postnatally from the new mothers continually feeding and carrying.
6) What advice can you give someone that’s never tried yoga or new to the practice?
Give it a go! There are so many different styles and different teachers so don’t just try one class. Do a little research about what’s on offer nearby and try a few different styles of yoga and teachers until you find the one you feel is right for you. Don’t worry if you’re not flexible. It will get easier over time especially if it feels challenging at first. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your body adapts and changes and how this affects your mind and other areas of your life. Over time you will realise that it doesn’t matter what the postures look like, it’s more about how they feel and how you can connect to your breath. You will feel amazing once you get the hang of it and want to learn more and more!
6) How can someone experience your classes at London or abroad?
People can come to the Life Centre where I teach a range of classes – pregnancy, mother and baby and general classes, or they can practice yoga at home with my DVDs/videos if they can’t see me in person (all available from Amazon as DVDs or downloads and most are available from iTunes).
7) What are your favourite places in London?
I love Hyde Park all year round, I love to see how it changes with the seasons. Notting Hill Gate and Portobello Road (my hood!) where I live and teach is always buzzing and vibrant.
8) What advice would you give to your younger self, now that you’ve had all these life experiences?
Do what you love, follow your dreams and listen to your intuition.
THANK YOU Tara for your beautiful work – inspiring me and many, many others on our journey into motherhood, yoga and beyond!
For more information on Tara Lee, her classes, DVDs and trainings click here. Learn how her unique blend of yoga styles for pregnancy and birth can have a positive impact on your experience as a new mother.
As always, I’d love connecting with you and hear about how you began and who inspired your yoga journey! Or let me know if you or someone you know would be great to feature for my community. Head over to the comments section below to share your thoughts.
With love and gratitude,
p.s. Interested in winning one of Tara’s DVDs, either a pre-and post-natal yoga (Bump, Birth and Beyond) or general vinyasa yoga (Elements of Yoga) DVD? There are 2 ways to enter:
ONE: Follow @leslie.keeler.saglio and @taraleeyoga IG accounts and when you see one of our yoga posts, tag 5 of your friends in the comments!
TWO: Answer the question below:
Where can you find Tara Lee teaching weekly yoga classes?
A) Richmond B) Notting Hill C) Shoreditch D) Chelsea
Basically every time you do either of these things, you will be entered one time. The competition ends July 4th and a winner will be announced July 5th.