Amy Bell has recently started teaching vinyasa flow at Yoga West. She teaches vinyasa flow level 1-2 every Saturday from 8:45-9:45am. Click here to book onto her classes
How did you get into yoga?
At the age of 16 my elder sister, Laura, wanted to try out our local yoga class at the village hall, back in North Wales where we grew up. Being someone who is up for new experiences and most physical activities I decided to join her. As we were beginners we already felt awkward on arrival, then we realised we were the youngest by 20 years or so, cue the “omming” and our nervousness turned into hysterical giggles. We didn’t go back.
About a year later I began attending the weekly Ashtanga class at school, although my attendance was a little hit and miss. There were four of us, me, two school teachers, and the yoga teacher’s son. By this time, I had gotten over the chanting embarrassment, but I was still pretty ignorant and would leave before Savasana to be in time for the bus home.
I would say the above were stepping stone experiences towards getting into yoga which predominantly happened when Laura became an Ashtanga teacher when I was 19. I joined in all her classes and slowly began building up my self-practice by quietly copying her practicing at home.
Was there a moment when you realised that you wanted to pursue yoga seriously?
Yes, when I returned to the UK in January 2011 after spending a month on Laura’s yoga retreat in Sri Lanka getting over a break-up. I continued to spend about 6 months in Wales practicing yoga online, and then when I returned to London, I started making my way across the city trying out every studio, every class style and every teacher. The “New Member Trial Deals” were my constant companion. As I began to have a strong daily practice, teachers would ask if I was a teacher, which acted as fertilizer for the seed I had already sown to embark on a yoga teacher training course.
How has yoga changed you?
For many years, I had been trying to find my way both in my professional and personal life. During those stumbling times and when in my heart things didn’t feel right, yoga always acted as the moral compass that I needed to draw me to towards making more conscious and compassionate choices and helped me to re-align with my truth. The changes yoga brought about were accumulative and ever evolving. Now, I’m thrilled to be on this yoga teaching journey and sharing my love and knowledge of yoga with you all.
Another positive and transformational change that happened through yoga was my transition to becoming Vegan 5 years ago. My first inspiration came through attending Jivamukti classes, other influences then followed, and I have never looked back.
Advice to people considering it?
- Commit - it’s through the consistency that you will really start to feel the benefits, both in body and mind.
- Prioritise – especially in the beginning, so you can really get into the flow of it. If you try and balance your schedule and aim to fit it in then that class may never happen, if you prioritise attending then it will.
- Be open-minded – try and leave behind any judgements, pre-conceived ideas or apprehension about what the class will be like before you enter the studio.
- Be fearless - don’t be scared or intimidated as everyone in that room, including the teacher once was a beginner as well! I love seeing beginners come to class and will always try to re-assure them as I am also a beginner but in other sports that are slightly riskier (surfing, skateboarding and climbing). Therefore, I absolutely understand any fear, doubt, frustration or confusion you may have. Be confident, be bold, be brave, and don’t give up.
- Persist & Trust - even if you have had a bad or boring experience in your first few classes, don’t be put off, try another class and teacher (…remember my first experience?!). Trust the beginners journey.
- Explore - Try out all the different classes and teachers and you will hopefully find a few that resonate best with you. Even the same style of class will be different depending on who is teaching it, so I encourage you to be diverse in your class selection. After you have had a thorough exploration of the schedule choose your favourite teaches, those that inspire you, whose personality you warm to and whose knowledge you find valuable, then attend their classes as often as you can.
- Expand – last but not least if you do start practising yoga asana try incorporating a personal meditation practice into your daily routine as well, for they will be beneficial in supporting one another.