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Inside the studio, with Josie Steedman

During this week's 'Inside the studio' we have been very lucky to talk to Josie Steedman, a Northamptonshire based yoga teacher at YogaLocal. We ask Josie what inspired her journey to become a yoga teacher, her top tips for those of us wanting to make yoga a part of our daily lives and her favourite mantra.

Hi Josie, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview, we're very excited to get started!

How long have you been practicing yoga?

Oh.. this answer is not straightforward. As a purely physical practice it started for me in 2012. I was a have-a-go marathon runner and triathlete (in other words 100% effort 0% natural ability). Pounding pavements, crazy coast-to-coast cycling challenges and jumping into icy cold open water, was how I was dealing with (or more accurately avoiding) a whole heap of other stuff in my life. I was stressed, depressed and an anxious mess. But, oddly, that’s not what got me to my yoga mat. Nope. It didn’t occur to me that yoga could help with that stuff. Not at this point. I just wanted yoga to fix my exercise/lifestyle induced back pain, so that I could simply stay on my feet. I was so afraid of not being able keep going, moving and… doing. Sad to think back on that now, as it happens. But life has a funny way of giving you a healthy helping of the thing that you really, really need (err…to SLOW DOWN Josie) even if it’s the last thing you want… to wake up to what’s really going on. And that’s exactly what happened to me. My back gave out, I had to stop running (I could barely walk or even put my socks on) and that’s when yoga became so much more than physical therapy. It became my life therapy.

What is it that inspired you to become an instructor?

So much. But let’s rewind a little first. Let me take you back to 2013. I’d run my first marathon, my back was shot to pieces and my career as a journalist was way, way off track. A concerned friend introduced to the meditations and teachings of spiritual guru Deepak Chopra and in September 2013 I felt compelled to write my first ever blog post. A month later I had walked away from the career I thought defined me and I began what I now know was (and still is) my own healing journey. I adventured deep into the practice of yoga and its sister science of life, Ayurveda and the rest, as they say, is history…

Where did you train to teach yoga?

Well of course it had to be the Chopra Centre for Wellbeing, which is the spiritual home of Deepak Chopra no less, in Carlsbad, California. (By the way, I knew very little about meditation and had no intention of teaching – a yoga teacher with chronic back pain – don’t be silly!). But…after three years of jetting backwards and forwards, attending workshops, seminars and training sessions, and a whole-heap of home practice and study, I became both a Chopra Certified Educator in Ayurveda and a Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga Instructor. (Unbelievable!) But even more incredible was within a month of getting all my certs I had landed a teaching gig at Homefield Weight Loss and Detox Retreat in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside and founded my own wellbeing and yoga business, Yoga Local.

Let me add that my training didn’t (and won’t) stop stateside. I continue to learn from a variety of world-renowned teachers through YogaUOnline and I have earned a specialist teacher training in Yoga for Sports, through London-based Yoga Campus. What’s more, I continue to learn heaps from my dynamic yoga teacher and friend, Charlie Carter, who I practice with weekly. Charlie is as instrumental in all this as Deepak, if not more.

Where is your favourite place to practice yoga?

Anywhere outside. If there’s an opportunity to take my practice outdoors, I’m there.

What items do you like to use to enhance your practice?

I’ll happily experiment with blocks, straps and bolsters to help move me into unexplored spaces. Before I knew better I thought being ‘good at yoga’ was being able to stand on my head, or balance on my arms. Forget that! Being good at yoga is being able to respond to the needs of our bodies, minds and spirit in any moment – and if you need the support of a block and you take it, to me that’s being ‘good at yoga’. Important to remember these beautiful bodies of ours are not fixed objects. You and I are fluid, ever-changing beings and each time we show up on the mat, there’s new stuff to explore or bring back to balance. Just because your body shows up one way, one day, does not mean that’s how it is for keeps, job done…or conversely that your stuck with what you’ve got and there’s no hope for you. That’s the magic. You get to play anew with your new self each day and make choices that better serve you…and even fix stuff like chronic back pain. Which I did (by the way). ;)

What tips could you give to those of us with busy lifestyles who aspire to make yoga part of our daily lives?

Resistance is your enemy so you need a strategy to side step this monster. If you let it, resistance will start throwing up excuses of why you can’t, shouldn’t, won’t do what you know you need to do (like do yoga regularly or meditate). They sound like this:

  • I don’t do mornings

  • I don’t have time

  • It won’t work for me

  • I’m not good enough

  • Tomorrow will be better

  • I’m not ready

  • I just can’t sit still

  • There are others that come before me

  • I’m not flexible enough

  • I’m not young enough, old enough.

  • It will work itself out

So, my tip is to start small. Make one simple change that is easy and build on that as a foundation, knowing that when it comes to making good choices, the problem is not that you don’t know they are good choices, the problem is the resistance to ‘doing the work’.

Small changes, that represent easy choices can side step the monster that is resistance sent to thwart your good intentions.

Small changes lead you effortlessly towards any life goal. Don’t live in denial that you don’t really, really, really want what you want, or what you know is good for you and those around you. I encourage you to start small today.

What's your favourite quote/mantra to live by?

I can be, do and have anything my heart desires as long as I believe in the possibilities.

This was taken from my first blog post and how all this got started. Go take a look if you’re interested… there’s plenty more where that came from and plenty more to come.

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