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HEALTH WINNER Sponsored by

YOGADOO Lucy Aston, founder of YOGADOO wasn’t always a full-time yogi. Once upon a time she had a career in PR and even a job as a BBC journalist, but some important life events made her want to teach yoga to spread its physical and mental health benefits… So how did it feel to win a Bath Life Award? How did you celebrate? Because YOGADOO is a very young business, and because of the quality of the other finalist businesses, we were genuinely overwhelmed when we saw the YOGADOO logo flash up on the screen to announce we had won. When a panel of strangers, who are all incredible business people in their own right, grant you a little bit of recognition for what you have achieved, then suddenly you start to think that you might be doing something right. We were all thrilled but our son was particularly proud, and took the trophy to school for ‘show and tell’ in his class. We went for a family meal to celebrate. What makes YOGADOO unique? There isn’t another company like us. YOGADOO is quite different to other yoga businesses as the lion’s share of the yogis stepping foot on our mats are under 16 years old. We are working in over 35 schools in the area, teaching children from reception through to teenagers taking their GCSEs. Our teachers are qualified to teach yoga and mindfulness to youngsters and give them a fun and engaging introduction to yoga which arms them with ways to regulate their emotions, relax and learn about their bodies. How did you get into this career? I’ve practiced yoga for 20 years, starting at university when studying for a law degree. I’ve continued to use yoga throughout my life to find a bit of calm and grounding whilst working as a BBC journalist and a PR director. I call yoga my ‘ctrl alt del’ button – the perfect way to reset. It was our eightyear-old son Freddie’s idea that I should start an after-school club at his primary school. At that time, I was working as a PR director in Bath so on my one day off a week 118 I BATH LIFE I

Lucy Aston at the Bath Life Awards

I started to teach at his school. But it wasn’t until I was staying in Paris for my teacher training during the weekend of the 2015 terror attacks, which really affected me, that I realised life is short and precious and I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life. That is when YOGADOO was born; I gave my notice in on my PR job, and went from there! Why do you have a particular passion for teaching young people and children? Children are growing up in a very different world to the one where us parents and grandparents grew up. They lead much busier lives and have many more distractions than we ever did. There are also many more youngsters with mental health problems, which concerns me. I really do feel if children and young people can find ways to become more resilient and self-regulate their emotions and feelings, it will stand them in good stead as they grow up. Maybe a 5000-year-old practice is exactly what we need in this modern age; it’s back to basics. What advice would you give someone looking to teach yoga? Think really carefully about why you would like to teach yoga. If you have a well-developed practice then that’s certainly a good start but the reality of turning a hobby or passion into a career can be tricky. But that’s not to say don’t do it. Do your research on teacher training, make sure your course is accredited, and go for it, but consider all the time it takes to plan lessons, marketing and running the business itself for you to become a success. What do you feel are the benefits of doing yoga regularly? The benefits are endless and it is only once you start regular yoga practice and then stop that you’ll realise what you take from it. For me personally, it helps relieve my back problems,

after rowing for three years at university and years of a desk job; I have sciatica and that is triggered if I stop practicing yoga for any length of time – with yoga, the symptoms completely disappear. So it can help you to strengthen your back, release tension from throughout your body, improve your posture, and lengthen and tone your muscles. But those are just some of the benefits to your physical health, for me yoga is equally, if not more, about helping to improve your mental health. Because you are focusing on yourself and your breath, it helps to calm, soothe and clear your mind. It is scientifically proven to help relieve stress, anxiety and depression and it’s a wonderfully powerful tool. What’s your favourite yoga pose and why? It’s really hard to say as I love them all for different reasons and it will depend on how I’m feeling, and what mood I’m in. But I would probably say ‘downward dog’ – just because it’s a measure of my mood. It’s a pose with benefits for all-over your body, from your ankles and heels all the way up your back into your neck and shoulders. Because I run, my hamstrings can be tight so it is perfect for stretching them. Any news to share, or exciting projects in the pipeline? So much has happened in our first year already. We’ve just opened our first pop-up yoga studio at Newton farm in Newton St Loe called the Yoga Barn which is very exciting; we’re running children’s yoga workshops at weekends and in the holidays, in such a beautiful setting overlooking the farm. We are also hoping to add adult classes to the Yoga Barn timetable very soon. Over the next few months we are working with several Bath charities on some really interesting projects, using yoga as therapy with young people. For more:

Profile for MediaClash

Bath Life 342  

Bath Life 342