It’s super inspiring to connect with yoga teachers who are passionate, kind, and open-hearted. London-based Emily Reed is at the top of the list! After attending Emily’s transformative retreat in the hills of Andalusia (read the review here), we asked her some questions to learn more about her personal yoga journey.
How/why did you start practicing yoga?
I didn’t really “choose” yoga… Yoga chose me. My mother, a Reiki and radionics practitioner, had practiced yoga for all of my life. In my early 20s I was suffering from “overload” -and too much of an “all or nothing” lifestyle, which was depleting my energy, damaging my body, and leaving me with bouts of anxiety and insomnia. My gracious, ever-loving mother gently tried to veer me towards yoga as a way to deal with my frenzied lifestyle and mind. At first I resisted, but after a while I agreed to go to a local class lead by Susanne Lahusen (www.susannelahusen.com) in Fulham, London.
Whilst there was no profound feeling after the class, I did feel a little more space in my body, calmness in my breath, and a steadiness in the flow of thoughts in my mind. I slept like a log that night! And I decided to attend again the following week. And the next. And the next…
When did you decide to become a teacher?
After several years of committed practice (my once a week sessions had gone to three times a week), I began to “wake up” – wake up to who I was, to what inspired me in life and my path in it. I wanted to teach, guide, inspire, uplift, mentor and help people find a greater understanding of themselves and life around them. Using the tools of yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation, I now help people to strengthen their bodies, and observe and harness the power of the minds. My desire to teach has evolved further in that now it is about “offering” these sacred teachings for all beings. My teaching is a path of service and offering.
Being based in London, where do you teach?
I teach privately, seeing people of all ages and backgrounds in their own homes or in my home space in Battersea. I teach groups classes at The Life Centre, guide retreats, and hold workshops where I share about my passion for Ayurveda. In the last 2 years I have been part of the Ishta teacher training program. Teaching deeper aspects of hatha yoga, Ayurveda, and tantra to individuals who are so keen to become teachers themselves has been fulfilling on so many levels. It has provided me with an opportunity to share the deeper aspects and teachings I have received in these ancient sciences, and most of all, it has brought more depths to my own learning and experience of ancient eastern wisdom.
What core principles have you developed in your personal practice that you want to share with others through teaching and on retreat?
One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I received from my Ayurvedic teacher in India was this:
“The role of a teacher in spiritual practices is to awaken the inner healer in each being.” I love this concept because it underscores the ability each and every being has to heal themselves. No person can heal another or make someone’s life better. But they can awaken and inspire an individual to live to their full potential every day. And the role of the teacher is to “guide”. To create the safe space and environment and let the student’s inner healer do the rest.
My desire is to help people realise their unique potential in this life, and to live to their full potential each and every day. I use the tools of daily meditation, pranayama, and yoga asana to stir up and clear the knots and congestion one accumulates through life. But most of all, I build trust with my students and fellow yogis… and I create the space. I support and hold that space as a safe hold, and watch as the group gradually unfolds in their own unique way.
When you’re planning a retreat, what are the most important elements you want to include (location, activities, etc.)?
Nature, peace, quiet. Nothing too manicured or too indulgent (that’s not to say I don’t like doing retreats in luxury spaces), but in my personal experience, and as a guide on a retreat, the less clutter, the better. The more able we are to go deeper in the practices and into ourselves. I love places where we can experience early morning meditation, quiet contemplation, and pranayama outside at dawn. Close to the sounds of birds, crickets, and leaves blowing in the trees, or waves lapping a shore. In these precious early hours is where we find a deep connection to ourselves and are more able to feel that deep connection to nature. That we are part of nature and part of something so much bigger!
Spending time on the great outdoors is what creates Sattva (balance) in all doshas, Bhutas (elements) in all the organs tissues and cells. A regular dose of time in nature will make a healing process or process of self enquiry far more potent. Meditative walks through nature are a wonderful way to take the yoga off the mat and to observe the senses being filled with nature’s sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and touch.
Horse riding is wonderful – being with horses has been a very nurturing thing in my experience. Being near the water is also very potent. Anything where we can feel the presence of the pancha Maha Bhutas (five great elements), and really experience them in as many ways as possible in us and around us.
Big thank you to Emily for sharing with us. Emily’s next retreat is 10-17 September on the enchanting island of Ithaca, Greece. Click here to learn more. It’s filling up fast!