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Healthy living and yoga, a COVID journey!

Words and images Annie French

In February 2020, I found myself waiting outside Chennai Airport in South India. After ten years of studying Art, I needed a change and needed time to come to terms with my losing my Mum. This all coincided with breaking my arm and hitting another milestone birthday.

Yoga has been part of my life for over 40 years, I often played around with the idea that one day I would teach yoga. I plucked up the courage to book onto a 200-hour intensive teacher training course. Not really believing I would teach, it was just going to be a month in India, sorting my head out and doing a bit of yoga!

How wrong was I?

Standing outside in the blistering heat, waiting for the pick-up to take me to my new home for the next month, I met some fellow teacher trainees. Two Geordie girls, having a quick last cigarette behind the one and only cold drinks bus outside the airport (a comedy film waiting to be written).

I was not prepared for what was awaiting me, after a 4-hour bus journey with seven strangers we arrived at a house in the middle of nowhere and an hour’s drive from the nearest town.

The daily routine consisted of a 6am alarm call for the first shower of the day, at 7am a one-hour meditation class, at 8am the first hour and half yoga class, 9:30 breakfast, and the first lecture at 10am, sitting in the shade on a hard floor until lunch at midday. The afternoons were of a similar routine, another lecture, another yoga class, evening meditation, homework and then collapsing into bed at 10pm.

It was hard and without realising it was building a resilience muscle that I didn’t realise I had, one that would be used extensively during the COVID pandemic.

The internet was very intermittent during our stay, and we had been without any connection for over a week. When the divine signal came back, the world had changed. The course was cut short, urgent changes to flights were made to try to get back home, as the world started to close down. I managed to change my flight for the next day, changing at Dubai where all flights were being cancelled as I arrived. Luckily flights to the UK were still flying and I arrived back home the Friday before the UK went into Lockdown.

Since then, I feel like I’ve been living in Zoom land, finishing a three-hour exam and qualifying as a yoga teacher. I absolutely fell in love with teaching, and over the last 18 months I have gone on to complete a 300-hour teacher training course with the Intelligent School of Yoga. I have worked with the wonderful Katie Dickinson, who was my teacher for many years, teaching together on zoom. We raised money for several Chesterfield charities; Junction Arts, Ashgate Hospice, the Elm Foundation and supported a group of Chesterfield lads raising money for Papyrus.

I would like to say, as we come out of this pandemic, and things return to normal, but I’m afraid things have changed for us all. Never has our health been so important to us, staying fit and healthy is now my mission. My teacher in India, predicted that there would not be enough Yoga teachers in the world, to support people with the stresses of life. We have some great yoga teachers in Chesterfield, check them out, its not all about being flexible and tying yourself up in knots. There are many different styles, but most yoga teachers work on the basis of bringing the mind, body and soul together to live a balanced life.


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