How a CAMYOGA bursary is helping people affected by breast cancer

A beautiful letter from Louise, a 200hr Intensive Teacher Training graduate, who has taken the skills learnt on the teacher training course and is using them to make a significant change in peoples lives. 

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Being awarded a CAMYOGA bursary has been life-changing for me and enabled me to bring the gentle healing power of yoga to a group who really need and appreciate it. Let me explain….

I’ve ‘dabbled’ in yoga off and on over the years, but would say that I truly fell in love with it five years ago when a substitute teacher arrived to take our gym class. This was my introduction to Sanskrit, chanting, pranayama and yoga nidra and I was immediately hooked! I remember going home to my husband and saying, “that’s the kind of yoga I want to do!”. I managed to track that inspirational teacher down, became her student and began my own studies: reading the yoga ‘classics’; attending workshops and retreats; and was lucky enough to spend time in two ashrams (Sivananda, Kerala and Shekinashram (bhakti yoga), Glastonbury) – both of which were profound experiences that I would recommend to anyone…

Louise and her cohort

Although I’ve had CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia for 17 years I was doing OK and had a great job working for the Environment Agency (a brilliant employer for anyone with a disability). Then I got breast cancer. Twice. The treatment, including five operations within three years, saved my life but was too much for my body and led to a severe CFS/ME relapse meaning I had to give up work. It was during that difficult time that I truly began to really appreciate the more subtle practices and that yoga really is for ‘every body’. As Krishnamacharya said, “if you can breathe you can do yoga”. I’d wanted to take yoga teacher-training for a couple of years, not with the intention of teaching, but rather because my self-directed learning had left me with more questions than answers! This dream now seemed impossible - I was unable to work, money was tight, and my personal practice had diminished considerably due to my health problems. Head well stuck into the ‘self-pity potty’ I was having a big old moan to my husband when he just looked at me and said, “but Louise, you could teach people like you”. Wow. Talk about ‘light-bulb’ moment. Of course I could! I could share all the yoga techniques that had helped me physically, psychologically and spiritually through those difficult times with others affected by breast cancer. I’d already shortlisted CAMYOGA as a preferred training provider when I’d initially researched courses so, excited and inspired, I went straight to their website.

I had no idea until that moment that they offered a “bursary scheme for those who can demonstrate their qualification will be used to teach in a community who will receive a high level of benefit as a direct result of the applicant’s work as a teacher”. So, full of hope and anxiety, I applied. This involved submitting an outline of my proposal and then an informal phone interview with CAMYOGA’s founder, Louise Palmer-Masterton. Fortunately, she believed both in the viability and value of my proposal (research has shown the benefit of practising yoga, mindfulness, and meditation for people affected by breast cancer) but also my commitment to, and passion for it. Louise also encouraged me not to let my disability hold me back. I was really worried about how I would cope with the ‘intensive’ part of the training but arrangements were made for me to rest as much as I needed to and the sense of achievement I felt on actually completing it was just wonderful.

Louise preparing for class

Once my training was booked, everything started to gather momentum. The local NHS hospital trust was extremely enthusiastic about my proposal and I’ve been working closely with the specialist Macmillan nurse there, Nicky Turner, who has been instrumental in getting the project off the ground – there was a lot of paperwork involved, as you can imagine! I might not be well enough to work, but can volunteer two hours of my time each week. For me, it is both my karma yoga and my dharma. And by volunteering I can ensure that the other part of my vision can be fulfilled i.e. that the sessions be free for participants. Having any form of cancer can be a massive financial burden and I wanted them to be as inclusive as possible.

Having worked in education previously, and already being qualified to teach adults, I had both high standards and high expectations of the CAMYOGA course. I can honestly say they were exceeded in every way and that I would not hesitate to recommend CAMYOGA training to others. The course has not only consolidated and extended my existing learning but also given me the confidence and skill-set to be a knowledgeable, safe and compassionate teacher. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve, and arrived at the intensive with my six-week plan roughed out (cancer-related themes using the chakras as a framework), but lacked confidence as to their viability and my ability to ‘teach’, to convey and share what I hoped to, so especially valuable to me was the way the training has engendered confidence within me to ‘teach from the heart’, be authentic, and to teach ‘my’ style of yoga. 

I (or rather my husband!) may have had the initial idea, but I am deeply grateful to the whole team of people, including CAMYOGA, who have made it come to fruition, plus a good dose of serendipity of course! The project received a massive boost when I approached the British Wheel of Yoga to see if they could support us in some small way and they responded by generously donating 15 sets of yoga kit (if anyone wants to follow our progress there will be updates on the BWY website, in the ‘news’ section). We are now half-way through the six-week pilot and initial, informal feedback has been encouraging and we even have a waiting list for the next one! Participants have agreed to complete an evaluation questionnaire after the final session, at which point we will undertake a formal review. Lincolnshire is a large rural county and we hope, in 2018, to extend the sessions to the other two main hospitals so they are accessible to people across the county. 

Nicky and I have been surprised and delighted by the amount of interest our small project has generated, not only in local media – we have also been approached by a team from a London hospital who are hoping to set up a similar scheme, which is wonderful. Louise Palmer-Masterton encouraged all of us on the intensive to have a BIG vision of what we wanted to achieve, and mine expanded to become, “free yoga to be available to everyone, through the NHS”. Watch this space!

by Louise (CAMYOGA 200hr Teacher Training Graduate 2017)
Hannah EllisComment
Teacher Training, One Year On - Emily Leslie

Emily, CAMYOGA graduate teacher decided to split her intensive training over two courses - she completed her first week on the July 2016 Intensive, and her second week (of the two weeks) was on the January 2017 Intensive. Here is her post-graduation story...

Emily, teaching her first cover class at our Shelford studio

Emily, teaching her first cover class at our Shelford studio

If you’re thinking about splitting the intensive over six months, perhaps there’s a couple of things that might encourage you to do so.

Firstly, you get to know two groups of people who are there for the same reason you are; they are passionate about yoga and totally ready to delve into it with open minds, and that’s such an excellent way to bond with people. Obviously, if you have positive connections with these people, there’s lots of potential with the budding relationships; initiatives, shared sessions.

The other huge positive is that you have longer to marinade in the concepts that are introduced via the reading list. These concepts are embedded in really nice translations of classical texts, and to have longer to read and enjoy these is a pleasure.

Thirdly, you get longer to absorb what you have learned in the first part. For example, longer to think about what you want to do with your qualifications.  

There’s also the advantage of having longer to set up the business side of things; the taxes, setting up the company, the website. 

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It’s a little over a year since starting training. 

Thankfully since qualifying in May, it’s been possible (though challenging) to re-organise things so that growing the yoga is a priority. Especially when transitioning from a profession such as teaching, this takes quite some determination and strength to stick with, as it’s a less reliable income (to start with only, hopefully) and with the added challenges of being a freelancer. If you are really passionate about it, it may be challenging, yet it doesn’t feel wrong, and that’s a very motivating place to act from.

The CAMYOGA faculty have been really supportive; offering the opportunity to divulge some of the concepts learned during the training to other trainees (allowing me to explore these concepts in even further depth and use skills from my previous profession, easing the path between the two).  It’s so refreshing to discuss moral codes, the sense of something bigger than ourselves, as adults. We are all too often confined to instructional, organisational dialogue.  Discussions about the spiritual philosophy of yoga enable me to verbalise what it is about it that is so meaningful. 

Cover sessions are gradually building up in the CAMYOGA studios; it’s a true blessing to be instructing alongside such fantastic role-models of the yoga community there. Setting up sessions independently of the studios takes a little extra in up-front fees, yet hopefully at it proves worth it; watch this space! There are certain niches arising; for example, offering yoga to those who are unable to attend regular sessions, particularly kids who need special medical or physical adaptations.  It’s a case now of keeping my personal commitments to a minimum in order to take up opportunities; practicing simplicity and keeping an open mind about when, where and how to instruct. 

On a physical level, it seems important to look after my health even more than ever. This equally means knowing when to have a rest, as much as when to practice asana. If it feels right, it may be appropriate to read rather than get on the mat. My focus has shifted from how many sessions I can attend, to broadening my vision; spending an hour on planning, or reading, or connecting with the yoga community. Taking vitamins, regular fitness sessions, meditating and avoiding alcohol (it seems way less appealing than ever!) keep me feeling bolstered.

Of course, I’d adore to go on further trainings, for example, the level four or Ashtanga training. I practice patience and in best faith that all this will come when it’s meant to; it took 15 years of practicing yoga to train as an instructor, so I’m sure another few months to save and go further with studies won’t hurt! What’s so nice is that I am able to keep the learning going independently; with the amazing instructors I already know and also through avenues such as websites and literature. It’s so nice to dip into books on the reading list still, and beyond; such as David Swenson’s Ashtanga Yoga, Ana Forrest’s Fierce Medicine. They are a financially viable way to access some of the best wisdom without having to disrupt a schedule or dip out of instructing opportunities by attending CPD courses. 

The business element is a learning curve. Invoicing, promoting, innovating; these are all part and parcel of the instructing line of duty. I recommend asking for advice from the best places; it’s really important to look after your interests, as nobody else is going to do it for you! Among my favourite parts of this process was building a website. Please do check it out; www.emilyaliceyoga.com and let me know what you think! 

- Emily Leslie, 200hr TT Graduate 2017


For more information about our teacher training courses click here or drop an email to tt@camyoga.co.uk


Connecting with your unborn child
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Connecting with your unborn child
by Louise Palmer-Masterton

In 2006 I had the very good fortune to spend some one-one time with Frederick Leboyer, author of the seminal text ‘Birth Without Violence’ his 1974 book that changed the face of obstetric practice.

Monsieur Leboyer, who sadly passed away earlier this year at the age of 98, was a former obstetrician who ultimately eschewed modern obstetric practice and turned to writing the story of birth from the child’s perspective. In Birth Without Violence, for the first time in history, he painted the infant's view of birth - coming from the quiet, calm womb into bright lights, noise, stress and separation (when immediately after birth the child would be taken from its mother to be prodded and ‘tested’).

Before Leboyer childbirth had always been about the mother, the procedures, the hospitals - everything but the infant, and whilst his book was initially opposed by his fellow obstetricians, midwives and mothers themselves did take notice, and slowly but surely things began to change. It is now commonplace that delivery rooms are quiet, low lit places, infants are now allowed to rest with their mothers immediately after birth. These and many more changes can be directly attributed to Leboyer’s book.

Back to my meeting Leboyer. It was even more fortunate for me that at the time of our meeting I was myself 5 months pregnant, and because of this he rather took me under his wing.

He was in his late eighties when we met, and a rather wonderful, slightly stroppy french man, with a very big twinkle in his eye.

He taught me something which went on to become the basis of what we teach at CAMYOGA in pregnancy yoga, pregnancy trainings, and our active birth workshops.

He said..

“Every day, from when you are 6 months pregnant, take 15 mins out of your day. Find a quiet place to sit and meditate. Once you are settled and focussed, take your attention to your baby. Really bring all of your focus to your baby.

Then let your baby know that you are there, and that you are listening.

Then you simply spend some time ‘listening’ to your baby.”

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He told me that if I did this every day from 6 months my baby would know me, and be connected to me, and feel safe in being born. He told me she would not cry when she was born. And guess what? She did not, and she has scarcely cried since. She was the most chilled, relaxed baby who has grown into a remarkable child. 


This article was originally written for the September 2017 issue of OM Yoga Magazine

Congratulations Pregnancy Yoga Diploma Graduates!

Congratulations to our newly qualified pregnancy yoga teachers! Here are some images and impressions from the 4 day course. We run this course once a year and is open to 200hr qualified yoga teachers wanting to advance their teaching, PLUS it can also be part of the 500hr diploma!

Our 2018 dates will be announced shortly, keep an eye on the Teaching Pregnancy Yoga page for more info. Otherwise, just drop us a line to register your interest.

Love from CAMYOGA xx

I learnt SO much more than I thought I would. We not only learnt about yoga poses, but also about stages of pregnancy, stages of birth, the anatomy of the pelvis etc. This gave me knowledge to explain WHY we teach certain things.
— L.L
I am very pleased that I chose to do the course, and I feel a lot more informed now. I won’t panic if a pregnant lady turns up in class!!
— A.D
Thank you Rachael! You were fantastic at teaching us all your pearls of wisdom. I loved every second of it and I feel so confident to safely teach pregnant women yoga and how to ease their labour!
-
You learn so much more than just yoga poses. This course sets you up with the knowledge and expertise to safely teach yoga to pregnant women safely
— L.L.
WE WON!
 
 
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We are super proud to have been awarded the coveted Small Business of the Year Award at this year's Cambridge Business Excellence Awards final last Thursday.

At a glittering event in the Kings College Great Hall, Louise received the award sponsored by Fine & Country after a hotly contested final of four businesses. These awards are the region’s premier business awards, and we are absolutely delighted.

2016 was a fantastic year for CAMYOGA and the new Stem + Glory. Our crowdfunding success was a major part of our story, and we are so grateful to everyone for their fantastic support throughout the year.

Gratitude also to the panel of 15 judges for their openness to new ways of doing business :)