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Ten minutes with Caroline Leek

Having just started teaching her new Tuesday night Beginners & Improvers class at Go Yoga Harrogate, we caught up with Caroline to chat about yoga, India and the struggle to find a positive work/life balance.

Hey Caroline, how are you feeling today?

I'm feeling great today! I absolutely love Fridays and have definitely got that Friday feeling. Plus, it's Valentines Day, so I'm just hanging round waiting for my massive bunch of flowers to arrive (he he he).

How are you enjoying teaching your new Tuesday evening class?

I really love teaching. It's a really special feeling leading a class and trying to help people feel good. It's a Beginners and Improvers class - so really it's open to everyone. We do breathing techniques, dynamic flows, strength building and always finish with a nice long guided meditation. My music playlist is an important aspect of my class and I always try to match it to my mood that day, so the class is authentic and really comes from my heart.

Have you been teaching yoga for long?

I did my teacher training in Rishikesh, India, in 2011, so it's almost been 10 years - WOW! It was the most amazing experience - truly eye-opening and totally cut off from modern western life. I was living in an Ashram - so totally basic, absolutely no frills. It really teaches you that you really don't need a lot in life to be truly happy and fulfilled.

I know it sounds totally cliché, but I returned from India a completely new person - less bothered about material things and what people thought of me and more bothered about my own body, health, nutrition and mental wellbeing. Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?  

At the time I was working in a pretty stress-inducing role as an Event Planner in London. I used to practice yoga regularly at Triyoga and found it so beneficial to clear and calm my mind. So, I begged my boss to have a three-month sabbatical to travel to India to the home of yoga. It was the best thing I ever did!

I did return back to London and my old job, but with a new perspective and new skills to help me deal with things a bit better that I was doing previously. Occasionally I am guilty of falling back into that old mode of thinking and being really hard on myself. But, yoga and especially breathing techniques help to bring me round quicker and realise that I need to be kinder to myself.

What does yoga mean to you?

To me, yoga means balance. A balance of challenge and calm. Of stability and unsteadiness. Of discipline and resilience. Of focussing inwards and letting go outwards.

The thing I love about yoga is that it can mean completely different things to different people and there is no wrong or right answer or no correct way to teach or practice yoga.

Can you sum up your teaching style in 3 words?

Gentle. Flowing. De-stressing.

How do you want your students to feel after a lesson?

Calm, happy and stress-free.

What does your average day look like?

I am self-employed and a mum of two energetic boys, so every day is completely different. I am writer, so I create content for a number of brands and it's nice that I can fit this in around my family life nowadays. I try to always start or finish the day with some form of exercise - I run, swim and spin as well as practice yoga.

Finally, I seem to be getting into a good work/life balance, but it's most definitely not always been this way!! I've found it really hard being a mum and also passionate about my career too - I tend to feel guilty a lot of the time for not dedicating myself completely to one or the other. It's a constant stretch.

What has been your defining yoga moment so far?

It has to be taking part in an impromptu yoga class in Chaurasi Kutia - the place where The Beatles took part in their Transcendental Meditation training course in the 60s. It's pretty run down now, but still an absolutely breath-taking place - you can't help but feel positively euphoric in there!

What would be your advice to people who have never tried yoga before?

Give it a go. What have you got to lose?

Don't put too much pressure on yoga to cure all your stresses and bodily aches and pains - as it's not going to be an overnight miracle. At first, just go with it, try out different types of yoga, find a style and teacher that suits you and gradually notice the difference it's having on your life.

Do you have a motto for life?

Never give up, always let go. What times do you teach at Go Yoga Harrogate?

I teach at GoYoga Harrogate on a Tuesday evening at 7.30pm. Come and say hello soon!


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