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Rachel Kinniburgh

I am blessed to have been born and raised in the beautiful island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands where I lived, worked and taught yoga until January 2017. I studied for 2 years with The Yoga Academy, recognised as one of the best yoga schools in Europe, and am now based in Berkshire. My teaching prioritises physical, emotional and mental wellbeing and empowering students to find, explore and embed their own practice into their daily lives with confidence and self-compassion.

 

QUALIFICATIONS

  • 2015-2017: Yoga Academy Certified Teacher – BWY Accredited Teacher. The Yoga Academy (BWY-Accredited Group, RYS200, RYS500).
  • 2015: British Wheel of Yoga Foundation Course Level 1.

 

My yoga journey

My journey with yoga started 15 years ago. Whilst I'd nurtured an interest in establishing a yoga practice and attending classes well before that time I had successfully boxed that interest off in my mind - after all, I wasn't particularly athletic and inevitably couldn't do half of the "stuff" that people did in a yoga class, so yoga wouldn't welcome me and my feeble attempts surely? In any case - crescendo - I was flat-footed, had always been rubbish at sports at school, was too busy and so frankly couldn't possibly spare 60-90mins to practice something I'd be no good at anyway. Yoga was off-limits. It was of course for everybody, I got that, blah blah blah, but it couldn't possibly be for my body. 

So then 15 years ago demanding university studies and a sad succession of close family bereavements left me stressed out and anxious about the future. A chance conversation with a friend saw her mention another friend who'd started taking yoga classes and loved them. My own interest revived - along with that old internal chatter - but despite myself I started to research classes. And found a beginners course. I signed up for a course of 6 classes over 6 weeks and looked forward to it. And then all-too-soon it was the day before and getting through the door of that first class suddenly took so much courage - "what if I did it wrong?", "what if I couldn't keep up with the instructions?", "what if people laughed at me?", "what if I was too fat to do yoga?" The list of debilitating "what ifs" went on.

So bad was my anxiety that I considered cancelling before I'd even begun. I genuinely can't remember what I said to myself to get me through the door of that class one Sunday morning but I made it, settled down on a mat already laid out for me and allowed myself to be guided through a series of movements and breathing practices that so quickly brought me to a refreshing stillness - no internal chatter, just a mindful focus on that particular physical posture ("asana") at that particular moment, and which my body really thanked me for as I eased out long-held muscular tensions and discomfort.

Ironically enough, when it came to our final relaxation in that first class I remember lying in Savasana ("Corpse Pose") with one eye open frantically scanning the room as far as I could to check whether I was "doing it right" - to determine whether it was actually a trick and that everyone else would be sitting up doing something else and wondering about the wally in the corner who'd crashed out. That single moment gave me such clarity: that my monkey-mind could in an instant so totally eradicate the comfort and enjoyment of the previous 60mins - that refreshing stillness that I'd cultivated - and pitch me back to that trepidation I'd felt when I'd first walked through the door? I realised then that I didn't just want to practice yoga, I really needed it. I needed to learn how to relax, to breathe and let go of my anxieties, and in doing so find balance and refresh myself.

So I went back the next week. And the week after. And the week after that. And picked up other classes with other teachers in between. As I settled into a busy career I dropped classes but always found them again. It really didn't matter to me whether I could do all of the asana in class, it just mattered that I'd prioritised some 60-90mins to show up and try. Some weeks I could find comfort in a particular asana, and the following week it was like I'd never done it before. I learned to just enjoy the attempt and to let go of any frustration. Slowly and steadily this mindset took root in my life off the yoga mat too. 

From experiencing different teaching styles, over time I learned what resonated with me and what didn't. I started my own practice at home and read everything I possibly could about yogic philosophy, meditation and mindfulness in my spare time. With every physical practice of both asana and pranayama (breathing practice) my body grew stronger, my posture improved and aches and pains that I'd otherwise learnt to live with started to fade away. Even 10mins of meditation practice - whether accompanied by a physical practice or not - made me feel more peaceful, more able. I enrolled in weekend retreats - total immersion in yoga for days on end - and continued to find such freedom and nourishment in my practice that my passion only grew. I nurtured hopes of one day being in a position to help others find their own enjoyment of a regular yoga practice, whatever their reason for starting.

After years of reaping the benefits of a routine yoga practice, I signed up for the British Wheel of Yoga Foundation Course to give me the grounding I needed in yoga studies to springboard me into teaching. And when that finished I knew I was really serious; I signed up to a teacher training course with the truly inspirational Yoga Academy and embarked on 2-years of study that took me far deeper into my own practice and taught me how to create an accessible practice for others.

Now I continue to practice, learn and teach and am truly privileged to have met some truly wonderful people along the way.