Strong women make the world a better place. This year, International Women’s Day campaigns for greater gender balance. We agree that better balance makes for a better world. Here are thoughts and stories from some of the strong women we work with who inspire us.
Earlier this year, our founder Kat, spoke at the mindful drinking festival about how she reframed happy hour with yoga. Here she is pictured with Laura Willoughby, the founder of Club Soda which aims to change the narrative around drinking. Laura is undoubtedly a strong woman and one who definitely asks us to think about how we can balance our world. Veteran campaigner Laura founded Club Soda after giving up alcohol and is committed to helping us to be more balanced in our lives.
Ana Forrest has pioneered great change over the past forty years by using yoga to bring about deep emotional healing. We asked Ana her advice on what we can do to feel OK with our place in the world: “I wouldn’t settle for OK. That’s like giving yourself the crumbs. I don’t consider Forrest yoga as an antidote but more as a way of enriching. It is becoming more skilful at being responsible for how you weave your life; how you create your life.”
For Ana, the skills that we develop on the mat provide, “…the life skills so you can move through challenges gracefully and more eloquently and develop a self-respect and pride in yourself.” Ultimately for Ana Forrest, yoga is the great life-enricher. “If we are always making decisions based on our fear and depression or anxiety, we make crappy decisions. Life is about becoming a good problem solver. Part of what we teach is to feel your emotional range because we’re taught that emotions are inconvenient and as a result it cripples us. We need healthy emotions, healthy ways of expressing….you need to ride the wave of emotions sometimes.” We need more strong women like Ana to continue to inspire us to create a more balanced world.
>>Watch this interview with Ana Forrest to find out how to enrich our lives<<
Kris Hallenga, the founder of breast cancer charity, CoppaFeel! embodies strength. Misdiagnosed with breast cancer twice at the age of 23, Kris now lives with secondary breast cancer and founded CoppaFeel! in 2009 to educate young people about the symptoms of breast cancer and to make sure that they check early! Kris told us: “To start something as meaningful as CoppaFeel! has been the proudest thing of my life. It’s been beyond tough but I believe nothing worth doing is ever easy. Passion and determination are very motivating. I will always be proud of the moment when we got our very first email from a young woman who’d got an early diagnosis thanks to the awareness and education she received through us. You can read more about Kris’ story in our interview with her.
Do you find it difficult to face challenging emotions and situations in your life? Talking openly about our darkest hours and how we can face these challenges takes a great deal of courage. One of our wonderful teachers, Zephyr Wildman is generous in talking honestly about her own experiences of bereavement. She hopes that exploring how to build resilience can support others in finding their own way through life’s challenges. Zephyr believes that we can connect by sharing stories. It’s also important to allow ourselves to feel difficult emotions but not become defined by these. We aren’t ‘grief’ or ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ but rather these are temporary states we experience.
Zephyr advises that connecting to what makes us feel alive will bring us a sense of energy and vitality. This is crucial in moving through difficult times. Learning to sit with our feelings and acknowledging and accepting them forms the first step in then taking charge and responsibility for what we do. Listen to more about Zephyr’s experience of bereavement and how she supported her children through the loss of their father.
Strong women supporting other women
Offering support is a fantastic way to share our inspiration. Practice this mindful flow with Zephyr and inspirational woman, Emily Brett, founder of Ourmala. Ourmala is an organisation which offers support through yoga to refugees and asylum seekers. Ourmala grew from Emily’s commitment to teaching vulnerable women and now offers yoga classes and access to critical services to refugees and survivors of trafficking and modern-day slavery.
>>Morning mindful flow with Zephyr Wildman and Emily Brett<<