My Curvy Yoga Story

I have always been a curvy girl, some would say chubby – I personally prefer the word voluptuous. Even at the age of 13 I remember hating my batwing arms, and despite all my progress in other areas I still don’t ‘love’ them. Throughout my life I have always battled somewhat with my weight and my perception of myself.

Yoga found me when I was 21, I remember my first yoga class, walking in and being the biggest girl in the room (by that I mean waist size, as I am only 4’11” tall) – I was massively self conscious, wearing baggy clothes to cover everything which, seemed to make me stand out even more over the other women in the room who were wearing little sports tops and leggings to show off slim figures. When I eventually managed to mentally get out of my own way, I loved the class, it was a dynamic class ‘power yoga’ – I loved the challenge of it, I found it tough but it appealed to my need for exercise. I felt great after the class, and started going on a weekly basis. I soon realised I had a natural flexibility and my strength and stamina began to increase as time passed, my awareness of my size however did not, every time I walked into the room I was faced with the fact that, I felt huge – it didn’t help that it was a mirrored studio and the teacher had us facing our reflections. I hid at the back but couldn’t avoid seeing myself in contrast to the other women, I remember thinking one day that ‘I looked like an olive surrounded by toothpicks!’.

Years passed and as I continued my physical practice of yoga, I became increasingly more interested in the wider aspects of the discipline. I had always been a deep thinker and had ideas which aligned with more esoteric beliefs – having trained in healing and energy medicine, I had knowledge in the energetic body and the way of the universe, the teachings of Vedanta (yoga philosophy) seemed to fit in so well for me, filling in the gaps of what I felt was missing. Meditation became a strong daily practice and I started to understand what yoga was really about. It wasn’t about having a slim body that could bend into any shape, in fact, yoga isn’t really about making shapes with the body, and looking ‘good’ in those shapes – otherwise it would be a making shapes class! (not denying that to some people, that is what it is!). Sri Pattabhi Jois says, “Yoga is an internal practice. The rest is just a circus.” The postures are a way of getting you connected to your body, as Bernie Clarke encourages the mantra “we don’t use our body to get into a pose, we use the pose to get into our body.” How you feel in the pose is much more important than how it looks. “When you come into the pose, drop your expectations of how you should look or be. There is a destructive myth buried deep inside the Western yoga practice – that we should achieve a model shape in each pose.” (Bernie Clarke).

After 8 years self-practicing I decided to undertake the Sivananda TTC (Integral Hatha yoga teacher training), with the intention to enhance my own knowledge. I had become fascinated by this ancient science that had transformed so much in my life. I NEVER had the intention to teach, and even now I don’t really know how it happened, covering classes for friends on an ad hoc basis and teaching at the Sivananda centre in London. My practice continued to develop as I studied other practices of Yoga; Yin, Kundalini, Vinyasa, Dharma Mittra etc.

After I started teaching, I returned to India to teach at a friends retreat centre in Kerala and have a break myself, I was participating in an all levels, dynamic Hatha yoga class taught by a local Indian man. It was a great class, strong for the body and mind with a lot of advanced postures. There were a number of participants who seemed less familiar with the postures and were cautious or perhaps anxious moving into some of the inversions. After the class, the teacher came over to me and said, in a very kind voice with pidgin English, “it is very nice to see someone so fat be flexible and strong in the postures, it was good for the other students to see, thank you for coming”. It’s one thing to call yourself fat and know deep down that you are, but hearing other people say it, is another matter, hurtful and TRUE. With that in mind, as I am sure you can imagine, my usual reaction to hearing the dreaded word fat would be to bristle and get upset internally, or maybe even externally. Thankfully, before I had chance to respond, my initial shock at the bluntness of his comment actually made me take a breath, step back for a moment and reflect on the intention behind the comment, I realised, this wasn’t delivered as an offensive comment or judgement about my size, in fact, the teacher was complimenting me and making the valid point that: anyone can do yoga, no matter what size, shape, age, physicality, colour, religion…etc.

Not long after I returned from this trip to India, I was back in London and teaching the advanced class at the Sivananda London centre – I had a shocking interaction with one of the Swami’s (Monk following the yogic path of renunciation), he asked me what it was like for me being a fat yoga teacher and asked me how it is possible that I can do many of the advanced postures when a lot of the ‘fit’ women cannot. I was both shocked and upset by this, as he was supposedly living by the teachings that Yoga is not purely a physical practice and that the body does not have to limit you. Your mind is the limitation. Swami Vishnu Devananda teaches ‘Unity in Diversity’, and that was a teaching I held dear, as I felt like I could somehow fit in to this world of yoga, even when I did not seem to fit the media image of a svelte bodied yogi. It took me some months to really process this, but made me more determined to get out there as a curvy yoga teacher, who is strong and flexible to show and inspire people of all shapes and sizes that, YOU CAN DO IT. Yoga is for EVERYONE (and I am glad to say that Swami, is no longer a Swami.)

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we are all individuals and we are ALL perfect, we get caught up in the idea that yoga is a function of beauty, when yoga is an expression of beauty, discipline, sacrifice and love. Yoga teaches us to feel within our hearts and experience with our bodies. Remember everyone can do yoga. We breathe, we feel, we stretch, and we connect fully to ourselves, even if we don’t look like a supermodel.” (Dianne Bondy


Why We Shout in Anger….


“Why We Shout In Anger”A Hindu saint and his disciples were visiting the Ganges river, where they found a group of family members on the banks shouting in anger at each other. Turning to his disciples, the saint smiled and asked, ‘Why do people in anger shout at each other?’

His disciples thought for a while. One of them finally said, ‘Because when we lose our calm, we shout.’’But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you?’ countered the saint. ‘You can just as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner.’ His disciples thought about it some more, but could not come up with a satisfactory answer. Finally the saint explained,

‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other, in order to cover that great distance.

But what happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but instead talk very softly because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small. And when they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only need to look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.
So when you argue, do not let your hearts get distant, do not say words that distance each other more, or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.’

Taken from a blog by Pritesh Kalantri“Why-We-Shout-In-Anger”-A-short-story-on-Relationships


Control your Voice and Shift your Reality

Energy & Vibration = Matter

Every word has a meaning, the problem is nowadays we are so far removed from the root of our language, and to that end we lose the essence of what our words really mean.

Words mean different things to different people, all shaped by our own personal experiences of those words. Speaking generally, we quite often find ourselves in the kind of situations by which our words have been misconstrued. Is that because our words and thoughts are really misaligned?

Thought is Energy

Seeing is Energy

Talking is Vibration

Speaking is Vibration

Thoughts & Voice = Reality 

You can help your self and others by really connecting to your absolute truth. Meditate and keep thoughts, actions & words positive.  Correct your vocabulary, notice how your talk, not only to others but also, to yourself.

Your voice commands your mind, body & spirit so use words that empower you.  


  • Literally promotes growth 
  • Can is a command to self
  • Allows your wants, needs and desires to come true
  • It is unconditional and moves a person forward in life
  • When you know inside you can do it your body needs to hear it
  • Your body reacts to key words


  • Try and you will do it over and over and over never get to the end
  • Puts a block in your way
  • Try is a commend to self
  • Try and trying is a taught behaviour that is a condition to hold a person back
  • It’s like running a race with no end
  • It is repetitious


  • Will literally stop growth
  • Will literally put a block in your way
  • Can not is a command to self
  • Will literally stop you from achieving anything in your life
  • Is a taught behaviour  that is a conditional to hold a person back
  • Stops a person from learning
  • Stops a person from gaining intellect

So, be mindful of what you say and how you say it.

Your thoughts become your words

Your words become your behaviour

Your behaviour becomes your habits

Your habits become your values

Your values become your destiny 

 – Mahatma Gandhi







Yama and Niyama

niyama & yama

Yoga, much more than being bendy…….


A Vedantic Story to Start the New Year

There is a an old story from India about the God, Brahma, who was all alone (much like story of Adam and Eve in Bible). Nothing existed but Brahma, and he was completely bored. Brahma decided to play a game, but there was no one to play the game with. So he created a beautiful goddess, Maya, just for the purpose of having fun. Once Maya existed and Brahma told her the purpose of her existence, she said, “Okay, let’s play the most wonderful game, but you have to do what I tell you to do.” Brahma agreed, and following Maya’s instructions, he created the whole universe.

Brahma created the sun and the stars, the moon and the planets. Then he created life on earth: the animals, the oceans, the atmosphere, everything. Maya said, “How beautiful is this world of illusion you created. Now I want you to create a kind of animal that is so intelligent and aware that it can appreciate your creation.” Finally Brahma created humans, and after he finished the creation, he asked Maya when the game was going to start. “We will start right now,” she said. She took Brahma and cut him into thousands of teeny, tiny pieces. She put a piece inside every human and said, “Now the game begins! I am going to make you forget what you are, and you are going to try to find yourself!”

Maya created the Dream, and still, even today, Brahma is trying to remember who he is. Brahma is there inside you, and Maya is stopping you from remembering what you are. When you awake from the Dream (enlightenment), you become Brahma again, and reclaim your divinity. Then if Brahma inside you says, “Okay, I am awake; what about the rest of me?” you know the trick of Maya, and you can share the truth with others who are going to wake up too.

Two people who are sober in the party can have more fun. Three people who are sober is even better. Begin with you. Then others will start to change, until the whole dream, the whole party, is sober. The teachings that come from India, from the Toltecs, the Christians, the Greeks from societies all over the world – come from the same truth. They talk about reclaiming your Divinity and finding God within you. They talk about having your heart completely open and becoming wise.


Now there is your challenge for the year!


Charlie xx

The Healing Benefits of Music

yoga music

this is a lovely article which talks about the healing qualities of music….obvious really!


How Yoga Supports with Children who have ADHD

I came across this article which talks about the benefits of yoga for children who have ADHD – SIMPLES everyone should do yoga!

Enjoy the article!

Does Doing Yoga Make You Hindu?

yoga is not

The BBC ran an interesting article a few days ago about the religious implications of Yoga and asked the question ‘Does doing yoga make you Hindu?’

Absolutely an interesting question but obviously meets a significant amount of prejudice. I actually don’t really agree with the angle the writer has taken about the styles of yoga with more modern styles being more secular and the more traditional styles having more religious implications.

Yoga in it’s essence is a spiritual practice. Spiritual not Religious. Yoga is a science of living, the science of positive physical and mental health, the science of life. The foundations being the Vedic texts which again is highly sacred knowledge based on the most supreme wisdom to which people aspire.

This article to me outlines some of the aspects of competition going on within the yoga community now. Everyone competing for clients. Yoga is not a competition, I trust that the right students for me will find me and be attracted to my style of teaching and more over the teachings of yoga that come through the lineage I have been trained in.

On my About Yoga page – I quote Rod Stryker’s words from his book the ‘Four Desires’

When Yoga is understood in it’s totality, it is not a religion; it is a practical and comprehensive science for realising life’s ultimate aims. The yoga tradition provides one of humankind’s most effective systems for achieving enrichment and happiness in every aspect of life. In short, in the same way that the physical practice of yoga so effectively benefits the body and the mind, the larger science of yoga is similarly powerful in unlocking the vast potentials of your body, mind and spirit. 

Yoga is a practice of connecting yourself to yourself in whatever context that means to you (your inner God/Goddess, your Spirit, your Soul, your inner peace). In the world as we know it, everything is about external wants and desires and achieving happiness through material gain. Rarely is it taught to search your inner world for that and to cultivate your thoughts in such a way to manifest your external world – is that religion? because that is yoga as I know it. The Asana practice (practice of postures) are a physical expression of the yoga sutras (philosophy) and through a culmination of these practice we can start to experience a shedding of unwanted/unhealthy habits, a clearing of the mind and a state of relaxation which brings about a state of inner peace and tranquility. Through learning to honour yourself through a devoted yoga practice, you honour others and there is a heightened sense of compassion that then exists.

I really like the illustration below as it presents a lovely analogy of yoga and the sheer density of wisdom that is inherent within the practice. I still feel like I am merely scratching the surface after having a dedicated practice of over a decade.


I welcome any thoughts that you would like to share on this.

Namaste (The Light in Me Honours The Light In You)


Anyone for Candlelight Yoga….?

I have been cover teaching a class on Tuesday evenings at the Dance Attic in Fulham and  during tonights class we had a blackout 10 minutes into the class – midway through the Sun salutations! Now the initial reaction of everyone was to laugh – bearing in mind it was pitch black, I invited everyone to sit in easy pose and we continued with a wonderful meditation for 5 minutes until one of the staff brought in a few electric candles.  We continued the class in the dark with very little light and it was amazing so atmospheric. Everyone’s focus was so much better than usual because they were totally concentrating on themselves and not concerned with anyone around them because they couldn’t see them- what a blessing!!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every practice could be like this?


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