I practised yoga in the tradition of T K V Desikachar in group classes for about 10 years during the 1990s but started working one-to-one with Hilary Macrae, my first mentor/teacher in this tradition, after the birth of my first child.The personalised approach that I needed at that time was hugely beneficial to my recovery. Hilary subsequently moved away and I started working with Heather Robinson, a very experienced TSYP teacher in the same tradition. She introduced me to the whole concept of having a yoga mentor who combines the personal approach to practice on the mat as well as addressing everything else going on in my life. Over a period of about five years, Heather took the time to understand me and my relationship with yoga and how best to support me in my busy corporate and family life. She moved to New Zealand to join her husband and I started working with Andy Curtis-Payne. For about the last 15 years, Andy has continued the work I learned with Heather. He has supported me through all the ups and downs of bringing up children, the heavy demands of a corporate career, a long drawn out redundancy process, the death of my partner and other mental and physical issues that have emerged in that time.
I subsequently qualified as a yoga teacher and therapist with Andy, and again he supported me throughout the three years of my training. He has taken the time to really get to know me and understand my personal transformation journey. Sometimes our sessions are just about practice on the mat, sometimes it’s more of a listening hour as I need to get things off my chest and sometimes it’s more about coaching. How do I want to change? How much effort am I prepared to put in to achieve what I want to achieve? How does yoga support that? As a mentor, he applies all the tools of yoga as appropriate but my practice is always a result of a two way discussion.
Life is constantly changing and the role of a mentor is to respond to that and apply yoga appropriately. Now I have my own clients, my mentor is there to validate my approach and to guide me through my lack of experience. My monthly connection with my mentor has been invaluable for the last 20 years or so and I can’t imagine where I would have ended up without it.
By Helen Saaler, Yoga Therapist and TSYP Treasurer