Teacher feature: Shirley Williams

By 26 July 2016News

What did you do before teaching yoga?

I taught hatha yoga whilst studying at university, while studying contemporary dance. Once I completed my degree I performed and worked as a freelance choreographer and taught at a secondary school as the head of dance for 7 years.

What first brought you to yoga and what about it made you stay?

“My love for yoga and practice was kindled by one of my university dance teachers Penny Collinson; she would teach hatha yoga and sun salutations and practice with us daily. I initially stuck with it to support my dancing body. Years later I started to use hot yoga more holistically; the addition of heat was new to me. I stuck with it as the combination of yoga and added heat helped me heal inside and out! Eczema, sore joints, injuries and peace of mind were very quick in coming into correction and balance.”

What is your favourite and also most challenging pose?

My favourite pose: “I love Pigeon. This posture helped me to heal after hip surgery; this is a deep hip opener that took care of my scar tissue and stiffness.”

My most challenging pose: “Standing bow challenges my balance, stamina and perseverance; by this point in the class my heart is beating hard and the sweat is pouring. ‘Why am I here again?’ is a question that often springs to mind at this stage.”

In our month of loving your skin and keeping young, fresh and healthy, how do you think yoga contributes to this process?

“Practicing yoga on a regular basis promotes healing! Fresh oxygenated blood to the surface of the skin and to vital organs can help to boost collagen that is abundant in the skin and is needed for healthy-looking skin. You’ll find that the development of firmer muscles and tighter skin/pores is soon evident once you start. The body’s strength, flexibility range and mobility improve rapidly. These benefits combined with plenty of good food, water and skin care will make you look and feel younger inside and out!”

Tell us about YOGANIC

“I developed a range of organic body butters, which are currently trending with the practitioners at FGB. No chemicals, no water, just pure butters with a little preservative and vitamin E. My YOGANIC body butters began when I began to notice that my skin was extremely dry after yoga practice especially where my eczema patches used to exist. Fed up with steroid creams and expensive high street beauty products I created Loco CoCo with a strong sweet scent of coco butter; Hot Yoganic which is light, coconut-based body butter designed with hot yoga practice in mind; and Everyday, which is my favourite butter. Everyday has great healing properties with Aloe Vera, Coconut, Cocoa, Shea, Walnut, Mango, Jojoba and some extra oils and secrets 😉 all triple-whipped into a soufflé heaven. When applied the cream melts in great, also under make-up, with a nice, neutral scent. Yoganic butters are designed to match a yoga body. It’s a true, sensory journey that leaves your skin feeling supple, caressed and cared for.

Everyone at the studio loves your energy (always music, singing, dancing, great outfits and laughter fills the studio when you’re teaching!) – what things make you most happy?

My family and friends make me happy! Just to have healthy and happy dearest ones is a blessing. My immediate family are my priority; we engage in fun and fun; both my partner and son practice yoga regularly and we often engage in our other favourite pastime, which is nice food! My dog and cat rock, and are big personalities in our home. I am big on dance of course and a keen active choreographer. I’m like most people, like to laugh, party hard, have a drink, avoid the ironing, sneak a siesta, go on holiday and SHOES.”

How can the hot room be used to rehabilitate?

“I returned to yoga practice after undergoing my first hip arthroscopy 2009 and second in 2012. Injuries were exacerbated by my previous dance career and performing on hard floors. Both hips had early onset of arthritis and tears in the cartilage. I have had the cartilage smoothed back and a cyst removed from the right hip. The operation involved dislocation of the hip socket and in turn tendons and ligaments are overstretched. I was fortunate that it was keyhole surgery with minimal scaring but obviously there is still scar tissue within the wound. Alongside my physio exercises, I used hot yoga throughout the second half of a three-month rehabilitation period to help eat away at the scar tissue, develop my strength and flexibility and enhance my peace. I continued with the journey and I am still on board, healing, developing and getting stronger because it works; the heat and the FG integrated class system works. It helped me to achieve some life balance!”

How do you Live Life with Fierce Grace?

“I practice 3-4 times per week; I teach 8-10 times each week. I share my passion for the system when I teach and I have a laugh. I am always applying what I have learned through practice and from others. I like to think of it like healing circles where we all have a part to play on this journey. Teacher, practitioner and the yoga; it’s all one and the same supporting a unified positive outcome.”