“BELIEVE AND YOU WILL FLY”
I first heard about Aerial Yoga when I was in Australia. It sent me into a Google frenzy to find a place that provided this in Perth.
Having moved back to Glasgow I probably assumed that it wouldn’t exist here.
Another Google vortex took me to find Angela Meiklem from Cloud 9 Yoga.
I managed to squeeze into a Sunday session and was – hooked!
I firmly believed that I was in Cirque de Soleil – any glimpses in the studio mirror did negate that thought process – but I chose to think otherwise. I really enjoyed the classes, not least Angela’s way of teaching. For something fairly complex, she breaks it down and creates ease and simplicity.
Angela’s love of yoga is apparent in how she presents her classes and she is not averse to giggling (thankfully as I am known to erupt into random hysteria during class).
I would love for everyone to have a go at Aerial Yoga and, more importantly, to meet Angela.
Tell me, when did you start?
AM: I started practicing yoga in 2002 in a wee place in Paisley. A lot of people come from the other angle but I was meditating before I started yoga.
LS: What took you into meditation?
AM: Self healing. When I was a kid at school, in primary 5, I started to get a constant headache; my mum did lots of research, used traditional medicine and holistic therapy routes to find the cause, and a cure.
Basically you name it I’ve tried it.
Then some years down the line we tried a pricey herbal drink claiming to cure a variety of ills. It didn’t work but the lady selling it recommended I visit a woman who worked from a church and does “healing stuff”.
My mum asked how I felt about going to see her and all I could think of was the Billy Connolly sketch, ‘I’ll heal ya, I’ll heal ya!’
But given that all other routes had been exhausted, I ended up going to see her. Through various different healing energy works with her I got better. She would channel energy and be guided in how to clear energy blockages, which can cause dis-ease in the body. The real curer was exploring past life’s with her – something I had no knowledge of. However, she received information about a past life which uncovered an injury that matched imbalances in my body that had been recognised in this life through scans and x-rays. Nobody could ever explain why it had happened. After that experience my headaches disappeared.
She was very focused on responsibility and training me to practice every day- by myself for myself.
I went travelling at 19 and after I came back and settled in Glasgow, it felt it was the right time to go back and see her on my terms. I went to see her at her meditation group, and she mentioned that she did a yoga class and that I would get more from my meditation by practicing yoga as preparation.
I wasn’t sure if I was into “all that” but I started to go. She would do the yoga and then take you into meditation and it felt great.
At that point I was working a multi-national corporate job. It was in the pensions industry – not an industry that stimulates me, but some parts I enjoyed!
I liked the corporate hospitality and events organisation, getting out and about and seeing people instead of being in the office all the time. In that role I took part in a self-development training day. It was very personal; we had the chance to write down what we wanted from life – anything - didn’t necessarily have to be in the company. It was in that moment, I realised I wanted to become a yoga teacher. I wrote out a plan of actions, which was then posted to our office from London to remind us to get started!
The ironic thing is that I never saw that bit of paper until I was packing up my desk to leave when I got made redundant!
Looking at it, I realised I had ticked everything off on the list.
I started exploring - I attended other yoga classes, workshops, did teacher training, searched for hidden yoga studios and worked out the finances.
The teacher training was a big commitment and I graduated in August 2008.
We had to do a practice class for the last 3 months of our training and I decided to keep my hall booking and make it real! I had 10 people in my first class.
I still teach that class, it’s a special one.
And I’ve got a lady who came to my very first class, still coming today.
So I would teach on a Tuesday night, do my corporate job and cover classes for other teachers in the free time I had, building up experience.
In 2011 Oct, one of my teachers, Julie Hanson – from Chi & Co Yoga had fitted a steel beam into her studios to offer Aerial Yoga. She brought up a teacher, Devi Kaur from Carlisle to offer a teachers workshop, I went along and thought ‘Where have you been all my life?’
It was brilliant - although I was absolutely terrified and I found the fabric pretty uncomfortable; and so I completely understand how people feel when they first come to class - but I was high as a kite after it.
It didn’t occur to me to think about teaching it then because I had a job so I couldn’t wait until someone started classes.
Hazel Sheppard started classes, however I could only make the Friday night class, and at that time Friday night was pub night! But she got me out the pub as I would have rather gone to Aeriel! Over 9 months of classes I became the teachers pet - asking all sorts of questions and wanting as much hammock time as possible!
When Hazel went travelling; I got redundancy and took the leap! Literally! I completed my Aerial Yoga teacher training and started up classes at the end of 2012.
It’s just sort of tumbled like a snowball.
A lot of people have asked if I miss my corporate job. I don’t, but I know that I couldn’t be here if I hadn’t had it. That job is how I’m here and I shall never forget that.
It made me ready for everything that is thrown my way. I was in sales, learning the process of a sale, the financial side of things. I had always worked in teams, but over the last few years people left, restructuring took place and eventually I was the only person in my team based in Scotland. It was preparing me for this.
I got used to working alone and how long the sales process can be. I’ve had conversations with other yoga teachers starting up, saying that nobody came and not understanding why - but I know that it’s not personal.
LS: What’s the thing you miss most about corporate?
AM: Weekends off, I do miss that. Probably because Hamish (bf) is a mon-fri’er. And right now my living room is my office, which is tough. I end up in coffee shops getting more done.
When I worked in corporate I could walk out the door at 5pm and leave my work there whereas now I am constantly working.
LS: Well that’s because it’s your baby…I mean you would never leave your baby alone would you? And you are coming up for the terrible two’s where it’s started walking on it’s own but you still want to keep an eye on it. You don’t have to be there all the time but you’re not sure where it’s going to go.
AM: I just had a guy who owns a mixed martial arts gym contact me enquiring about yoga, saying he would love to hold classes at his gym and asking if I could go and see him for a chat. It turned in to me gaining a new class at his gym, just like that. It’s a gentle reminder how flexible I am.
LS: What’s taking up most of your thinking space right now?
LS: Look at your eyes…they have just sparkled – and expanded!!!
AM: They’re expanding too. It’s all next level stuff. I made a decision in my head at the end of last year when the new studio came about to go a little bit bigger.
It’s working out how it takes form at the moment. I see, eventually, that there will be more classes and helping others set up, as well as teacher-training workshops.
I do love all my classes though. There’s a certain amount of direction and a certain amount of looking to the sky and saying, ‘what have you got to give me?’
LS: You think of the ‘wow’ and the Universe does the ‘how’.
LS: What’s the one thing that you wish everyone would do?
AM: Yogaaaaaa!!!! In any form, sense, shape. Hamish asks if that’s my answer to everything?
It’s not some crazy fad for the fit and bendy, there’s something for everyone. It’s amazing there’s this big boost in the western world right now with Lululemon and Sweaty Betty and I love that but it’s not just about that. You don’t have to be wearing £50 leggings to do yoga.
It’s about making it accessible. Yoga is about bringing groups of people together in a room, creating community and the amazing energy created – making everyone feel good – including the teacher!
My wonderful friend and teacher, David Sye says when he’s teaching, ‘I’m not here for you; I’m here for me. This makes me feel good.’ And that’s what we’re all in it for – a united sense of feeling great!
A lot of amazing things are about to happen in the world and a lot of not so amazing things too. You’ve got to take care of you. We get brought up on a diet of ‘selfishness is bad’ but it’s not…depends what it is, if you keep yourself healthy in body and mind the ripple effects to others will be great - but don’t go elbowing someone out of the way to get on the bus first!
Talking with Angela, I was reminded that we are all here to learn something and that our job is to find that. I often talk about people who shine – shining eyes - and Angela shines. You can see that this is a person that loves what she does and wants to bring more people onto that party bus!
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* We promise not to virtually stalk you, it will be (at max) weekly round ups and elements that it would be rude not to tell you about...