I have been building a group of 'ambassadors' since I began my company four years ago. This I now call the Chant Sisterhood.  All members of the Sisterhood working in the yoga and/wellbeing sector as yoga teachers, body workers, studio owners and/or bloggers.

If you would like to be a part of the Sisterhood, just drop me an email hello@chantmalas.co.uk and let's chat!

The Sisters...

Miriam Pethania

Moving my way back to myself

'I started practicing yoga around 2007. I’d already started delving into meditation a year or so before, and I remember the first flickers of thought and feeling around it.

Moving, feeling the body, feeling the breath, feeling transience and stillness and change in every second.

I hit some really tough spots in life over the following years, and my yoga practice became my place to slowly unravel the knots. When stress and anxiety and mental health took its toll, yoga was a way of moving and feeling my way back to the present moment.

I remember those thoughts and feelings too. Realising in Crow, or Warrior, or Wheel, that my body was not an enemy, but a friend. That my mind could be tethered back to the immediate moment, just by moving, breathing, and becoming still.

Then somehow, I stumbled across other people, moving in strange, beautiful, novel ways. Were they dancing? Was it gymnastics? Was it yoga? It looked beautiful and had no name, and it tugged inside me.

I began to play games with my practice. What if…? What if poses flowed into another, through strange and unfamiliar pathways? What if you stepped out of the confines? What would happen if you did this, or this, or that…?

Last summer I took a gamble on a retreat in Norway on “still movement”. I tried to describe it to people, it was about… movement? Stillness? Connection? Something else? I showed them the videos of these people I’d never met, yet whose bodies and thoughts had me enthralled.

For a few days, we did just that. Moved. Grew still. Asked questions. Connected. With ourselves, the landscape, each other, and ourselves again. It seemed to interweave all the threads of what I loved, finding meditative presence, mindfulness, stillness, movement, dynamism and softness all into one incredible tapestry. I came back with a shard of light deeply, deeply embedded in me.

Somehow this began to spill out. Letting that connection rise to the surface and move with its own voice. My body knew what it wanted, what it needed. Sometimes this was soft, sinuous, pressed against the floor, rolling like folds of silk.

Sometimes it was moving strong and sharp, like the branch of a tree on fire.

The more I handed myself over to it, to this practice that I still can’t really name, the more something unlocked within me. Things rose up to the surface, doubts and fears and shame and insecurities. What is this? What will people think? Am I crazy?

I kept moving through it.

The more I handed myself over, completely, more and more, old doubts and hesitations began to burn away in its energy. The fears about my own creativity, the obstacles I put in my way, slowly turned to ash. Old anxieties about my body, perceived abilities or inabilities, melted in the moments I let myself melt to the floor.

I kept moving. I keep moving. And slowly, through it, I am finding myself more like myself again.

More than I ever thought, someone who can be brave or silly or dance or dream, who can be vulnerable and hurt, and know that I can heal again.'

You can find Miriam at her website and via instagram @heartxmindlife .

She also writes the most beautiful poetry, which you can find on Instagram @pageatatime .

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Stella Tomlinson

Stella is a Hampshire-based Dru Yoga & Meditation teacher and writer with a passion for empowering sensitive, soulful people to release and heal from limiting beliefs and conditioning; to connect to their true, deeply soulful nature; and harness the power of their mind and inner wisdom in order to embrace life and live radiantly.

Because this is what yoga and meditation has done for her!

Stella first discovered yoga in 2000 not long after she’d moved to a new city where she knew no-one, for her first professional job in a large organisation. She was tense, anxious, self-conscious and seriously stiff and inflexible.
Yoga helped her peel back the layers of physical tension and the self-sabotaging critical thoughts and found it to be like therapy using her body and breath to reveal her soul.

And in 2009 Stella discovered Dru Yoga – and came home. She quickly fell in love with the subtlety and accessibility of Dru Yoga and its heart-opening, soul-nourishing, empowering tools to reintegrate body, mind, emotions and soul and transform your life.
Stella began teaching Dru Yoga in 2012 after completing their two year, 200-hour training, and completed a two-year Dru Meditation Teacher Training programme in 2016. In summer 2016 she left the world of paid employment to embark on the journey of being self-employed and making her living from doing what she loves: sharing Dru Yoga & Meditation.

She meditates daily and loves to chant mantra to still her mind, so she can connect to the deep inner wisdom within (which is within all of us!) to be guided by her inner knowing and intuition (having spent too many years being guided by the fretful mind!).

Stella is also a Jikiden Reiki practitioner and is currently studying Energy Emotional Freedom Technique … because she has an ever-deepening curiosity in understanding the complex relationships between the brain, our energy systems, and emotional healing.

Stella loves hugging trees, taking pictures of the sky, gazing at flowers, listening to birdsong and exploring earth-based spirituality and living in alignment with the cycles of the moon and the Celtic Wheel of the Year. She has a very large crystal jewellery collection – most recently augmented with a beautiful selection from Chant Malas!


Stella teaches weekly mindful Dru Yoga & meditation classes, soul-nourishing workshops and empowering courses in Southampton and Eastleigh in Hampshire, has been blogging since 2010 and her first book will be out in 2018.

Find out more at her website and connect with her via Facebook and Instagram.

 

Maria Mariscal

1.  Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Maria and I have been studying nutrition for a year, but at the moment I have a pause from my studies. I have lived in London for over 4 years, previously I lived in Sweden with my parents for 15 years and before that I lived in Ecuador (South America) for 10 years. It can be an interesting story to tell my kids in the future. 
At the moment I work in an office and I spend most of my time sitting in front of a screen, reason why a healthy and active living life is vital for me (balanced). 
Apart from health and being active, I also love spending time doing nothing and eating unhealthy stuff during the weekends. I enjoy meeting up friends for a nice chat about life, travelling with my partner and enjoy life as much as we just can. Reading is a big part of me, as well as writing.

2.  How, why and when did you start blogging?

I started blogging many years ago, at first it was more like a vent-forum but when I moved to London I knew I had a passion for writing. I started 2013 a blog about my new life in London, around 2014 I started my studies at CNM School here in London. While studying, I also knew I wanted to write about food, inspire other people to have a balance diet. Since then I have been writing and enjoying expressing myself and educating others in a way that it is not too heavy. It is just more about the simple things in life. It doesn’t need to be expensive or hard to maintain a healthy and balance life style in London, or to stay active or fit.

3.  What are your plans for your blog?  What would you like people to get from it?

I will continue to do my blogging, although I want it to be more like a platform where people can get inspiration from. I will write more about daily basics in life, to make people feel connected with me. I love health but I do also like to enjoy life. I think I want people to not feel bad if they cheat with food for example, to calm themselves when they read my blog or Instagram and think we are just humans.

4.  Why did you choose the title ‘Simplicity in the City’ for your blog?

“Simplicity in The City” is for us people who live a hectic life, don’t seem to have much time to cook or to find a balance diet. As I do have that life style, I try to balance my diet, balance the things that I like to do including the boring stuff. At Simplicity in The City you will see more about simple recipes, how I maintain myself healthy but still enjoying life. Where to buy this natural product, how to be careful with money and still buy products with quality. The title was hard to create, as I wanted it to be simple and easy to get. Easy to understand what my blog is about. Simplicity in The City is all about being simple but happy, be simple in a way that makes you daily life much easier to handle and at the same time enriches your soul.

5.  How do you keep things ‘simple’ in your life?

I try to be more present in life. Let go of fears and unnecessary thoughts running through my head. I think last year was my biggest year for my mental health in a good way. I achieved a lot and managed to know what I’m struggling with. To accept things in life makes my life so much easier. I try not to think too much about what if, what people think, what people do, and actually mind my business more and focus more on myself and the closest people around me. I expect nothing but I highly appreciate the people who make an effort for me in all the ways. I try to judge less and keep it simple. People are different. That is my way of keeping life simple, by doing these few things and everything else becomes easier to deal with. I also relax massively, I don’t like to over plan my week with hangouts too much. I rather meet my friends on special occasions, I enjoy having less to do meanwhile not having kids. I will be out and running once the kids come, but right now I want to be relax and keep things simple in life.

6.  What advice would you give to anyone who might be thinking about living in another country?

Go for it. I always wanted to move but I was scared. I was scared to leave my friends, my family, my job, my flat, everything. But one day it just hit me and I took the chance, the best “risk” I have ever taken in my life. You might not achieve things you want all in once, but you gain so much wisdom. You gain life experience, you learn how to filter things in life. You learn how to deal with yourself when nobody else does. You learn how to be your own best friend, and for me that is one of the biggest achievement of my life. Most of all, you learn that you don’t have to compete with people in order to be happy or to feel complete. When I moved I knew that I could always go back home, but I didn’t want to so I push myself to enjoy life in London regardless what it came with. I will always encourage people to make a change or changes. I believe that being flexible is very important in life, and moving to another country automatically makes you flexible if you want to of course. Moving abroad isn’t always fancy but it is a massive lesson for your future self. It forces you to grow whether you want or not. I have grown massively, and living in England have made me a very realistic person. It wont come, unless you work for it.

7.  What brings you joy?
I get happy very easily about small things. Cooking is my therapy so I can say that cooking brings me a lot of joy. Creating good dishes. Shall not forget my family, boyfriend and friends. They all contribute to a better Maria, to a better person I also strive for. Things outside my power that brings me joy is animals, animals are creatures that can make my day bright. I love seeing other people helping each other in a genuine way, when people create honest and clear relationships without agendas. I love honest people and they do bring me joy.

8.  If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be and why?

Goofey, positive, and caring. 
Goofey, because I do silly things. I can behave in a way only a few can understand and if you are weird yourself. 
I will say positive because regardless how much challenges in all kinds I have met, I always continue and always believe that it will all be all right. I don’t give up and I think that is positive. I do like to ventilate and let go of thoughts in my head. I think it is important to be real and not always go around and believe life is a fairy tale 24/7 because one they it does hits you. And caring because I honestly care about people around me, and I have lately stopped as people do not show the same. Although, I will never stop being a caring person. In small or big doses I always care.

9.  Do you have a mantra or affirmation that you like to use?  If so, what is it (if you’re willing to share it!) and how did you come to it?

I have different ones depending on how I feel, but my most used one is: You will get everything eventually. It sounds very simple but saying that to my self gives me such a boost of relaxation. I calm down and think of what I can do now and try not to stress what the future holds. 
I also try to visualize light around me, to protect myself from darkness from others. 
Do not get me wrong, even though I’m a spiritual person and I do love me some sage. I’m human like any other person and we do have our bad days. That is why I try every day to maintain things simple, not take people’s way of being personal or think too deep when it is not necessary.

Maria can be found at her blog Simplicity in the City and on Instagram as @mariscalxo .

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Priya Shah

1.  When did you begin your yoga journey?  What drew you to yoga and what kept you going back?
I began my yoga journey in April 2014, I had no idea what to expect and had no expectations. I ended up in yoga after having a soul reading, I was in a very dark place and suffering from depression. The soul reading suggested I should look for a community near me and suggested I could teach yoga (I laughed when I was told this). I eventually found the courage to try a class at a studio which was a 10min walk from my home, it's hard to put into words but ever since the first class I was drawn in.
 
2.  Do you have a favourite yogic practice?  What is it and why?
I love vinyasa and flow yoga and I like slowing it down when I want to calm the nervous system. Flow allows me to move in a way that feels great for my body and also is uplifting or calming depending on how I feel.
 
3.  What are your intentions for people that come to your classes?
I want them to feel the benefits beyond the asana, to feel more grounded and calmer, to feel the effects even after the class is finished.
 
4.  Share something about yourself that’s not related to yoga?
I have found myself drawn to nature and with that I am cooking a lot more at home as well as creating natural skin care products. I also love swimming, especially in open water.
 
5.  What advice would you give to someone struggling to maintain a daily practice (or any practice at all!)?
Start slowly, start with the breath and just focus on that. I found that taking notice of my breath and breathing much more evenly and steadily has made a profound difference to my life. You can do a 10min stretch even in bed but focusing on your breath. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. You must also remember that every single person is different and it takes time and acceptance to figure out what is right for you.
 
6.  What brings you joy?
Being in nature and the outdoors, preferably with a little sunshine. Though lately joy has just come from simple things, and just being, living each moment without expectations.
 
7.  If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be and why?
  • Loving - I have always shared my love for others, but lately as my self love has grown I have found that the outward love has grown significantly too.
  • Compassionate - I have started to see myself and others in a different light, understanding that we are all on our journeys and we all have a purpose.
  • Strong - from a place of love, I would always want to please others and mostly felt like a disappointment. As the self love has grown, my strength in believing in myself and others has grown significantly and I now do things that are in tune with my soul purpose and journey.

Please connect with and support Priya via Instagram @glowwithpriya and on her website.

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Emma Newlyn

Emma is a musician, massage therapist, writer and full-time Yoga teacher. Having grown up surrounded by Yoga and meditation, Emma trained as a 200hr RYT with Esther Ekhart in Europe and a further 500hrs advanced training in India with Julie Martin, her thirst for knowledge is ever increasing, and she has continued to learn with acclaimed teachers such as Kathryn Budig, Doug Swenson, Stephanie Snyder, Max Strom and Shiva Rea. With a love for flow-style yoga, it is this aspect of creating a ‘moving meditation’ that intrigues Emma the most. She is passionate about creating effective sequences that lead students through a journey, and believes that there is definitely no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the physical practice. Emma has also trained to teach children’s yoga and restorative yoga after finding the practice transformational both physically and mentally, and feels that Yoga has been a hugely empowering and healing journey for her so far…. Emma leads kirtan evenings (music and singing), writes for various health and wellbeing websites, is a published author, and is the manager of the Brighton Yoga Festival. She loves sharing knowledge about Yoga philosophy and how we can take our practice ‘off the mat’.

You can find Emma on her website and via instagram @emmanewlynyoga

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Jo Kemp

Jo believes her real teacher training has been stepping onto her mat six days a week for the past 10+ years. During this time she has travelled to Mysore, India to practice under R.Sharath Jois and Saraswathi Jois to learn at the source of modern Ashtanga yoga. She travels here annually and continues to study with her teacher in London, Ursula Scott (Authorised level 2). Her respect to the lineage of Ashtanga yoga has produced a traditional understanding of the asana and the philosophy of the practice.

She assists Ursula Scott's Mysore program at Tri-Yoga Soho, in London, where she is developing her abilities to teach students of all levels, from complete beginner to advanced practitioner.

Jo believes in the Indian tradition of Parampara - knowledge that is passed in succession from teacher to student through generations. Paramapara is a Sanskrit word that places emphasis on complete devotion to a teacher and through this gaining knowledge of their experience and the experience of their teacher before them. The teacher and student form the links in the chain of instruction that has been passed down for thousands of years. In order for yoga instruction to be effective, true and complete, Jo believes it should come from parampara.

Jo teaches Ashtanga yoga in the traditional Mysore method - the way Sharath Jois still teaches in Mysore today. Sharath is a student of his Grandfather Pattabhi Jois, considered by many to be the father of modern Ashtanga yoga. Jo believes in the practice because of how much it has done for her body, mind and soul. She believes that ashtanga yoga is the perfect tool for a strong healthy body, a peaceful mind and devotion to her spirit.

Her devotion, love and passion to share this beautiful discipline shine through in her teaching and she welcomes people of all abilities with an open heart. Follow Jo’s journey on instagram: @jojoyoga

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Lucy Barlow

Lucy began practising yoga over 20 years ago, and has been teaching for 11 of those. Lucy's teaching & personal practice are based on the principles of non-violence, the cultivation of contentment and embodied awareness.

Lucy describes her classes as Lucid Yoga: her teaching is underpinned by the belief that all her students should know what they are practising and why. In classes with Lucy, you will develop a yoga practice that meets you where you are now, allowing you space & time to grow and deepen your practice. Lucid Yoga will bring you deep wellbeing as you discover a stronger, more supple body, a compassionate open heart and a calm mind.

Lucy holds several qualifications as a Yoga Teacher & Yoga Therapist and is registered as a Senior Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance Professionals. Friends of Yoga Society (FRYOG) International Diploma FRYOG Post-Graduate Diploma in Teaching Yoga to Children Birthlight Perinatal Yoga Diploma Birthlight Certificate of Training in Birth Preparation Active Birth Centre Yoga for Pregnancy Module Birthing From Within Mentor (Introductory Training complete) Yoga Therapist (Devon School of Yoga).  

When she is not on the mat, Lucy puts her yoga into practice as a conscious mother, seeking to keep her sons "free-range" and giving them a playful and creative childhood. Lucy also volunteers to support other mothers through the Positive Birth Portsmouth group, and regularly arranges or participates in fund-raising for a variety of charities based in or around Portsmouth.

Lucy runs and teaches at Portsmouth Yoga Studio in Southsea, UK.  Find her via website and @lucidyogalucy.

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Linda Dixon

Linda has been teaching yoga since 2013. After practicing various styles of yoga over the years she finally found ‘the one’ when she attended a dynamic hot power yoga class in Clapham back in 2011.

Feeling stressed out and frazzled with the frenetic pace of London life, she embarked on a '40 days to personal revolution' programme designed by Baron Baptiste and has never looked back, signing up for teacher training on the back of the empowering experiences practicing yoga and meditating daily taught her.

Linda’s vinyasa classes are dynamic and challenging but she encourages everyone to try new things and work outside of their comfort zone, as this is the place where the limits we place on ourselves begin to expand and real, lasting change can occur. Top tips for this class – come to yoga rested as the vinyasa style is heat building and stay hydrated during the day as well as in class.

Linda has also trained in prenatal yoga, qualifying in March 2016 with Yogacampus in Manchester. After having a baby herself in 2014 she discovered there was a real lack of pregnancy yoga available to the women of Darlington, and set about to change this. These classes are restorative, meditative and designed specifically around the pregnant body. Each class also has a long relaxation at the end, peppered with uplifting and positive affirmations around pregnancy and birth.

You can find Linda on Instagram @linda_yoga_ and at Greenwell Yoga.

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Sarah Byrne

Sarah is originally from Louisiana. After some time living in Africa and Japan, losing her Southern drawl along the way, Sarah has settled in Harrogate with her husband and their young daughter.

Sarah began practising yoga over 9 years ago whilst living in Japan, after a dare from her now husband. She had never really been sporty and event thinks she was allergic to anything that would make her sweat (erm, glisten!) but she wanted to prove a point; that she could ‘do' yoga. Sarah found experiencing yoga grounded her, put her in the here and now and forced her overactive mind to be still.

As a teacher, Sarah considers herself to be responsive and considerate, enjoying a laugh or three along the way. Teaching yoga began with Sarah’s certification with Yoga Alliance at The Yoga Space in 2013.  Find her via her Instagram page here.