Yoga with Sam

About Sam

Wife, mother of two delightful daughters, Yoga Teacher and self-confessed television enthusiast.

Words by Samantha Nixon, Northampton-based Yoga Teacher.

Update - 16th May 2018

I haven’t updated the "About Sam" section for a while so I thought it was about time to let you know what I've been up to.

It has been three and a half years since I returned to office work. Like many of you reading this, I spend most of my days sat in an office chair staring at a computer screen. Weekday mornings are a manic rush, straightening my hair, hunting through my wardrobe for an outfit that doesn’t make me look like a blob, preparing the kids' breakfast, making their packed lunches, brushing their hair and finding their missing shoes. I shove the children into the car and take them to the school breakfast club, at which point one of them will tell me that they need to hand in their volcano project homework. I glance around breakfast club and there are a multitude of homemade volcanic creations with LEDs, sound effects and dry ice. "Don't worry sweetheart, I will email your teacher when I get to the office". When I finally arrive at work I take a breath, drink a hot water with lemon, and then the onslaught of emails, meetings and reports begins.

I love my job, but during the day my shoulders do their best to work their way up to my towards my ears and my spine attempts to slump. My mind races with strategies and ideas, with data, and with problem solving thoughts.

Stress is a constant battle for all of us; at our places of work, in our relationships, at the checkout, or when the boiler breaks down. We experience love, we experience loss, we worry about our health. Life throws us into many challenges and unimaginable situations. Some people's lives are more stressful than others, but we all experience stress and we all cope with it in different ways.

I would love to tell you that I enjoy meditation and yoga practice daily. I don't. I hope there will be a time later on in my life when I can immerse myself into stillness. For the time being, my body and my mind will have to make do with a twice weekly session, for an hour. This doesn't sound like much. Maths has never been my strength, but my calculator tells me that it's 104 hours per year. Divide that by 24 and it works out to 4.3 days of pure yoga stillness per year. Not bad.

Those two sessions a week give me chance to regularly restore balance in my body by stretching and releasing any tension that has built up. I clear my mind of busy thoughts by focusing on my breath throughout my postures and during relaxation. Following a class I feel relaxed, restored, rejuvenated and ready for whatever life throws at me. The core strength I have built up from regular practice enables me to retain my posture and protect my back. Yoga brings me awareness. My shoulders may start to hunch at my desk but I am aware of this and I periodically allow them to relax. This awareness stays with me and subtly follows me throughout my day.

I wouldn't describe myself as a spiritual teacher. I have a pragmatic approach to teaching. I understand how difficult it is to commit to a class on a weekly basis, which is why I run a drop-in class. I focus on the back, neck and shoulders where many of us hold onto tension.

I'm very much a "hands-off" teacher. Everybody's body is different; we can all move in different ways and I ask my students to listen to my words and interpret the positions for their own bodies as they move themselves into a pose. Many people come to me nursing injuries or surgeries and I would never dream of knowing their bodies better than they do themselves.

I thrive on the benefits of yoga and all I want to do is to share those benefits with the people who attend my classes. I take great pleasure in making myself and my students whole again.

Right now I'm teaching:

  • Monday nights at 6:55pm in the Primary Hall at the Caroline Chisholm School (AKA The Wooldale Centre for Learning), Wooldale Road, Wootton, Northampton NN4 6TP
  • Thursday nights at 7pm at Fitness4Less, Sol Central, Mare Fair, Northampton NN1 1SR

Update - 17th December 2014

Since last updating my website, there has been a complete turnaround in my teaching. I was delighted to gain my Yoga for pregnancy qualification in 2013. During that year I was teaching over 10 hours of yoga a week (adult, kids and pregnancy) whilst my youngest daughter attended nursery every morning in Northampton…the pinnacle of my yoga career to date!

In early 2014 I took the decision to return to full time office work and have greatly reduced my yoga teaching hours. Both of my girls now attend a local school and I'm still teaching twice a week. I have found this fits in perfectly with my work/life/yoga/parenting balance. Who knows what the future will hold!

Original post - July 2002

I began office work in 1997 when I was 19 and from that moment, I spent my professional career immersed in the wonderful world of information technology.

My yoga journey began in 2002 at a BODYBALANCE™ class (a blend of yoga, pilates and tai chi to music) at a local leisure centre in Rushden, Northamptonshire. I was looking to shape-up for my upcoming wedding the following summer. I found gym training tiresome so looked to the group classes on offer at times that suited me and the Wednesday night BODYBALANCE™ class fitted my work and life commitments perfectly. I found the tai chi movements captivating and the vinyasas (flow of yoga postures) enlightening. I'd never moved my body in this way before and I stretched muscles I never knew I had.

For a long time I struggled to “move with the breath” or “visualise my spine” as the instructor suggested; however, the class felt a lot more wholesome than lifting weights, rep after rep so I went back, week after week. And when it wasn't on or I couldn't go, I really missed it. My body missed it, my mind missed it and I didn't feel complete.

The first change I noticed was that I noticed change...I would often catch myself slouching (and still do!) or leaning to one side on a hip, or if my shopping bags were heavier on one side than they were on the other. I had become more aware.

In early 2005, I was fortunate that the company I worked for at the time began to run Yoga classes at lunch times. So obviously I was thrilled to then be taking part in yoga class once a week too.

My new instructor was Brian Cosserat, co-founder of the Inner Healing School of Yoga, who are based in Great Doddington near Wellingborough in Northamptonshire. Brian's style of yoga was uplifting. He used breathing exercises and had a different method of relaxation than I was used to. It was these exercises that brought the awareness of the breath to me. The class seemed so much more internally focused and each week brought something new. I could feel Brian's warmth, his love of our world and his peacefulness and that in turn made me feel warm, loving and peaceful.

In July 2005, Brian suggested I would be an ideal candidate for Inner Healing's Yoga Foundation Course. I was absolutely over the moon and leapt at the chance to sign up. Part of the syllabus included notching up yoga practice each week with an Inner Healing School of Yoga teacher. So I sacked off BODYBALANCE™ and attended Gail Cosserat's Wednesday night yoga class instead. Her style of yoga became an inspiration to me and I wanted to learn more. So in 2006 after completing the Yoga Foundation course, I signed myself up for Inner Healing's Yoga Teacher Diploma. Between October 2006 and May 2008 I clocked up over 150 hours of yoga classes. I also regularly practiced yoga at my home in Northampton, attended yoga workshops, yoga weekends and completed the YogaBugs children's yoga teacher training course. It would be fair to say, I had completely caught the yoga bug!

In September 2007 I fell pregnant with my first daughter Juno, who born in June 2008. I continued my regular yoga classes and followed the advice of Gail. We adapted postures to incorporate my baby bump! I was quite heavily pregnant during my final practical exam during the yoga teacher training.

I am in no doubt that my yoga strength in mind and body, plus awareness of my breath allowed me to deliver Juno, at home in Wootton, Northampton. It was a completely natural delivery in my home birth pool with no pain relief except a couple of paracetamol.

I took a break from the yoga teacher training coursework and tried postnatal yoga and baby massage in Northampton with my newborn. And soon enough I was back at yoga, but only once a week, as the demands of breastfeeding meant it was easier to stay close to my daughter where possible. I breastfed Juno until she was 15 months old. My body confidence had never been so high in terms of how magnificent it is. Making, growing, delivering and feeding a new spirit in our world.

I completed Inner Healings Yoga Teacher Training Dipolma in 2009 and was graded as excellent while pregnant with my second daughter, Liberty Bell. She was also delivered in my birthing pool at my home in Wootton, Northampton and with no pain relief at all this time. Liberty Bell's timing was spot on, as the builders who were working onsite at my home during my labour and taken their lunch break and Juno was having a nap!

I believe my good fortune with home birthing derives directly from the confidence and awareness yoga has given me. I was confident my body had the ability to deliver a baby without intervention. I was aware of how my body needed to move or be at rest during labour and what position was felt most natural. And during contractions I would focus solely on the breath and "ride the wave" as one mother of five children described it to me during my first pregnancy (thank you Natasha!).

I successfully breastfed my second daughter until she was 13 months old. During the last few months of feeding I began to wonder what my new challenge might be. And then I was having family over to decided to visit our local pub for lunch - the Yeoman of England in Wootton, Northampton. Whilst I was there enjoying lunch with family and entertaining two under three's, I stumbled upon the pub function room and was immediately taken back by the high wooden ceiling and cosines of the room - what a lovely room to teach yoga in and right here on my doorstep in Wootton, Northampton!

So, now was my time to put the many hours of yoga classes and training to good use and set up my own yoga classes.

I began with an adult's class and in March 2011, Yoga with Sam came to the Yeoman of England in Wootton. On Sunday nights at 8pm we find stillness, we focus inwards and we move to the flow of our own breath to gently warm up and awaken the body, mind and soul so that we may perform to our full potential.

Through November and December 2011, I coached a close friend from Northampton, who'd previously had two difficult births, on yoga breathing techniques and relaxation. I also offered her a gentle hand and shoulder massage. She went on to have a wonderful third birthing experience and has encouraged me to take up these services professionally! I am planning to train for a Yoga for Pregnancy qualification sometime soon!

At the beginning of July 2012, I added a new Yoga class in Northampton on Thursday nights, but this time in Northampton town centre. Cosmo Studios specialises in Pole Fitness Classes and it is located on the 2nd Floor of 32 Connaught Street, The Mounts, Northampton, NN1 3BP.

That brings you up to date on my journey. I hope to join you on your yoga journey - see you soon!

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