In our first interview of 2017, we’re talking to yoga teacher and practitioner, Laura Wilson, who explains the notion behind the pay-it-forward yoga initiaive happening later this month in Edinburgh.
What’s your connection to the Lothians?
I moved to Edinburgh in 2003 but I’ve been connected here since I was a teenager. I use to stay with some family friends who lived in Portobello each summer and I looked after their little girl. I fell in love with Edinburgh then and so when I’d finished studying dance in London I moved straight up here. Apart from a couple of years out travelling in Spain I’ve been here ever since. I love it!
Have you childhood memory of Edinburgh?
Not childhood but teenage memories of Edinburgh, and in particular the Festival and how exciting the buzz around it all was. I think that has been a big influence on me wanting to create the same excitement around yoga that the Fringe Festival always has around theatre. I used to take the little girl I was looking after and go and hang out on The Mound watching the street performers and sunbathing in the gardens. I thought it was the best thing ever.
What about a favourite place to visit locally?
Loads! But my favourite spot has to be Arthur’s Seat. What other city has a great big mountain in the middle of it?! I lived for a couple of years right opposite Holyrood Park and I never got tired of that view.
So what’s the best thing about living in the Lothians?
The close proximity of the countryside and the coast, and amazing yoga community we have built here.
Are you a ‘gloomy-fog-over-the-castle’ or a ‘summer-on-Princes Street-gardens’ type?
I can definitely lean towards the gloomy side if I’m not careful, but thankfully these days my yoga practice mainly keeps me on the sunny side of the street.
I am one of the privileged few who has had the chance to build a career out of a passion. I teach yoga and as a yoga therapist have the opportunity to teach in lots of amazing and inspiring places all over the Lothians. I have a special interest in working with people with mental health conditions and love nothing more than watching someone make friends with their body, slow down their breathing, relax in their mind and allow themselves some compassion.
Is there a typical day? What does it involve?
I have a one year old daughter so the majority of my time is dedicated to her. Our days are filled with lots of walks in the Roslin Glen where we live, and we have fun exploring and learning with her dad, and the other mums and babies in the village. When I’m not looking after my wee one I’ll either be found organising yoga events, classes, teachers fundraisers, festivals, talks or practicing yoga.
It is my life’s work to take yoga to unmet populations and I am so amazed and so grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I love every day of the week. My yoga practice has been such a huge part of my life in the last decade and has helped me through some tough times. I now have the chance to give back and share the practice that means so much to me and that is an absolute honour and a blessing.
What’s your greatest achievement so far – personally or professionally?
I won’t go into my greatest personal achievement because no one wants to hear a mother wax lyrical about her baby! Professionally it is my yoga work. I am the founder of Edinburgh Community Yoga Outreach, a not-for-profit social enterprise that takes yoga and meditation into under-served communities. We work with people with mental health and addiction difficulties, women affected by trauma, people with long term health conditions and, basically, anyone who wouldn’t normally make it to a mainstream yoga class.
Thanks to my amazing colleague, Lorraine Close, the organisation has grown exponentially in the last couple of years and has become much greater than me and for that I am very proud. We are currently working to run a Pay-It-Forward yoga festival in Edinburgh to raise funds for the work we do and I’ve been so impressed by how much the yoga and wider community have embraced the idea and taken on the values. The Festival runs for a week in February so we are really busy at the moment getting ready for that. Exciting times indeed!
And when you’re not working?
I spend time with my amazing family and friends. We spend as much time as we can outdoors and enjoying the simple life, and if I’m honest, eating a lot of cake.
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