Georgina Welch works with those with limiting illnesses. And she practises yoga. In fact, she’s currently training to become a yoga teacher with Dan Peppiatt’s Yoga Like Water teacher training in North Devon. Yogamatters was delighted to help Georgina realise her vision to combine her yoga and her life experience to bring yoga to those with limiting illnesses by supplying her with some of the equipment she needed to get started.
It was great to have the opportunity to chat to Georgina about her new initiative.
What has yoga meant to you personally over the years?
Yoga has meant a great deal to me. It started off as a way to get physically stronger and help with odd aches and pains that you get from running around a ward and being on your feet for long shifts. But soon I realised that the psychological benefits that yoga gave me far outweighed the physical benefits. Yoga has improved my wellbeing tremendously. It is now a way of life for me, not just something I ‘do’ a few times a week. It has allowed me to have space in my hectic life, find tranquillity and it helps me to cope with challenges that life throws at me.
As a qualified nurse already, what made you decide to train as a yoga teacher?
First of all the love of yoga and what it means to me made me want to deepen my knowledge and explore more about yoga and more about myself. Secondly, I wanted to share how wonderful yoga is for your whole being. Once you have the yoga bug, you want to share it. It becomes a real drive to let others know how much benefit they can get from a yoga practice. I have a passion for making yoga accessible for all.
You’re doing a ‘Yoga Like Water’ teacher training with Dan Peppiatt: what made you choose that TT and how has it been so far?
I was discussing with my yoga teacher Ash about becoming a yoga teacher and wanting to combine my work with terminally ill people at St Peter’s Hospice and yoga. Ash lent me a book on yoga, placed the Yoga Like Water leaflet in the book, told me about sponsored places that Dan Peppiat offers and said that my idea was something that Yoga Like Water would be likely to support.
I applied thinking I wouldn’t get a sponsored place, but Dan replied within a day or two and a month later, I was on the course. The course has been really good so far. It has been a huge personal journey, a huge emotional investment, as well as a lot of time. But it will be worth it. It has deepened my personal yoga practice and therefore enhanced what I can share with others.
The Yoga Like Water course is very different from other yoga TT as it has a loose framework and allows you to explore your practice and your self, allowing you to become a unique yoga teacher. Dan allows you the freedom to push the boundaries of what is yoga and explore that in depth if you choose to. Dan’s style of teaching is exploratory and he always says ‘I learn from you’. I really respect that. Yoga Like Water TT facilitates you to become the best kind of yoga teacher you can be, and brings you out of your shell. It has helped me to find my voice. I have had ups and downs with it. I’ve had times when I have doubted myself and feel I have taken on too much, thinking ‘I’m not good enough to do this’, and other times when I have felt totally inspired and motivated to learn more, teach and share.
What led you to the decision that you would like to bring yoga to those with limiting illnesses?
I think this came when I started working at the hospice. The hospice has a very holistic atmosphere and offers a lot of complementary therapies, such as massage, aromatherapy, lots of talking therapies, art therapies, music therapies… I saw a gap that yoga could fit in with the ethos of the hospice and benefit those diagnosed with a terminal illness and their families.
In what ways do you believe yoga can be beneficial for people who may not be that physically able and may also have cognitive issues like dementia?
This is something I have been asked a lot. A lot of people say to me ‘Oh I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible’. There are 8 limbs of yoga and only one of those is physical practice. Therefore a yoga practice can be hugely beneficial to those that are not as physically able. My hope is that the yoga sessions I provide give people time for themselves, a space where they can just be. I hope to provide a safe, mindful, relaxing environment where people can explore and learn something new, something about yoga and perhaps something about themselves. I eek to give people the mental space that we so often lack in our day to day busy lives. This can be even more important when we are living with illness. I also hope that the yoga sessions I provide will build a sense of community among those that come. Often people can feel isolated and lonely when coping with a physical or cognitive decline. I hope that yoga will improve the overall wellbeing of these people.
In what ways will you need to adapt your teaching to make yoga accessible to this group?
This is really difficult question to answer as everybody is different. My aim will be to adapt my classes to suit those that are in the class. I will limit numbers of people in the classes so that each person can have the time and attention they deserve. My classes will have a focus on what a yoga practice can do for the mind rather than the physical body. A mindful, meditative, nurturing approach to yoga practice, rather than a dynamic fast-flowing class.
For terminally ill individuals, how do you believe yoga can improve the quality of life in the final stages?
This is something I am still exploring and I’m sure will always be exploring. As I am learning more about nursing those in the final months, weeks and days of life, I am learning there is no set way that things are done. Everybody I nurse towards the end of their lives are different and their needs are very different. It is always an honour to nurse someone at the end of their life and to work with the families. I believe that if someone chooses to practise yoga during this time, it can enhance their wellbeing. I have used yoga to cope with difficult times in my life and have found great psychological benefits. I believe that yoga can help people to cope with challenging times at any stage of life and I hope this to be the same when an individual is coming towards the end of their life. I hope to give them space that isn’t all about dying, away from the medicalisation of dying, a space where they can just be them again, not the person who is dying, but a person who can celebrate who they are. I hope that loved ones will also participate with yoga sessions and I can provide memorable space and time that they spend together in a nurturing, supportive environment.
How have you raised money for this project so far and what will the money be used for?
I am in the early stages of this project, but so far Dan Peppiatt has helped me by running a donation only workshop. I hope to run many more workshops to get this project off the ground. The most recent workshop was to get me started with some props to help with adapting practice for people. I won’t be working out of a studio, so I wont have the use of studio equipment. Once I have developed my project a litter further, I will just ask for donations for the yoga classes I provide. This will mostly go towards a charity of the participants’ choice: for example, St Peter’s Hospice, Age UK or Dementia UK, just to name a few. It may be that we have a featured charity of the month that we are supporting as a collective – I hope for it to be a collaborative project between yoga teacher and student. Of course, some money will go towards the hire of space to facilitate the sessions, but hopefully the majority of the donations received will go towards supporting charities close to the hearts of those coming to the sessions.
How do you feel about this donation of equipment from Yogamatters?
I am delighted and astounded. It will help me and those that I am planning to provide classes for. It is a big step in the right direction for me to get my idea off the ground, so I am very grateful and excited.
Thank you very much.
Here at Yogamatters, we all wish Georgina well in this wonderful vision and look forward to hearing more throughout 2018.