Updated: Jan 28, 2019
Sally Hodgetts is our fantastic Ashtanga and Rocket yoga instructor. We wanted you to get to know her a little more so we asked her a few questions about her yoga journey and what she loves abut the practice.
How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you first discover it?
I first started going to yoga with my mum, when I was around 14 years old, it was at Hambleden village hall and all I remember was being woken up at the end of the session with an empty hall, I was so embarrassed that I didn’t go back. As I moved into my 20's and lived in Bristol and London I had access to a wide variety of classes, teachers and different styles of yoga. I stumbled across an Ashtanga Class without knowing what 'Ashtanga' was, but it was at a good time and not too far from where I was living. I walked in and immediately felt a sense of realness, these people really did live and breathe yoga!! From there I was hooked, I loved that the sequence was the same (the primary series), where ever I went, you can work through the difficult poses and begin to memorise the movement giving you the ability to go inward and explore the self. From then and for the last seven years I have been dedicated to the Ashtanga Vinyasa System.
What made you take the leap from yoga practitioner to yoga instructor?
I've always been active, cardio and weight based training but always struggled with body image. In 2012 I discovered Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and it not only started to change my body in a positive way but little did I know at the time how much of a mental practice it really is! Through this practice I've been able to monitor my thoughts and recognise hurtful patterns and although I may never be a 'perfect' size (whatever that is), I’m now comfortable enough in myself to be ok with that.
And that is why I decided to become a teacher, I want other people to feel the benefits of this beautiful system and ultimately live in a calmer, happy body and mind!
Can you tell us a little bit about your training? What did it mean for your personal practice?
I decided it was important for my learning to travel to Mysore, India, the birth place of The Ashtanga System after studying Philosophy of Yoga at The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. I felt a strong desire to delve deeper into the philosophy and take time out of my busy life to fully commit to this practice without disturbance. We practiced in a truly traditional way, rising at 4.30am each morning for self-practice before studying philosophy and meditation.
The best thing I learned during my training was 'Always remain a student', any other way of entering into teaching could bring up emotions directly from our ego.
What is your favourite yogic teaching or practice?
I LOVE Ashtanga!!! (if you hadn’t guessed already) The primary series is a therapy!! It sets out to make us sweat, tone and purify the body and mind and I guarantee that no one would ever say they regretted coming to an Ashtanga class!
But I like mixing it up too, the Ashtanga sequence can be quite demanding and my life gets in the way from time to time, even Yoga Teachers need to take rest! So I also like to just do 30 minutes in the morning or attending Yin classes to wind down.
What is your favourite pose and why?
Twists and backbends are where I’m most comfortable, the movement through the spine energises me and after spending years and years at a desk (hunched over), I really need that sensation of opening my front body.
What is your least favourite pose and why?
Supta kurmasana!! The pinnacle of the Ashtanga Primary Series for me… I STILL CANT GET MY LEGS STRAIGHT!! But these positions are here to teach us patience and this position most certainly does.
What's your favourite bit of advice to give to beginner yogis?
'Not one size fits all' Try all different styles of yoga and lots of different teachers! Yoga is so popular now and you’re going to find a lot of teachers offering a lot of different styles, go and try them all!
I think it’s also important to talk about the fact that Yoga is not always easy and it won’t always feel good... We eventually begin to reap the benefits of the Yoga System but it does take time, dedication and consistent practice, so be patient and forget what you see on Instagram, just work your body to your own maximum.
Aside from yoga what else captures your interests? How do you like to spend your time away from the mat?
I love to be outside so if I have a free weekend, were always setting off on adventures, surfing the English Coast or Hiking a mountain.
I love my ever growing family, so spending time with them is important, they help to ground me and also lift me up when I need it.
I love learning, I'm always on the hunt for new workshops to attend or looking to see which courses I can fit in.
Other than the physical side effects of practicing, what other qualities have you developed or left behind as a result of practicing?
Well where do I even start… Yoga has shown me how to remain dedicated even when I find things difficult and am ready to quit. It's shown me how to accept myself because once you get on your mat all your left with is the truth of where and who you really are, like holding up a mirror to every part of you, the pretty and the ugly. Yoga has shown me how to recognise unhelpful thought patterns and how to manage them.
Yoga has also introduced me to some amazing humans!! Without Yoga I wouldn’t have met some of the awesome ladies and gentlemen that are in my life today who I truly admire and respect.
What's your favourite part about teaching at Leo Yoga?
There are so many!! The Studio is beautiful and clean and spacious, the Leo staff are always bright and friendly and welcoming (The Leo Fam) and of course the people I get to meet!! Everyone is ready to learn and is interested in the practice which brightens up my day, each and every day!
In just three words sum up what yoga is to you:
'Enquiry of self '
Thank you to Sally for taking the time to answer our questions and for sharing her yoga story with us! You can join Sally on the mat on Tuesday evenings and Wednesday early mornings at Leo Yoga, Marlow. Namaste x