Yoga Instructor and Author Hannah Barrett chats yoga for beginners, creating an at-home routine and the best places in West London to practise
What initially drew you to yoga?
My love affair with yoga began when I was pregnant with my son. I needed a way to reduce stress, release fear and maximise the chance of having a drug-free birth (I have an irrational fear of needles). I was quickly hooked on both the physical level and on the inner strength it teaches you. The mindfulness element helped to shift my outlook on life making me happier, healthier and calmer. And it made me sweat and work harder than I had at the gym.
What made you transition from yoga student to yoga teacher?
The way yoga has supported me in my journey through motherhood encouraged me to teach and share the power of yoga with as many people as possible. Yoga has given me the tools I need to thrive and feel strong in my everyday life and my mission is to help spread it’s incredible benefits to the masses.
How has yoga improved your mental health?
Yoga has taken me on a self-reflection journey. Opening me up to mindfulness and meditation has made me peel back my layers. Helping me think about the kind of person I am and want to be, what my values are and what is important in life.
My second baby ended up in intensive care after she was born and it was a truly terrifying time in my life. I suffered with both PTSD and PND and yoga alongside therapy gave me an outlet to cope and feel strong again in both my mind and body.
What advice do you have for people wanting to start yoga for the first time?
Go for it and have fun. Lose all worries about what you can and can’t do, whether you are flexible or spiritual enough – yoga is truly for everybody. Start by trying some group classes where you’ll be able to be part of and share the amazing energy in the room. There are so many different styles of yoga so try out different classes and teachers and see what works for you.
What tips do you have for people wanting to create a daily at-home yoga routine?
Don’t worry about what it should look like, just do what feels good in your body. It’s good to learn the basics first but from there you can pretty much do whatever you like.
I love to start from a simple sun salutation and go from there, adding a pose or two then repeating the whole thing multiple times and adding a few mores poses each time I repeat. There’s a saying I love: “Through repetition, the magic is forced to arise”. We can find great depth by repeating things and you’ll find your practice becomes this moving meditation.
Where are your favourite places in West London to practise yoga?
I love Triyoga in Soho – one of my favourite teachers and lovely friend Celest Periera teaches there and her classes are incredible. The Power Yoga Company is one of my favourites with some amazing teachers and Samsara Mind and Body is also lovely, small but so incredibly friendly.
What are your favourite healthy food spots in West London?
I’m currently obsessed with Farm Girl and everything on their menu. I also just tried Wild Food Cafe in Covent Garden and was blown away.
What inspired your e-book, Strength Through Yoga?
After the birth of my son I found the postnatal exercise advice confusing and sparse. I wasn’t clear on what you could and couldn’t do, how long you had to wait after birth to begin exercising and what warning signs you should watch for. I ended up worsening my diastasis recti with the wrong exercises and not understanding how to properly engage my core.
This inspired me to do my own research, understand the changes in my body, and to help other new mums exercise safely post birth. I teamed up with Finola Burrell, an incredible physiotherapist and now close friend, to devise a 16-week postnatal, yoga-inspired exercise guide which would be easy to follow and to understand and support mothers in both body and mind. It’s also been reviewed and recommended by medical experts including This Morning’s resident doctor Dr Zoe Williams (@drzoewilliams).
Hannah Barrett: Strength Through Yoga is available for £39.99 at www.yogagirllondon.com