Introducing The Reluctant Yogi

IMG_3656My approach to Arts, Health and Wellbeing (part 1)

I’m not completely mad about yoga. I’d say I really like it at times and at others I struggle to like it much at all. You could say I am a Reluctant Yogi! I’m certainly ambivalent about it. Having attended local classes on and off for many years! trained as a yoga teacher in 2016 and completed lots of inspiring and intense courses, both short and long… I’ll be honest – I wouldn’t be able to say I love it. 

This year, I have finally become clear about why I feel like this and honestly… it’s a relief. The reasons are complex and I am keen to explore them more fully here. For now, it feels important to say that I have often not felt safe enough in a yoga class and I have struggled to find comfort, my place or a sense of belonging here.

That is not to say – BTW – that I do not experience positive benefits from physical yoga practices. Yoga has a massive impact on my body, heart, mind and spirit ongoingly. Yoga philosophy helps me make sense of how I want to move through life and connect with others and the planet. The pull to the practices of yoga is real and strong and consistent over a long period of time. The learning is deep, profound and has only just begun (I’ll reflect more in another post on my experience of ‘yoga’, what it feels like to me, what I get from it and why I’m so committed to learning and sharing).

I’m convinced now that what I want to offer as a Yoga Facilitator/ Teacher will make a big difference to others who like me – aren’t loving yoga! Those of you who have maybe tried yoga but didn’t like it (for whatever reasons – and these are valid and important to understand), would like to try it but don’t think you’ll be able to do it or that it’s just not for you!

I can only share or teach from what I know and have experienced – it’s the only truthful way to move forward.

ab4So I’m going to start exploring my reservations and hesitations about yoga here. I’ll also share what I have learnt in particular from trauma sensitive approaches, yoga therapy, women’s wellbeing and embodied relational yoga which I thoroughly respect and I’m genuinely excited about. Also, my work with teenagers living with ongoing chronic medical conditions and how that informs my approach to working with the body. I’ll tell you more about why I am (despite not loving it) actively committed to finding different ways to make yoga part of my everyday life.

I’d love the chance to share genuinely with you and I hope you’ll find everything you need here to make your mind up as to whether you’d like to work with me one to one or as part of a small group of 4/5 others.

My intention for sessions is that all participants have the chance to develop their own individual felt knowledge of their bodies and experience of being in their body. You’ll get to know and explore the ‘yoga postures’ and feel comfortable recognising your own experiences in these shapes over time. You will become confident to attend any yoga class with a good knowledge of what feels right for you. You can participate/ or not and feel empowered to own your own experience and make your own choices (not deferring power to a teacher).

In January 2020 I’ll begin Yoga and Somatics for Healing and Recovery course: moving beyond stress, trauma, burnout, anxiety, fatigue and post illness through embodied awareness with Charlotte Watts. This will be an explorative journey to delve into how a compassionate and subtly attentive relationship with our bodies, practice and teaching can help address these common dis-ease states. I’m looking forward to being able to share this with people I work with.

I’m currently working with Kate Ellis in my second year of her Art of Teaching One to One training. Drawing on insights and theories within yoga, body psychotherapy and developmental movement, we are exploring how embodiment impacts our capacity for relationship whilst exploring the innate and profound intelligence of the body. This training is deepening my teaching skills to effectively meet the needs of the individual and develop my relational skills for working with depth and intimacy. I’m really excited to be able to start exploring how to combine this approach to yoga with art psychotherapy in sessions with clients.

My intention is to offer something nourishing and healing, to support you in finding your way back to your body. Back into feeling (not looking) inside the body. Learning to listen in and developing compassion for self. With patience and respect. I also want to explore how art therapy and yoga can be used together to support you to connect with yourself and others.girldancing

Over reliance on talking and thinking rationally is challenged in art therapy which offers an opportunity to more directly connect with one’s inner thoughts and feelings (inner landscape) through using art materials to explore and express; without words and getting stuck in the thinking.

Yoga complements this approach to developing a stronger sense of ourselves; identity, self awareness, acceptance and compassion for self and others. In yoga and in art therapy we get the chance to become present in our bodies and to notice what comes up (without judgement and criticism).

Yoga and art therapy can both support us to become more aware, responsive and grounded in a stronger sense of our own selves. Becoming also more respectful and kind towards our own (often hidden and well defended) fears and vulnerabilities. This helps us to connect more deeply with other human beings; feeling more understood, supported and less alone!

Key ideas informing my approach (summarised here)

  • Being – Not performing ourselves. Or our bodies

  • Free to be with what is – right now

  • Standing fully in our lives with all our experiences, knowing and wisdom

  • Respecting and honouring our own experiences and insights

  • Noticing, Curious and Compassionate

  • Following our attention, our eye, holding ourselves close, being a friend.

  • Allowing ourselves to be fully present

  • Understanding the context (social, cultural political, economic) the bigger picture, and the dominant narratives of our lives (keep busy, strive for more, strain, achieve, reaching, be good, be kind, proving to self and others and more…).

  • Space to confront and undo programming – rewire

This is all underpinned and rooted in my ongoing interest and developing knowledge of movement and alignment principles, fascia (and the relationship between bone, muscles, fascia, nerves etc. understanding different tissue types and how they affect our sense of embodiment), polyvagal theory and the nervous system, trauma sensitive approaches and embodied relational therapy principles (contact, information gathering, amplification, integration and how they can be applied to a yoga therapy session).


Art Therapy Group Royal Alex

Art Therapy Group

Wednesdays 4.30-6p.m.

The art therapy group is at the Royal Alex, term time only, 4.30-6p.m. on Wednesdays. A friendly, relaxed space for 12-16 yr olds living with an ongoing medical condition to meet up and make art. Maximum of 6 young people attend the group.

“The group offers emotional and social support and enables young people to tell their story using art materials; and to explore and share experiences and difficulties living with illness” (Saskia, Art Therapist).

Art therapy provides a safe, supportive space to think about feelings and experiences. Sometimes we do that by talking and other times by painting, drawing or using clay etc. You don’t need to be any good at art and you don’t have to use art materials if you don’t feel like it. It’s your choice.

“Making what you want how you want, with what you want”

“Don’t feel as alone – feel like someone understands me”

“We had the same perspective, we could talk about anything”

(young people talk about the benefits of the art therapy group)

Saskia Neary runs the group. She is an Art Psychotherapist with a background in children’s rights and youth participation. You can find out more about her here: http://www.saskianeary.com

If you want to find out more about the art therapy group or have any questions please call or email Saskia: 07787610911 or saskianeary@yahoo.com and she can arrange to meet up with you and have a chat  about the group.

“Letting it out – your mind can run freely”

Yoga for Young People 2019

YOGA GROUP restarts January 2019. Maximum 5 young people. Start time is 10-11a.m.on Tuesdays in the Oasis Room Level 6 at the Royal Alex.

If you are interested in joining this group please let me know. I can meet you one to one first (at the Royal Alex) to have a chat and find out what you might want from the yoga group and answer any of your questions. New classes for young people in the community will begin in March 2019.

Over the last few months I have been running one to one and group yoga sessions to help young people relax, focus and concentrate. These sessions are available at the Royal Alex on a Tuesday and at The Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre as requested. Watch this space *** I am starting a community based yoga group for young people in 2019. Please let me know if you are interested.

Early days following the process

My Creative Leanings 2008-2014

I just re-found this blog site that I started in 2008 when I couldn’t make art work and so I wrote about it instead. Eventually, slowly but surely over months and years I found the ability and confidence to make marks on a page and squeeze clay into shapes. I completed my art foundation, had a baby and then took my MA in Art Psychotherapy. It’s all here. The whole process emerging. Feels right to link these virtual spaces together so my work is in one place. A decade in the making.



NEW yoga group at the Royal Alex


Yoga Group NEW ***

Tuesdays 10.00-11.00

Weekly yoga sessions at the Royal Alex. Offering a safe and effective way to very gently explore physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance and to help with stress and anxiety. This group will support young people to develop resilience and their own tools for self-care. For young people. Maximum 5 places

A calm, relaxing, comfortable space for you, a chance to meet other young people, no expectations to do anything. Join in when and if you choose to. Term time only.

There will be a diverse group of young people with different bodies and minds. All are patients at RACH who have ongoing health conditions. The yoga will be adapted specifically to suit your needs in the group.

Feeling effective as a young person living with illness depends on a capacity to draw upon your own resources. Yoga can help to support you to develop practical tools for resilience; to calm anxiety, to manage stress and pain, to connect with a stronger sense of self and build confidence in your abilities to flourish. Yoga can nurture optimal growth and development on a physical and psychological level. Yoga also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps develop the immune system.

A weekly yoga session will include: 

Breathwork – looking at how we breathe to help feel grounded and calm in mind and body – this helps to reduce anxiety. 

Knowledge – Understanding what’s happening in the body when we get stressed or anxious and the benefits of yoga for the mind and body based on ideas from neuroscience. Learning and practicing a few simple yoga postures that can be used at home that will help let go of stress and anxiety.


Questions you may have: Will I be able to manage this physically? Will it  make me worse? I might feel exhausted after? Who else will be there?

If you are interested but first want to ask some questions please contact Saskia Neary on 07887610911 or saskianeary@yahoo.com. Saskia has trained with Universal Yoga (200hr Yoga Teacher Training, Yoga Alliance accredited) and The Teen Yoga Foundation (Complete Yoga Alliance TeenYoga teacher training). (www.teenyogafoundation.com). See www.saskianeary.com for details.

Art Therapy and Yoga Group

New developments in 2017

Working with Dr Pooky Knightsmith from the Charlie Waller Memorial Fund (CWMT)

I had an exciting opportunity recently to collaborate with my fabulous colleague Clare Arnold (Art Therapist from Brighton and Hove) to deliver a workshop to Learning Mentors from Brighton and Hove Primary Schools. We explored the benefits of using creativity in their work with children to explore and express feelings. This event was part of the CWMT’s commitment to support staff working with young people to develop their ability to recognise and manage mental health issues (www.inourhands.com/cwmt/).

Pooky directs the children, young people and schools programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which is a charity providing fully-funded mental health training to schools. She is a passionate ambassador for mental health who loves to research, write, speak, teach and share all manner of ideas about mental health, wellbeing and PSHE. Her enthusiasm is backed up both by a PhD in child and adolescent mental health and her own lived experience of anorexia, self-harm, anxiety and depression.

teenyoga-logoYoga for Teenagers

After Easter I will be offering Yoga sessions in Brighton for teenagers; either one to one or in small groups. If you are interested in finding out more please contact me (saskianeary@yahoo.com). You can also have a look on my new web page for more info about Yoga for Teenagers.

I trained with Charlotta Martinus from Teen Yoga  which is fully accredited by Yoga Alliance UK and Independent Yoga Network (www.teenyoga.co.uk). Teen Yoga supports the charity TeenYoga Foundation, whose aim is to support optimal mental and physical well-being in young people.

Yoga is a fantastic tool for young people to deal with stress, anxiety and to cope better with emotions and the everyday pressures that so many face. Yoga can help to bring emotional balance. I am also really looking forward to developing innovative work with young people that includes both Yoga and Art Therapy.

Yoga can give young people (and indeed the rest of us!) new tools to support their own emotional wellbeing and good mental health by listening inwards to their bodies, thoughts and ideas (see Ingunn Hargen & Usha S. Nayar, Yoga for children and young people’s mental health and well-being: research review and reflections on the mental health potentials of yoga, Frontiers in Psychiatry, 02, April,2014).

Dragonfly Wellbeing Collective

I have recently joined ranks with the Dragonfly Wellbeing Collective which was set up last year by two very dynamic, skilled and committed individuals; Paula Goldsmith and Margot Uden.

We are planning to work collaboratively on various exciting projects over the coming year which I will tell you more about in my next post. In the meantime have a look at their website to find out more.