You’ve most likely heard of the benefits of yoga, but what if you’re not a fan, how can you reap the benefits anyway, be it in the workplace or at home? Mum and yoga enthusiast, Tessa Clemson, is a lady with a business, family, a yoga studio in her namesake, and a mission to pass on zen to all! Inspired? Here she is chatting to Emocto to help us all find our inner peace while navigating our way through business and parenthood…
Tessa teaches yoga at the Tessa Clemson Yoga Studio and is currently trying to get seen online by creating lots of wonderful content! Stay tuned with her Instagram here.
You’re a strong believer of what you put out you get back, can you talk us through this a little bit more to help us understand that?
I absolutely believe that your perspective, attitude and the energy that you put out has a huge influence on the opportunities that present themselves to you and the choices you make. If you are
enthusiastic and passionate about life and what you want to get out of it, you can manifest your goals through positive thinking and action. I have benefitted from so many situations where
because I have been so open and passionate about what I want to achieve, people have wanted to help or get involved. I also think karma has a role to play; if you are generous and willing to give,
kindness definitely comes back to you, especially as a business.
How can someone change their life for the better with this thinking?
If you have a vision, whether it’s a personal goal, a career goal or you are wanting to start a new business, then being positive is the way to achieving what you want to. Rather than fixating on what
could go wrong, once you have a clear vision and are open to getting there any way you can, you can achieve whatever you set out to.
Have you always been athletic and a yogi by nature?
Not at all. Unlike lots of other yoga teachers, I have never been a gymnast or a dancer. I first started enjoying exercise about six years ago, when I started running as a way of winding down from my job as a Primary School teacher. I gradually built up to running the Manchester 10k and after that I was hooked. I loved the way running could help to clear the mind, plus it was encouraging to notice a difference in pace and ability as time went on. I had already tried yoga in lots of places around the world, but it was while living in Dubai five years ago that I found the right teachers and group of yogis for me. I became dedicated to my practice, spending up to three hours practicing each day and traveling to India to immerse myself in new styles with new teachers and different practices. Like running, yoga helps to create space; you notice a difference in the way you feel both physically and mentally each time you practice. For me, yoga is being happy, healthy and feeling alive – once I had discovered yoga as a way to feel energised and positive I became more driven to be fit and healthy in all aspects of life.
If I said I want to be a yoga teacher and build my business, where do I start … what guidance could you give me for first steps toward this?
I think with any new business you have to be willing to eat, breathe and sleep it. It is so important to be passionate about what you are setting up. I first wrote down my vision for a studio three years ago, I created a mind map and put all my ideas down, along with the steps I needed to go through to get there. I included things such as where I could start teaching, the style I wanted to teach and ideas for my logo. It’s important to include as many ideas as possible and be open to them changing as you go along. If your vision is clear, you can be adaptable as to how to get there, which really helps in staying positive and adjusting to any setbacks you might have. Be prepared to work long hours and do lots of things for free; I did lots of charity events and went to lots of open days to network and meet people. There are a lot of yoga teachers out there, so try to be clear on what you and your brand are about. Don’t feel pressured to make your yoga style too different; yoga is an ancient practice and the positions and breathing have been perfected over thousands of years. People are coming to class to feel good, they need to have a connection with you as a person, not just as a yoga teacher, so don’t be afraid to put your personality into your classes and on your social media platforms.
Given the recent pandemic, how can yoga help people?
I think it’s important that people find time for themselves while we are in lockdown and have so much uncertainty and stress around what is happening. The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’; it is the union of the body, the breath, and the mind. I also interpret yoga as a way of uniting people and creating community. Online yoga sessions during the Covid-19 outbreak have helped to bring people together, especially those who come to my studio and have felt quite lonely and isolated during this period. We are moving less, so the stretches are really important to keep us mobile and feeling refreshed.
Has yoga helped shape your business, not just because it Is your business but does the relaxation of it really benefit productivity and how can someone who say isn’t a yogi but is a business person get a take-away from this?
Practicing yoga and knowing how to manage stress and anxiety has changed my outlook on all aspects of life, so it is inevitable that it has had an impact on how I run my business. When you have
your own business, it is really difficult to switch off; you are constantly updating social medial or working until the early hours. Yoga gives you the tools to stop whatever you are doing at any time,
unwind and take some time for yourself. The ability to relax is essential as a way of reenergising and recharging your batteries, something that most business owners struggle with.
What urged you to start your business?
Before I taught yoga, I was a Primary school teacher for 7 years, working in South Korea, Thailand and Dubai. After returning to the UK in 2017 and completing my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) I was in two minds as to whether to pursue my dream or continue with the safe option of working in a Primary school. I decided to take the risk of starting my business after realising that life was to be celebrated, I didn’t want to live with any regrets of not trying out something I was so passionate about.
Once you knew what your business calling was, what were the first steps you took?
At first, I taught classes alongside my full-time job, often leaving the house at 5.30am and not getting home until 9pm at night. I made an effort to network as much as possible, attending open days and events whenever possible. I contacted local newspapers and radio stations and went on to talk about the benefits of yoga. Weeks were spent sending individual emails out to schools, nurseries and workplaces to tell them about what I did and the classes I offered. In my home town I set up 6 week ‘Introduction to Yoga’ courses, lots of those early classes were filled with family and friends, but over time new people started to attend and I soon had too many people to fit in the spaces I was renting out. I went from renting Cricket Clubs and Gin Bars for classes to opening up my own studio. Three months after the studio opening I won an award for being Hyndburn’s ‘New Business of the Year 2019’. I was completely dedicated to building my business, spending all of my free time laying the foundations, trialing classes and business opportunities to try to be as successful as possible. Again, because my vision was clear from the outset, it was easy to stay focussed and use each situation as an opportunity to grow and develop.
You’ve launched Mummy and baby yoga live on youtube, would you like to be like Joe Wicks and take the nation or even world by storm via online sessions?
Yes! I would love to, but at the minute my baby girl dictates my schedule (she’s 8 weeks old and was born just before lockdown). I am doing as many classes online as I can and creating as much content as possible. It’s nice to see my YouTube channel growing in popularity too, who knows – one day maybe ‘Tessa Clemson Yoga’ will be worldwide!
Following on from the previous question, along with the Tessa Clemson YouTube channel, will there also be a book to accompany the sessions?
Yes, I have already started to work on my book, it’s in the early stages but I am really excited about it.
Can yoga classes really work online/remotely and …how?
I think people are definitely loving online yoga at the minute, classes are creating a sense of community while in isolation, but one issue moving forward is that yoga teachers can’t see how
people are practicing at home. I like to be able to see what people are doing in class and adjust them where necessary to make sure they are practicing safely. I do plan to continue at least one
online session a week once the pandemic is over, the opportunity for reaching lots of people in so many different places is one positive that I have taken from having to adjust to being in lockdown.
You welcome beginners, over 60s and Mums and babies, will there be an office or desk worker yoga for those of us working at a desk all day, from a home or office chair? – We’ve got tight shoulders!
I have a class online for shoulders already, but it’s something I always include a little bit of in the warm-up to classes, just because we are all so affected by modern life; driving, sitting at desks,
looking at phones.
Can yoga help with birth?
Additional to studying and witnessing the benefits, I have experienced them myself. Throughout my pregnancy, I continued to practice yoga, up until over 41 weeks pregnant, when my waters broke after class at my yoga studio! During labour I used the breathing techniques practiced in class, whilst using the yoga positions to manage my contractions and give birth to my beautiful baby. The midwives commented that keeping physically active throughout my pregnancy had an impact on my labour. I arrived at Blackburn Birth Centre at 11.15pm and she was in my arms by 1.28am. Using the techniques from yoga I was able to stay focussed, I understood what was happening to my body at each stage of labour and I felt fully connected with my baby. Pregnancy yoga is one of the most beneficial and positive activities anyone can do while pregnant; not only do the positions strengthen and prepare the body ready for giving birth, but the time taken to step into a quiet space with your baby is essential for feeling calm and connected. I have recently collected birth stories from mums who have practiced at my studio and will be launching them on my website soon.
Has becoming a Mum changed your approach to yoga and business and if so, how?
My yoga practice has changed; I’m bendier and have noticed a difference in my core and balance. I have a new-found respect for my body and what it can do. From a mental health
perspective, I appreciate the time to myself far more than I did before I was a mum. I feel just as driven with regard to my business and wanting to succeed, but now I have to find ways to fit it in around my family. It was always in my plan to expand and grow and develop the business, being a mum presents new challenges but also new opportunities.
On your Instagram, you talk about practicing yoga right up to giving birth, for Mums who haven’t been able to do that, can they start now?
My waters went at my studio straight after teaching two classes back to back! The Mummy and Baby classes I teach are designed for beginners and all abilities, I think it is really important to make
yoga accessible to all. Whether you choose to do yoga with or without your child, the benefits of stepping on to the mat and taking some time to stretch and breathe can be huge. Yoga can help to
strengthen the core and pelvic floor, particularly postnatal classes such as Mummy and Baby where the poses are designed for women who have carried a baby. The asanas (positions) help to ease
tension in the shoulders and back. Each stretch can help to alleviate aches and pain for anyone who feels like they need to dedicate some time to taking care of their body.
It is not just the physical element of a yoga practice that can be beneficial; all mums, whether they have just had their first baby, or their children are grown up, gain from having some time to themselves. The breathing techniques learned help to manage stress and can provide some mechanisms for dealing with the pressures of everyday life.
Why is yoga so helpful to babies?
Babies love yoga because it gives them a chance to connect with mummy, with lots of one to one time and kisses and cuddles. The baby massage part of the class helps babies with wind, it is
something different that is away from screens and technology, plus babies love seeing other babies at class.
How does Mummy and baby yoga work?
Here’s an example, (please see Emocto Instagram).
Can Mums who’ve had a difficult birth and may still be recovering partake in your yoga sessions?
Yoga is recommended from 6 weeks postpartum if mums have had a natural birth, or 10 weeks postpartum if they have had a C-Section. Yoga is not just a physical practice, it is meditation and
mindfulness too, so those can be practiced without moving at all.
What about Dads?
I run family yoga sessions at the studio on a Saturday morning and Dads love taking part, it might be something I have to try online if the lockdown continues.
Do you think yoga should be mandatory in schools?
Yes, I go into lots of schools and nurseries teaching children. I love traveling from place to place and teaching children where yoga comes from and its traditions. They learn the importance of peace and stillness in the modern world and why taking time for ourselves can be so beneficial. Children as young as two years old have participated; little ones enjoy learning the moves, whilst older children and teenagers learn the significance of taking care of their mind and body, including skills to help manage stress and anxiety. I love teaching yoga to children because it is inclusive. It can be adapted for all ages and abilities, including children with SEN. It is non-competitive, meaning those who may not have the confidence to join in other sports feel comfortable to do so. I teach children and young people how to control their breath, how to tune into how their body feels and how to stretch and relax in a way that makes them feel independent and informed. We gradually build children’s knowledge over a number of weeks so that they can go on to create, describe and teach various positions. They are encouraged to think about which part of the body is being stretched and why it is important. Not only are they learning lots of new skills, but they are gaining insight into a different culture and perspective. Yoga can be used as part of nurture groups. Partner work can help to build relationships and children are encouraged to support one another as they learn their new set of skills. Adults in schools will often comment on the positive impact yoga sessions have on the overall behaviour of children.