Turtledove London Talks: Zoe from SouLand Yoga

Soul and Yoga provide yoga classes amongst the sounds and energy of nature. We caught up with Zoe and her team in their beautiful handcrafted yurt in the Hertfordshire countryside to find out more.

When did you first start practicing yoga?

Yoga found me in my 20’s. I had an exercise dvd with a different exercise class each morning and the Sunday session was a yoga class. I fell in love! I started youtubing yoga videos and fell in love with Yoga with Adrienne. I found her so easy going and lovely to watch. She has classes for whatever type of mood you're in. I still do her 30 days on yoga every January. Just 20/30 minutes a day and by the end of the month you really feel the benefits, no matter where you are on your yoga journey.

I then went on to study Vinyasa Yoga in spain at the age of 30 and contiuned my studies in Rishikesh in India, studying Himalayan Kundalini, Kriyas and Meditation, which fully tansformed my knowing and knowledge of what yoga really is and which inspired me to create SouLand. A safe and sacred space for our local community to come together, a place to feel heard and held and loved. A place where we can move forward without judgment or ego, and approach this life
with celebration and liberation. To smile together and light each other up!

SouLand is an enchanting place where our loving community (Sangha) can come together, as they are, and share the energy and love of all those present.
By being continually encouraged and inspired by those that surround us we can light each other up. We can take the time to rethink our ways, try things a little differently, and create an opportunity to bring awareness to what we do, where we go, and how we do it.

Our true essence is to cultivate love and compassion for ourselves, those around us and the wider universe.

The authentic yogic teachings shared here at Souland are there to support you in your process of returning to a state of balance and harmony – to awaken you to the brilliance of who you are, and your own infinite potential. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of, to go within, and it’s exciting to see where we will go on this journey together.

So, whether you’re in need of a morning stretch, a peaceful place to just breathe, a safe space to heal, or a barefoot dance under the moon…. we are here for you!
We are a loving community and passionate about sharing this path with you.
Love is the natural tendency of nature, so let’s lead a life towards happiness!

Have you always had a connection with nature?

Yes, massively! We had a house in Dorset growing up and spent most weekends and every holiday down there. We were always off on long walks, with our parents, often telling us stories of fairy folk lore when exploring the streams and lagoons, tales of rabbits that would dance around the trees when we were out walking the woodlands, fossils of creatures past from the jurassic coast. My Uncle Mike had a great imagination. And then there was the ‘Sweetie Tree’. It's how our parents used to get us to go on really long walks. We’d walk the dorset fields near Beamnister and set off on a hunt for the tree that grew our favourite sweets. When we’d arrive there would be a pack or refresher sweets for me and a
pack of extra strong mints for my brother. 

Wearing our Ella Gauze Dress

The Magic of our Dorset lives has stayed within our hearts and we often visit and do the same walks and visit the bay whenever we are down. My brother and I were so very lucky to have such a beautiful and magical childhood with Mum and Dad. It really did shape us. As adults we tend to forget about the magic. We live in a world where we are told to get a job, to be somebody and that’s how we judge our lives. But I think with covid, everyone was forced to take a step back and get back out into nature and remembered what life is all about and how
precious it really is. That less is more. My new year Mantra to myself this year is ‘Learn to do less’ and I must say I’m loving it.

Is yoga suitable for everyone?

YES!!! Yoga is for any person, any shape or size. It is so much more than the physical poses (asana) it’s taking time for yourself for some self love, so that you can fill your cup and overflow out to your loved ones and the world with love. It's about taking care of yourself so that you can be the light for those around you.

You can start by sitting in silence for 5 minutes each day and listening to nature outside your window and/or focusing on a simple mantra to stop a busy mind. “SO HUM” Meaning ‘this is that, all that is’ reminding us to ‘Be Here Now’ in this very moment and to just breath. We’ve so many events here at the yurt that are just that, time to come and do not very much at all. Lay and listen to the gong and rest your mind and nervous system, guided mediation journeys, sister circles to come and talk and be heard and held, kundalini yoga which is mantra
and movement and so much more….

We are so often go go go in this world, we forget to take the time to just be. You’ll be surprised what a difference those few moments you take for yourself make to your mental health and wellbeing.

Yoga is to practice kindness and love to all living beings, offer your help to someone, practice no judgement when someone may act out of sorts and instead project love. Often we act the way we do because we need some love and support and a good cuddle! Of course, we can’t always be saints and have our own triggers and reactions but Yoga is a practice. So each day we wake to
say, 'Thank you world and thank you for this life', and try our best to lead a life towards progressive change and loving awareness for all.

Tell us more about your Sacred Grief Circle

The sacred Grief Circle is new to SouLand and hosted by our dear Nicola.
Grief is a fundamental part of our lives, yet it’s spoken about little.  Every one of us will experience grief of some kind in our lifetime.  A loss that touches our heart, sometimes in the deepest and most splintering way.  Grief has many names. 
The loss of a loved one, the end of a marriage, a change in our lives, a terminal illness, a chronic illness, a pandemic and war.  It is both personal and collective.  It touches us in many ways.

We often grieve in silence, feeling isolated and alone.  Perhaps not even knowing that its grief we’re experiencing. But we were never meant to do this alone. 
Grief is for community. Grief is to be held, not fixed or changed. 
It’s to be honoured. It’s sacred. When we allow ourselves to feel and express the grief in our hearts, we can also find beauty, perhaps not now, but sometime. In the words of Francis Weller, “It is the broken heart that can let slip into its core the shimmer of a salmon gliding just under the surface of the water, the startling arc of the swift, the wonder of Mozart, and the sheer beauty of sunrise.”
Sacred grief is an opportunity to be held in your grief, to come together so you no longer feel alone. To come as you are. 
'There's this cycle of joy and pain; don’t get caught up in either. They come like the moon and the sun. Both are for you... Hold grief in your arms, kindly, where it can become the sun.' - J. Lynn

What other courses do you run - which are the most popular?

We have many various events and workshops on the go all year round that can be found here – https://souland-yoga.com/yoga-events/
We have everything from Gong and Sound bath healing journeys, grief circles, meditation with movement, new moon guided meditation and Sisterhood circles - first Tuesday of every month, kirtan (mantra with music) and cacao ceremonies, mandala yoga series, motherhood/village circles, where you can bring your bubba + much more!!!

All our classes and events are based around providing a sense of community, a safe space to just come and be. You can sign up to our newsletter (at the bottom of any page on our website) and be the first to hear about whats coming up! And for every email subscription we plant a tree on your behalf.

So far, in the one year we've been open, we’ve planted 522 trees which is amazing!! Well done, to our Souland Yogi tribe for making this happen!!

Most popular – I would say the sound healing and gong baths are always popular. People often need to just come and lay down and be with the sounds and vibrations of nature. It’s rather amazing how soft and rested you can feel for allowing yourself to just come and let go for an hour or so.

You often mention ‘ gratitude’ - what are you most grateful for?

I’m most grateful for my family and friends and for all the beautiful souls that I have had the pleasure to cross paths with this first year of SouLand being open.

When I was in meditation one morning when I was in India 2020 (after a particularly tough year - just as covid hit - we got locked down out there, but that’s another story) I remember tears flowing down my face with this
realisation of how much I’m loved and how lucky I am. How much my Mum, my brothers, my beloved Dave, my friends love me and it filled me up to the brim with gratitude for them and for the life that I have.

Wearing our Erin Retro Rib Print Dungarees

We often take our loved ones and all we have in life for granted and can
sometimes play the victim of our own lives, but our teacher taught us that everything we feel that happens to us, is really happening through us and for us and is another lesson in life that we can take something from, learn to grow from and move forward with love. To forgive others and ourselves (especially ourselves) at least 10 times a day and to choose happiness and to choose love every day.

As I open the kitchen window each morning to let out our one eyed cat
Willy, I breath in the fresh air and smells of the early morning, listen to the birds and sounds of nature with a cup of tea and say to myself, 'I AM ALIVE, I CHOOSE LOVE!'.

What is the one best practice that we can all adopt for our mental health and wellbeing?

Definitely a short morning meditation of gratitude, anything from 5 -30 minutes. Just by taking the time to sit with our thoughts and feelings, a simple breath exercise (in for 4 out for 4 through the nose) followed by a simple mantra (So Hum – meaning this is that, all that is) before we start our day really does help shift the mind and help start you on a day of love and gratitude.

Spoken words (Moojibaba) –

Beloved Try this Start each day like this and yours will be a beautiful, 
peaceful, open and loving day. Place your hand on your heart and lower your head and begin by saying thank you.

Thank you to life, thank you for life,
thank you for you, thank you for me,
thank you for the mind and the senses,
thank you that I can say thank you,
thank you for each and every encounter today,
thank you for what is bitter or sweet,
for all are gifts for my growing.
Thank you Thank you life!
Thank you

Check out the wonderful world of SouLand Yoga on their instagram page @soulandyogauk and find out more about their wellbeing courses and events at www.souland-yoga.com

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