Teachers tip Tuesday 3: The Code

The Code

As yoga teachers we rely a lot on getting work from other yoga teachers What happens when you ask someone to cover a class for you while you’re away on retreat?

If you are asked to cover a private or corporate client for a teacher who is travelling on retreat please remember that this is still HER client. I was asked this by an experienced teacher who asked a teacher she had known for years to cover a private only for the teacher to say ‘they preferred me” when she asked the client they said it was just a case of consistency we saw you once and her twice. To me the responsibility lays with the teacher abiding by the code.  It’s not your class…

Teacher tip Tuesday 2: The Freebie

The Freebie

So once upon a time there were very few yoga teachers. If you were a yoga teacher you were considered the ultimate hippy. Meaning you swan around eating seeds, wearing flat beaded flips flops and and always held a canvas bag containing some healthy crackers.  My yoga teacher was this very person I describe. I wasn’t too fussed if I caught the class or not because I actually had no real reason why I was going apart from the fact that she was calm and really nice so I went for years not really getting it but still going because it made me feel real calm.

We paid her on the door – it was nothing really could have been a fiver – to feel calm? I’ll take that! Sometimes there would be only five of us there. Students would fall asleep, gentle fart sounds and smells moving around the room, I mean really I had no idea why I enjoyed this class but I remember thinking once that the teacher was only making £25 for that class its not that much and often wandered how many classes she had to teach to make a living but then decided that she must love her job, making people feel calm.

Fast forward a few more years and here we are in a land filled with yoga teachers, heck I’m one myself with an industry that is more competitive than ever.

This upturn in people seeking the “yoga feeling” has resulted new studios popping up, more teacher trainings available than I remember there being and more styles on offer. The ones who were once students decided along the way to train to be a teacher in order to help others feel calm. The problem is now that the market is saturated with qualified yoga teachers, its no longer seen as a real skill or should I say that there are some who want to present opportunities that involve teachers accepting less than average hourly wage just to get experience or in some cases offering freebies as a foot in the door.

All those years back I was willing to pay £5 to be calm for an hour – how much is this now worth??

Well depends who you’re talking to… its a general consensus that teachers should be offering their services for free in order to get somewhere. As soon as I got my qualification and asked how much should I be charging for privates I remember someone telling me ‘oh maybe do the first couple for free’ Obviously being me I asked why and this teacher specifically said to me “…because thats how you get started with no experience”.

Seriously. It’s almost law that working free for a while is perfectly acceptable. This answer reminded me of when I used to work in the corporate world and we’d get these very enthusiastic interns with great shoes and lots of smiles. They would be asked to partake in duties they were not needed for like making tea and because they weren’t getting paid anything apart from expenses, it was almost acceptable. I always thought these people were qualified human beings in their industry why are they not being paid what they are worth? hmmm…

Do I really have to work for free to make headway in the yoga world as a teacher?

Short answer is no. Long answer is a bit more complicated.

If you feel that what you are offering is valuable, it takes time for you to prepare and you have to travel to your destination; then its easy – the answer is always yes. Having probably paid close to £3,000 for your qualification you probably at one point want to make that cash back right? Unless you’re working a second job you need to think about ways that you can activate your yoga teaching qualification without working for free.

  1. Get experience: Worth your time! If it has to be free, offer your services in exchange for something else. We used to live in a society where the exchange of goods was considered payment. This can consist of a free class, an introduction to someone of influence, observing or assisting a class with an experienced teacher. All these things are not considered “free” as there is the possibility of further work from these offerings
  2. Gym work: Don’t look down on teaching in gyms. They do come in all levels and types of students; from the plush private member gym to the cheaper more affordable but getting on the cover list on a popular gym means that you can teach and get paid gaining the experience you need to then later approach the centres you wish to have a teaching residency in.
  3. Contact people you know letting them know you have this skill offering a discounted rate. People like discounts just don’t do it for free. From my experience people don’t value free. Some will take liberties with your time not turning up, cancelling last minute just because it was free – you could have been somewhere else earning in that time…



Teacher Tip Tuesday 1 – The Buddy

The Buddy

Happy Tuesday everyone it’s that time for the first tip I’d like share with new yoga teachers or aspiring yoga teachers as promised from last week. So I received a message from a lovely lady called Kayleigh last week. She’s a new teacher living in the outskirts of London with not many classes where she lives and where she does live the teachers are quite cliquey so she’s not sure how to penetrate the fold so here are a few tips I put together to help a sista out. This is by no means the only way, this is just what I found to be useful when I first started out…

  1. Practice: Make a list of the classes in your area and start practising. Practising regularly keeps you open to not just what is out there but also helps you to be empathetic to your students once you start teaching and finding the inner qualities you wish to emanate when you establish your teaching capabilities. You’ll obviously love some classes and not others but being into what the offering is shows that you’re a community minded individual willing to support other teachers.  It’s not that easy out there especially when setting up independent classes in a Church hall – the teacher is probably praying for at least two people to turn up.  You need people to go support you even if no one else turns up, you were there and that teacher will always remember that. Practising also gives you access to other like minded individuals who may work in the wellness industry, just love yoga and more importantly, other teachers! If you go often enough, you’ll notice more people will chat to you out of nowhere and this is when you get in there  – hook em with your fab personality making a beeline to buddy up with them  so you can yoga date. This basically is a way to invite you’re new buddy to have a cute coffee and meet up if free to practice together in your fav class…
  2. Start a meetup: This is a fab way to meet new and more experienced teachers and get to know what is happening on the yoga scene in your local area. Maybe you’ve been finding it hard to meet people because there are not as many classes as you thought so the teachers stick together so they can share work and ideas of how to generate more interest in their classes.
  3. Go to the socials: Even if it’s raining, snowing, whatever! Find yourself at the socials. This is a great way to get to mingle with teachers in the area and get some work thrown your way – remember no one knows you’re out there until you make it apparent that you are!



Period Taboo: In Africa, sanitary pads are considered a privilege not a necessity

I first encountered the true impact of period taboo as an adolescent in Africa. I’m a British born African living in London who spent a good chunk of my pubescent years in Sierra Leone. My mum insisted we needed to go back and experience our culture which was a wonderful experience as a young black woman growing up in a western world. I have some great memories of Sierra Leone. We enjoyed our holiday so much that we decided that it would be amazing do some schooling in this bountiful country. Bountiful to me at that point meant freedom to be outside in the warmth, to explore my personality and meet interesting individuals who would forever have an impact on my lives and the way I view the world. It was an amazing time in my life I was surrounded by strong very self sufficient women taking differing paths in their lives. You see back there, women had their own living space and so did men; it was just the way it was but I believe it strengthened female energy and made us bond on a deeper level that I don’t really see in the West. It was considered deviant behaviour for girls, a taboo, to mix with boys and vice versa. So most things were done in secret. So when I started to have my period despite having this bond with the women in the compound, I kept it a secret for a good few months…

“It was considered deviant behaviour, a taboo, for girls to mix with boys and vice versa. So most things were done in secret. So when I started to have my period despite having this bond with the women in the compound, I kept it a secret for a good few months…”

I felt the unspoken taboo surrounding menstruation and it wasn’t something anyone really spoke or shared information about so I kept it quiet till a blood stain was discovered on my skirt. My mum had given me the heads up about it few years back being a nurse so it wasn’t a shock; but when it did happen, she wasn’t around. The discoverer took me aside and gave me the talk. With mortification, I listened patiently and with relief accepted the pads she gave me. At the time I just didn’t want to have to ask for them the loss of control wasn’t something I was used to but then I didn’t have the cash to purchase sanitary products either. In Africa, sanitary products are considered a privilege not a necessity as there are other issues “more pressing” issues such as education, healthcare, food and the daily cost of living so this is one of the things that isn’t considered important even though it deprives the woman of her dignity. I lived in a house with maids, who I saw many times with blood stains on their legs! It was really disturbing so I always felt compelled to give them my pads not knowing where I would get my next batch! The struggle was real! It’s tough but this is the reality of the situation out there and its not a minor issue. I have even cut pads in half where girls were desperately needing protection for their period! No one should have to suffer in silence or struggle to get hold of sanitary products. It should be every woman’s right, no sorry it IS every woman’s right to have a period that is stress free period where they have easy access and reasonable priced, hygienic sanitary products – women need to feel empowered to embrace the changes in their body especially young women not feel ashamed! To find out more about Freda and their work please click here http://myfreda.com/ Freda are also running a Crowd Funding Campaign www.crowdfunder.co.uk/freda to allow them to validate the concept and to then hopefully get some financial investment to scale up to serve a wider consumer base and improve their services.  The pledges, with great rewards, begin at £10. It’s not the amount of the pledge that’s important but the pledge itself that shows that Freda is wanted! Please share our message with your friends and colleagues.

The Art of Positive Thinking

Relinquishing the 9-5

As I sit on my plush super extra sized double bed in California (not sure if that is an actual size) with CNN banging on in the background about the lady who has managed to drive onto a Vegas sidewalk and mow down a load of tourists; I reflect over the year I’ve just had (I know very strange with the news I’m hearing in the background) it seems surreal that I’ve been teaching yoga full time for a year. Just six weeks before my training started I was totally immersed in my new HR job in Somerset House which I fought off many qualified candidates to get and as there were only two of us in the department I was sure that 1. This is going to be great and 2. I’d be promoted in no time (yes I was already thinking that far… ) But on that first day I discovered that I was already knee deep in the shit and that the woman I thought was going to be my mentor turned out to be a nightmare. If it wasn’t one thing it was the other.  Alas, after 10 days I realised this was not working. The woman was an absolute control freak and never remembered what she said to me 5 mins ago but then would yell blue murder if I did exactly what she told me to do, just weird.  So yes, a nightmare to work with but nice person in theory. I watched with great pleasure as the blood drained from her cheeks when I decided that I was leaving at the end of the day. I packed my box (just like what Chandler did on Friends) and walked out of that exquisite building with my head held high, feeling the happiest I had been in 10 days and 5lbs lighter but not knowing how I was going to explain this to my boyfriend.

The transition

After decompressing in Morocco for a week, meditating, reading, eating delicious nourishing meals, meeting some fabulous souls and considering my options; I returned to London enthusiastic in the knowledge that I would be training to be yoga teacher in the near future. There was one snag. No cash lol! Strangely, I didn’t feel worried I just believed that this was my path and what I was supposed to do. Going though a pile of mail I opened one from HMRC and there it was the gift I never knew was waiting for me. Both myself and my partner looked at each other and smiled, that knowing this shit was supposed to happen smile – The universe bring you what you deserve…

The training

I have no words to describe how intense and difficult this was but my positivity actually surprised me. The Monday after the first weekend found me almost bedridden. I’ve never known such pain. I can’t even really describe it apart from crippling.  Bye bye normal Dove baths with loads of comforting bubbles and hello to Eucalyptus, magnesium and Epsom salts! Everyday there was a brand new ache in muscles I never knew existed. Only God knows how I got through it. The tears, the love, the passion and my determination that I didn’t know I had appeared on this training (in the nick of time). I thought I knew everything and had all the answers to life, turned out I knew nothing at all and was yet to discover that I am actually a quite a dark and mysterious character with so much shit to work through and deal with – great!


The aftermath Fast forward a year and I sit here kinda misty eyed and grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. At the 2014 Om Yoga, show I bought a mat and 2 blocks as it was all I could afford at the time just hoping someone would want me to teach them yoga one day; by the end of 2015 I was teaching almost a full schedule – it feels like just yesterday that I got my certificate and I was calling everyone informing them that I’m very capable of teaching hahaha…

Thankful to my teachers and all the people who took a chance letting me loose on their clients and trusting in my methods however unconventional – everything is possible as long as you believe in it enough.

Dance to Your Own Tune

Welcoming 2016 with open arms after an amazing 2015.  That was the year I completely danced to my own tune, just dedicated the entire year to myself for once and discovered that creating your own music is the only way to be in sync with yourself to really be free of the expectations people have of you and the ones you have of yourself, being aware of the spacial boundaries you give yourself to grow and expand your mind and your body in ways that are available to you… In 2015 we loved people,  we lost people, we met new souls, we cut ties with others and the same will happen in 2016 but we cherish their memories not forgetting but also not wallowing; continuing to live fully in the present moment enjoying the gift that is life and love…

Stronger feet and ankles – Tip one

This week just some simple quick tips to improve your foot strength… cheap adidas uk Tip number 1: This simple action can improve your balance, strengthen your foot core and increase ankle stability – come onto the balls of your feet, roll the ankles towards each other stay here for a count of 10 breaths. Hollister Magasin Kill two birds with one stone. Fjallraven Kanken Backpack Outlet Do this whilst brushing your teeth before work everyday 🙏and feel the difference in your balancing yoga poses within weeks. Fjallraven Kanken Classic

This is great for runners and cyclists who need to increase mobility whilst maintaining stability in the ankles. Fjallraven Kanken No.2 An unstable foot core can lead to the abnormal motion in the knee, which can result in painful knees… adidas pas cher Tune in for tip two tomorrow…

Yoga class for beginners

Mary Smiley Yoga

Coming soon…  We were all there once. At our first yoga class, nervous about what to expect, daunted about the hour ahead. Have no fear, I am here to take you through a 60 minute Ashtanga workout designed especially for you…whether you lack flexibility, have injuries or lack general fitness, I can get you on the road to to feeling more alive and energetic in your first practice – you may even surprise yourself. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming classes.

Delicious Juice recipe with blackerries

Mary Smiley Yoga

Day 8 Juice cleanse: Whoop whoop it’s all happening people. Energy and alertness is off the charts. Productivity has increased by about 50% and I’m sleeping soundly. Now this is my favorite of all the juices as anyone who knows me will tell you, I have an obsession with red drinks… they just feel healthier and tastier somehow so this is one that’s inspired by Joe and the Juice’ Joe’s Sweet Kiss Ingredients included raspberries, blackberries, cold pressed apple juice and lemons. Blackberries are one of my all time favorite fruits I used to pick these as a kid and eat them in real time. I’d go home and my mum would scold me for eating them wild of course I never stopped but now I can put them in juices. Blackberries are full of vitamin C and have the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits known for lowering the risk of a number of cancers. Prolonged consumption keeps the brain alert so the older we get the more we need to inject this genius fruit into our diet.

Simply Water

Mary Smiley Yoga

Juice cleanse day 5: I can’t believe I stuck to it but here we are on day 5. Next time let’s do an en masse cleanse together so we can share our stories. So apart from the juices I’ve been having, every morning I have hot water and lemon, and keep an almighty jug of water with cucumber slices in tow.

I was watching Better Call Saul the other night and the lady who owns the nail salon said to him; “cucumber water is for the paying customers only” lol so the next day I bought a cucumber and the rest, is in the picture below: mary Smiley Yoga


I find it quite hard to drink #water but it’s delicious with cucumber sliced and helps flush out all the toxins. For the simple fact that water covers 71% of the earth and makes up 55-60% of our bodies (as adults) it’s obvious that water is a prerequisite for functionality as well as our overall wellness. The health benefits are endless.

It’s also something that brings us closer to nature.