I met Miriam a couple of years ago at an Inclusive Yoga Workshop in London. Since then we stayed in touch, both following each others journeys virtually.
Miriam set up LIT Yoga, which stands for Loving, Inclusive, Transformational Yoga in April 2018. Her classes welcome all bodies and all minds; all genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations. She truly embodies the Yoga for All philosophy.
I had the pleasure to photograph her recently and she kindly took some time out to answer some questions, which you can read below.
She also had some nice words to say about me…
“The photography is beautiful. It was super easy to work with Elle, she’s really friendly, chilled out and thoughtful. She dealt with my nerves really well, making me laugh when my face wanted to be stern, and even though we had a limited timespan, she managed to get lots of great shots which work really well thematically with what I’m about as a teacher.”
But let’s hear from Miriam on her yoga journey…
How did you get into yoga? :
I got into yoga back in 2011, and I genuinely can’t remember why! I turned up to a hatha yoga class in Forest Hill (nowhere near where I lived) in my work clothes (!), and just… went for it. I really enjoyed it, and went weekly for a while, as well as to . Then in 2012, I had a life-changing accident where I ended up with severe injuries, and as part of my rehabilitation, I started going to yoga locally. I couldn’t bend forward more than a few inches, but my teacher Sarah helped me find my flexibility again. However, I was dealing with a lot of chronic pain and recovery issues, and so I stopped going to class for a few years. I kept doing yoga in my bedroom, and occasional gym yoga, and then in late 2016 finally stepped back into a class, needing something else in my life outside of my (then horrible) day job and fun but ultimately unfulfilling Pilates classes.
And that’s where it all came from. I started with vinyasa flow with my teacher Tammy, the first time I’d done something so energetic, and loved it. From there, I stepped back into Sarah’s life, into ashtanga and found my groove with her and with my other teacher Caroline, whose yin and yoga nidra sessions opened another world up to me, and got me past some tough times mentally over the years. For me, yoga has seen me through many things, and my life experiences have helped to inform how I use it in my world.
What led you to want to become a teacher?:
I’ve always liked helping people, and after starting back at yoga and savouring the physical and mental benefits of a regular practice, I began to wonder if this was something I would like to share with other people, that they could use, like me, to find strength, calm and focus. It felt mad, just four or five months after coming back to the classroom, but I then spent many months attending workshops, open days and courses to ensure that this was, in fact, something I wanted to do.
I was also going through a really horrible bullying situation at work at the time, and was probably subconsciously in need of something ‘else’ in my life. But the great thing is, doing all those things, experiencing different teachers, learning anatomy when I wasn’t ready to learn anatomy and so on, showed me that it was in fact something that I was really interested in. I would recommend this to anyone else considering teaching – it’s important to know before you put in all that time and money (and dear god has it been a lot of time and money!) that this is something that will suit you.
What do you enjoy about teaching?:
I love working with people. I love helping them find their path through introduction to functional movement, philosophical ideas that can integrate with their daily life, and just having fun with students. I love introducing them to new ideas and experiences; of getting to know individual bodies and building my own understanding of how we all operate. For me, especially when picking up students who are new to yoga, or those who’ve had poor previous experiences, it’s about introducing bodily awareness and autonomy, too, of consent-driven practices, helping them stand in their power. I also just love finding out new stuff!
Where/when do you find space for yourself while spending time helping others?:
Well, of course, I have my own yoga practice, which ranges from (mostly) mysore-style ashtanga to somatic, embodied home practice, yin and yoga nidra. I also like to be out in nature, so taking long walks, cycling and swimming (particularly in the sea) are great for working on my breathing habits. I really find calm hanging out with friends and family (or chatting on Whatsapp!), or, boringly, just chilling out at home with Netflix/Youtube/iPlayer or a good book.
What aspects of yoga challenge you on or off the mat?:
Non-attachment is probably the biggest one. I have anxiety, and am also a grammar school girl, so have high expectations of myself, and find it hard to let go!
Favourite yoga book recommendations?:
I would recommend:
– Yoga Mind Body and Spirit and The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi.
– The Science of Yoga by William Broad
– Heart of the Yogi and Refining the Breath by Doug Keller
– Ashtanga Yoga by John Scott (great stuff on breath and movement interplay).
– Yoga for Everyone by Dianne Bondy
– The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark
– Moving Inward: the journey to meditation by Rolf Sovik.