MEET THE TEAM

Sara Matchett

I have been involved in YHET since the beginning, as a founder member. By chance (or fate?) I found Ickwell Bury and managed to take part in one of the last Teacher Training courses and the final Remedial course before the venue and all its associations were lost to us. Since completing these courses, I have taught a varying number of classes in different places and for different audiences including Adult Education.

When I moved to Scotland 15 years ago, with my husband and various dogs, I couldn’t be as involved due to the distance but I stayed connected by attending residentials and teaching when possible.

The people who attend YHET weekends are so receptive and open to new ideas and very supportive of the way we teach. The importance of working with your own body and mind is so essential within our ethos that it doesn’t need explanation and this can be eye-opening for newcomers to Yoga for Health-inspired classes.

I’m proud of helping expand the yoga provision within Dumfries & Galloway, in quite a big way. When I first moved here, there were just a few teachers in the whole county. Now there are several in the Newton Stewart area, where I live, and a growing number of others across the rest of the county. Not all my own work, but I certainly encouraged a number of people and got involved in various things to promote the benefits of yoga locally.

About 6 years ago, I was asked to become Treasurer for YHET, as in my ‘day job’ I am a book-keeper. I am also currently Chair of the Trust which means working with some lovely Trustees, volunteers and other stakeholders to help promote our wonderful organisation.

My journey reflects dedication, commitment, and ongoing service to YHET. It’s been about growing the organisation, having an impact on lives, and spreading the word about the beneficial practices of yoga.

June Skeggs

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My journey has been one of transformation, driven by the healing power of yoga. Once filled with boundless energy and immersed in various sports, my life took an unexpected turn when illness struck. Physical activity began to worsen my condition, leading to collapses and fainting spells. In the midst of this struggle, I found an advert for a 5-day course at the Yoga for Health Foundation at Ickwell Bury. Curiosity led me to give it a try, despite my doubts about enduring a 90-minute yoga asana session given my limitations. I emerged from the experience feeling better than before, which I realised as a result of working with the breath throughout the practice. Incorporating breathwork into my physiotherapy made a huge difference. I was expected to be in a wheelchair permanently more than 20 years ago but, I am not. 

I sought to understand why yoga was so beneficial and I embarked on a journey of study, eventually becoming a certified yoga teacher and specialising in Remedial yoga. I was asked to help and share many Multiple Sclerosis (MS) courses by the former director and founder of the Yoga for Health Foundation, Howard Kent, which I did for several years.

Despite our efforts, the Foundation and Ickwell Bury could not be saved, so Yoga for Health and Education Trust (YHET) was created in 2006 to continue its legacy. I have proudly served as a Trustee ever since, focusing particularly on organising transformative events and yoga breaks. My dedication to spreading the therapeutic potential of yoga goes beyond traditional classes. I have reached out to people, including aiding a stressed university student prior to her final exams, supporting a young individual grappling with stress and hearing issues, and engaging with groups such as Trefoil Guild.

The exploration of yoga’s subtle energies led me to profound experiences during courses I attended under the guidance of Dr. Mukund Bhole,  research director of a Yoga Institute in Pune, India and respected patron of YHET. Delving into the intricacies of inner yoga opened new dimensions, as I felt the flow of energy through the nadis and beyond, and we continue to incorporate these teachings into YHET.

In these interesting times, authentic yoga will take centre stage in the pursuit of health and well-being. As research continues to validate its benefits, I remain dedicated to my role in making yoga accessible and transformative for all. My journey serves as a testament to the boundless potential of yoga as a catalyst for healing, growth, and inner discovery.

Mary Milne

Over two decades ago, I discovered the world of yoga during a much-needed break from the pressures of daily life on a holistic retreat in Lanzarote. The first morning’s yoga session immediately revealed its transformative potential – easing the stiffness in my body and bringing a sense of calm to my chaotic mind. Serendipity led me to a visiting yoga teacher who introduced me to a place called Ickwell Bury and the Yoga for Health Foundation. On her suggestion, I embarked on a journey that would profoundly impact my well-being.

My initial encounter with Ickwell Bury left a lasting impression, so the Foundation’s closure deeply saddened me. My spirits were lifted, though, upon learning that a new organisation was continuing the legacy and my involvement with the Yoga for Health Education Trust (YHET) began.

Since the early days of YHET, I’ve been an engaged member, a dedicated volunteer, and ultimately, a Trustee since September 2010. Over the years, my roles have been diverse, and these days, I run the admin mailbox and manage the day to day running of the website, as well as Collaborating closely with the other trustees on the daily responsibilities of running the Trust.

One of my main interests is the development of our accessible programme tailored for individuals with disabilities. Embracing the core ethos of “Yoga for all,” I wholeheartedly believe that yoga should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities.

Outwith yoga I’m a cat lover with 4 adorable cats and a student of astrology.

Looking ahead, I am excited to continue contributing to the ongoing development and growth of the Trust. As a Trustee and advocate for well-being, I am honoured to be part of this journey.

Alison Francis

Throughout my professional journey, I’ve had the privilege of teaching various dance forms, from ballet and tap to the vibrant rhythms of Latin-American dance. Recently, I even shared the joy of the Cha-cha-cha at one of our yoga weekends.

I discovered yoga In my early twenties, and have experienced many different styles and teachers since then. When I expressed an interest to teach yoga, my teacher, Ellen Lee, introduced me to the Yoga for Health Foundation. At that time, I only knew of the British Wheel of Yoga. This just proves to me the importance of word of mouth recommendations.

In 2000, I trained at the Yoga for Health Foundation, completing both the General and Remedial courses, delving deeper into the practice through an additional module in Ayurveda with the insightful Bill Feeney. Bill encouraged me to view yoga as a toolbox, comprising asana, pranayama, meditation, visualization, and philosophy—a toolkit to navigate life’s challenges.

I’m deeply passionate in raising awareness for the Yoga for Health and Education Trust (YHET). The legacy of the Yoga for Health Foundation continues to inspire and impact its beneficiaries. It’s heartwarming to witness the growing support from our community, with new members often introduced through our dedicated teachers.

Within the Trust, I help create our retreat weekends designed to act as a sanctuary, welcoming individuals, whether they arrive alone or with friends. Our aim is to nurture not only physical well-being but also positive mental health, creating an inclusive haven for all.

Today, I teach online classes and offer 121 sessions, with a special focus on encouraging the older generation to embrace yoga’s benefits. I find immense joy in sharing the practice of Nidra, a tranquil respite in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century.

Beyond yoga and dance, I am a proud “Friend” of the Royal Opera House, using my Freedom pass to enjoy the magic of London’s performances. You’ll often find me at Sadler’s Wells, immersing myself in dance, and catching as many musicals as I can.

In my personal life, I am blessed with a loving family—a devoted spouse, two wonderful children, and the delight of four grandchildren.

My life philosophy revolves around trying to live in the present moment and remembering to go to my yogic toolbox to help me face life’s challenges.

Gillian Ansty

I am a recently made trustee for YHET, just finding my way, but not a recently made yoga teacher, I first discovered The Yoga for Health Foundation (YHF) many years ago in the late 1990s. Having walked into my first class with a YHF teacher and found a place that I felt was my home, I was encouraged by my teacher to go there and train. At Ickwell bury I trained for my Remedial and General certificates. And was lucky enough to be there when its remedial courses were thriving and able to gain so much knowledge and experience from the people there. I was also, sadly, at the last meeting there, on the evening the Bury closed.

Over the years I have done other trainings, I am a Sadhana Mala Yoga Therapist having completed the course with Ranju Roy and Dave Charlton (Viniyoga) and have a British Wheel accreditation cert and am CNHC registered.

I Zoom classes, teach 121, and since Covid have also gone back to teaching in “real life”. And with my husband (a British Wheel teacher), have organised and taught on many retreats, in England and abroad, under our name of Canoe yoga. Over the years I have taught yoga in many places including, The MS Centre in Wendover Bucks, and the Recovery College at the Mental Health Hospital, the Whiteleaf Centre in Aylesbury Bucks, and classes through Breathe Easy, for the British Lung Foundation, for those with COPD and breathing difficulty.

And now as I have come to a quieter place in my teaching, a slowing down but not stopping place, my joy at coming back, and finding YHET continuing the great work YFH started is great, that the ethos of Yoga for All is still being practised, and facilitated, here, in this community, has brought me back to that feeling I first had in my first class, that I had found my home. And I am excited to be helping YHET continue their journey.

Apart from yoga, if it’s possible to separate from it, I am an artist and with five grandchildren all living in the same small town I am kept busy in many ways.