Stephanie Jackson is a GP (General Practitioner medical doctor) and a MBSR Mindfulness instructor for other NHS practitioners. She is also an Ashtanga yoga instructor; an organiser of Surya, an annual yoga camp in Cornwall and a co-founder of Chyan Community Field where Surya is hosted.
Most importantly to me, she has been my yoga and mindfulness teacher for well over a decade, and one of my most influential role models in artful living. She is an example of a contemporary professional woman that is able to integrate a holistic approach to health and wellbeing; and willing to be a leader for others to learn from with inclusion, curiosity and openness. Her life choices of career, family and community reflect a cohesion and manifestation of an inner purpose and a capacity to manifest this. I feel very fortunate to have been able to live in relatively close proximity and to take advantage of the offers she has made to the community.
I am delighted that she has agreed to be a guest in my Show & Tell series on Sunday 21 March at 4pm GMT, to discuss her professional and personal relationship to ‘the body’; embodied practices such as yoga and mindfulness; and the significance of intention and creativity to her life. This event is free and open to all, so please join us. Book here.
Ashtanga is a form of yoga comprised of set sequences of physical positions (asanas) that are performed to the rhythm, and timing, of breathing. Each pose is held for a specific number of breaths and they are linked together with a transitional ‘vinyasa’ set of movements, so that the whole sequence is fluid… a moving meditation.
I like this form of yoga because it is very active, which suits my personal needs; and because it enables me to notice variations in my body and mind, in any given session, as I move through the same sequence every time. For example, a pose that might be easy to hold one day, may feel uncomfortable another, and this gives me useful information about my state of being.
When I did my first 8-week MBSR mindfulness training with Stephanie, many years after starting yoga with her, I realised how fundamental mindfulness is to her yoga instruction. She has always led body-scans as part of the classes, and emphasised developing the capacity to listed to, and respect, the body - over and above executing the form of the asanas. I am aware that not all yoga instructors take this approach, and I feel very grateful to have ended up in her classes for this reason.
The benefits of daily yoga for me are great: energising, blissful, practical and grounding. My 2-hour self-led practice is ambitious, but the practice is not just what occurs on the mat; it includes my whole relationship to showing up…or not… and is focused on self-care, forgiveness, loving-kindness and acceptance. Often the gap between intention and manifestation is greater than I want it to be, in yoga and in life. Focusing on the holistic aspects of the practice enables me to bring all the benefits of my practice into my daily life, regardless of how many asanas I do each day.
Over many years, Stephanie has cultivated a community of people around her who appreciate her yoga and mindfulness leadership, and have been inspired to commit to their own practices because of what she has shown us. She has provided opportunities to come together to practice together, and also to share our experiences of daily practice with one another. This communal emphasis enhances what is essentially a solitary experience, and deepens the significance of the engagement.
Surya is a family orientated yoga camp that takes place in rural Cornwall, UK. It offers a great opportunity each year to bring many yoga instructors and practitioners together to enjoy a week of camping, yoga and other creative activities. Over the last few years I have been able to offer workshops there and to develop creativity sessions specifically in relation to enhancing yoga practice.
This is now an important aspect of what Your CreativeCore sessions have become: especially the Core ABC ‘body’ sessions online that have been specifically informed by the Surya retreats.
I bring what I have learned from my yoga and mindfulness trainings into all the creativity sessions that I offer. Sometimes with explicit body awareness and movement exercises, and always with the emphasis on learning to listen and respect our own, individual, process – above and beyond an external form, or any imposed expectations. I invite you to sign up for one of my sessions and be part of the community that I am cultivating around intentional practice and wellbeing… inspired by leaders like Stephanie and influenced, among other things, by all that I learn from her.