By now you're most likely in no doubt about my personal and professional fascination with, and deep commitment to, mind-body wellness through a lifestyle based around effective stress management, mind-body exercise, organic vegan wholefood nutrition, and music-based cardio workouts. And, of course, to Strala Yoga as providing a hugely significant mind-body contribution to this process. But what about my background? And what has been my professional journey to stress management coaching, mind-body exercise, and to guiding Strala Yoga?
UK-born in 1951, I've always strongly identified as being European. I’m a very individualistic, nonconformist and autodidactic person and, in addition to my mind-body wellness-based lifestyle, shared with my life-partner, I have several strong professional and / or personal fascinations in my life. These are, the current-day practice and modern history of non-traditional lifestyles, sexuality and relationships; photography; the history of social and technological change, including human rights and women’s rights; and various aspects of geography / human ecology. And, my daily immersion in music! Music of almost all genres, but particularly new age / smooth jazz, blues rock, rock, pop / rock, electronic string or keyboard music, and baroque / dream pop.
And I'm very internationalist at heart, having lived and worked professionally in the UK and USA, with my first year in America having been as a US-UK Fulbright Award-winning teacher. I completed my BEd(Hons) Education & Geography at the former Crewe College of Education and at Keele University, and a Social Science Teaching Credential / MA History at California State University, Long Beach. As a secondary and special education teacher my specialisation was working predominantly with socially disadvantaged, stressful, anxious and insecure children and young people experiencing significant emotional, social, and educational problems.
In 1982, whilst teaching in Essex, UK, I received a prestigious US-UK Fulbright Award in international recognition of my teaching in this latter context. This award took me to teach on a US-UK government exchange for the year 1982-1983 at Hamilton Union High School, Hamilton City, California. It was in this Fulbright year that I also met my incredible Pilates and Sports Yoga teaching life-partner, Lynne-Marie, then vice-principal at Hamilton, and formerly a PE teacher, state lifeguard, sports coach, and water safety instructor.
Between 1986-1995, we greatly enjoyed living within the exercise-lifestyle culture and camaraderie of the beautiful Los Angeles urban beaches. In 1995 we returned to the UK to recapture a more European lifestyle, and for me to leave teaching and re-invent myself into an integrative counsellor and coach. I left UK special education in 1999, having already commenced my integrative counselling and psychotherapy training part-time in The School of Psychology, University of East London, in 1998. I completed the BACP-accredited PG Diploma Therapeutic Counselling (Integrative) requirements in 2000. I was then able to commence private practice as an integrative counsellor and coach for stress management, and for sexuality and relationships, whilst continuing my MA research to complete my degree in 2002. In 2013 I retired from counselling to further develop my increasingly strong interests in stress management for life, sexuality and relationships, and later to include Strala Yoga for stress management and overall mind-body wellness.
As an adjunct to my coaching I will soon be a qualified Strala Yoga Guide. I’m undertaking long-term ongoing adjunct guide / leadership training in Strala Yoga, and all courses completed, or in progress, are listed here. All of my training (online or in-person) is designed, taught and assessed by Strala NYC founder and creator Tara Stiles, and by co-founder Michael Taylor.
Strala Yoga courses completed to date:
*Strala Yoga 100+ hours Online Leadership Training (to be completed 2019).
A selection of my writing and research
with themes involving individual and / or societal stress and anxiety
with themes involving individual and / or societal stress and anxiety
"The causes and dangers of American parochialism", The Guardian Weekly international edition, February 15, 1987, p8. My article examines cultural and educational factors underlying much of America's stressful and anxious perceptions of the outside world, and which also result in the US tendency to regard other countries, cultures, socio-economic systems and peoples as "lesser than", rather than as "equal but different".
"An historical study of the role played by US courts in defining and regulating the law on artistic sexual expression, 1821 to 1994". In 1994, as a lover of social history, and an embryonic counsellor and coach focused on stressful areas of life, sexuality and relationships, I completed my history MA specialising in social and legal constraints on sexual expression. My dissertation, above, was adopted as a history of US law reference source by the Smithsonian Libraries, Washington DC, and by the Osgoode Hall Law School Library, York University, Toronto. The history of US court involvement in this area reveals a deep societal anxiety and stress about sexual expression in the arts and the general media, as evidenced by censorship imposed -- often a priori -- by government, community groups, and individuals.
"Heterosexual HIV transmission: ethics of disinformation and the importance of adhering to an evidence-based approach in psychotherapeutic practice", Sexual and Relationship Therapy, Vol. 23, No. 4, November 2008, 419-432. A contentious evidence-based debate paper challenging sexual health disinformation from the public health community. Such disinformation on HIV transmission creates unnecessary stress and anxiety among sexual partners, whilst completely failing to target scientifically-verified more harmful sexual behaviours.
Obviously, in order to enjoy life to the fullest in the second half of my sixties and for decades to come, and to be able to work effectively and in a relaxed way with my clients, I need to be aware of maintaining my own emotional and bodily wellness. So, how do I achieve this?
Well, a central element of my life since the mid-1970s has been developing a healthy relationship with food, and a consistent, and fun, involvement with regular exercise. In addition to the organic wholefood vegan lifestyle that I've chosen for myself, daily Strala Yoga is obviously right at the centre of this for me! In fact, deep breathing exercises, combined with Strala Yoga have been central to me managing my stress and blood pressure levels down to very safe proportions since 2014. Strala has also rebuilt my physical core, creating a pain and sciatica-free lower back, and strength and pelvic stability which I’ve never had before. Consistency is the key here, and since 2011 I’ve completed approximately 2,000 hours of personal yoga, mainly Strala, in my daily practice. This has, quite literally, changed my entire life by decreasing my stress levels, plus increasing my range of motion and releasing a trapped sciatic nerve. In fact, I do Strala for at least 30 minutes every day, not counting those spontaneous outbreaks of Strala which occur anytime, anyplace, several times each day!
Each week I also complete three intensive cardio sessions, working at vigorous levels between 75%-85% of maximum age-adjusted heart rate. This is in the form of a one hour duration fast moving cardio endurance movement session, done to fast-beat music of many different kinds. Like in Strala Yoga, my movements in these cardio music workouts are both linear and non-linear.
And if this sounds too energetic then I should mention that, adding to the emotional health aspects of my wellness, I'm a passionate photographer -- sometimes publishing my work in magazines and books. I also adore music, and often simply just relax while listening to music of virtually every genre.
Above all, I always bear in mind to focus consistently on making sure that the quality of life's journey, not necessarily the final goal, is uppermost in my mind. My recommendation is to always enjoy life to the fullest, indulging and experimenting, and constantly evolving across all areas of life that interest you. Providing that you remain ethical in your treatment of other people and our environment, don't be afraid to cross boundaries in your mind, your physical world, and also in your relationships, in order to explore the unknown and the unconventional -- if that's where you would like your life-journey to take you.