Our Directors 

As a Community Interest Company we recognise good governance is essential for the success of The Yoga For Life Project’s commitment to the local community and in taking its vision forward. Our board of directors draws together a community of people who bring different skills, commitment and experience to the table.

Alex Marshall

ALEX MARSHALL

Alex is an independent researcher from Essex. Diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at the age of 10, he has a lifetime’s experience of wellbeing techniques, mindfulness and restorative therapy from the perspective of a person in need. He also has a unique view of the world, understands how overwhelming life can be, and is adept at finding unusual solutions in unusual situations.

The son of a psychotherapist and a farmer – both supporting society in very different ways – Alex has always had a passion for understanding and helping people. He is on the verge of graduating with a degree in Psychology at the Open University, with a keen interest in restorative environments, and intends to pursue postgraduate study into the therapeutic effects of historic and natural environments. Having spent 5 years as a Development Researcher at the independent television production company What Larks Productions, Alex has also gained vital experience collaborating with organisations such as the National Autistic Society and Access All Areas – a neuro diverse theatre company and has sensitively and compassionately worked with a range of vulnerable people from many different backgrounds.

Alex is strongly committed to offering an autistic perspective to The Yoga for Life Project, using his knowledge, expertise and life experience to explore the exciting possibility of bringing the transformative and restorative properties of yoga into the lives of people across the autistic spectrum. By working alongside his fellow directors, he aims to bring his vibrant and innovative way of thinking to the work of The Yoga for Life Project.

Claire Whalley

CLAIRE WHALLEY 

Founder and Director

Brought up in a medical family, with a grandfather as a family doctor, her father was one of the first GPs to work in the NHS. Both her sisters have followed in the family tradition, one working as a GP and the other a nurse for children in care. Seeing how her family has navigated the changes in the NHS, coupled with witnessing the impact of stress and anxiety on so many of her students, has influenced Claire and encouraged her to take her skills and interest in yoga into the medical and therapeutic spheres and into the NHS itself.

 

Always with an interest in the wider world, as a student she did a degree in Japanese Studies at Oxford University and lived and worked as a newspaper journalist in Hiroshima and worked for the United Nations in Tokyo. In Japan, she also spent time working and living in Buddhist temples and understanding Buddhist philosophy. She returned home to work in television to make films which challenge people’s preconceptions and social taboos, eventually setting up her own production company What Larks Productions in 2009. Here, she has also enjoyed collaborating with Access All Areas – a theatre company for actors with learning difficulties and facilitating employees on the autistic spectrum. 

 

She has always been interested in helping others and her voluntary work includes work teaching refugees English and working with Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laos refugees. She has recently become a volunteer for the Compassionate Neighbours Programme with St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney. She also has a diploma in music therapy from Goldsmiths, London University.

 

She hopes that her skills as a creative manager, journalist, film producer and director will enable her to find and share creative solutions for the Yoga For Life Project. This is coupled with her passion as a yoga teacher for bringing yoga to a wider and more diverse community and sharing the physical and mental health benefits of yoga to empower people to take control of their own wellbeing.

MALIK GUL

Malik is Director of Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network, which was a founder member of the Boroughs Local Strategic Partnership (LSP). Over a career spanning 35 years in the frontline of community-public service, he has been election agent to the Handsworth Peoples Campaign in 1981 through to lead voluntary sector officer to Southwark LSP, before joining the Network in 2003. Using the principles of coproduction and asset based community development, he has led a number of pioneering projects including the upskilling of local faith and community leaders to become accredited Systemic Family Therapy practitioners working within their own social networks providing early intervention and prevention support. One of the current projects of the Network is the Black Minds Matter programme which is working alongside BAME young people to enable them to become Leaders of Social Change. Malik is currently facilitating a major Ethnicity and Mental Health Improvement programme in partnership with South West London and St Georges NHS Mental Health Trust. He is also undertaking PhD research at Imperial College London on public-health policy, seeking to synthesis the theory of social network analysis with his practice on the ground.

 

CHARLOTTA 

MARTINUS

Charlotta Martinus is the world leading expert on yoga for young people. Her book was published in August 2018- teenyoga for yoga therapists - by Hachette and has sold out its first print run with 2000 copies sold. She speaks regularly on the BBC “thought for the day” and is actively involved in government policy of bringing yoga into schools. She has trained 1000 students worldwide in teenyoga. The courses has been running since 2004. The online course now runs on a quarterly basis and boasts an average of 4.9/5 in independent evaluation in all categories. The teen yoga foundation charity has just ended a two year project funded by the EU examining the range of benefits of yoga for young people and has produced the largest study on yoga outside of India.  Charlotta has worked as a school teacher and as a yoga therapist for mental health and is a single mother of two young men. 

ALICE HARPER

Alice has lived in Tower Hamlets for over 13 years, and the welfare of the community is of great importance to her. Though she's relatively new to yoga having only practiced it for five years, she's had first-hand experience of how it can help manage physical and psychological trauma. Alongside her television work as a producer, she has also worked at a local yoga studio giving her a unique insight into how much hard work and dedication it takes to make one a success. She is a very strong advocate of yoga for all number of medical conditions and having worked at the yoga studio has seen how it can transform people's lives and health. She hopes that she can bring her particular collection of skills to making the Yoga for Life Project a huge success moving forward