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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.

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.

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JULIET BROOKS

Since age 16, Juliet has accumulated a diverse career portfolio in the creative, wellness and managerial industries. She self-started JB Design, an Interior Design company, whilst working full time and single handedly developed the company to great success.
She has an enthusiasm for travel which led her to living in the US, this brought the opportunity to work with women survivors of trauma via the Exhale to Inhale program. Juliet has used her unwavering love of yoga, meditation and breathwork to overcome many life stressors, specifically, past relationship trauma. This has always been her guiding light - a light she now shares with her yoga students and private clients.

With over 10 years of yoga experience, Juliet’s natural intuitive and entrepreneurial abilities have enabled a lifelong passion, providing healing and wellness to many people through yoga therapy and nutrition coaching.
She regularly teaches Vinyasa Flow, Somatic Movement and Mindful Meditation practices at various Mytime Active locations.

She has recently expanded her repertoire to include private 6 week, person-centred group therapy courses for clients experiencing various Musculoskeletal, Cardiovascular, Neurological and Respiratory health issues.

Juliet has a particular interest in helping ethinic minority women living with chronic physical pain, particularly Sickle Cell and is currently researching the clinical health benefits of Asana, Pranayama and Mindful Meditation.
She co-hosted the ‘Wise Women Wellness’ a charity event for women of Afro-Caribbean heritage and led a session on “How to Optimise Emotional and Mental Well Being”.

Juliet aims to integrate her yoga therapy skills with health coaching via GP referral programs in the near future.

She believes The Yoga for Life Project is a great platform to be a part of and hopes to drive her passion and experience to help bring the awareness of yoga’s multi-tiered benefits into the complementary health arena and beyond.

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LAUREN DUTTON

Through her career as an Architect Lauren has found yoga to be an invaluable tool for managing the stress and self-doubt that she has experienced working within an often high pressure, competitive and male dominated environment. She first came to yoga over 15 years ago. Through time her practice deepened as she realised it is so much more than a form of exercise. She found invaluable relief and balance through the practice, benefitting particularly from the power of the breath to regulate the autonomic nervous system and positively shift internal state. This inspired her to learn how and why the practices work within the body and mind from a scientific perspective and to train to teach yoga and breath-work. She now balances her time between her work as an Architect and teaching therapeutic yoga.

She has a special interest in yoga and breath-work for mental health and respiratory health and she has taken a number of specialist therapeutic yoga trainings including Yoga Therapy for Mental Health, Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness for Stress & Anxiety, Yoga Therapy for Chronic Fatigue, Stress, Burnout and Long Covid, Yoga Therapy of the Breath & Breath Assessments and  BradCliff Breathing Physiotherapy for Covid and Long Covid.

 

She believes yoga should be welcoming, inclusive and accessible and through her teaching she aims to share the benefits of yoga to more diverse populations within community and healthcare settings.  She currently delivers breathing classes with The Yoga for life Project Long Covid Programme and therapeutic yoga classes to support mental health in collaboration with The Bromley By Bow Health Centre and St Margaret’s House Charity in Bethnal Green.

 

As an architect, she has designed and delivered large and complex projects including retail spaces, restaurants, workspaces and more recently and eco home. She aims to design in an environmentally conscious way while prioritising natural light, natural materials and connection to nature to uplift and inspire users and support their wellbeing.

 

She has always been interested in helping to improve the wellbeing of others in various ways and her past voluntary work includes art workshops with Heart N Soul, a creative arts agency for young people with learning disabilities, preparing and serving healthy plant based meals to the homeless community through Peckham Food Hub and facilitating peer support group talking therapy sessions with Talk for Health.

 

She hopes that her skills and experience in project design and delivery and engaging and supporting diverse groups through therapeutic talking, group facilitation and therapeutic yoga will serve to support the Yoga for Life Project and its Directors.

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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. 

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SHAJEDA KHANOM

I have been practising meditation since I was 16 and fell in love with yoga realised it was movement mediation that has instrumental benefits to both the mind and the body. Working with the local community has always been a significant factor in my life. During my undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences, I have worked in the education sector as a tutor for a non-profit, working with students from low-income and minority ethnic backgrounds providing free tuition and engaging with families to break the barriers to learning. Later, whilst studying for my Masters in Oceanography, I worked with Colindale Community Trust to help build IT courses to improve the well-being and employability skills of adults living in the Graham Park estates. Working with different communities, you see a disparity within all social sectors, including access to health and education. So when the opportunity to take part in revival teacher training to teach yoga and mindfulness in schools and minority community hubs across London, I knew I had to be part of it. Now, as a yoga teacher, I work with different community charities, including Active Within and Colindale Community Trust to deliver free yoga classes to people within socially deprived areas across London.

 

I am also a full-time PhD researcher studying natural sciences. Unfortunately, the associated challenges that come with academic research can often detriment the mental health of most PhD students. However, the revival teacher training taught me a wide range of mental health tools that can help maintain the motivated mindset of a PhD student. Therefore, I want to continue to bring science-backed yoga practices to my peers within the academic world to help offset the stress and aid in the mental health of researchers. Overall, I hope to combine my love for yoga, research and community to support the work of the yoga for life project in making yoga more inclusive and accessible to all.

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