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The Yoga Tribe: Looking after our wellbeing at the coast

HLN's Helen Bowman joined The Yoga Tribe for an hour of yoga on the sand at Cullercoats. A complete beginner, here's what she thought...

By Helen Bowman

On a beautiful Sunday morning, there are few better places to spend an hour than down on Cullercoats beach.

The bay affords a sense of comfort and privacy, even when the beach is buzzing with early morning swimmers and paddleboards. I was invited to a Yoga Tribe beach yoga class to find out why it’s one of the leading choices for women in the local area. As a complete yoga beginner, I ventured down on to the sand, sun shining a warm welcome, placed my borrowed yoga mat alongside four other ladies on the sand, switched off the world and enjoyed a blissful half-hour of stretching, relaxing and mindful exercise. The sense of nerves I’d felt beforehand quickly evaporated as Cat introduced herself and the other ladies in the class before the business of yoga began.

Being a beginner

I’d already told Cat that I was a complete beginner at yoga. I’ve tried a few online videos in the past but found that, without company and some in-person guidance, I just couldn’t stick at it. But I was reassured that I would be amongst friends and all levels of ability were welcome – and it was true.

The stretches, while challenging at times (giving way to a few wobbles here and there), were adaptable to my own limits rather than feeling inadequate and left behind. Each move was described in ways I could understand without having to break my relaxation, open my eyes and watch everyone else for clues. The warm sun, the feel of sand in my toes and the sounds of lapping waves on the beach all added to the sense of relaxation and feelings of complete zen. And before I knew it, the yoga was finished, and it was time to chat.

I took the opportunity to find out more about Cat’s business and her motivation for starting it up.

The Yoga Tribe NE

Created back in 2019 to support the emotional wellbeing of mothers from pregnancy through to older children, The Yoga Tribe is the brainchild of Cat Percival, a former nurse. Friendly, softly spoken and approachable, Cat is the quintessential yoga teacher. She told me about her passion for yoga, journaling and tackling Mum guilt, and how The Yoga Tribe had given her the perfect vehicle to spread the benefits of this gentle exercise. Here’s what she has to say:

“As a Mum myself, I know what it’s like to feel guilty about carving out some time for yourself. And yet, as a former nurse, I also know the importance of that time, not just for body, but for mind too. So, I set up The Yoga Tribe back in 2019 to teach yoga, journaling and a series of other unique workshops aimed specifically at Mums in the area. I want to help Mums transform the way they feel in everyday life.

“My motivation for the business lies behind the huge step into motherhood. It’s always assumed that motherhood will come naturally to all women and I think we sometimes head into it with that vision in our heads. Unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. While welcoming a baby into the world is supposed to be a joyous thing, mothers can often feel exhausted, isolated and guilty about absolutely everything.

 

“The Yoga Tribe isn’t just about yoga. It’s about providing a holistic approach to motherhood and looking after the emotional wellbeing of parents. I have created unique workshops that support women to reconnect with who they are as a mother and what they want their life to look like now.  We shouldn’t have to keep struggling, wishing for kids to get older and life to get easier. We can make changes so that we enjoy life right now. We share stories and provide support that is focused on not feeling guilty, being realistic and dealing with the challenges that parenthood throws at us all.

“The conversations at my sessions so often boil down to guilt. Mothers never feel like they are doing a good job. Whether they stay at home or go back to work, they always feel they’re not doing enough. Which is why The Yoga Tribe is so important. It offers Mums the opportunity to take some time out for themselves without feeling guilty and make positive changes in their everyday life.”

How did lockdown impact on your work?

I knew communication with the outside world was even more crucial than ever once lockdown hit so when the government stopped unnecessary public gatherings, I immediately moved all my yoga sessions online via Zoom and Facebook Live to make sure my Tribe felt supported.

Feelings of guilt and overwhelm have been exacerbated by lockdown, with working from home and homeschooling added to the mix. That’s why I added in time to talk and offered a free journaling session for those attending my classes, so they had a place to process the uncertainty going on around them while they tried to stay strong for their families.

What classes do you offer?

The Yoga Tribe supports women from pregnancy and beyond, so we offer antenatal classes, Mum and baby classes and then women-only classes for those who want to have some real ‘me’ time. We normally hold our classes in Monkseaton at St Andrew’s church and at the Yoga Station in Whitley Bay Metro Station, plus Beach Yoga sessions during the summer on Cullercoats Bay. The yoga sessions are for everyone – complete beginners to Mums who have done yoga before, we welcome any ability into our tribe.

Then there are the retreats which are incredible half and full-day sessions held somewhere luxurious in the local area. The retreats offer a real break from ‘real-life’ with the opportunity to make friends, relax and spend some time looking after yourself.

For more information visit The Yoga Tribe website or @TheYogaTribeNE on social media.

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