Interview with Holly
Meet Holly; founder of Soul Stretch, bringer of positive vibes and avid mermaid fan! Beyond Soul Stretch, she shares her teaching in top London studios including Heartcore, Equinox and One LDN.
what did life look like before yoga?
After studying English at uni, I dropped out of secondary school teaching, took off travelling round the world for a few months then found myself in a girl band shortly after I returned! (Random, but so awesome.) Having come from a dance background, I naturally began teaching dance fitness alongside all the touring, gigging, and studio sessions, and after the band split, it became a full-time thing. As much as I loved it, on some level, I never felt completely aligned... To be honest, I came to view the whole fitness industry in London as being so focused on the external, and how we all appear from the outside, with barely any acknowledgement given to our inner worlds. I got caught up in the comparison game, amongst people finding all sorts of ways to project a perfect ‘Insta-worthy’ life – but it’s just not reality! We all know it deep down. Anxieties and worries are developed and buried in an attempt to stay ahead, to fit in, to be ‘good enough’… No wonder London has been named the UK's most anxious city! Whilst the 'positivity' epidemic was in full swing, at the time, I was feeling anything but positive... I was searching for something more.
So how did you become a yoga teacher?
Well, I found that something more! Over a particularly difficult period, I found practicing yoga to be a peaceful outlet which encouraged me to look at myself from the inside out – something that life up until then hadn't ever given me much opportunity to do, given that I'd been in several relationships since 15 years old! Actually, yoga became my new boyfriend - I fell totally in love! Since my first class, it's always given me the space to just breathe; metaphorically and literally. Yoga is so much more than a physical work-out; it begins to shape the way you live your life and can allow you to learn to connect, love and be your true self. A full yoga teaching training was an inevitable next step to equip me with the skills to share this practice with people who I knew could benefit from it. After a couple of years of becoming addicted to the feeling of helping people find their peace through teaching yoga, Soul Stretch was born.
What kind of teacher would you describe yourself as?
It’s taken me a little while to find my own individual teaching style and ‘voice’. I’ve been to a lot of yoga classes and experienced a lot of different teachers, and what always shines through is authenticity – just being yourself! And laughing off your mistakes! I’d say I'm grounded, relatable and fairly normal. I do consider myself spiritual, but you won't catch me talking in class about the Universe or gods and goddesses... Aside from what I believe in, I see it as part of a teacher's role not to enforce any beliefs on others, but to help people to connect with their own. Yoga has certainly been a vehicle that's led me towards my personal version of 'spirituality'; a concept that I hope becomes less scary and more accessible in this day and age. I’m not into ‘right or wrong’ – I stand at the front and teach what I know (and there's always more to know), but I also encourage students to be their own best teachers and explore their own limits.
“And still, after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, 'You owe Me.' Look what happens with a love like that... It lights up the whole sky.”
I am a big cheeseball ;)
Any last words?
Yes - words of gratitude, not only to my teachers, but to my students, who also teach me so much. I’m on my own journey too; forever making mistakes, wobbling over, getting back up again, and finding new ways to make the whole thing wonderful. I love that we're all learning and growing together in this expanding Soul Stretch family.
Here's a little something to stick in your ears and peace out to...
Hope to meet you soon! x