Joanne Hare was in her 40s when she took a risk and quit her job at Durham University to embark on a career in yoga. ‘I was working at Durham University and felt like there was something missing in my life — I didn’t feel fulfilled,’ explains Joanne. ‘I took a huge leap of faith and resigned from my job. My passion was yoga, and I already had a background in teaching, so I decided to combine the two.’ After qualifying as an instructor, Joanne launched her own business, Jasmine Yoga.
Based in Tynemouth Sailing Club, Jasmine Yoga offers a variety of classes suitable for mixed abilities. ‘Not only has it completely transformed my life, but it’s also having a great effect on the local community,’ says Joanne. ‘My ethos around yoga is to create a sense of inclusivity. I wanted to start something that was about embracing the area and it’s heritage.’ The local surroundings play a huge part in Joanne’s yoga classes, as she uses the sounds of the nearby sea rather than music for her classes. ‘We’re very lucky to be surrounded by the sea and we incorporate the environment into the yoga as much as possible,’ she explains.
During the summer months Joanne takes the yoga outdoors. ‘We are able to use the roof of the sailing club which looks out over Prior’s Park and the North Sea; all through the summer we have dawn classes on the roof with the sea as our backdrop.’ ‘It’s a great way to get out into the open air and mix up the sessions.’
As part of her ethos of local community and inclusivity, Joanne is keen to support local charities and recently held a blindfolded yoga class to raise money for the RNIB. ‘Our blindfold session was great. Yoga relies on the senses, and to take away sight meant everyone really had to focus on their balance,’ Joanne explains. ‘Balance becomes more difficult without sight, and so your hearing needs to become more astute. The clients had to listen to my instructions carefully to understand what they had to do.’
Unlike many other sports and exercises, yoga can be adapted to benefit different parts of the body, and also to suit someone’s abilities and strengths. ‘It’s been great to attract people who would never normally try yoga; many of our clients have arthritis or struggle with their mobility.’ However, the biggest surprise for Joanne has been the number of athletic men joining the Yin class — a slower class where poses are held for a longer time to stretch. ‘It’s actually a big surprise because it’s a gentle kind of yoga, but it has attracted these strong athletic men,’ she says. ‘Many of them are marathon runners, rugby players and triathletes, who are finding huge benefits in the deep, long stretches of the Yin class.’
Jasmine Yoga recently celebrated their first birthday in a rather unique fashion — stranded yoga. ‘We went to the lighthouse and practised as the tide came in. We were stranded with no distractions, it was a fantastic way to become self-aware.’ says Joanne. The class took place at St Mary’s Lighthouse, a one-off event to celebrate the occasion, but proved hugely popular among her ‘yogis’. ‘We were stranded for about five hours — we want to do this every year, it’s a wonderful novelty for the club.’
Joanne’s past life as a university teacher seems miles away. ‘I would say the most important thing I’ve learned is that yoga isn’t just physical; I have seen incredible differences in people’s self esteem and their confidence,’ Joanne explains. ‘People who find yoga for the first time become much more self-aware — their postures change and they notice how they’re breathing and standing.’ As Joanne explains, the benefits of yoga aren’t just physical; people often see improvements in stress and self confidence levels. ‘It’s because people begin to respect their bodies and they learn how to relax.’
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