Welcome dear one! My name Leonie and my pronouns are they/them
I grew up in the hills of mid-Wales and ventured to various places across the UK, Spain and Mexico before finding my home in Bristol.
I am an anthropologist and community & youth worker. I share this because both of these things underpin my motivation and values as a yoga facilitator and practitioner. For over 10 years I have worked with community groups and individuals - from group-work on gender-based violence in rural communities in Oaxaca, after school clubs with young women in South-East London, providing advocacy for young homeless people across London and working with women with complex needs in the streets of Bristol. As my yoga practice has developed, I have witnessed yoga weaving itself into my professional work. Taking a few lion’s breathes with a woman before a nerve-wracking appointment or finding myself having in-depth philosophical conversations with clients sleeping on the streets of Bristol. My life is centred around finding ways for people to (re)find their voice, (re)find their bodies and build positive relationships.
This is what yoga is all about for me - RELATIONSHIP. Building loving relationships, firstly with ourselves and from there with those around us and the world beyond. This is not always easy and certainly takes daily practice. Practice, showing up and reaching out for the support we need, when we need it. It is this support and safer space I strive to offer in my classes alongside a good dose of laughter, play and lightheartedness. Guided by the foundations of yoga philosophy, I encourage you to explore your edges - using asana (physical postures), breathwork and meditation to find strength, fluidity and softness in your body, mind and soul. Everything I teach is grounded in my own daily practice and experience, guidance from teachers and personal study. It is a never ending journey of unlearning & learning.
Who am I to share the teachings of yoga?
For me, yoga is political, reclaiming our connection to ourselves and the world around us. As a community worker, finding ways to spread the benefits of yoga as far and wide is really important to me. It is an undeniable truth that most people who attend and practice yoga in studios in Bristol are white, middle class, female, able bodied. I acknowledge the identities I hold within and outside of the dominant culture, as a white, non-binary, queer, able-bodied, middle-class, university educated human. I continue to lean into and learn from how my intersectional identities inform how I move through the world with privilege and survivorship, sharing an ancient practice which is not from my cultural heritage. Reflective practice has been central to my community work and I am constantly applying this to my yoga teaching, engaging in discussions about how to honour and not appropriate the practice of yoga and fumbling my way through trying to teach in a way which aligns with my values and strives to respect yoga and each individual that enters my class.
Bristol Yoga Roots Project
In 2017, myself and two other yoga practitioners co-founded Bristol Yoga Roots Project (BYRP). We are a community interest company with a vision to grow and support a network of like-minded yoga practitioners who are motivated to bring the benefits of yoga to under-represented populations in Bristol. In doing so we hope to inspire wider change in the Bristol yoga community, putting issues such as inclusivity and diversity on the agenda. Our work is underpinned by our collective belief in the yogic values of compassion, community, connection.
Check out our website to find out more about BYRP, see how you can get involved and/or arrange for us to teach at class at your organisation.
I am truly grateful to the many teachers who have and continue to support and inspire me on my journey as a yoga practitioner and teacher. My teachers at Yoga Vidya Gurukul introduced me to the philosophies of ashtanga and hatha yoga. Under the guidance of Sarah Harlow & Christopher Gladwell, I went deeper into this journey and connected deeply to the teachings of krama vinyasa tantra yoga. Interweaving with my work as an anti-oppressive community worker, my studies have continued into areas such as: women's health, trauma-informed yoga, yoga nidra and decolonising yoga with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli,Yoli Maya Yeh, Sophia Ansari & Alex Cat. In 2020, through the magic of Zoom, I have been blessed to continue my studies across the globe with Leila Sadeghee, Tristan Katz & Luvena Rangel, deepening my practice of mantra, meditation and the wisdom of Celtic rituals and elemental cycles.
Qualifications & Training
300hr Advanced Teacher Training, Krama Vinyasa Tantra - Yogasara, Bristol / 2016 - 2017
200hr Teacher Training - Yoga Vidya Gurukul, Nasik, India / November 2014
Yoga for All - Diane Bondy & Amber Kearnes / 2020 - 2021
Total Yoga Nidra Facilitator Training - Uma Dinsmore-Tuli / 2021 -2022
The Art of Skilful Facilitation: Presencing Race & Gender - Michelle C. Johnson, Stephanie Ghoston Paul & Tristan Katz / 2021
Vessel of Worth & Fill the Vessel - Leila Sadeghee, Kimiko Tao Fujimoto & Mara Livermore / 2020 - 2022
Tantra for Women - Sacred Cosmology of the Body - Yoli Maya Yeh / 2021
Mantra & Meditation - Luvena Rangel / 2020
Understanding Cultural Appropriation, Sophia Ansari / 2020
60hrs Hands on Anatomy - Yogasara, Bristol / 2019
21hrs Anatomy in Motion - Anatomy Trains, London / 2018
15hrs Decolonising Yoga - Sophia Ansari, Cardiff / 2018
20hrs Trauma Sensitive Yoga - The Yoga Clinic London / July 2018
45hrs Well Woman Yoga Therapy - Yoga Campus with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli / 2017
15hrs Anatomy for Yoga Instructors - Trika Yoga, Bristol / 2018
"I love Leonie's classes and always come away from them feeling energised and relaxed at the same time. She is a very down to earth and approachable teacher and has a way of bringing some humour into class which is very refreshing. Her classes are always a good challenge without making you feel like you're not experienced enough for them. Highly recommended!"