Yemaya Ladies: Introducing Ros
It's time to introduce another lovely Yemaya lady - Ros! Ros is a totally gorgeous soul - an avid ocean lover, fellow long distance runner & a yoga goddess! I caught up with Ros to find out a bit more about what she's up to - including her rejuvenate surf & yoga retreat in Cornwall in June!
You are super experienced & qualified yoga lady – tell me a little more about your yoga journey?
I first started practising yoga in 2006 whilst I was living and working in Thailand. There was a Bikram yoga studio in my gym, and I was intrigued to know what went in on that hot sweaty room! I had a free pass to try a class, so I did and got hooked! I practised Bikram for 5 years. In 2008 my English Teaching job took me to Malaysia, and it was whilst I was living there that I started visiting Bali and practising other styles of yoga. It was in Ubud in Bali that I took my first Forrest Yoga class in 2009. In 2011 I decided to do my first yoga teacher training course – Yoga and Energetics with Cat Kabira, the Forrest Yoga teacher I had taken classes with at Yoga Barn in Ubud.
Although this wasn’t a Forrest Training, on the course I got to learn more about Ana Forrest and we practised many Forrest-Inspired sequences. I had been having lower back problems for a long while, but this training made me realise how the Forrest Yoga core work could massively help free me from pain and discomfort.
When I returned to Malaysia I stopped attending Bikram classes and started my own self practice, which became very Forrest inspired. I started teaching yoga pretty soon after and after a while I realised that the Forrest influence was very much apparent in my teaching. In December 2011, Ana Forrest came to teach workshops in Singapore. I had started reading her book Fierce Medicine and was very intrigued to practise with her and find out more about Forrest Yoga. I attended the workshops and was blown away. From that moment onward I keep finding my mind thinking about how I wanted to take the 200-hour Forrest Yoga teacher training (despite the fact I had only just taken a 200-hour training!). In 2012, everything somehow aligned and came together and I came back to the UK to take the training. Shortly after I moved back to the UK permanently and started teaching yoga full time.
Since then I have been fortunate to have spent over 800 hours assisting Ana and her partner Jose in teacher training and workshops around the world. Recently I was made a Forrest Yoga Guardian. This privilege means that I have been chosen by Ana and Jose to be one of the torch bearers of Forrest Yoga who will continue the teachings and ensure its legacy is carried into the future.
I currently teach classes in Cambridge and London, and commute from my current home in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Phew that was a long answer!
So, for newbies to yoga (like me!) can you tell me what Forrest yoga entails?
Of course! Forrest is often called “yoga for the modern western body” as we focus on all of the areas where people nowadays hold their tension. We do lots of core work as many people suffer from low back pain to strengthen the abdominal muscles to support the back. We also work a lot to release tension in the neck and shoulders – all areas where the stress of modern day living and office jobs tends to deposit itself. We also focus a lot on breath – city living means many of us are uncomfortable breathing deeply – the air is so polluted why would we want to? Deep breathing is the gateway to finding space in the body and down regulating our nervous systems so we also find peace in the mind. In Forrest Yoga we hold poses a little longer so it’s great for building strength.
You have travelled all over the world for your yoga? Where has been your favourite place and why? Anywhere on the bucket list too?
So many favourites, but I think I have to say Bali! I fell in love with this island over a decade ago and since then have visited maybe 15 times! (When I lived in Malaysia, I went to Bali so often I ran out of pages in my passport as at that time they did a one-page visa each time you entered!) Bali is my soul home – I love the people, the reverence and sense of ceremony they bring into everyday life. I love the food – my goodness the food in Bali is so good! It was where I first properly connected with what yoga really is, and of course, it’s also home to some pretty amazing waves!
You are not just an awesome yoga lady – you are also a pretty keen runner too? Tell me about your running journey.
I started running when I was in my twenties living in Barcelona. I actually hated running on the treadmill at that time and had no interest in running at all. But, a personal trainer (who I secretly fancied) put running on my program and I didn’t want him to think I couldn’t do it, so on the treadmill I got! I’ve never looked back really.
I eventually started running 10K races and then following a more structured program and ran my first half marathon in 2005 I think. I got injured whilst training for a marathon in 2006 – I had an ACL tear (super painful!). It was not so long after this I started doing yoga. Running gradually took a back seat for a number of years and even actually stopped running for a few years as I was told it was making my back sore. I woke up one day about 5 years ago and asked myself – why did I stop running when I loved it so much. I started up again and vowed to find the balance between running, yoga and making sure my body felt good. It’s been quite a journey but I think I finally got there!
One major shift I recently had was understanding why I run. A friend said to me “racing is for the ego, but running is for the soul”. I think he hits the nail on the head with this. When I was younger I ran for PB’s to help validate myself. It was one of the only ways I could feel “enough”. I’m at the stage in life now where this is no longer the case. I enjoy running as it allows me to be in nature and it truly feeds my soul. I have been moving towards more multi-terrain races, and I am enjoying being on the trails. You can’t go so fast, but it makes you be more present and connected with your surroundings. I love this.
As a fellow long distance runner I know I struggle of fitting in all the training in around life! How do you juggle this? What does your typical week look like for training?
I aim to run 3-4 times per week. This normally consists of two shorter, easier runs (6-7K), a longer mid-week session that will be interval training or hill session, and then long runs generally happen on a Sunday. I try and slot my running in as best I can with everything else. Sometimes that means taking my kit into London to run around Regent’s Park at lunchtime or getting up earlier to get a run in if need be. If life gets a bit crazy and I have to drop a run it’s ok though.
Do you have any major goals for your running over the next year or any races that you are keen to enter?
I’m running the Bath Half marathon in the spring. I have a charity place with Surfers Against Sewage so will be running to raise money for them. I also just registered to run the Cornwall coast to coast half marathon in June too. I’m quite excited about that one – it will be different to run a race that actually takes you somewhere rather than in a loop!
I had a serious ankle injury at the start of this year – a high grade ankle ligament injury plus a stress fracture in my tibia (I don’t like to do things by halves!) This meant I was not able to run the marathon I was signed up for, and to be honest I’m not sure if I will be marathon ready in 2020 either. I’m a bit nervous to push too much too soon. For this reason, I’ve decided to stick to half marathons for a while. I would love to do a proper trail race though so this is something I will keep my eye out for. If you know any good trail races in Cornwall let me know!
What I totally love about your insta is your yoga that is focused for runners – which I have previously struggled to find - I have been doing some of it at home in the living room & it has massively helped me! What drew you to this focus?
I have a love/hate relationship with social media I have to confess! I used to focus just on yoga poses in my Instagram, but it got to the point where it all started feeling rather contrived to be honest. At that time running was taking a more prominent role in my life and so I started sharing more about my running journey. I realised that many runners are a bit afraid of yoga as they perceive it as being all about needing to be super flexible. I wanted to show runners the parts of yoga that could help them and help make an entry point into yoga for them that felt accessible and less scary. From here I then developed my yoga for runners workshops. These offer a more holistic approach to yoga for runners – we look at mindset, and mindfulness type exercises, breath work, stability and stretches that are helpful for a speedier recovery and support longevity in the sport.
So I have to ask….what would be your 3 top yoga poses/exercises to help stiff runners?
My top tips are to warm up before you go out on a run. So many people skip this (me too sometimes!), but when we don’t warm up, we end up tighter later on and more likely to get injured. Use dynamic movements rather than stretches here to signal to the muscles it’s time to get moving! Then, post run always do at least some simple stretches for the legs – hamstrings, quads, calves (ensuring you stretch both of the calf muscles!), adductors….
My top 3 poses for runners would be:
Lunges – I know they feel challenging when you are tight but they are great for creating space in tight hip flexors!
Back release (Eye of the needle) pose – This pose does a similar job to pigeon but without the risk of pressure on the front knee as you are instead lying on your back. It gives a great stretch through the buttock of the bent leg side – great for piriformis and the outer hip muscles that have to work so hard to stabilise us when we are running.
Lying down Spinal Twist with one leg straight – this is a great pose for releasing the low back, getting opening across the front of the shoulders, and if you start to straighten the top leg it takes it into the IT band too. I love this not just for its physical benefits but also for helping me start to down regulate my nervous system after running too. An all-round winner!
So at the moment you live quite inland – but you escape to Cornwall as often as possible – you are definitely a keen ocean lover! What draws you to the ocean?
I am indeed! I think I’m drawn to the wildness of the coast and the elements. We think we have all this stuff in life that we have to control (and we try to control) and when you get in the ocean, you start to realise that you can’t control everything, and that nature is ultimately really in charge. I find great solace in this. The ocean teaches us to respect nature. For me, being in the ocean is the best thing to soothe my soul. It never fails to bring me back to the present moment and brings me great peace.
Do you have any favourite spots in Cornwall?
Anywhere with waves! I think my favourite beaches are Watergate bay and Godrevy. The light at Watergate in the early evening when the tide is low is so special, and the coastal path is fab for running (except when it’s windy!) I love Godrevy for the landscape – the lighthouse, the dunes at the back of the beach. I had a perfect morning surfing there just in October. The sky was so clear, the sun was shining and there was only a few of us out in the ocean. I had this moment of feeling so connected with nature and that in that moment everything was just perfect. Bliss!
What do the next 12 months look like for you? I hear there is a Cornish yoga & surf retreat on the cards (which I am very excited for!)?
There is indeed a Cornish retreat happening! I’m hosting and teaching my Blue Soul retreat near Watergate Bay in June 2020. It will include all of my favourite things – yoga, surf lessons, time near the ocean, good food…. I can’t wait! All the details and information on how to book are on my website www.rosalindsouthward.com/workshops-retreats I’m really excited to teach and share this retreat.
Otherwise, I hope there will be a lot more surfing and time by the ocean, a trip to somewhere exotic to surf and more half marathons! I have a feeling this year ahead will bring some big changes for me – I’m looking forward to seeing what magic pans out!
Ros wears the chunky 3 piece sea glass on a custom long chain.....you can get yours here!