Tamsin Sheehy is the fourth Ambassador who we are honoured to invite to our ECP Ambassador Programme. Tamsin opened her own yoga studio, The Shala, in 2007 in Cape Town. We first met Tamsin in 2008 when we were lucky enough to have offices just below her studio, and since then Tamsin, her husaband Tom and the whole Shala team have become integral member of the extended Earthchild Family! Tamsin has a special interest in the role of yoga as a practice of healing and repair on all levels of Being. The art of Lymphology and Digestion are key focus points for her workshops and courses. From offering free yoga and teacher trainings to our team and organising weekly donation classes and big once off events, Tamsin has supported Earthchild Project in many many different ways over the years.
How did your yoga journey begin? Was it love at first Asana?
My first ever yoga classes were in high school from our science teacher. I was at a big boarding school in Pretoria and played a lot of sport that always had a competitive edge that I didn’t enjoy. I remember loving the way the different poses made me feel, the way they aided me going inside myself and the absolute non competitive aspect of the movement. It was only years later that I found a consistent practice whilst living in Edinburgh and learning to truly take care of my body and mind connection. I do love my asana practice, the ability of my body to make shapes that allow me to go deeper inside myself whilst at the same time aligning my bones, muscles and internal organs. The more I practice now 18 years later, the more I understand that yoga is a lifelong journey, it cultivates patience, mindfulness and authenticity.
You have a very diverse background in yoga. Do you have a fundamental favourite of your yoga lineages?
My biggest influences have been all the texts that have come from the brilliance of Swami Satyananda from the Bihar University of Yoga. I did a two year teachers training in therapeutic yoga as well as some of the fundamental cleansing practices of this yoga tradition. Another big influence is all the work of BKS Iyengar . I find all his published books to be easy to follow, thorough, grounded and inspiring. As for direct teachers, I have had many who have inspired me in different ways. I feel it’s been good for me to study with a diverse spectrum of teachers to aid me finding my own teaching style that draws from many inspirations.
What has been the biggest shift in your life since starting yoga?
Everything. Since starting yoga I have been able to find my own built in therapist. My mat is my daily return into myself, checking in with my own value system, re-looking at certain belief systems and empowering myself to live authentically in the world. It has also connected me to the most amazing people worldwide who have been incredibly inspiring to me in my journey.
What are some of the challenges that you have experienced as a yoga instructor?
The greatest challenge has been the continual effort of self care that is required when you are giving out so much when teaching. Taking care to keep my body in balance and take time to self nurture when most weeks I work 6 days. Also with a child it’s hard to balance as I teach evenings and weekends. Owning my own studio means that throughout the years I have had to fill in for absent teachers a lot. Yet I completely feel aligned to my soul path and journey and have had so much support from husband and fellow teachers along the way. I am very blessed.
How important is meditation in your yoga practice?
The practice of asana opens and strengthens the body for meditation. That is to say asana leads into meditation. Daily practice of meditation no matter how short is really about enjoying the stillness of the mind that the asana practice helps to cultivate. It’s the fruit from the effort of growing the tree of your practice.
You have children yourself. What is your hands-on experience of the benefits of mindfulness for children?
Bringing mindfulness into a child’s life helps them to cultivate an internal awareness. In a world where they are constantly bombarded with information and stimulation from the outside world a lot of children lose connection to themselves. Mindfulness and yoga help them make clear and healthy decisions for themselves. Each child is unique and mindfulness helps them to embody their own uniqueness and talents .
How do you think parents can encourage mindfulness for their children at home?
I feel communication is key, asking children how they feel in their body in different circumstances is a simple way to cultivate mindfulness. Making time for stillness and contemplation in nature is another easy way to encourage mindfulness. I find taking my daughter into nature and noticing the small details of life and colour all around us helps her to come into a calm and centered space. Leading by example is the easiest way children learn, we always have our yoga mats out in the house, our daughter is exposed daily to our own asana and mediation practices, sometimes she just plays around us, sometimes she joins us, time is always shared.
Can you each please share one of your most treasured ECP moments with our readers?
A year or so ago I lead a workshop for the young leaders on the lymphatic system. It was part yoga, part digestion and part lymph movement. It was great to see the response to the lymph work which is free flowing , easy movement and a great way to circulate liquid in the body. It always amazes me how the Earthchild Project kids are so receptive to information, they soak up the details, ask so many questions and are eager to implement it into their lives. Throughout the years I have known the Founding team whom have been my biggest inspiration when it comes to cultivating change in our world. Tireless work among our children and making real change as they encourage children to live their fullest potential.