I completed my BA (hons.) and MA at University College London (UCL), before going on to become a Latin teacher and joining the RAF Reserves. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 as an ISAF Accredited War Artist and there witnessed first-hand the therapeutic applications of art, as serving men and women used it to overcome trauma and deal with the difficulties of serving away from home. This is really where my interest in alternative approaches to healing began.
As an artist, I have exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London and the Cow Byre in Hillingdon and my diary/ war art now form a permanent exhibit at the RAF Museum Hillingdon. In 2014 I trained as a TRiM (Trauma Risk Management) Practitioner with the Royal Marines Association. This is a peer-to-peer management system that used the CORE Questionnaire to risk assess and a process of talking about the problems that people are facing in order to help individuals to make a plan that will help them to move forwards with their lives. TRiM is not counselling, although it may involve revisiting traumatic events as part of the ‘check-in’ process.
My own health began to deteriorate at the end of 2014 and in 2015 I was diagnosed with hEDS and then PoTS. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility type) is genetic and incurable and, because my Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is caused by my hEDS, this too can only be managed but not cured. I was initially prescribed various different drugs to manage the chronic neuropathic pain and had to undergo a complete lifestyle change. I had previously been very fit, running and training every single day, but after I had injured my back and suffered from repeated knee dislocations and soft tissue damage I could no longer train in the same way. I turned to Yoga Nidra and Yin Yoga as an alternative to traditional medical approaches to treating my conditions. I left my job and the RAF Reserves and began working as a Therapeutic Artist. Since 2016, I have worked with a local Young Onset Dementia charity on a weekly basis, leading group sessions that help to facilitate creativity, discussion, playfulness and communication.
I have undertaken several yoga teacher trainings. I trained first in Sivananda style yoga with YMCA Fit, gaining my Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology and various other fitness based qualifications in the process. I subsequently undertook my Yoga Nidra Teacher Training and then specialised in Yin Yoga. Yoga Nidra is an amazing therapy that can be practised anywhere, by anyone. It is a guided meditation that uses the body to access the brain. I found it effective in controlling my pain, by allowing my muscles to relax, as well as giving me a different perspective on life at I time when I could’ve quite easily fallen into despair. I now use Yoga Nidra to help veterans with PTSD and other related conditions on the Veterans For Wildlife Footprints of Hope programme. I have also worked with private clients on a 1:1 basis to help them with; overcoming anxiety, reducing pain levels during cancer treatment, assisting with insomnia and helping a young mother through the difficulties of a miscarriage. Yoga Nidra can be undertaken in a group setting or tailored to meet an individual’s needs, which involves co-writing a script to address whatever issues you would like to target. I practice Yin Yoga on a daily basis and also teach this on the Footprints of Hope programme. Yin Yoga has many applications. From a purely physiological point of view it can improve flexibility, help you to improve your range of motion, strengthen and lengthen fascia and remove fascial adhesions. Yin Yoga’s psychological benefits are also profound; it can help you to reduce pain by gaining an understanding of what physical sensations actually are, it can help you to work through trauma by encouraging you to sit with uncomfortable mental and emotional states and it can facilitate a more meditative approach to life, turning off the stress response that so many of us are overwhelmed by in this modern world. Yin Yoga is best described as ‘really slow yoga’, as once you are in a shape you are encouraged to stay for a period of at least 3-5 minutes. This allows the muscles to relax and the fascia to be engaged. I have used Yin Yoga to help people to overcome trauma, as well as in conjunction with client’s physiotherapy treatment plans to improve range of motion. Yin Yoga can be undertaken in a group setting or on a 1:1 basis.
My book ‘Yoga, PTSD, and Me’ was released in early 2018. It is a summation of everything that I have learned so far and is the course book for the Footprints of Hope programme, as well as being used by Norman Blair on his Advanced Yin Yoga Teacher Training. It comprises a range of self-help exercises that you can undertake in your own time, as well as information about stress, trauma, resilience, post traumatic growth (PTG) and yoga (Yin and Nidra).
My goal is to empower every individual that I work with to find their own way to move forwards in life. I take a holistic, person-centred approach to therapy, which acknowledges that we are all different and can benefit from a combination of therapies and interactions – there is no ‘one size fits all model’. I always aim to meet you where you are today and will tailor our sessions together to meet both short-term and long-term goals.
Below is feedback from the first Yoga Nidra session in a series that I conducted with a client, who is now a proud mother to a beautiful little girl. This one took place just 10 days after she tragically lost her first baby: “My mum has been pluggling a therapy / relaxation class called Yoga Nidra, I was sceptical even though I’d done hypno-birthing up until I found out V had died. I hated the idea of “confronting” my emotions, but went along with it. I could tell in mum’s voice she was worried.
I wanted to share my first experience, I won’t go into every detail but I found it empowering and interesting... I feel my subconscious mind put a face and a figure to my recent emotions and I feel it’s going to help me cope with losing her. Yoga Nidra is the act of relaxation, tapping into putting your body to sleep, with your mind awake and aware. It’s not a case of you can’t move but you don’t want to move. You listen to Sara’s voice, following her instructions and trying to focus in on the voice and not on the surrounding noises of the world, no matter how distracting they can be….
This, the first session I’ve had with Sara was surreal, but enlightening. I endeavour to continue Yoga Nidra and relax myself further, allowing myself to cope with my trauma and continue to express my journey in the hope that others can benefit from our story, whether they are directly or indirectly involved in baby loss.”
Initial Consultation £30
Yoga Nidra 1:1 £45/hour or £40/hour for 10 sessions
Yin Yoga 1:1 £55/hour or £50/hour for 10 sessions
Yoga Nidra Group Class every Monday evening 1800-1900
Taster Session Monday 10 th December
£10 for ‘drop ins’
£80 for 10 classes