It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that I am Co-Director of my own company with another woman. Before high school I was one half of a successful entrepreneurial enterprise ‘sarahkates’ head office address Mum and Dads Shed!. In our first year of trading we operated a gift shop, drinks machine and general child entertainment programme for the local kids and earned enough to buy ourselves a game of twister and a trip to the cinema. Then in high school I found a new business partner and we organised a production of ’Fantastic Mr Fox’ and set up a dating agency, although I don’t think we had any lasting love matches. I was often called bossy growing up and was never easily led, both of which traits were viewed as negative. I now know this meant leader and determined and these turned out to be vital skills in being successful.
It‘s funny when I look back now, that all of my bosses have been women and I suppose subconsciously this has meant that I have always known that it is possible for women to be in charge and on the whole I have always been celebrated as an intelligent woman and pushed to develop myself and achieve promotion.
It wasn’t until my husband passed away aged 37, after a long illness followed in quick succession by my best friend in her early 40’s that I found my next female pairing. I had built up a successful career in management accounting and found myself part of the senior leadership team for finance in the police force when these tragedies struck. Despite trying to fit back into my old life, I was plagued by ghosts and felt a calling or perhaps screaming is a better word to make a difference in the world, and knew I had to leave my current place of work and teach yoga full time.
Yoga has been a massive part of my life since I left university, it helped me to recover from intellectual burnout and to navigate through self doubt and launching into the big wide world beyond education and it’s no exaggeration to say it saved my life when I lost two special people so cruelly.
My only regret was that I hadn‘t known about yoga my whole life, it would certainly have made a massive difference in my early years. This is why I feel so passionate about bringing the techniques of yoga to children at an early age so that they become a way of life for good physical and mental health.
I became a qualified yoga teacher in 2010 the same year I became a qualified management accountant, two very different things as it seemed to me and others at the time and yet I now understand that later the two would combine perfectly as Co-Director of Yoginis Yoga Training Ltd, a role in which I finally feel as though I have been placed to achieve my life’s purpose.
“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose” Bishop T D Jakes
How true this is. It took tragedy in my life to realise what my passion was, but from that point, there was no turning back.
So there I found myself in 2016, a widowed mother of a beautiful nine year old girl, without my best friend, having just given up a top career I had worked hard to build through some tough times, part time adult and children’s yoga teacher wanting to make a difference, sounds like the start of a movie, except this was my life.
I began to pursue my dream, teaching mum and baby classes, adult classes both for hatha and yin yoga and teaching children in nurseries. my classes were always well received but competing with gyms and baby franchises meant getting bums on mats was hard work and I had to supplement my incoming with freelance accountancy lecturing.
Then I got a call from Sue.
I met Sue, who I called my spiritual mum during my three year yoga teacher training, we were never individually close during this time but our group as a whole consisted of around 12 supportive women, I feel lucky to have shared this time with them and although I don’t see them often I count them as people I could turn to and who could turn to me. I guess because we shared a time of emotional growth and change that immersion in yoga practice brings about. Being the youngest of the group, Susan has always looked out for me and she still laughs at how I broke the rules of the a retreat we went on, turning the TV on to watch X Factor and pulling out a tub of celebrations to share!!!
Susan was one of the first children‘s yoga teachers working in schools and nurseries in the UK and so when I began teaching yoga to children she acted as a mentor and our friendship grew stronger.
As I said, I got a call from Sue; “I have an idea“ she says “I got asked if I could teach nursery teachers to deliver the yoga programme we have been delivering to their kids” she continues “I told them I could, I want you to do it with me”. So that’s exactly what we did. We developed a training course and off we went. The trainees loved it and we knew we had to carry on. Straight after the training we met a designer a friend had recommended, another woman making it on her own and over a cup of tea in morrisons cafe we clicked, she understood our brand and brought it to life.
From women working alone to women working together we became stronger together. I couldn’t have known at this time that in a short while I was going to have to relive losing my husband as I supported Sue through the short illness and death of her own husband, also from cancer at a young age. So now there we were, two widows, four children and two grandchildren with a great business idea. Could we make it work?
Four hardworking years later with accreditation from the Children’s Activities Association and our own online training platform with CPD certification, we find ourselves on a mission to train the whole world, to spread kindness and create happy, healthy, content children.
Is this an easy misson? no, but nothing special ever is, good things take time is my current mantra. What we are doing is innovative and groundbreaking, It’s also yoga, which to many is a scary word, but that’s because they haven‘t seen it done our way ‘Yoga but not as you know it’.
Do we ever feel like giving up? yes, there are days when we feel like it would be easier to go out and get an easy job, but we simply can’t, it is our passion and our purpose, it’s who we are and anyone who meets us can see this and wants to help.
It’s difficult to count how many children‘s lives we have touched over the years but with our approved coaches now delivering our programmes at least 50,000 children a year are benefiting from our programmes, supporting learning and physical and mental health and wellbeing.
I recently became aware of the RAISE Partnership Pathway Model. This is based on the celebration of women working together to recognise, amplify and intentionally support and elevate each other. This is exactly what we had experienced without knowing it had a model!. Listening to Betsy Polk and Maggie Ellis Chotas talk about how women working together fostered a sense of camaraderie, support, flexibility and confidence felt like they were talking about Sue and I. Successful women together they say brings value added and we definitely know that together one plus one definitely equals more than two, we are the yin to each other’s yang, the Freddie Mercury to Brian May, the Elton John to Bernie Taupin and hopefully one day we will be the inspiration for other women entrepreneurs the Katie to Sue!
Yoginis Yoga Training are specialists in children’s wellbeing and mental health training. Training professionals working with children to deliver yoga and mindfulness sessions as part of the education syllabus since 2006.