Original founder of one of London’s largest complementary health and yoga centres, Fenella Lindsell, 58, is also an author and a pioneer in developing children’s yoga. A respected teacher and teacher trainer in London for more than 30 years, she runs her own international retreats through her company Yoga Forever Ltd.
What made you take your first yoga class?
I was 25 and working in the travel industry in London and had always wanted to travel to India. Whilst in Kerala with my best friend, we met Stefan, a teacher who had recently trained with BKS Iyengar. I had every intention of learning to meditate and none whatsoever to try yoga! Stefan advised me that you can’t relax your mind until you learn how to relax your body and he would teach us how. I have never looked back and I now teach hatha flow to about 150 adults of all ages each week and offer dedicated men’s classes.
How has yoga helped you grow as a person?
Yoga has helped me to develop my confidence because I am able to lead and teach students in an area where I have acquired extensive experience. Having lacked confidence to contribute in the classroom at school, my yoga mat has become a vehicle to grow — it has become my magic carpet!
What things are you most grateful for?
I feel accepted and supported by my loyal following of yogis. They have joined me throughout my career both in classes and on my many retreats over the years. My students’ commitment to my classes reminds me how lucky I am. For that, I feel immense gratitude to yoga. Good friends and a wonderful close family bring a great deal of happiness too.
How do you stay motivated?
Yoga has never been a box-ticking activity for me and 30 years ago it was still a niche. It has underpinned my life for as long as I can remember. Planning new, varied, themed classes and attending other teachers CPD keeps me motivated. I enjoy organising interesting workshops and I love planning yoga retreats. I look at opportunities to discover new yogi recruits through offering a combination of yoga with tennis, hiking or fitness. The excitement of seeing old friends and meeting new ones is always a reason to look forward to the yoga holidays and be motivated to do more!
“Yoga has never been a box-ticking activity for me and 30 years ago it was still a niche. It has underpinned my life for as long as I can remember.”
How do you practice yoga off the mat?
I try to follow the mantra ‘do as you would be done by’. I like to treat people with respect, help out whenever I can at local events and support new yoga teachers starting their journey. I like being available for family and friends in need and to be present for my children. I practice daily breath work. Felix, one of my sons, has joined me as a breath work coach to offer simple techniques to my students and other interested parties. Our goal is to help more people to sleep better, reduce stress levels and anxiety, and to live a better life.
What else are you passionate about?
I’m mad about tennis and play unsuitable amounts at a delightful local club. I take part in amateur tournaments and have found a lovely friendship group. I cycle my way around London and enjoy time with friends, taking every opportunity to go to the theatre, galleries and events. London has so much to offer. I love hanging out with my four grown-up children and I have a special relationship with my own mum. Family dinner each week is a highlight and time together is always a joy.
What's your favourite quote?
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered: “Man! Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”