Heidi Talbot: Yoga, music and me
Yoga teacher and singer-songwriter Heidi Talbot talks to OM about how her practice has woven its way into her performances and her inner, spiritual side
Heidi Talbot is a singer-songwriter based in Scotland who's touring the UK during March. In the times when she's not on tour, she's a yoga instructor, after doing teacher training with Julie Hanson and Sue Woodd of Seasonal Yoga. OM caught up with her to find out more.
How did you first get started on your yoga journey?
I started about six years ago. I was taking two classes a week, one yin and one vinyasa and I really loved how it calmed my whole system. It made such a difference to my anxiety. I woke up one morning in December 2018 feeling so bereft after a particularly difficult period in my life emotionally and mentally; I had an overwhelming need to find something to hold onto.
I've always been spiritual but not religious or drawn to one entity or organised religion. I decided to look more into yoga and deepen my knowledge. It wasn't a yearning to become a yoga teacher but to immerse myself in the teachings and to explore what I loved about this ancient practice. I had just concentrated on asana so far with Marit Akintewe, a tremendous yoga teacher who lives in the same village as me in the suburbs of Edinburgh. I asked her for some information on Seasonal Yoga and borrowed some books. It just so happened that two weeks later, a Seasonal Yoga teaching training was starting in Glasgow, with Julie Hanson and Sue Woodd. There was one space left and I jumped at the chance...with a mixture of excitement, nervousness and a good sprinkling of imposter syndrome.
And so I found myself in a yoga studio in Pollokshields, Glasgow on a rainy January evening with a room full of people I had never met before. The energy in the room was so incredible: eagerness, excitement, welcoming, nurturing. To say that this course changed my life for the better is an understatement. I fell completely in love with the whole yoga system. It sounds bizarre but I felt like I knew a lot of these teachings but they were buried inside, and studying Seasonal Yoga gave them a pathway back to my consciousness.
How has your yoga teaching career evolved?
As part of our training, once we got six months into the course, we needed to teach at least one class a month. I started teaching a free class once a week and built up a full class. By the time I was a qualified Seasonal Yoga teacher in December 2019, I had six classes a week. Unfortunately, the pandemic put a stop to all in-person classes shortly after. I'm slowly building my classes back up. At the moment I teach three classes a week around the Edinburgh area and I provide cover when I can, as required. My full-time job is as a professional musician and I love the balance that teaching yoga and playing music brings. There's creativity in all tasks if you're looking for it. I do believe music and yoga can transcend all else...religion, culture, and so on. They affect us on a cellular level and, in turn, can heal and bring so much joy.
I meditate every day and I really find my intuition is sharper since it became a daily practice. Quietening my thoughts I feel like I'm coming to write from a clear and open-hearted place. Meditating has also really helped me stay present when I'm performing live, which in turn has helped with stage fright and nervousness. Noticing the breath, which is such a simple practice, has had a powerful effect on my live performance. One of the first things that happens when we are nervous is that we tighten up our abdominal muscles, in a sense guarding or bracing ourselves for the scary unknown. When singing, that's really unhelpful as it causes you to breath shallow in the chest, which then causes the muscles around your chest to tighten. Then you're in a vicious cycle of feeling like you haven't enough air and your throat is tight.
Do you think yoga can influence the creativity process?
I absolutely think that yoga is a huge benefit to any creative activities. Being able to quieten your mind through meditation, move any stale or stagnant energy through your body with movement and asana, and sit in a creative space, open and ready, is incredibly important to manifesting and nurturing an idea – whether it be a song or a business idea. I just wrote a song on my new record called Sing It For A Lifetime and the whole melody and lyrics to the chorus formed within minutes. I caught it in the forest when I was walking. Again, I believe if you stay open, it's possible to catch an idea.
I also love performing live and the energy exchange between performer and audience. There is nothing that compares to playing live for an audience – that exchange of energy, both giving and receiving. I also love watching a gig and feeling like everyone in the room is having an experience together – elbow to elbow, everyone there to feel something joy, and sometimes healing...it's the closest thing to real magic.
Heidi Talbot Tour Dates
March 9 - The Tollbooth, Stirling
March 10 - The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
March 11 - Perth Theatre, Perth
March 12 - The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
March 16 - The Witham, Barnard Castle
March 17 - The Platform, Morecambe
March 18 - Alstonefield Village Hall, Alstonefield
March 19 - The Met, Bury
March 22 - Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax
March 23 - Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
March 24 - Bristol Folk House, Bristol
March 25 - South Street Arts Centre, Reading
March 26 - London Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith, London