OM catches up with inspirational yoga teacher, blogger and YouTuber Cat Meffan
How did you first get into yoga
I grew up doing gymnastics and then went on to be a dancer, so from a young age I loved moving my body. As I got older, after having a knee reconstruction along with numerous other injuries, I came to yoga as a way to learn more about my body. I needed a way to get strong without the impact of gymnastics and dancing.
What inspired you in those early days
In the early days I knew so little about yoga, and really came to it for the asana side of things. I was inspired by so many teachers and practitioners that I found online who made postures look so graceful. It was only when I was about two years into my practice that I really started to understand that there was so much more to yoga than a pose on a mat. My mum actually inspired me quite a lot in my early days, as we went to our first classes together and she still practices now.
What does yoga give you personally
Yoga gives me a sense of connection to both my inner and outer worlds. It gave me a chance to look inwards, to be curious about my body, mind and breath and it also helped me understand my body from an injury point of view. When I’m on my mat or in my yoga space, it’s just me and my movement, whatever that might look like. That time is so precious to me, as life can get so hectic outside of that time.
Any favourite teachers or studios
In London, I enjoy Marcus Veda’s classes at Triyoga and my friend Phoebe Greenacre is a beautiful teacher, if you can find her teaching at any London events. I also recommend Katarina Rayburn and her new studio, Kindred Yoga. In Sydney, I love Noelle’s classes at Body Mind Life, and when I practice online, I love being challenged by Patrick Beach and Dylan Werner. I also recommend the Bali Spirit Festival. I got to experience so much when I was there and absolutely loved it.
Describe your own teaching style
This is a tough one, as I teach a few styles, but my favourite classes to teach are the dynamic flows, but they are dynamic flows with feeling. I love teaching long juicy classes where we have time for meditation, breath work, the flow and then a nice long Savasana.
“Yoga isn’t just about what we do on the mat. The asana practice is of course a wonderful tool, but remember that you don’t even need to sit on a mat to practice ‘yoga’. Maybe the type of yoga that’s right for you focuses more on meditation or pranayama.”
Yoga career highs so far
Teaching all of my retreats are what bring me the most amount of joy, getting to work with guests for longer than just one class and seeing all of the guests connect. I launched my monthly membership at the start of this year, which is going so well and I’m so proud of it. I’ve also been very honoured to teach for brands like Samsung, Adidas, Lululemon, Google and I very recently had a teaching residency for Coco Resorts in the Maldives
What are your plans going forward
Currently, I’m focusing my efforts on growing my membership, so I can share my passion with even more people all over the world. I’m also in the planning stages of my 2020 retreats, which will include a yoga and surf retreat in Sri Lanka. I can’t wait to bring even more people together through the love of yoga.
Any advice for new yoga teachers starting out
The best bit of advice I could give to a new teacher is to know that it’s okay to say, "I don’t know". No teacher has all of the knowledge and all of the power. Within saying "I don’t know" you can find a sense of empowerment as you work within your truth. Teach what feels good to you and never stop being a student. And if you don’t know the answer to a question one of your students asks, just be honest and maybe say that you’d love to do a bit of research and find the answer for them.
What do you know now you wish you’d known starting out
Exactly as I said above. I remember teaching my very first retreat and taking all of my notes and books with me, just in case someone asked a question that I didn’t know the answer to. I was so nervous that they might think I’m a fraud if I didn’t remember every single thing I was taught on my class, but that wasn’t the case at all. I never felt the need to pick up those books. I taught what I knew and I taught what felt real and honest to me.
Any tips for students new to yoga
Don’t give up after the first try. I hear so often that people go to one class and say it’s not for them. Just know that there are many different styles and so many awesome teachers out there, you just need to find the ones that resonate with you the most and that might take going to a few different classes to find.
What do you say to people who say they can’t do yoga
Yoga isn’t just about what we do on the mat. The asana practice is of course a wonderful tool, but remember that you don’t even need to sit on a mat to practice ‘yoga’. Maybe the type of yoga that’s right for you focuses more on meditation or pranayama. And if it is something more physical that you’re after, then go to a beginners or basics class first. You just need to be you. Yoga is all accepting, so it doesn’t matter your age, shape or flexibility – yoga is still for you.
What do you do when you’re not doing yoga
Travelling is such a big passion of mine, so I hope to keep exploring the world for years to come. I’m currently in Sri Lanka and have taken up surfing, which I absolutely love. I’m not particularly good, but I just love being in the ocean and around nature. When I’m back in London I love bouldering, going to the gym, hiking and hanging out with my dog, Simba. I’m going to take up making candles and ceramics later this year too, so hopefully I’ll be half decent at those activities! And even if I’m not any good, the main thing is that I enjoy it. We’ll see!