OM meets...

Donna Noble

It was Madonna who first inspired Donna Noble to try yoga, now she’s inspiring others, disrupting the world of wellness with a simple inclusivity message: yoga is for every body

How did you first get into yoga?

My yoga journey started in the late 1990s when a colleague (who was really into the latest celebrity trends) saw a picture of Madonna with one leg behind her head in Eka Pada Sirasana. Thinking that Madonna looked amazing, she suggested we try yoga, and I said yes. We were fortunate to have our first class with another colleague who was training to be a yoga teacher.

Who inspired you in those early days?

In the early days, I was inspired by Sabine Thiam and Jennifer Dale, who owned Surya Yoga in South London. At the time, I didn’t appreciate or realise that they were pioneers — two black women owning a yoga studio (an amazing accomplishment). I felt so welcome and safe to practice with yogis that looked like me, who shared their gift of yoga. I am happy that they were part of my yoga journey, allowing me to see what was possible – although, at that time, becoming a yoga teacher was furthest from my mind.

What are your thoughts on inclusivity and diversity in the yoga community?

I think that there is more awareness around inclusivity, but we still have a long way to go. That is why I am still so passionate about creating change and ensuring that everyone feels free to have access to yoga and wellbeing. I look forward to seeing the continued evolution of yoga with more diversity and inclusivity.

What are your yoga plans going forward?

To start writing my second book. I am also currently working on providing mentoring, courses, workshops and retreats. The continuation of the book tour and to disrupt the wellbeing and yoga space so that that there is greater inclusion and diversity.

What style do you practice today?

The styles of yoga I practice are Hot Yoga, Vinyasa, Yin and Restorative Yoga.

Any favourite yoga teachers today?

I have so many favourite teachers, but some of them are Jessamyn Stanley, Dr Gail Parker, Jivana Heyman and Matthew Sanford.

What does yoga give you personally?

Yoga has given me so much; it has transformed my life in so many ways I could never have imagined, helping me to heal when I suffered from Bells’ Palsy and burnout. It gave me the courage to turn my back on the corporate life and discover my passion for making yoga more accessible. I now go with the flow of life and see that everything I am looking for is within me. It allows me to connect to my innate wisdom.

Any yoga highlights after two decades on the mat?

There have been so many yoga highlights! Travelling to America for what should have been a nine-week training course, but ended up staying; teaching and travelling for six months, shortly after I was made redundant from my job. The creation of Curvesomeyoga features prominently on my list of highs as it has allowed me to show that every body is a yoga body. Crowdfunding my first stand at the OM Yoga Show in 2015. Other highlights also include being one of the original co-creators of the UK’s First Black Wellness and Fitness Festival. Sharing the benefits of yoga on Channel 4 television and anywhere where anyone will listen and allow me to write and share my opinions. Getting to interview and meet some incredible individuals within the yoga world, some of whom I can now call friends. Being invited to teach at some amazing conferences, teacher training courses and festivals. Writing my debut book ‘Teaching Body Positive Yoga’, published last year – totally unplanned and the amazing response it has received. Then my book tour, travelling around the UK; I have been welcomed at some amazing studios and getting to meet some of the lovely yoga communities. Getting to work in a way that resonates with me on my terms.

Untitled (1800 × 1200 px) (13)

What would you say to people who feel they can't do yoga for whatever reason?

I would say don’t believe the hype, as I believe that yoga is for everyone regardless of age, size, ethnicity, shape, gender or ability. Yoga will accept you just as you are. There is nothing you have to do or change to start a yoga practice. Try to find a class that resonates with you as there is a style of yoga for everyone, and there are so many benefits to starting a practice. If you can breathe, you can do yoga.

What do you do when you're not doing yoga?

I love spending time with family and friends, socialising or travelling and enjoying life. I try to ensure that self-care and joy are a priority. I have also just got into running – that reminds me I need to get back to Salsa classes! I can also be found educating and disrupting the wellbeing space to ensure that there is greater diversity and inclusion.

Any tips or life hacks for incorporating yoga into daily activities?

I think that most of us are already incorporating yoga into ordinary activities, for example, bending over to tie shoes laces (forward fold), reaching up above our heads to get something from the cupboard (upward salute) or watching TV on our abdomen (sphinx pose)… the list is endless. Our bodies are always talking to us. We need to start to listen so that we can cultivate an awareness of the body, so that we can incorporate movement. For example, being hunched over a computer all day, the muscles become tight or the body begins to ache, so take a break, even just 10 minutes, or allocate time for some desk yoga (shoulder rolls, eagle arms). Have your yoga mat beside your bed, so you literally get on your mat when you wake up or you try some bedtime yoga before you go to bed, or as you wake up. I always think that some yoga is better than no yoga.


Untitled (1800 × 1200 px) (14)

Donna Noble
Quick Q&A

Favourite yoga or spiritual book?

The Enlightened Gardner by Sidney Banks Go-to health food or drink? You are what you eat, and at the moment, my go-to drink is kombucha.

Favourite inspiring quote?

“Diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion is being asked to dance” - Verna Myers In fact, I love this quote so much that I adapted it: “Diversity is being invited to yoga, equality is being able to access yoga, and inclusion is being allowed to practice” – Donna Noble

Favourite yoga pose and why?

Padangustasana. I love the sense of both physical and mental balance it provides. It allows me to connect with the foundations of ease and stability that are always there beneath life's constant distractions.

 If you could take a class as a student with any teacher from anywhere and from any period of time (now or in the distant past) who would it be with and why?

I wish I could have taken a class with Tao Porchon Lynch. I was fortunate to interview her and attend her workshop on her last London visit. She had a fantastic attitude and achieved so much, demonstrating how much she loved her life.

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.