Yoga teacher trainer, best-selling author and a familiar face on the Movement for Modern Life platform, Sally Parkes is passionate about empowering others, both in life and on the mat
What made you take your first yoga class?
I was in my late teens when I joined my local gym. When I walked past the class studio to get to the gym, I would see a woman standing on her head in what looked like a deep meditation. Needless to say I was very intrigued, so when I found out she, Faye, was the yoga teacher, I attended her class. At the time I was really enjoying running but her class was a totally different experience and I loved it, not just for my experience of it, but also how it was inclusive, plus it did not mention physical aesthetics at all. I felt very at home.
How has yoga helped you grow as a person?
Having ADHD and dyslexia, I can be very in my head and am naturally high energy, which can of course lead to over thinking and regular burn out. However, yoga has taught me to be more in my body and watch what is going on within myself more effectively, leading me to be more thoughtful about my actions and less reactive to those around me. Ultimately, yoga has taught me that being slower is a faster way to progress.
What things are you most grateful for?
Having worked with people with limited mobility and having had a chronic back injury myself, I am currently very grateful for my ability to move my body and enjoy the freedom that comes with that. I am also very grateful for the many students that I teach on my online classes, retreats and teacher training programmes, some of whom have been with me for over 15 years. I never take their energy for granted and am constantly learning from them too, and seeing some of them go on to teach their own yoga classes simply feeds my soul!
How do you stay motivated?
Yoga is a way of life but running a yoga business is a totally different experience to being a yogi, and business has of course been extra challenging because of the pandemic. So yes, there are some days I would like to take a pause and maybe pursue other business ideas, but every time I get to that point I’ll receive a sign to carry on.
The sign could be an email from someone experiencing improved health since beginning yoga, or I’ll see someone I trained doing amazingly well with their yoga business and finding fulfilment in what they do, and that keeps me going.
How do you practice yoga off the mat?
The practice of yoga is all encompassing and of course reaches far beyond yoga postures; it extends to our interaction with people, animals and our environment. While I am most definitely an ongoing project, I do try to consider this on a daily basis and try to minimise my effect on the planet whilst utilising yoga to bring increased wellbeing to people. I also think it is our responsibility to teach children about boundaries and kindness, and about the natural environment too, all of which directly links in to the philosophy of yoga.
What’s your favourite quote?
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself” — Leo Tolstoy.
As humans we often consider and comment on the big picture and how the world could be better if this and that happens, but there will be no change unless we start with ourselves. Practicing self-inquiry via our yoga practice is an ideal way to question what we do and say. We can then observe the effect it is having and instigate change if needed, and ultimately become the change that’s needed in order for overall change to happen.