Hello and welcome to This Northern Gal! Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi there, I’m Helen, also a northern gal and the founder and face behind Swastha.
My daily world, for the past 15+ years, is (and continues to be) a fulfilling, although challenging, career in a global blue chip company. At times the work is fast paced, involves extensive travel across Europe and the US and work patterns can be unpredictable so life is pretty busy, just the way I like it, but I also understand the importance of balance too.
Outside of my day to day work, my interest in all things health & wellbeing goes back many, many years to my university days. Yoga has been in my life for 15+ years and over time I discovered the power of mindfulness/meditation and Ayurveda too. As you can probably tell, I am a huge advocate & passionate believer in the power of holistic therapies for healthy living.
That’s really how Swastha was born!
I am a firm supporter of the concept of prevention being better than cure & my desire to help myself and those around me be well, and stay well, for as long as possible led me to learn & explore more. I am now a qualified Ayurveda Lifestyle & Nutrition Consultant, Ayurvedic Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher (Hatha & Restorative) & Yoga Therapist & Mindfulness Instructor, as well as a practitioner of the same practices of course! And I am so grateful to have discovered them because I truly believe they have each in their own way helped me to stay grounded, healthy and balanced through all of the ups and downs of life, and long may that continue to be the case.
Health and happiness is so often taken for granted until we lose it, and like time, it’s a precious commodity which money can’t buy so I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the real meaning and to have experienced the benefits of these age old philosophies to maintain my ‘Swastha’ state.
And now, I love sharing them with others so I offer group yoga & mindfulness/meditation classes, as well as 121 private sessions, Ayurveda consultations or tailored programmes designed to help with specific health issues to help other people find theirs.
Wow! That sounds busy! Please can you tell us a little bit more about Swastha?
Yes, let’s talk more about Swastha!
So, you might also be wondering what ‘Swastha’ means – well, it is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘to be fully established & rooted in oneself’. Simply put, it’s all about helping people to find (or return to) their personal state of balanced optimal health, whatever that might look like for them.
We are all unique individuals living different lives so what’s right for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for another – finding your personal balance is the key to the health and wellbeing of body and mind, in both the short and long term. So, its about finding the happy, healthy you!
The best bit is seeing people discover the benefits for themselves & being reminded just how great we each have the capacity to feel. The real beauty of Swastha is that I can tailor programmes or sessions specifically for each person.
And how have you had to adapt your business in recent months?
Well hasn’t this year been a rollercoaster! And definitely one we will all remember, though probably not for any of the reasons we had planned.
It’s interesting though because one of the positives I am hanging on to amidst it all is that some of the changes I had to make to adapt my classes and sessions to the unique situation has also meant discovering some wonderful places to practice yoga outdoors with my fabulous bunch of clients.
I was also lucky enough to work with the lovely team at Raby Castle to deliver some exclusive Yoga and Mindfulness Sessions in the walled gardens (and also inside the Castle itself) through the summer. A shared first for Swastha and also for Raby Castle! Look out for more on that collaboration in the New Year
I also hosted Zoom sessions for the first time. I am pretty used to virtual meetings if I am honest but I wasn’t sure how well they would work. I had lots of requests though so thought if everyone else was willing to give it a go then why not ?They have been going surprisingly well, and everyone seems to be very happy with them. There is no substitute for face to face but I am grateful for the flexibility and understanding that people have shown.
Swastha has actually been really busy this year and I had to add more classes due to the demand – when we were able to be outdoors and at the studio anyway – though now the winter is here and because of the recent lockdown I am running a reduced timetable again but I will be back in the New Year!
What’s it like running a business in Darlington?
I love being based in Darlington, I am a bit biased I suppose but to me its typically northern! Everyone is so friendly and the people I meet in my classes/sessions are some of the loveliest people you could ever want to meet so I feel really blessed.
I love the direction we are heading with the independent shops and businesses opening up and supporting each other too. Artisanal products and shopping local are two things I really enjoy. It really creates more of a community feel and I think that has been vital this year and will be important in the future.
I definitely agree about the community feel! Describe your perfect Christmas in five words or less
I love all things Christmas so this is a really tough one! Simple, Relaxed, Home, Family, Laughter
Why do you think meditation is so important, especially at this time of the year?
Oh where to start – there are so many positive benefits of meditation we could talk for days!
Typically, at this time of the year though a bit of a festive fever hits, everyone suddenly has so much to do and get organised on top of their normal day and, of course, for others it’s a time of high stress, worry and expectation for a whole host of other reasons – money, family tensions, competing priorities to name but a few, and so meditation can be really helpful because it reminds us to breathe, be present and gives us the space to put things into perspective and take stock of what really matters.
It’s also even more important when life gets hectic and feels overwhelming to make space for self-care and take time out to step away from constantly being ‘switched on’ to relax and recover. When the days are dark and cold too, it can also help with mental wellbeing in general and create a feeling of contentment and happiness, as well as keeping the immune system strong and healthy.
Christmas aside, I would encourage everyone and anyone to meditate regularly but remember it’s called a practice for a reason, it means doing it regularly. That’s how to get the best from it.
In fact, if anyone out there has been thinking about giving it a go but not got around to it (or if you just want to join a guided session) I am running a 15 min free taster on Sun 13th Dec at 5pm via zoom so if you want to come along give me a follow on Insta or Facebook (@swasthaholistic) & drop me a note for the link to join!
I’ll see you there! What’s next for Swastha in 2021?
Well, hopefully we will be back in the studio in January and all classes can resume, but I think I might actually keep some online options available too.
The team at Raby and I are looking at another series for the spring/summer and I am working on a few new things too – courses and workshops & maybe a collaboration or two with some other local people. Plus I am always looking to learn so I am sure I will also find myself studying something new. All a bit of a work in progress because that’s one thing I will be working on over my Christmas break which starts tomorrow!
Thank you so much for sharing! If you would like to learn more, here is the link to the Swastha website!