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Inverness yoga teacher on latest role, accessibility and cultural appropriation

By Rachel Smart

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Christie Wood.
Christie Wood.

With International Woman’s Day taking place on March 8, we are sharing stories of inspiring business women across the Highlands and Moray.

An Inverness yoga teacher is on a mission to make the ancient practice more accessible.

Christie Wood teaches classes around the Highlands, and recently became Scotland's regional officer for the British Wheel of Yoga.

Having been raised in Carrbridge, and spending the last 20 years living in Inverness, Christie says that 'she was raised by hippies' and yoga has always been integral in her life since a young age.

She said: "My mum and dad are huge hippies! So, I was brought up with lots of statues of Buddha, and deities around the house. My mum practiced yoga and it was just an integral part of my upbringing. It was a way of life from the word go.

"I lived in Edinburgh and was working in events which was fun, and then came back home and I was did youth work for 15 years, which I loved.

"I had always dreamed about becoming a yoga teacher, and so I did my training over four years.

"I did my last year I was pregnant, so my youngest is a wee yoga baby and came to teaching with me when he was born!"

Christie Wood. Picture: Claire Waddell
Christie Wood. Picture: Claire Waddell

Now, Christie is on a mission to help others experience the benefits of the practice, and that's why she is looking forward to her new role at the British Wheel of Yoga.

She said "The British Wheel of Yoga is the governing body of yoga for the UK. It allows us to apply for charitable status and get funding to make yoga as inclusive as possible.

"We've maybe got into a funk about doing extreme contortions and poses, but yoga is absolutely not about that at all.

Christie Wood.
Christie Wood.

"It's about seeing the world through the eyes of peace. We are a community, and that is one of the main things we need as human beings. We need to be around one another and operate from a place of love.

"This is what I stand for and this is what the British Wheel stands for too.

"Ultimately for me, we need to make yoga as accessible as possible. The first thing people say when they are new to a class, is that they are not flexible or strong, and I'm really wanting to communicate that yoga is way beyond that.

"There are physical and practical barriers to yoga that we have created, particularly in the Western culture.

"I think I'm starting to see a shift in that, given what is going on in the world, socially, economically, humanitarian wise. People are now accepting that financial situations and body types are so different.

Christie Wood. Picture: Claire Waddell
Christie Wood. Picture: Claire Waddell

"As practioners of yoga we need to communicate the benefit to our overall wellbeing. There are a lot of teachers who offer free places in classes or allow others to pay it forward."

For Christie, being able to take yoga into spaces such as school's and Women's Aid is important and she leads a young women's group in schools each year.

Cultural appropriation of yoga has also been thrust into the spotlight over recent years, and it's often claimed that a diluted and Westernised version of the practice is being promoted on social media.

Christie said: "Talking about the cultural appropriation of yoga would need weeks worth of discussion!

"It's so important to honour the lineage of yoga, and that's what I hope to facilitate.

"It doesn't mean the whole class needs to be taught in Sanskrit but teachers have to be accountable and have a sense of transparency about what it's all about.

"We need to honour the roots. Yoga is a state of living in awareness, with your eyes open,and coming from a place of loving kindness."

Christie Wood. Picture: Claire Waddell
Christie Wood. Picture: Claire Waddell

Christie now teaches yoga full-time at classes across the Highlands. Including work in educational setting she also provides yoga classes for corporate clients, team-building and retreats.

She added: "I have a deep gratitude for all that I do, and I'm looking forward to how I can do more with my role at the British Wheel of Yoga."

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