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As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 we spoke with Robin Watkins-Davis, the UK’ss youngest yoga teacher trained aged 16 years old with TeenYoga Foundation @teenyogafoundation. She also does work with the All Parliamentary Group for Yoga.

Tell us a little bit about your background in TeenYoga and how you have shared the power of yoga to other teenagers across the country.

I started yoga when I was 12, the practice has been a constant anchor, helping to navigate through life’s challenges in positive ways, especially in teen years where everything is constantly changing, your body, school, friendship, independence. Yoga profoundly affected all areas of my life that I questioned why it wasn’t taught in school. In response to this, I did my training aged 16 and became the UK’s youngest yoga teacher with a mission to share yoga with my peers in a fun and relatable way. 

Why do you think talking about mental health and body image is an important conversation for the yoga industry?

“Everything in moderation!” The yoga industry and many health industries can sometimes go the other end of the scale in terms of health and balance, I think it’s a really important topic to discuss as there is a time and a place for everything, a bit of cake and a bit of fresh air and exercise, I think it’s really important to remember that and not become to fixated on pushing our bodies to achieve a certain pose or look a certain way based on our thoughts, but to really give it what it needs out of love by listening and tuning in. 

As a yoga teacher and an artist, what values are important to you for mental health and body image?

Movement and gratitude helps me focus on the amazing range of shapes my body can make instead of focusing on the imperfections.

Meditation helps me observe that I don’t have to get wrapped into every thought that it is possible to separate myself from them, that they are not facts and only have power if I give them time and energy. It’s freeing to be able to select which thoughts I want to be in my mind and try to let go of ones that are causing suffering! 

As an artist, I recently did a project printing with my body this was massively freeing and gave me great confidence and helped me look at my body in new ways. @rart.insta

What do you do to keep a healthy mind?

(answered above in terms of meditation) also lots of time in nature, I like spending time in dramatic landscapes like Scotland, where I feel small in comparison to the scale of the landscape and it reminds me that we are also nature, when I remember this, insecurity fades and it’s hard to not have anything but love because it just feels like life is a miracle, in terms of its/ our beauty and complexity. I find the natural world humbling. 

3 key tips from promoting inclusion in yoga

  • Ensure photos are of accessible postures 
  • Try to keep language neutral and not too based around a particular spiritual belief 
  • Diversity of people in images 

About Robin Watkins-Davis

Robin is 19 years old and is a fully qualified and insured Sivananda Hatha Yoga Teacher (200hr), accredited with yoga alliance and independent yoga network. She is also a qualified first aider, DBS checked and cleared and has done a course in Safe guarding. 

Robin is a youth ambassador for a company called ‘Teen Yoga’ and has recently spoken in such conferences as the ‘Instill Conference’ in London about how yoga is particularly beneficial for young people.

She is also a youth ambassador for the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) – the governing body of yoga in the UK.

Robin also works with the Medical College of london and is part of an All Part- Parliamentary Group (APPG) for yoga in education.

In September 2015, aged 16 Robin started training to be a yoga teacher, she trained in Bath with Charlotta Martinus a well respected and highly skilled and insightful yoga teacher, who works tirelessly to spread yoga in education and teaches around the world, films with the BBC and goes into parliament to spread the word that yoga is beneficial for young people. Robin now works with Charlotta and her charity Teen Yoga Foundation as a youth patron. Robin completed training at the age of 17, making her one of the youngest qualified yoga teachers in the world and the youngest in the UK to date. Robin has experienced first-hand the benefits of having this practice by her side every single day. ‘Yoga is like a step by step guide on healthy living – It has transformed my life and I think it will transform yours, too.’

‘I think yoga is an essential tool kit, that everyone should at least be aware of. It provides a solid foundation for when life gets tough, essential for the ever – changing, modern day life.’

‘My yoga practice has taught me how to be truly happy from within, I think if you’re happy then life just flows beautifully – you develop great friendships, people enjoy your company, you feel motivated and your general health and immunity increases… What’s not to love!?!’