This week London Living was lucky enough to interview Carolyn Cowan, one of the leading Breathwork practitioners in London and who Vogue named as one of the top yoga teachers in the world.
Carolyn is also the founder and mastermind behind ‘This Life Divine’ a new 3 day online event filled with incredible yoga, breathwork and workshops, all taught by some of the UKs leading teachers and therapists, and designed to help Londoners (as well as everyone else in the world!) looking for tools, transformation and freedom from anxious and addictive behaviours. Given the last 12 months, London Living imagines there are quite a few of us feeling like we could use some help in that area, and so caught up with Carolyn so she could tell us all about it just as the tickets went on sale.
Thank you so much for talking to us today. Can you tell us a bit more about the new event you are planning in January to help those dealing with anxiety / addiction issues?
We are a group of yoga teachers and psychotherapists and we have organised a 3-day event that will help those who would like to make some changes in their behaviours. As a yoga teacher and therapist I see anxiety and addiction in the same spectrum, and this event has been designed to help specifically with New Years’ resolutions and with supporting change. I know from personal experience that it is not always easy to make changes, and we hope that as well as the event itself, we will also be able to create a community amongst Instagram and Facebook to help support those who may be suffering with behaviours that don’t serve them. Everybody who is teaching on the event has experience of addictive type behaviours, either personally or via the clients they work with / teach. I myself am an ex-alcoholic, drug addict.
It is very reasonable priced at £75 for the 3 days or £30 for each day individually. And if people can’t afford to pay for a ticket, there are bursary places that are free. (More information about booking can be found at the bottom of this article).
In brief what is your background and why do you feel so passionate about this area?
I myself am clean and sober from alcohol, drugs and gambling for almost 30 years. In all my years of being a yoga teacher (25 years) and as a therapist (20 years) it has been a speciality and passion of mine to work with the anxious and addictive states. I believe there is more to recovery than 12 step work and that when we start to understand what we do with our behaviours, and where our stress and anxiety have their roots, we can create a lot more stability for ourselves and really start to make changes – which is why I feel so passionate about this area. It can really help us to stop acting out. It isn’t always that we act out with drugs and alcohol, which is why I also include anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviours, self-harming and eating disorders.
What sort of classes and workshops can people expect over the 3 days?
We have a huge range of things, across a spectrum of yoga, breathwork, talks and workshops, and we are also theming the 3-days.
The first day is really how you experience your own ‘hell’. So it is exploring the hell states – where we self loathe, where we judge ourselves, where we act out in our behaviours, and we feel we can’t stop those behaviours. So exploring the roots of our behaviour. And there are lots of pranayama (breathwork), yoga, and also some psycho-therapeutic workshops.
The second day explores why yoga helps. So explores why yoga and breathwork helps, and how they help us respond to how we feel.
The third day explores tools for recovery.
People can sign up to the whole 3 days and do all the session– 24 in total – or just dip in and out. There genuinely is something for everyone.
What inspired you to do it, and why do you think such an event is so important to introduce in these times?
I am inspired because the rates of relapse and self-harming behaviours at this time are off the scale. There is so much unhappiness and anxiety and overwhelm, particularly when people are locked down and the compulsion to be on a screen looking at the news, violent programmes and films and porn can escalate and really add to the overwhelm and addictive and anxious tendencies and behaviours. This event is really intended to help people get on a path. My inspiration is that people can really get on a path, and I know that yoga and breathwork really can work with getting them on this path.
It’s obviously been a pretty tough year for most. As well as attending the event, what other top tips do you have for those suffering from anxiety and /or addictive tendencies?
I would say one of the most important things you can do is stretch. In particular, stretch the whole of the front of the body – the face, the neck, the throat, the chest, arms and belly and front of the pelvis. Things like squats, cobra pose, lifting your chin, running, cold water and cold showers will all also hugely help. Get into breathwork practice too – I have a lot of breathwork on my Vimeo and on my Instagram (@carolyncowanofficial) which interested London Living readers might want to try. There’s a section I have been building up called ‘Try This’ and they are mental health ‘bumps’ and they help show how we have the ability to change how we feel through the breaths and stretches.
What have you been doing personally to help get through the last 7 months? Any tips for getting through future lockdowns or restrictions?
I run about 14-15k a week. I cold water dip – I have a cold 1 metre dip in my garden that I go in every day. Yes even now at 2 degrees! I do a series called the Tibetans which isn’t yoga but is a series of postures that I find help, as do many of my students. And I do 9 minutes of breath of fire a day which is life changing. There is more information on my website and Instagram about how to do it.
If you understand you are anxious or addictive, imagine that you have an issue with how your brain and body functions and that means you need to have a routine and self-care in place to work with that and to lessen the impact of that. If I don’t stretch and exercise I am really not good, or nice and I end up offending in as well as out. The exercise and the stretching really works. We all have a system that we can own and we can change, but many of us don’t realise that and feel powerless. I promise you that this 3-day event will give you the awareness and tools to take that power back.
What are your favourite places in London to go and unwind?
My favourite is a coffee shop on the Kings Road, and it is opposite the Curzon Cinema and it is Danish Coffee house. It is tiny but even in lockdown it has been open the whole way through and they do the best coffee in London. I have a huge love affair with Hyde Park. And really love a place that a lot of people don’t know about called the Moravian Burial Ground is a beautiful place to sit and contemplate and simply be still.
How can London Living readers / followers book tickets?
You can book tickets through www.ThisLifeDivine.com and if you pay for a ticket it means you are also gifting a ticket for somebody else to have a ticket who can’t afford to buy their own, which is a lovely thing to do. If you can’t afford to buy a ticket you can just register for a free place. It is very easy.
Have you got any other events, classes coming up that you’d like to tell London Living followers about?
I teach 2 regular classes – 10am on a Tuesday and 10am on a Thursday morning via Tri Yoga online. As well as a huge number of other yoga and breathwork workshops every month. My website and Instagram are full of all the details. Really look forward to seeing some of the London Living readers and followers there. www.carolyncowan.com
If you are interested in working long term with the addictive nature and really understanding how your body and brain functions, I do have a week long training in January called Mastering the Addictive and Anxious Personality. Information is on my website – www.carolyncowan.com and it is a week-long workshop which really does explore all of this. And if you are a yoga teacher, or therapist, healer or body work you can certify to help others work through addictive or anxious natures or behaviours.
2nd – 4th January 2020
The total cost of This Life Divine is £75. You can also book a single day ticket at a cost of £30 per day.
Carolyn and the other organisers want to make This Life Divine available to anyone who will benefit from it/needs it, and have created a “Pay It Forward” scheme.
If you can afford to pay: By buying a ticket, you are paying for your attendance and also making it possible for someone who cannot afford it to attend.
If you cannot afford to pay please register on the website.
Please note: Ticket sales will go towards covering costs of making This Life Divine possible. The remainder will be donated to charity.