Our Teachers

Valerie Johnston, photograph by Kris Keziak

I was introduced to Yoga Asanas at the age of 13.  Living on an Island on the West Coast of Scotland, before Yoga was at the peak of it’s popularity in the West, as we know it to be now.  Practicing individual postures from a book I had been given, from the local mobile library (I hadn’t heard of Vinyasa or sequencing!), This was my practice, (probably more shape making!)in my bedroom or garden, certainly no classes, teachers or social media to inspire or follow. 

At the age of 20, a few years after arriving in ‘the old smoke’, Glasgow, I found my first yoga ‘Class’. Since then over, 27 years, I’ve never looked back. Funnily enough, on that first class, the teacher said to me “You should teach”.  I didn’t take heed for many more years, but maybe the seed was planted.

I have embraced a range of styles and practices throughout the years Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin, Aerial and Hot. ( I had never seen a matching outfit in yoga and certainly nothing ‘so little’, until I was introduced to Hot Yoga! I used to joke, it was the messy hair, I don’t care approach, that drew me in initially, class after class.  Now it was time to sharpen up!

I’ve trained in Seasonal Hatha Flow & Advanced Seasonal, Yin Yoga, Mindful Movement, (which is Vinyasa, dance inspired with dance choreography and graceful transitions), Aerial Yoga and Children’s Yoga, on top I’ve done all sorts of additional courses on anatomy, yoga adjustments, yoga philosophy with some amazing teachers and am lucky enough to own a beautiful boutique studio in Glasgow’s West End and have done so for almost 8 years. A studio that’s been built on word of mouth, which is just as well, as I’m not very good at social media, as you can see. 

For almost the same amount of years, I’ve been taking up to 50 ladies on Retreat to the sunny mountains in the Algarve, Portugal, once, sometimes twice a year with my good friend, yoga teacher, cross trainer fanatic, wild water swimmer and aerialist, Gill or a guest teacher, master of their art. The Aerial Silks, come with us, offering our students a diverse and busy schedule with classes from morning to night.  We even manage some yoga while paddle boarding, for those that feel a little more adventurous.
Yoga has offered me many opportunities from teaching Aerial and Yin Yoga at the London & Glasgow Om Yoga Shows, to being Glasgow’s Sweaty Betty Clothing Ambassador for over 2 years.  Thank goodness for Sweaty Betty, or I would have remained a true yoga scruff, not that that’s a bad thing. Who said you needed to wear something in particular to do yoga, nobody – be you, be comfy!

Ahimsa is at the core of all my teachings and in Dec 2018, with the help & support of Yoga Alliance, I was able to offer other yogis the opportunity to study and share my passion for Yin & Yang (Creative Vinyasa Flow). We started our first 200hr Yoga course, The Power & Grace of Yin & Yang’, which sold out before advertising as did the following year.  We have now added a 50hr Yin Yoga Course, covering everything Yin.

The studio was set up with the intention to ‘give back’.  Every year we sponsor a primary school via Mary’s Meals.  We have been dedicating our fundraising for the last 3 years to one particular school, in Malawi.  We collect food for the local food banks, clothes for anyone seeking asylum and work  with Glasgow’s homeless organisations.  This year during Covid, we have focused on helping the remaining endangered wild mountain gorillas at Virunga National Park. We have a small but strong community, a real melting pot of folk that are full of creativity and kindness, this along with our charity work is what I am probably most proud of.

Yoga is a thread I will keep weaving and working on , I hope for my whole life.  With the uncertain times that Covid has sprung upon us, one of the positive outcomes for us yoga teachers, is we can now reach out further to those that wouldn’t have had the opportunity to practice with us, thanks to all the online platforms available.  Zoom has been our savior, what a blessing to hold our community together and reach out to people from all over the world, while at the same time honoring our duty of care, to keep you safe. 

I’ll leave you with a quote and hope you will come and practice with me,

Val x

‘Life is like a book, some chapters sad, some happy, some exciting.  But if you never turn the page, you will never know, what the next chapter holds.’ Unknown.


Siobhan…

Siobhan Fitzgerald

Currently on a degree in Pranayama and Yoga Therapy in India with my teacher and mentor of the past 15 years, I value all my experience in this field and am grateful I can help others do the same.  Teaching for over 20 years and at present in continuous Advanced Pranayama study at Kaivalyadhama.”

Siobhan  runs courses on  Pranayama, Indian Head Massage & other holistic therapies. Siobhan is also one of our guest teachers on our 200hr Teacher Training programme, covering Ayurveda (She’s in the process of writing her own Ayurvedic TT) and The History of Yoga.  She has a wealth of knowledge, our students love her.  Please keep your eye on events, Siobhan’s workshops and teachings are not to be missed.

Lee Sowerbutts

If you get the opportunity, you must come along to one of Lee’s suspension training classes at the studio, or one of his workshops on Health & Nutrition. His approach and the community he gathers is encouraging and supportive.  You just know you are in the right hands when Lee is about, he walks the talk and sees the picture as a whole.  He encouraged, supported and helped keep our community fit and well all the way through ‘Covid Times’, when our studio was closed, with regular ‘Blasts’ for mind and body.

He’s the first to say ‘yes’ when we have a fundraiser, always up for any fun, crazy ideas we have. His wealth of knowledge on anatomy, health and nutrition has been accumulated over many years of study and training.  Prepare to laugh, sweat and learn! – He’s not one of the West Ends most sought after Personal Trainers for nothing. Proud to have him by our side.

Sandra has been teaching Pilates for many, many years, also a highly regarded Master in Tai Chi & Qi Gong.  On Tuesday LUNCHTIMES ONLINE Sandra will guide you through one of the most incredible moving meditations, you will have ever have tried, Qi Gong. Sandra is also a dance choreographer, working with a group of amazing adults with disabilities within the community and bringing them to the stage at The Kings Theatre, every year to showcase their talents.  We are privileged to have her on board as part of the team.  

She makes you work hard at her 10am Online Sunday Pilates class but you will see results,  she’s a girl with a big heart and a great playlist.  No one ever regrets getting up on a Sunday for Sandra’s Qi Gong or Pilates Class (…and lets face it, you still get a lie in!). Sandra is one of our guest teachers on retreat next year 2022.

Introducing Rabin Panchkoty….where do I start!

Rabin brings his incredible healing energy to our studio and students, through vibrational sound baths/journeys, using handmade Nepalese singing bowls and gongs, made especially for him by Nepalese Monks.

Born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, his grandfather being a highly regarded local spiritual healer, from a very early age, was raised in an environment surrounded by traditional healing holistic techniques and therapies.

Since arriving in Glasgow in the 80’s with not a word of English, Rabin trained and became an expert in Martial Arts, competing in all major national tournaments including the world championship in Tae Kwon Do, as well as training further in Kyusho Jitsu. Rabin has also been teaching Shiatsu for over 11 years, he is also trained in Reiki, Reflexology and Indian Head Massage.

While working with energy, he was always drawn to the subtler aspects and embarked on the odyssey of training in Energy Healing.

Rabin is at present undertaking a 4 year training course in Postural Integration. As Rabin says, taking us beyond the chakras and energy fields. Rabin believes the body has an intrinsic ability to heal and everything we need is already within us.

Such a kind, warm, open spirit, a real blessing to have him as part of our team.

Rabin offers 1-1 sessions, you can get in touch with him privately on his webpage healyourbody.co.uk

Introducing Aga, our newest member to the team.

Aga’s yoga journey started 8 years ago, when she arrived in Scotland. Aga admits it was for fitness first, until 4 years ago, she walked into our studio to her first Aerial Yoga Class.

Aga’s words…

“Then something happened and I noticed subtle changes in my mindset and body. I slowly realised, there is so much more, to this beautiful practice. Yoga became my philosophy and I realised, this is what I would like to do, for the rest of my life.”

Aga is a former scientist, who is curious about studying neuroscience of stress, PTSD and other trauma related disorders. Aga undertook our 200hr Yoga Teacher Training programme and is also on a journey to become a certified Trauma, Tension Release Teacher.

Aga has a beautiful teaching manner, shes kind and considerate and holds space, for everyone.

Last but not least, introducing the wonderful Kamila

Kamila has had an interest in Yoga for many, many years, committing to a regular and dedicated practice over 7 years ago, after attending a beginners yoga workshop, where she fell in love with the practice and all it’s benefits. Kamila joined our first 200hr Yoga teacher training, which she describes, ” When the opportunity arose to learn from Val Johnston, I knew I couldn’t miss it. I learnt so much, it was a wonderful experience, meeting like minded people and sharing our experiences. “

Fast forward, Kamila is fully qualified in Vinyasa, Yin and Aerial Yoga, a dedicated, conscientious and wonderful teacher that we are proud to have as part of the team.