THE Creativity Chronicles

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Studio Sessions: Keren Cooksey, Falmouth Yoga Space

June 13, 2017

I’m not going to lie, I’m new to yoga. I tend to dabble a bit, leave it a few years, dabble again, leave it again etc but my commitment for 2017 was to attend ‘regular’ yoga classes.
Let’s define ‘regular’ – I’m thinking biweekly is pretty good. Well, my first class of the year ended up being the end of April but I’m starting to find my rhythm I think. It helps that I’ve found a good yoga studio. I always dread being pulled out of my world of chaos and deadlines to press pause for an hour as it feels counter productive but I leave every class feeling more connected to myself, more enlightened, calmer and with a better perspective on the world.
There are no deadlines in yoga, no smartphones, no client demands, no distractions. Just me, the mat and my breath.  Oh, and Keren. Keren is my yoga teacher and she runs the Falmouth Yoga Space. Over the past few months of being taught by her I really watched her and listened to her practice. What I got a sense of was her strength and beauty, she is definitely a wild woman and creative soul. I took the opportunity to interview her for the Studio Sessions and I found reading her answers that she was even more interesting and awe-inspiring than I ever would have known lying in Shavasana and listening to her voice. I’m honoured to share her interview with you today…
What made you start Falmouth Yoga Space?
 
I moved to Falmouth in December 2014 after living in Australia for over  decade. The original plan was to move to Cornwall for 18 months to be closer to my family (I’m a single Mum with a little man) and then head back to Brisbane. 
 
Once I settled, I started looking for places to teach and it was all church halls and gyms. I then saw a little shop advertising for tenants on Killigrew Street. It worked out cheaper to lease that shop than to hire a variety of halls. So in February, 2015 (after being in the country for 2 months) Falmouth Yoga Space was born.
 
How did you get into yoga initially?
This is a bit of a long story but I’ll try and condense it! I practiced yoga on and off during my uni years and while working in London in my early 20s. But then in 2002 my sister fell quite seriously ill and had a bone marrow transplant in Bristol. I quit my fashion PR job and moved to Bristol within a week of hearing she’d been admitted into hospital. Right near the hospital was a yoga studio called Bristol City Yoga and it became my life raft during a very stressful time of my life.  I sometimes went three times a day – to move, to breathe and to empty my head. I practiced at that studio until I left for Australia in 2004 (my sister made a full recovery!)

Where do you get your inspiration from?
 
I take my inpiration from a variety of sources but mostly these:
  1. The Hindu myths – I am what we call a Bhakti yogi – bhakti yoga is the yoga of love and devotion and part of the practice is storytelling. I love the Hindu myths, they are full of colour and wild characters and a lot of my classes are themed around lessons pulled from these myths
  2. Ayurveda – Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga and it influences my life and my practice on a daily basis. I’m very excited to be starting my Ayurvedic practitioner study next year once my son starts school and I have a little more time!
  3. Life – my classes are often themed about whatever happened that day. For example yesterday I spent a long time playing pirates on the beach and then playing on the rope swing my my little dude. My class last night was themed around the concept of playfulness and it’s importance
 
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned on the journey of running a yoga studio?
I actually own two yoga studios, one in Brisbane and Falmouth Yoga Space. We ( I have a business partner and friend in Australia) have been running the Brisbane studio for 10 years now and I don’t think I would have taken the risk of opening one in Cornwall if I didn’t have the experience under my belt. Learning what works and what doesn’t work so that this studio wasn’t a huge risk for me as a single Mum and provider for my son.
I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learnt is to be truthful to who you are. I could strip out the spiritual aspect of yoga and know that I would probably be playing it safe and keep more students but to me the philosophy, spirituality and bhakti aspects of my yoga practice are the most important thing. So that is a bit aspect of a practice at FYS. People can then choose whether that resonates with them or not. 
 
What does a typical day look like?
 
Ha! Who knows! I work in a marketing job three days a week, teach six classes a week, run a teacher training which is one weekend a month (and a whole lot more inbetween), do the admin for both studios and market them. My days are mixed up of all of that and of course finding time for the two men in my life – my little cyclone and my amazing partner. It’s a huge juggling act but I feel very blessed to have the life I do.
What is your advice to someone interested in learning about yoga?
 
Find a good teacher that you resonate with. there are so many different styles and approaches to yoga and there are some amazing yoga teachers here in Falmouth, so if one style doesn’t work for you, rest assured there will be one that does and I am always happy to recommend other teachers and studios that would suit what a person is looking for. I’m passionate about community and I like to think the yoga scene in Cornwall is very much a community not a competition with one another. 
 
What book most inspires you? 
 
So many! But if I had to pick one, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I will never stop reading this book again and again and again. 
 
Why Falmouth? 
 
I had been to Falmouth just once before I moved here. I picked it because it was by the sea, has a beautiful energy and a vibrant cultural scene. As I mentioned, I always intended to just stay for 18 months but that was almost 3 years ago and now I own a little cottage, am very much in love, have just moved the studio in a new bigger space and my son starts school in September, so I don’t think we are going anyway just now!

What is your biggest achievement in business?

Owning and running two successful yoga studios as a single Mum. I’m very proud of this achievement. Also writing and developing my teacher training course which has now trained almost 90 yoga teachers across the globe!

What other creatives do you love and take inspiration from? 

My partner Owain Stratton is an amazing photographer and the way he sees something never fails to inspire me, he’ll see beauty in places that I have passed by without a second glance.
I am a massive poetry fan and poets such as Mary Oliver, Christopher Poindexter and Hafiz (plus a million others) continuously inspire me.
I feel very lucky to live in Falmouth which has such a creative energy about it – so many people in Falmouth inspire me by doing things a little differently – such as yourself Jess!
 
Why would someone take up yoga? What does it offer them?
Ah, the million dollar question. When people ask me why I practice yoga I say because it makes me a better person. I’ll leave that there.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

A meerkat. Constantly curious about the world.

 
What are your creative ambitions?
 
I would like to undertake my Ayurveda studies next year and then begin a practice here in Falmouth first and foremost and I would love to start writing again (I kinda just don’t have the time these days!)

What 3 words sum up your life?

Caravan of Chaos – hahaha but one full of love!

 
What are you most looking forward to for the second chapter of 2017 and 2018? 
Building the new studio, living life surrounded by those I love and beginning my Ayurveda studies.
 ***
Thank you Keren, what an inspirational interview, I’m looking forward to practicing in the new studio under your guidance. Namaste!

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