Monday 27 November 2023

Hypermobility, Anxiety, Sensory Hypersensitivity and Me...


In my life I’ve read several life-changing books. Both fiction and non-fiction books have contributed to my understanding of the world and people around me. However, a couple of books I have recently read have been fundamental to finally starting to understand myself.

I originally purchased these books to help me with my work at The Nerve Injury Clinic – where I provide rehabilitation yoga to some of the patients. I wanted to increase my knowledge for when I’m working with hypermobile clients. So sought out a few books on hypermobility, particularly with regard to yoga.

One was a book by a very experienced yoga teacher who has hypermobility in the form of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)

I began reading and found everything very interesting, then some of the case studies and quotes from people that were presented in the book started to resonate with me in profound ways. I’ve always known I’ve had some natural flexibility and liked tying myself up in knots when I was a child. Then I trained that flexibility even more when I began doing yoga more seriously in my adult life. I never felt like I was bendy though – I knew people were telling me I was and seemed impressed when I did the splits or ‘pancaked’.  In all honesty, I felt rather clumsy and not elegant in my movements, but uncoordinated, and very awkward at times (both physically and socially). I was terrible at team games as I felt I had no idea what was going on!

This book and some discussion with experienced body work practitioners, has helped me realise that I do have hypermobility (falling into the generalised joint hypermobility category) and I also have some of the things that often go hand in hand with it. (I score moderately high on the Beighton scale which is a measurement for hypermobility). For example, many people with hypermobility experience increased levels of anxiety, which I often experience and I work hard to manage. It makes sense that if your body doesn’t feel particularly stable, that is going to affect how safe you feel. But of course, we only know how we feel and that becomes our ‘normal’.

Like many hypermobile folk, I have some sensory hypersensitivity too – particularly lights and certain sounds, yoga has definitely helped manage that. In social situations I used to use alcohol to help me manage this sensitivity, this is not an approach which I would recommend, as this in itself brings an anxiety when it wears off! I'm teetotal now and these days I limit how much social stimulation I get – it’s necessary for me to do this so I can function effectively in the world. If I don’t do this – I feel I want to shut down completely, and go and live in a remote place! I love social connection – but I’ve learnt I don’t need a lot to feel satiated and connected.

Sadly, some health professionals advise people with hypermobility not to do yoga, but I think we have be specific – there are probably some forms of yoga with emphasis on end-range movements/extreme postures that are the last thing a hypermobile person needs, but yoga that focuses on strength in the body, resilience in the nervous system and emotional regulation can be incredibly helpful.

I have also found running and weight training in tandem with my yoga practice is key to ensuring my joints are supported by strong muscles and that I can at last feel safer in my own body…

Photos: Me when I was about 8 or 9 years of age.



Wednesday 17 May 2023

The Stuff of Dreams...

Apparently Paul McCartney wrote the song 'Yesterday' in a dream... well it was the melody anyway! That's what we are told. The reason I've been reflecting on this is because I woke up recently with a phrase in my head, it had come to me in a dream and I'm not sure if it was someone singing it, or just reciting it. I don't even know who that someone was and everything faded so quickly from my memory when I awoke, but I made a point of remembering it. "Wrapped in a cloak of empathy" - that was the phrase. I have no idea what deep recesses of my brain this came from but it certainly evoked a feeling in me. It made me think that this is exactly how I'd like my clients and class members to feel. Not suffocated and stifled, not overwhelmed, but gently wrapped in a cloak of empathy.

I think this is especially true for my one to one clients as many of them have been through the mill with various life challenges and each one has shown such strength and courage and I often feel completely humbled by working with them. Expressing and feeling empathy towards people I work with, feels as important as the practical movement based aspects.

To know someone holds space for you - is not feeling pity, but is sitting alongside you with quiet and unwavering support is priceless. This is what I try to do - not to fix people, but to guide and show tools and practices which could alleviate some suffering. I have a long way to go with this work and there is always room for improvement. Yoga can be such a powerful framework for deep healing, often this is missed by the way yoga is presented in social media. I do worry sometimes people might be put off by the media image of yoga these days. Doing your research is key - finding the right person to help you learn more about yourself through yoga is so valuable. Not someone who makes wild claims and promises, but someone who can open a few doors for you...

To read more about my work see Yogi Claire Hatha Yoga



Tuesday 24 January 2023

Useful Discomfort

When I look back to childhood I often think I was rather a quirky young person, some might say weird, but I'm sure when we look back, we all find idiosyncracies and remember behaviours that seem a bit odd.

I can remember lying in bed in the Winter and noticing how warm and snug I was, but used to take the covers off for a while, to get really cold and shivery and then quickly get back under the cosy covers again - just so I could enjoy the feeling of warm snugness even more! 

In a similar vein, I did a lot of horse riding and I loved getting cold when going out on the horses in the rain as it felt so good coming home to a hot drink and a steaming bath. It was as if I appreciated the warmth and comfort even more. I suppose at a young age I understood that to enjoy one thing I needed to experience the opposite. To appreciate warmth, I need to know cold, to enjoy happiness, I need to know enjoy satiety, I needed to know hunger. It's a simple idea, but one I often think about.

I'm not sure where this came from - as I did start the bed covers thing at a really young age. I'm wondering if my Mum (who most of you know is a yoga teacher too) taught me that things are not always how we want them to be and that having somewhat uncomfortable experiences happen to us, can enable us to feel gratitude when something good happens. It takes work and awareness, because sometimes I still just want to stamp my feet and say "I don't like this!"

As I get older I do have to remind myself of this - I do find myself getting stuck - wanting things to be different sometimes.

In my yoga practice, weight training and my running - this manifests as sometimes feeling discomfort...but reminding myself that I need to know discomfort in order to appreciate those moments of comfort and contentment. It is a constant practice though and perhaps doesn't come as easily to middle aged me, than the me that was 5 years old snuggling under the covers!

What were your little idiosyncracies when you were a child and what purpose do you think they served? Did they come from a deep instinctive place?

(I do acknowledge how lucky i was to have a safe and secure childhood, as I know it is sadly not the same for everyone)

Above image from The Man Made of Stars - Illustrations by Lisa Evans 

For more information about my classes see


Tuesday 27 December 2022

Year Compass Time...

It's Year Compass time again!  

If you’ve never heard of this, it’s a wonderful, free, online resource to help you evaluate the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead. It asks questions so you can reflect on what happened throughout the past year and what you hope for in the next. I usually complete mine on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, it has become a ritual for me now.

This is not about New Year's Resolutions...

The Year Compass looks at all aspects of life, so it can help you to see if life has been in balance or not. For the record I don’t think we ever get perfect balance; well maybe for a nanosecond, I think it’s more that we are constantly “balancing.”  Our lives are like very sensitive scales – easily tipped in one direction or the other.

There is something special about the contemplation of the questions in the Life Compass, but also the physical writing down of thoughts and feelings in response to the questions. But the real fascination for me is reading the previous year’s book. I’ve been doing this for about 6 years now and even from one year to the next I’m intrigued by what I’d written down 12 months prior. Some things I don’t even remember writing! On occasion I’ve felt some things I’d written were penned by someone else…we can change and evolve so much during a year.

One of my favourite quotes is by Joan Didion, “I write entirely to find out what I am thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear” – this is very true for me, sometimes my mind is a tangled jumble of thoughts, but spilling it all out on paper helps me to process, organise and integrate it all. Whether this is my weekly email to my subscribers, my blog or simply a scribble of thoughts in an old notebook. Free writing has also brought me some incredible insights, but I only started doing that after using more structured techniques like the Year Compass.

I would encourage everyone to check out the Year Compass website and print the booklet, get a brew and go through it, but remember to put it somewhere safe, so you can find it next year! I have hope that 2023 will bring much joy, but am open to whatever unfolds! 

To print out The Year Compass, visit:

For more info about my classes visit:

Thursday 28 October 2021

What Do I Do Next?

When my husband caught Covid back in August of this year, I took the decision to cancel my classes for 7 days, this was just before a planned break when we had a holiday booked in Wales. 

When you are self employed - you budget and plan for the holiday time, accepting there is no holiday pay! But when struck down by illness or when circumstances (like my husband having Covid) forces your hand, then it can be challenging to admit that the best course of action is to stop and accept things. 


 It seemed the universe was conspiring to make me take a bit more of a break from my work. (In fact by law I could have run my classes but I knew the stress of knowing that it was quite likely I could contract the virus at home, wasn't worth it. I do work with an older population in some classes and did not want the worry of putting people at risk. In the end I didn't catch it thankfully)

So I was gifted some more time after having not enough hours in the day to do all the work-related and domestic jobs. I was actually quite gleeful at the thought of getting up to date with emails and sorting my admin. Paying all outstanding bills and tidying my house. The ticking off of chores on my to do list is very rewarding for me - sad but true!

However, as I was sorting through everything - I got to thinking, what happens when it's all done? When the laundry is all clean and put away. All my class plans neatly filed, class registers checked and double checked. Videos edited and uploaded. Venues paid up. Invoices sent. School uniforms bought and house looking spic and span (our house has never been spic and span!). I imagined myself sitting there with everything done... and it was utterly terrifying. I'm sure I would feel I was in free-fall, totally ungrounded...this was very interesting to me. I had been moaning about the never ending amount of stuff that needs doing, but the thought of everything being done was a terror inducing thought.

I laughed at myself! I actually spoke out loud and said - 'you're never bloody satisfied!'  In truth - all the stuff that I want to get done will NOT all get done and that is ok. 

Having time to actually step back from all the things that need to be done is important. Knowing that all the 'stuff' will never all be truly done is quite a relief, especially as I've now discovered - I don't want to get to that point you?


Wednesday 29 September 2021

Being stressed and how we get there...

A few months ago I had a really stressful week. Not full of death and destruction, just things not going according to plan in any way.  I like to think I am ok at handling stress - I do lots of practices to assist with this, like yoga of course, but also running, some breathing techniques, and cold showers (occasionally!) 








With my running and the cold showers - I'm deliberately bringing my nervous system into a state of arousal or a kind of stress. There are many reasons for doing this - boosting ones immune system being just one of those. So my body and my mind are quite used to being stressed in this controlled and practiced way. 

However, the week in question started with many of my plans for re-opening my yoga classes after lockdown being scuppered by one of my venues being unable to open up after all. This was after I'd booked everyone in and checked everything was going to be ok. Very frustrating, but not the end of the world.  

A few days later I was scheduled to have a heart monitor fitted for 3 days to keep a check on how things are with my ectopic beat, nothing majorly stressful but it's good to keep an eye on it, all fairly routine. Anyhow - the monitor was faulty and beeped an alarm every few minutes - even through the night, which led to no sleep. By this point - I'm feeling my cortisol level rising, feeling anxious, agitated and very grumpy. Plus so many messages and emails coming in from class members trying to book on classes, which is great, not complaining about that, but there were a lot in a short space of time. Then another of my venues sent an email of concern which I later found out had come to me in error!

Then there were all the other little day to day niggles on top of all of this - you know the ones, like the failure of the dog poo bag (there are two things in life that you do not want to fail on you, one is your heart and the other is a dog poo bag!!)

Add to this my old tinnitus problem rearing it's ugly head - (after many years of being at a low and manageable level) This made for one great big stress soup. Anyone who has tinnitus will know that stress can make it way worse and in my opinion, can actually bring it on.

I kept wondering how all my practices of stressing out body and mind in a controlled way, was different to this stress. This stress was out of my control, I had not instigated this stress so my narrative around it was very different. In my neuroscience study I have come across this idea from several professors of the subject, suggesting that it's not just the occurence of stress that is of note - it is HOW we got there and did WE have anything to do with it. Yes, it might seem obvious, but often we may think that stress is just a physiological response to some stimuli - but the narrative we have around that can have a massive impact on HOW we experience it.

Things calmed down a bit after that week and I got some decent nights sleep, my tinnitus faded back into the background again, so I'm thinking my cortisol levels balanced out to where they should be, higher in the mornings to get me going, but gradually reducing throughout the day - which is how things operate best for all of us.

If you feel you need some help with stress management, get in touch, I may be able to help you. 


Friday 2 July 2021

A History of Connections

Sale Moor Methodist Church

May 2021 saw our return to the yoga room, after another long period of teaching online due to the lockdown. It was truly wonderful to be back in the church for my Thursday evening classes (and for the moment on Tuesdays too) as well as some other venues in Sale.

It felt familiar and grounding to be back, after all the uncertainty and challenges of the past year. The smell of the church, the familiarity of the space - like the bricks and mortar were welcoming us all back.

I've taught yoga here for over 10 years and as many people know I have strong connections to this church which date back generations. My Mum attended Sunday school there and my Grandparents were members of the congregation. I went to playgroup there in the 1970s and still remember the polka dotted milk beakers we were given. I attended Brownies there in the 1980s and even had my 10th birthday party in the cellar with my Dad as DJ (this was 1983)! See the photos below - for a good laugh!!

Mum and Dad looking like 80s icons!



 Me and my big sister - yes that is me with a scarf round my head, I always did like to experiment with interesting 'fashion' choices.





 Dancing in the cellar at the church. My Dad was blasting out some 80s bangers! 


Then my own children attended playgroup there, and my eldest went to Paintbox - the childrens art club run by the church. My eldest also attended Friday night youth club where he played table tennis in the same cellar I'd had my party all those years before.

I've been teaching my yoga classes there every week for years and holding many Saturday morning workshops, which are always well attended. They are really social events and the yoga is just a part of it - the gathering together is the main focus. 

Interestingly, some contacts I have are researching the history of the church. They have found documents relating to the building, which include someone with a surname of Darbyshire (my Mum's maiden name) There is also mention of a dwelling in Sale Moor where we know my Great Grandparents lived, near the boundary of Manchester and not far from the church, and apparently meetings were held at this house before the church itself (as we know it now) was built. We are still trying to find out who the person is as we only have an initial so far. But it seems they may have been a significant figure in the setting up of the very church that I teach yoga in and have had so many connections to! No doubt there will be a part 2 of this blog once we find out more.

No wonder I feel so at home there. It really is a great hub for the community of Sale Moor - with all the groups that meet there and all the events that have been held there over the years. 

I am hoping that next year things will be more like they used to be, with craft fairs, the May fair and Christmas Fair all going ahead again. Not to mention some more of my yoga workshops and my continuing classes. These community buldings are so important to everyone who use them regularly.

I also think it's pretty cool that if I stick my head out of our loft window at home - I can see the roof of the church, and I did that many times over lockdown, thinking one day we will be back practicing yoga there - and thankfully, now we are!