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Q&A with Hannah Barrett author of Yoga Happy

Posted by Lucy H on 21st Jan 2022

Q&A with Hannah Barrett author of Yoga Happy

Yoga Happy cover

We’re looking forward to Yoga Happy. What prompted it? Did it evolve from your social media presence or is it something you’ve always wanted to write?

Yoga Happy is the book I wish I’d had in my younger years. It’s an essential toolkit that I know works for me and that I have seen work for many who have come to me for guidance. It shares the tools and practices I learned through my yoga practice that give me strength and resilience, and that even helped me through a traumatic time in my life when my daughter was born.

It’s an accessible dive into yoga, with easy-to-achieve principles and actions that can be used whenever needed – on a yoga mat, at a desk, or even in the car or on the train. I want Yoga Happy to be a resource people turn to again and again.

You launched your app in 2020. What sort of feedback from users are you seeing?

I have been blown away by my app community. Releasing it was one of the best things I have ever done. People from all over the globe are transforming their lives with help of my classes, their positive reviews have been incredibly heartening! I’m delighted to be sharing yoga with so many people and feel so grateful to do what I do.

Who do you think is your typical reader, if such a person exists? Who would you love to read your book?

Yoga Happy shares valuable tools for everyone, but for those who are ‘yoga curious’ and looking to begin their yoga journey, this is the perfect place to start. It’s also great for people who are looking to advance their practice; maybe they have been to yoga classes for a while but want to delve a bit deeper into the roots of yoga and learn how to take them off the mat. I share yoga flows, meditations, breath work and other proven mindful practices that will help to nourish and support you in body and mind.

How do you prepare for a yoga session, and what do you love to do afterwards?

I have two small kids so I know first-hand how finding time for a yoga practice can be hard! I also know that looking after my mind and body is vital to my overall wellness so I prioritise my yoga practice (even if it means getting up earlier!) and try and make it into as much as a self-care treat as possible. My favourite thing is to light a scented candle and put on my favourite yoga playlist. And as for after my practice, a cup of tea is heaven.

Do you listen to music whilst doing yoga? If so, what do you enjoy?

I love listening to music on my mat and my taste is quite eclectic. I love everything from pianist Ludovico Einaudi to French 79 to Moby!

We know how important stretching is before exercise. Do you have any tips for someone who’s never tried yoga before?

Yoga teaches us to live life more mindfully. It teaches us connection and an element of that is connecting to our bodies and what feels good and not so good. It’s so important to tune in and notice when you may be pushing yourself too much. This is particularly true at the start of class and is the reason many yoga classes build in intensity gradually.

We’ve all become much more aware of the importance of healthy eating, and exercise. How do you think yoga could be incorporated into someone’s schedule if they felt a bit daunted by the whole idea?

Start small! Try incorporating 10-15 minutes of yoga into your daily routine. Whether that’s a short and mindful flow or some breathing and mediation. The practices in Yoga Happy are short and simple to help making a new yoga habit easier.

The impact of yoga on mental health seems profound – would you like to see it taking a bigger place in the formal management of mental health?

Absolutely. I think the world is starting to realise that health needs to encompass both physical and mental wellbeing. I love that my children are taught yoga and mindfulness at school already (they are four and six). I also do a lot of corporate workshops and classes on mindfulness, meditation and movement to help combat workplace stress and address how simple yoga movements can help alleviate common aches and pains.

As the UK population ages, how helpful do you think yoga could be in keeping us all more active?

Very helpful! It is so easily accessible, you don’t need a gym, lots of space or expensive equipment. You can learn from a book, online classes or in person. There are so many different styles – you can even do chair yoga as a break from your working day! And it’s so good for your general wellbeing.

Your children often make guest appearances on your videos. Do you have any advice for parents who want to try and encourage their children to try yoga?

My biggest tip is to release all expectations! Make it as fun as possible and if they don’t want to join in it all, that’s ok. My daughter used to watch me and my son do a class and gradually she joined in more and more. Release the pressure and have fun with it!

What do you hope people discover and take away from the book?

I want to help others find calm, happiness and the resilience to navigate the modern world with yoga as their secret weapon. I want Yoga Happy to be the resource people can call upon at any time to help them see glimpses of light, even on the dark days.

What’s the most relaxing part of your day, usually? Do you have any rituals or routines which help you recover from the ongoing stress of daily life?

I have a collection of tools I call ‘happy habits’ (most of which I share in Yoga Happy). These include a morning gratitude practice with my children over breakfast and a daily pause for meditation to help quieten the noise of life.

Is there a place you’d really love to visit, and if so, why?

With the past two years of restricted travel right now I am not feeling picky, there are so many beautiful places in the world! My parents live in the South of France and I haven’t visited for nearly three years now. I can’t wait to visit later this year, it is so beautiful and peaceful there.

The COVID-19 situation has affected us all in different ways. How did you manage in the lockdowns?

My kids and my husband have kept me going during the pandemic. I didn’t think it was possible, but my love for them has grown even more! My friends and my students have also been an incredible support. And my yoga practice has kept me grounded and calm even during some really tough times. Not just the physical practice on my mat, but yoga off the mat. My meditation practice, for example, is a non-negotiable part of my day. It gives me so much clarity and drive and is a much-needed period of silence in the chaos that is life. I also tried to make small pockets of time to be by myself, even if that’s a 10-minute walk with the dog.

Now that we are able to meet up with friends again (fingers crossed it stays that way!) who would be coming to your fantasy dinner party, and why?

As it is fantasy I am assuming we can bring people back from the dead!

Brenè Brown, Fearne Cotton, Maya Angelou, Thích Nhat Hanh and Mother Teresa. I have learnt so much from all of these incredible people and would love to sit down for dinner with them all.

What would your perfect day look like?

At this moment my perfect day would be to visit a sunny beach with my family, with only the sound of the ocean and my only job to swim in the sea, do some yoga and eat delicious food. That’s because the start of 2022 has been a little hectic to say the least and I am craving a pause :)

Do you have a favourite genre or author? What books or authors would you say were significant influences on you?

I adore reading and it’s something I try and do every day even if just 5 minutes before bed. I love all different types of books and often have a few on the go. I have so many favourite authors and genres and it changes depending on what I need at that point in time. Books that have stayed with me years after reading (and that I have read or will read to my children) include: The Four Agreements; The Untethered Soul; The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse; The Giving Tree and Where the Crawdads Sing.

I don’t like doing lists like this though as I know tomorrow I’ll think of a load more and kick myself for forgetting them! There really are so many writers we can learn from.

What are you reading at the moment?

Right now I am reading a yoga anatomy book called Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers, alongside Richard Osman’s The Murder Club and James Clear’s Atomic Habits. Which one I dip in to depends on my mood!

What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved book sets when I was younger. I get so attached to characters (I still do) that I would get so sad when a good book ended. Books I loved include The Chronicles of Narnia; Heidi; The Railway Children and The Magic Faraway Tree.

Thank you very much for speaking to us, we wish you every success with the book.

Thank you so much!

Order your copy of Yoga Happy HERE

Photos by Cecilia Cristolovean (@yogaandphoto)