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Resident Advisor: Ushvani's yoga teacher, Deepa

With more than 14 years of experience, Ushvani’s Deepa sits down with Sloane Street to talk mental and physical wellbeing, and the best places in Chelsea to take a breather

25 October 2022

Deepa, Ushvani's yoga teacher

As this year’s World Mental Health Day centres around the idea of making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority, we sat down with Deepa – who brings over 14 years of experience of teaching yoga around the world to her classes at Ushvani – to discuss the benefits of yoga, learn why it isn’t all about being flexible, and to get some simple tips on improving wellbeing. 


What was your journey to becoming a yoga teacher?

I hold a masters in criminology and psychology and brought yoga into my life as a way to de-stress. In the early ’90s, yoga was not as popular as it is today, but my father practised regularly and so I was exposed to its benefits and saw first-hand what a great path it was to a calmer and healthier mind. 

I started by attending classes but soon realised I was hooked and wanted to teach. I took an intense teacher training course in Southern India in 2003 and, shortly after that, moved away from my previous career to work full time in yoga. 

I took yoga to prisons, using it as a way to help vulnerable people in the justice system, started my own successful studio and have now tailored my work to fit around my family and lifestyle. 


What are the principles of yoga?

For me, the main principle of yoga is the breath and how we can use it to understand the union between mind, body and spirit. 

Often, yoga is perceived as being all about movement, but I believe the breath to be even more imperative.

If you breathe deeply it can be rebalancing on so many levels. When you’re focusing on breathing, your body opens up and offers a release internally, which then can affect us for the better externally.


What are the benefits of yoga?

There are huge physical and mental benefits when you start incorporating yoga into your lifestyle regularly. 

Often, we’re not aware of our breathing and this leads us to breathe faster than we need to. If you breathe slower, oxygen integrates on a cellular level and the body works more effectively – it offers more of an equilibrium. This can help enormously with a fast-paced life – it can make you feel calm, in control and deeply peaceful.


What’s involved in a yoga class at Ushvani?

I practise vinyasa yoga, but the way I teach is slow, through deep stretches, so the body has time to open up. At Ushvani, I also offer a range of private one-to-one specialist classes for pregnancy, and hormonal concerns including menopause and sleep.


Are the classes suited to beginners?

Yes, absolutely. All levels are welcome. The classes are tailored to the individuals in them, so if you come with a friend or partner and are at different levels, you will both still benefit. 


How does yoga impact mental health?

Studies in neuroscience have shown that contemplative activities like meditation and yoga stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for counteracting the sympathetic nervous system – the area that elicits stress hormones and the ‘fight or flight’ response. The more you curb that, the more rationally and calmly you’re able to think.


What aspects of yoga can people take into their day-to-day?

Take breath into every aspect of daily life. You can gain a feeling of being in control of your life through regular yoga and breath practice, no matter what’s going on. Breath is first, and simple stretches can also bring great physical and mental benefits. 


What else can people do to enhance their wellbeing?

My top tip is to get lots of rest. If you can, find a way to incorporate rest into your daily schedule – it’s not an indulgence, it’s a necessity. 

Drink lots of water, eat well, prioritise self-care and breathe. You don’t need to work and live life at 100mph.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

For me, it’s all about helping others get to where they want to get to and to see and watch the transformation that yoga can bring to their lives. 


How do you relax?

I enjoy long, hot baths, do a lot of deep breathing, spend time in nature and am clear with my boundaries. 


Where are your favourite places in Chelsea to take a mindful moment?

I enjoy wandering the leafy streets around Cadogan Gardens, walking up Sloane Street to Knightsbridge and the green space of Hyde Park, as well as strolling along the river – it’s always lovely being close to water.


Ushvani is at 1 Cadogan Gardens, London, SW3 2RJ. It offers a range of spa treatments, restorative therapies and yoga classes. 
Private yoga tuition with Deepa is available on request Monday – Saturday in 75-minute sessions at £85 per person.

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