The Portable Guru
From Pain to Recovery
It was back pain following an accident that delivered me to my first Hatha yoga class, aged 12. Little did I know back then how well the meditation and stress relieving benefits of yoga would help me navigate a demanding career.
For 15 years I held various positions and senior roles in Public Relations, press and communications in well-known organisations including the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF at UN Headquarters, New York and other locations, BBC Comic Relief and other organisations. I know well the pressures and privileges of working in large organisations.
Today, as a Senior Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance Professionals, I bring decades of experience and over 16 years professional experience in the field of health and well-being teaching yoga, mindfulness in the tradition of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) created by Jon Kabatt-Zinn and writing about effective and evidence-based ways to enable people from all walks of life to find equilibrium by taking care of the body and mind so they can be their best at work, at home and in all manner of relationships.
Since that rather painful start, I’ve trained yoga teachers for one of the UK’s first REPs registered teacher training schools in London and provide professional supervision for teachers of both yoga and mindfulness. I am accredited by the UK Network for Mindfulness Based Teacher Training Organisations and also the government and General Medical Council regulated CNHC as a yoga therapist. I am also a trained and experienced teacher of mindfulness for children and young people.
Yoga & Mindfulness for the Real World
I know first-hand the dangerous mix of high pressure environments, the now ubiquitous expectation of immediate response with 24/7 technologies, coupled with professionals with a highly developed sense of duty. And mortgages.
It’s a heady combination that resulted in my being diagnosed with TIA (Transient Icheamic Attack or stroke) in 2003. I recovered quickly, however, confounding the original diagnosis, and put this down to the life-saving practices of yoga and meditation. They helped me bounce back.
Following the TIA diagnosis, I changed the course of my life. I chose a mission of a different kind to my former foreign assignments: to support and inspire others to take personal responsibility for their own mental, emotional and physical health creating a deep core of well-being and happiness to help them surf life’s inevitable waves. It’s a far more empowered way of being in the world.
I’ve seen too many people – past and present – floundering under stress related conditions while waiting for a change in the external situation or in other people. This is a guaranteed path to more stress, anxiety, depression and difficulty.
Today, I offer classes, bespoke 1-2-1 sessions, workshops and retreats in yoga and mindfulness for the public, however, the bulk of my work takes me into the following areas:
- MENTAL HEALTH: working as part of a Therapy Services Team delivering mindfulness to support in and out patients with general mental ill health, eating disorders and vulnerable teens within a psychiatric hospital. I also deliver mindfulness and yoga for well-being for clients suffering from stress, anxiety and depression or those simply wishing to utilize their mind more effectively.
- WORKPLACE HEALTH PROMOTION: since my time as a member of the award-winning health promotion team at Southampton Solent University – UK Flame Award 2014, 2015 and 2016 in Workplace Wellbeing – I continue to deliver bespoke mindfulness courses to help future-proof employees from stress and burnout and support the development of resilient work forces.
- MINDFULNESS FOR CHILDREN AND TEACHER WELLBEING: As the leader of the HeadStart Mindfulness in Schools programme I created a lottery funded teacher training programme in partnership with local authorities and other partners to bring mindfulness into schools. The research undertaken by Southampton Solent University shows significant and promising results for both teachers and children who continue to use mindfulness. I continue to consult, teach and advise on mindfulness in education.
- 1989 – 1991: Yoga for Health Foundation – assisting at a residential centre to support visitors with variety of conditions: M.S., cancer, disabilities, arthritis, pregnancy as well as other rare conditions
- 2002 – present: Teaching yoga classes, workshops and leading retreats in Dorset, Hampshire and around the world
- 2005 – 2007: Stress Busters – Manager of Southampton City Council’s Healthy Living project GP referral programme for stress, anxiety, depression. The innovative programme combined gym-based exercise, yoga , meditation and relaxation
- 2009: Yoga Professionals – Course Director training yoga teachers for a Level 3 CYQ/REPs qualification in Hatha yoga.
- 2011 – 2016: Solent Health/Southampton Solent University – Health Promotion Officer working in the health promotion unit, Solent Health, designing bespoke well-being services for staff, students and external organisations, resulting in winning the prestigious UK FLAME Award for Workplace Well-being in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
- 2013 to present: Running MBSR courses, workshops and retreats for organisations and the public.
- 2014 to 2016: Solent Health – Project Development Manager of pioneering Big Lottery funded programme called HeadStart to bring the benefits of mindfulness to school teachers and young people in Southampton and the New Forest
- 2016 to present: Priory Hospital & Wellbeing Centre – Mindfulness Therapist within Therapy Services team supporting patients with variety of mental health issues – eating disorders, general adult and adolescent wards
- for staff, students and external organisations, resulting in winning the prestigious UK FLAME Award for Workplace Well-being in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
2002 – International Sivananda Vedanta Centre, Kerala, India – Yoga Teacher
2002 – Yoga for Health Foundation, Biggleswade, Beds. – Remedial Yoga (yoga therapist)
2005 – NASM/David Lloyd – Fitness Coach
2005 – Wright Foundation – GP Referral Exercise Consultant
2007 – International Sivananda Vedanta Centre, Vrindavan, India – Advanced Yoga Teacher Diploma
2008 – Yoga Professionals – Hatha Yoga
2013 – Bangor University – MBSR Teacher level 1
2013 – Oxford University – Mindful Movement
2014 – Bangor University/Mindfulness in Schools Project – paws.b teacher for children
2015 – Bangor University – Mindfulness Enquiry training
2015 – Bangor University – MBSR Teacher level 2
2016 – Bangor University – Supervision training
2017 – Mindful Schools – mindfulness for children and adolescents
Publications & Papers
Webber, L., Bailey, L., Doyle, M., Zaman, Y., & Dunn, C. (2016). Southampton HeadStart Pilot of Mindfulness in Schools Project: The effect of Paws b on behaviour and resiliency in children. CMRP Conference 2016: Mindfulness supporting all aspects of family life. Bangor, Wales, 8th-11th July, 2016.
Webber, L., Scott, H., Zaman, Y., & Dunn, C. (2016). Understanding the role of mindfulness practices in fostering student wellbeing. Learning and Teaching Community Conference 2016. Southampton, England, 24th June, 2016.
Webber, L., Tijou, I., Zaman, Y., & Dunn, C. (2016). HeadStart Pilot of Mindfulness in Schools Project: The effect of MBSR on stress and wellbeing in teachers. MiSP Conference 2016: Mindfulness and Education Well-being and resilience for young people. London, 22nd January, 2016.
In my free time I enjoy travel or watching travel documentaries, learning languages, mother nature, hiking outdoors, the gym, music, art and dancing – Argentine tango and historical dances from the Baroque and Regency periods with the Winchester Baroque Dancers and Duke of Wellington’s Dancers.
I am a Jane Austen superfan or Janeite and appeared in a BBC documentary (see below) commemorating 200 years of her death in 2017! I have twin nephews and a niece, who all started practising yoga while very young.