Charlotte Harding finds out how yoga can enrich every part of your life.
Not everyone can claim to have met an Oscar-winning actress, especially one as recognisable as Kate Winslet.
But for Chichester-based yoga teacher Niki Perry it took her a while to register who it was.
“I got a call from someone called Kate wanting to come for a yoga session,” recalls Niki.
“She came in and we went down to my Cowshed and it wasn’t until she was doing the downward dog that I realised she was the actress in Titanic.
“I asked her and we just laughed and laughed about it.”
It was Kate, along with Sweaty Betty founder and creative director Tamara Hill Norton, that convinced Niki to release her latest yoga DVD Transform Now.
“I was doing a session with Kate and Tamara and they were raving about the results they got working with me,” explains Niki.
“They kept saying that I should do a DVD so other people could have the same results.”
The DVD is for everyone with 30, 35, 45 and 75-minute Power Vinyasa Flow Yoga sessions, with one section showing you the beginner, intermediate and advanced moves demonstrated by Niki’s husband, friend and Sweaty Betty’s Tamara.
Transform Now features an introduction from Niki, breathing techniques and interviews with her students, including 70-year-old Christine, busy lawyer Tim, as well as Kate and Tamara.
Niki met Tamara when she was working in London at M&S.
“I was walking down a road in Notting Hill and saw this woman struggling with boxes so I helped her with them,” she recalls.
“It was Tamara setting up her first Sweaty Betty shop, she was telling me how she wanted to set up her own label and have loads of other shops.
“We kept in touch and our paths kept crossing. She has moved down here as well, and we met again at a party and I started to work with her.”
The partnership has seen Niki become Sweaty Betty yoga ambassador and her DVD being sold through the brand.
Passionate about what she does, Niki has always been surrounded by yoga and remembers her mother being interested in the discipline sleeping with her yoga mat by the bed.
Living in London 20 years ago yoga was still relatively new, but once Niki took a class she felt energised and wanted to do more.
“I got talking to one of my teachers and he told me he had learned from Baron Baptiste and said if I was interested I needed to go to Hawaii and learn with him,” she smiles.
“I then had the opportunity to work over there and stayed and learned all I could.”
After moving to Chichester from London four-and-a-half years ago Niki started to run classes in a local village hall with only 10 people taking part, but this has since grown to 50 participants with many seeing it as a great way to keep fit, socialise and meet new people.
“I split them up into groups,” she explains.
“The people who have been doing it for 10 years go at the front, the beginners I put together so I can work with them on the posture and the moves, while the intermediates go in between.
“Many people I have taught have become teachers themselves so I am going to have an assistant to help me.”
The key to yoga’s success, Niki says is that it isn’t an exercise fad but a way of life and a way of being.
“There are so many different styles of yoga that if you have tried one and not liked it there may be another one out there for you,” explains Niki.
“Bikram is very modern and is more physical, whereas Hatha is very slow while others have a lot of chanting.
“I teach Vinyasa, which is about power and flow.
“People don’t feel comfortable meditating so I teach them the physical side while sowing the seeds of the spiritual side so they slowly open their mind to it.”
If there is one thing Niki hopes someone will take from one of her classes it is how to breathe properly.
“We are never taught how to use this gift we are given but it can help in a number of ways,” she says.
“In my sessions I teach them to breath in through their nose and really fill their lungs.
“It is something people can then use if they are feeling stressed and even in labour.”
For beginners or someone wanting to get back into yoga Niki is on hand to help, if it is good enough for an award-winning actress and founder of a fitness wear brand it is good enough for me.
Transform Now is available from to buy online as a DVD via SweatyBetty.com, Amazon or as a download from nikiperryyoga.com
A contribution from the sale of each DVD and video is made to the Africa Yoga Project, which educates, empowers, elevates and expands employability with youth in Africa using the transformational practice of yoga.
100 yoga teachers teach 300 free weekly classes to 6000 people throughout Africa.
To find out more about Niki Perry Yoga visit www.nikiperryyoga.com where you can also view where her classes take place.
This first appeared in February’s edition of etc Magazine, pick up your copy today.