Naomi Annand is the highly respected founder and director of gorgeous East London yoga studio, Yoga on the Lane. She shared the highlights of her journey and what she’s learned along the way in this brief chat with us.
Tell us about your background and how you discovered yoga?
I had always been drawn to meditation and yoga and did some whilst training as a ballerina. It was when my career was curtailed by injury that I truly discovered the extraordinary therapeutic power of yoga, and I have been teaching ever since.
After my initial training I went to live in Vancouver for a while. I gained a lot of experience there and had a wonderful group of teachers surrounding me. I was very lucky to be amongst teachers who were continually growing and learning, this was the stage I was at and wanted to play with all the possibilities. I was teaching hot yoga and trained in Thai yoga massage to help develop greater sensitivity to touch in relation to my teaching practice.
What led you to create Yoga on the Lane?
Yoga on the Lane opened its doors in 2012. By that point I had more than a decade of full time yoga teaching experience, having worked in studios all over the world, teaching all different kinds of people from babies to octogenarians and in all settings: private classes in people’s homes, at the offices of large banks, and in corporate gyms, all of which taught me different things about the practice.
I felt I was ready to create something that could become a home, a refuge from the modern hurly burly. I wanted to create something small, intimate, personal and it was important to me that the studio have a house style so the students could settle and trust all the teachers. Also central to my vision was the creation of a community amongst the teachers as it can be a very tiring and lonely job.
I think it’s worked. At YOTL the staff are friends and support each other on and off the yoga mat. It’s this extension of the practice away from the asana into our lives that I’m most excited by. A steady, mindful, breath-led practice is the basis of this: we lose the music, the distraction and feel the breath within the breath.
What are the biggest challenges in creating and running a studio?
The reality of running a studio is that you work every day. Even when we are on holiday we have reception shifts to sort out at last minute or cover to find when a teacher calls in sick. I step in a lot but we have a toddler so that’s not always possible. Anyone who’s met our little girl Amelia knows she’s a Zen master in her own right but I’m not sure the students at YOTL would be quite ready to take her cues!
What’s your advice for how other yogis and teachers can apply what you’ve learned?
My advice to new teachers is just teach, teach, teach. Teaching is a gift but it’s also a craft and Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient in anything. I’m pleased I waited a decade to open a studio as I feel it’s a clear expression of my practice as it stands now. It’s also crucial you make sure you spend time taking care of yourself. Be conscious of burn out and try to remember to enjoy yourself.
What are you most excited by now?
The future of YOTL is bright. We had sixteen amazing trainee teachers that just graduated in November 2016 and we have lots interested for the 200 hour course next year. I’m delighted to be collaborating with excellent teachers at the studio and feel the community from the inside out gets stronger every year.
To celebrate the community and friendships at YOTL, in September 2016 I started hosting a seasonal evening called The Quarterly. It was an amazing yoga social with a lovely autumnal practice, a meditation and then a psychoactive feast on candlelit sharing tables.
You can find out more about Yoga On The Lane at their website or Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles. The video below sums up what makes this East London institution so special as a refuge from the hurly burly, a space to breathe, but most of all a place of community.
Yoga on the Lane