10 questions with yoga ambassador Niki Perry
Having practiced yoga since childhood, Sweaty Betty yoga ambassador Niki Perry's unique method of teaching has attracted celebrities and athletes alike to her beautiful Chichester barn. To mark the release of her first DVD Transform Now (featuring our very own Founder & Creative Director Tamara), we caught up with Niki to talk all things yoga, charity and The Oscars.
How did you discover Power Yoga?
My mum always did yoga, I would sit in the corner of village halls watching her practice with her friends. Even now she reaches to the sky and touches the floor everyday at 72. So it had always been a part of my life, but it wasn’t until I was living in London 20 years ago that I really started to practice regularly.
What inspired you to start The Detox Kitchen?
It was a fabulous teacher called Ari Iso-Rautio (now owner of Lumi Yoga in Hammersmith) that inspired me to go and train with Baron Baptiste in Hawaii. This was completely transformational for my own practice, my vision and love of power yoga. As soon as I did my first training I just wanted to teach people all that I knew about yoga. After supper with friends there would often be crow pose, headstand and trees wobbling around the place. After relocating from London to Chichester, I started to teach more classes and realised that I could make yoga a career.
Tell us about your DVD?
Transform Now is designed to inspire people to try yoga and receive the wide range of benefits from the practice, including personal empowerment, emotional healing and increased physical health and vitality. The DVD is suitable for every ability - it doesn’t matter how fit, old or how flexible you are. All you need is a small space for a mat, and your decision to give it a go!
A percentage of the DVD will be donated to Africa Yoga Project, can you tell us more about this?
£1 from the sale of every DVD is donated to the Africa Yoga Project, which educates, empowers, elevates and expands employability with African youth through yoga. The charity is dedicated to delivering all that yoga has to offer to the diverse communities of East Africa. Over 6,000 people participate in more than 300 community yoga classes weekly in 80 locations. We also have over 200 teachers earning a living wage by teaching yoga to people who otherwise would not have the opportunity.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about yoga?
That flexibility is a pre-requisite and you need a yoga body before you start. There is no such thing as a yoga body, there's just your body and it is perfect for yoga.
What else do you do to stay fit?
I love the outdoors, so walking my dog everyday with my friends and kids is just brilliant. If I can find a hill to walk up then I love to do that to get my heart rate up. My daughters and I will always have a dance around the kitchen after supper and in the summer I swim a lot, in the sea preferably!
What do you eat to fuel your active lifestyle?
A lot! I never miss a meal and am a big believer in eating 3 healthy meals a day. Breakfast is my absolute favourite and I often make banana pancakes or porridge in the week and poached eggs and anything else I have in the fridge at the weekend. I always have a large bottle of water with me and try and eat an apple once a day – they are so good for you!
When you come to London, where’s the first place you go?
Either the House of Yoga in Putney, The Power Yoga Company in Fulham or Lumi Yoga in Hammersmith. My friends who set up these studios are always there and are so welcoming and I know I will experience an uplifting class.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you?
Letting go of my desire to practice in peace with 3 young children and a dog. Now I often practice with all the girls hanging off me or using my downward dog as the perfect tunnel for their game.
Finally how was going from West Sussex to the Oscars?
Enlightening! It was everything you imagine, star studded and incredibly glamorous. I loved the experience and seeing Leo win his first Oscar and delivering such an impassioned and important speech on global warming was so penetrating and memorable. As was meeting Zorro in the lift!