My Life: Sally Griffyn, Director Of Sacred Mastery Yoga

How Yoga Can Give You Peace Of Mind And The Body Of A Twenty-Year-Old

A relaxed mind, the body of a twenty-something and the heart rate of an athlete - is it any wonder why Sally Griffyn traded in her 9-5 for a life full of yoga, meditation and wellbeing?

Of course, like any true well-meaning yogi, she has a conscience and is keen to give back - helping others to change their lives for the better, as she did.

As the director of Sacred Mastery Yoga, Sally runs a regular London-based yoga masterclasses and retreats in the UK and beyond.

She also has big dreams based around how yoga can help teenagers with body anxiety and aggression.

Sally Griffyn

You used to work as a full-time professional photographer and director in a property company, why did you leave to take up yoga as a a full-time career?

I wanted to transform my lifestyle to one of health and vitality, and I get immense physical, emotional and wellbeing from yoga and meditation.

Since getting out of my 9-5, going freelance and setting up Sacred Mastery Yoga - I really have never looked back.

You say you traded the gym for yoga, why is this?

Running round on a treadmill or lifting weights certainly shaped my body but the workouts and gym yoga classes didn't do anything for my soul.

One day my teacher pulled me aside and said I think you'd really like Ashtanga Yoga Mysore style - it is more than a workout, it's a way of life.

I tried it and gave up the gym almost instantly.

What does yoga give you that the gym couldn't?

Physically yoga has given me the energy of a 20-year-old, the heart rate of an athlete and a body of someone half my age.

The mental and emotional journey of yoga is that it helps you face difficulties and clear your mind and see each posture as a symbol of life. Some are easy and fun and then you always hit those mind-bendingly difficult ones. The approach to each is neutral. You are taught to witness the postures neutrally: they come, they go.

There is of course the rush of endorphins after each practice. These feel-good hormones are released after doing yoga so you really feel as if you've had great sex. There's a wonderful sense of calm and my body craves yoga if I haven't done it for three days. That's as long as I can go without it without feeling like I'm being called back to the mat. In a sense it gives me myself. It gives me the time and the feeling of just being me in time and space.

You are a strong supporter of HuffPost's Screen Sense initiative and say you are "living the switch off", can you tell us more about how you do this?

My father is an environmentalist and is working on the negative effects of phones and wifi. He taught me to switch off my mobile phone every night, I don't use it as an alarm clock like other people.

I make an effort to phone people or arrange face-to-face meetings rather than do texts or emails. My lifestyle means that I will get to the end of my life and feel I was there, present, not missing anything, not regretting anything.

In my opinion a switched off lifestyle also leads to a switched on sensibility.

Small stuff never really gets me down, I have health and peace. I can breathe myself into a relaxed state in minutes, even when angry. I can see the parking ticket that really pissed me off as just part of a journey and don't have to react so harshly… I can let it go.

I can get my leg behind my head and do a handstand and that is the essence of adventure. Life is fun so let's have a lot of fun.

Sacred Mastery Yoga masterclass with Rachel Spain in August 2013

How else does yoga impact your personal life?

My life is completely yogic. I don't eat meat. For me this was not an option due to the cruelty in factory farming and the fact that I love animals.

My love affair with Ashtanga yoga was love at first feel. The whole experience was much harder than the gym workouts I was used to and also incorporated intelligent spiritual systems of belief and lifestyle.

Yogis are generally really nice people who care about the planet and each other. They aren't competitive.

If you find yourself looking at the person beside you it only reflects back to you that you are comparing. No person has the same practice and that's part of it. It is about you, wholly about your journey. Getting on the mat is like coming home for me.

Do you have any practical tips to help people incorporate a similar sense of wellbeing into their lives?

The most practical tip I can give is to try a yoga class no matter what kind of yoga it is. It can get you on the mat. We run classes in London and retreats both in the UK and abroad.

Then for those at home a huge benefit can come from the moment before you go to sleep. Breathe deeply into your belly and relax. Take 5 deep breaths and fill your lungs and belly and breath out with a sigh. Then review your day. If there was anything you didn't feel good about, rewrite the script. If it was a bad job interview, visualise that you did really well and imaging your happy face knowing you did well. Then let go.

In the morning before getting out of bed just take a moment to create your day. Tell yourself it's going to be a great day.

Then breathe, stretch out your arms as you get out of bed wide wide wide and imagine a glowing light in your heart and expand it from your heart to your whole body and say "life is great".

Sally Griffyn

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I am now looking to run classes for disadvantaged teenagers and am calling it YO YOGA. I know that if we taught yoga in schools there would be a shift in all the demoralising values that teens feel.

Girls are obsessed with looking like models and feel ugly and are on diets. Boys are angry and competitive with each other. Yoga for teens will get into the parts that nobody gets to.

My wish is to take this tough dynamic yoga and work with young people to help them feel good about themselves.

They get to be real about their lives. The mat is a great teacher. You go there no matter how you feel no matter whether it's a good day or a bad day. It's a great leveller.

HuffPost UK readers can enjoy a 15% discount to Sacred Mastery Yoga's Halloween Retreat (Friday 1 - Sunday 3 November 2013) to claim email Sally directly.