Spotlight on East Sussex Yoga Teacher Julie Bickerton

Julie Bickerton is a yoga teacher and owner of the Yoga Hub Hartfield - a beautiful yoga retreat and yoga studio in East Sussex - an area of outstanding natural beauty and near the lovely towns of Tunbridge Wells and Forest Row. She offers bespoke mini yoga retreats that transform the stressed out to the blissed out - including me! I sat down with Julie to find out more about her approach to yoga and life, and why creating a yoga retreat in East Sussex became a mission to spread joy. 

What motivated you to become a yoga teacher?

 I took up yoga in middle age recognising that years of jogging combined with increasing years were beginning to have an impact on me physically. I was also going through a challenging time in my life, the nest was beginning to empty, I had a career I was no longer excited by and a marriage that was on the rocks. My energy was low and I was all out of ideas.

A friend suggested we take a yoga class together at the local gym.

1 class a week became 2 yoga classes a week became 3…

Yoga got hold of me and said: "Follow this thread, there is love, peace, creativity, growth, healing and aliveness to be found if you choose to walk down this path."

I was hungry for change and wanted to learn more so decided to embark on a 2 year yoga teacher training programme with Ruth White.

Becoming a yoga teacher was a means to share with others all that I was learning and receiving.

A chance to flourish and live a good life.

What’s the best thing a yoga student of yours has said to you?

“Thank you sooo much.“

Gratitude always brings joy.

Who is your most important yoga teacher, and why?

I have learnt and continue to learn from some extraordinarily generous and knowledgeable yoga teachers, each one has contributed to my development. Two perhaps stand out as key influencers.

Yoga teacher Kate Ellis liberated me from the performance of postures and made me more aware of the process of developing awareness through practice to build a strong mind/body connection.

I am  drawn to teaching therapeutically 1 to 1. Appreciating the nature of the teacher student relationship as a powerful collaboration. Kate articulates this process beautifully and her embodied relational approach is a rich source of learning for students and teachers alike.

Yoga teacher John Stirk - my current teacher guiding me in the work of the deep body its intelligence and desire for expression. I love the combination of a serious, authentic experiential practice broken up with wit, humour and just plain silliness. So many aha moments under his guidance. The Original Body is one of my most thumbed books. Check it out.

If I could grant you three wishes for your career as a yoga teacher what would they be?

That there will always be someone to teach and learn from.

That my yoga teaching will create life enhancing connections.

That my teaching will have a positive impact on physical wellbeing, mental health and emotional balance.

What has been your most hilarious moment in a yoga class?

I’m not sure that it’s funny but a farting golden retriever who loves to join in when I teach his owners. I suspect he takes the blame way more often than he is actually responsible for!

What projects are you currently working on?

I am collaborating with Helena Skoog - a Yoga Teacher and Forest Guide - to develop Seasonal Yoga and Forest Bathing Workshops in East Sussex.

Waking up the senses, being present to the moment, becoming sensitive to the nature of transition and strengthening a sense of connection to self, others and the environment is central to both the practice of yoga and forest bathing. They combine as powerful tools of stress management.

A summer yoga retreat in Italy - at In Sabina - an hour from Rome. Really excited to be taking my first group to this beautiful place.  It has been a favourite destination of mine for refreshing, relaxing and finding inspiration. 

Tell me about yoga in East Sussex

I moved to Hartfield, East Sussex from London 2 years ago to establish a yoga studio where I could offer yoga classes and bespoke yoga retreats to small groups and individuals in a home from home environment. 

The Yoga Hub Retreat was born. I set out to create an indoor and outdoor space to practice in that nourishes the senses, that is calm, warm and welcoming place that invites guests to slow down and appreciate life. The garden is a work in progress and gardening is a form of meditation for me. 

I specialise in mini yoga retreats (usually weekends) which help stressed out busy people come back to themselves - providing a safe space to work through life's challenges and rediscover life's joys.

You don't have to be a stressed out big city dweller to come to my classes! The Yoga Hub may be tucked away in the beautiful (Winnie the Pooh) village of Hartfield but the studio's reach extends as far as Tunbridge Wells, East Grinstead and Forest Row. 

Name 3 things that are always in your yoga bag

A notebook with teaching points, quotes and inspirations.

 A delicious aromatherapy roller for Savasana.

 My much travelled travel mat. A vintage yoga mat splashed with inspirational quotes 

e.g. Do One thing a day that scares you, Chose a positive thought etc.  It reminds me why I practice and what makes a good life.

What is your must-have yoga accessory?

Something to tie my hair back with, and a blanket.

What’s your nemesis pose?

Padmasana/Lotus pose. I used to be bound by  the belief that I couldn’t really call myself a yoga teacher unless I could ‘perform’ this pose. The truth is my bones just don’t make this a safe place to go in my practice. This pose reminds me that all bodies are different and that there is a need to be respectful, accepting and humble as we practice on the mat and in life.

What is your favourite thing about YogaClicks? 

I am a girl who likes to shop all things yoga and YogaClicks gives me the opportunity to purchase intelligently. On the site I can find good quality, ethically produced and thoughtfully designed items, and when I make a purchase I know that I am supporting women who have been guided by yoga to transform their lives and to positively impact the wellbeing of other people, animals and the planet. 

You’re a new addition to the crayon box – what colour would you be and why?

I can't decide between green or blue so Teal! Green because I love being in nature the green of the forest and blue because it is the colour of calm for me. Blue features in every room at home.

What is the most interesting thing about you that would not appear on your CV?

I failed my 11+ it was a seminal moment and a painful one. I felt ‘ I was not enough’ and I began to learn and develop resilience from that point. A quality I am known for now.

What is your favourite song?

 True Colours Cyndi Lauper gets me every time; I Iike the cover by Tom Odell too.

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Lucy Edge 

is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.