Rebekah is a medical physician, yoga instructor, wellness entrepreneur and a board member of the Yoga for Healthcare Alliance. She is the founding father of Pana, a platform that intersects wellbeing and tradition sharing yoga, music and meals from the African diaspora and past. After dealing with her personal challenges with psychological well being, she learnt the worth of slowing down and fascinating with mind-body practices. By way of courses, supper golf equipment and workshops, she creates inclusive areas for individuals to nourish their wellbeing and reconnect with themselves and people round them.
Inform us about your yoga journey
Since my teenage years, I had gone by quite a lot of cycles of burnout and psychological well being difficulties. I’ve all the time labored exhausting and put quite a lot of strain on myself (like many individuals do), and I bought to a degree after 3 years of medical college the place I wanted a break. I used to be utterly exhausted, so I managed to rearrange to take a yr out of med college. I had a number of medical analysis to do off the again of a undertaking and determined to go and do that within the Caribbean.
I ended up on an island off the coast of Panama volunteering in a seashore hostel and residing with yoga lecturers for 2 months. I began training yoga each day – I assumed, ‘that is wonderful, I really feel nice!’. By residing with these lecturers, I used to be listening to about components of yoga for the primary time similar to chakras and the eight limbs. Earlier than then, I’d thought yoga was simply poses and stretches however I began to be uncovered to the historical past, the philosophy, breathwork, and totally different kinds of yoga. By the top of two months, it grew to become an integral a part of my day by day routine and I realised that that is one thing that retains me effectively, I wanted to verify this stayed in my routine going ahead.
How did you make the choice to grow to be a instructor?
I had quite a lot of time for self-reflection in Panama. I knew that the minute I bought again to London this factor would fly out of my routine and different issues would really feel extra pressing and essential. So I felt I wanted to work on this area. I used to be going again to medical college in September, after which I wouldn’t have a lot time and so, I considered instructor coaching. I assumed perhaps I used to be doing instructor coaching a bit early however I do know everybody’s journey is totally different – I used to be lucky to have the time and funds then I knew I wouldn’t within the subsequent few months. I discovered one which began in three days, booked it and went! I ended up in Spain at a yoga college; I assumed, even when I don’t find yourself educating in the long run what a good way to deepen my expertise and understanding. I used to be there for a month, got here again and began educating within the park. Family and friends got here to my courses and I used to be educating with reggae music within the background. Two years later I’m educating in studios, have completed medical college and am plodding alongside.
What sort of yoga instructor would you say you might be?
I might say I wish to be artistic; I like to know and study traditions and current them in my very own method. I like bringing new individuals into yoga and serving to them to discover new issues, and love creating an area the place they really feel calm and relaxed. It doesn’t essentially imply being nonetheless and quiet, however realizing which you could simply breathe and be your self, chortle, be a bit foolish and take a look at new issues.
Inform us in regards to the thought behind your platform – Pana
My mum is Jamaican and my dad is English. We moved to Devon once I was 8 years previous, I spent ten years rising up within the countryside. Rising up as a bi-racial little one brings its personal identification questions. Shifting again to London was about exploring my black heritage.
Pana brings collectively my pursuits – it’s all about celebrating black tradition, exploring wholesome Caribbean meals, and serving to individuals from numerous communities discover yoga, drugs and the instruments to maintain effectively! I would like all of it to return collectively and hope others wish to come and be part of me, however you must carve your personal path to do this and take into consideration creating areas that don’t essentially exist at the moment.
You’ve additionally lately began working as a junior physician. At this early stage, how do you see your profession panning out?
I’m not somebody who will get mounted on the long run or develops 10-year plans saying I’m going to finish up right here… that’s evident from me reserving issues just a few days earlier than I depart! I feel from the time I took a yr out I used to be having emotions of being all for life-style drugs. I’ve all the time loved train and been all for vitamin, and a part of my disconnect with drugs was that there was not any actual give attention to that. Life-style drugs didn’t exist so far as I used to be conscious. I didn’t hear anybody within the medical area speaking about yoga or mindfulness or breathwork 5 – 10 years in the past. In the previous few years, I really feel it’s grow to be extra mainstream. Which specialty? I’m fairly positive I’ll be neighborhood targeted – very possible basic observe. An surroundings the place I can discuss to individuals extra about life-style, their day by day well being and psychological well being is essential to me. Probably sooner or later making a bodily area that integrates drugs, yoga, tradition and meals.
How are you navigating all of the belongings you wish to do while additionally working as a busy junior physician?
I work half time. Most individuals don’t know you are able to do part-time as a junior physician – it’s not promoted and you must apply – I particularly sought it out as I knew it was proper for me. It has been extra attainable for medical doctors to go half time now. Why not permit this if it signifies that workers are happier, more healthy and never burning out and having to go away drugs utterly (which some individuals don’t wish to do however don’t essentially have a selection)? I discover amongst my cohort and folks I’ve spoken to, it’s very a lot being on a set path that you must maintain bulldozing by. For those who don’t have the time to consider another choice, then you definitely simply maintain going. The most typical factor I get advised from everyone seems to be – ‘simply get by this bit, energy by, then you’ll be able to chill out’. However once I get by this bit, there’ll all the time be one thing else to do. What if I can simply benefit from the journey? Everybody has totally different visions and objectives for his or her life; my precedence is ensuring I don’t have a breakdown alongside the best way, can navigate my schedule and do different issues I take pleasure in.
Is there extra within the medical college curriculum lately about wellness and life-style?
It’s creeping in. I can see an enormous distinction from once I began in 2014 to 2021. I used to be first uncovered to mindfulness by medical college – it was an non-compulsory module and there was nothing within the core curriculum, however when you had been in search of it you would discover it. Coming to the top of medical college I’ve seen issues like Nutritank – medical college students selling the significance of vitamin and bringing it to their friends. I came upon by working with the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance that in Boston a gaggle of medical college students had been training yoga for eight weeks whereas additionally wanting by yoga analysis papers – we had been hoping to deliver one thing just like King’s Faculty London however then the pandemic hit. One thing like that will be a method for people who find themselves within the early phases of their medical profession to know yoga and for it to grow to be a traditional a part of healthcare going ahead. We’re getting there slowly.
Do you see any difficulties with bridging that hole between yoga and healthcare?
I’ve all the time discovered the 2 to be actually complimentary, however it comes with a sure mindset – to be open-minded to say, ‘my final purpose is to be effectively and wholesome and let me open my eyes to all of the avenues to get there’. In case you are tunnel-visioned and say that is what I do know to be proper and I do know that science is the one factor I ought to belief, after which somebody comes ahead with historical philosophy, it could be straightforward to say that’s nonsense. My avenue for beginning a dialog can be, ‘what have you ever heard about yoga, have you ever ever tried it, what’s your impression?’. Solely from there are you able to gauge what individuals’s concepts and preconceptions are, earlier than you can begin recommending or speaking about this textual content or that – which might make individuals shut down.
I don’t essentially see conflicts; I see issues coming from totally different angles and you’ll take all of that data collectively to assist obtain a purpose for you or your affected person’s well being.
How do you go about recommending yoga to sufferers?
I are inclined to ask, ‘have you ever heard of it and what do you suppose?’ first. There’s an enormous spectrum however I like to recommend relying on what they’re coming in with. The great thing about yoga is that there’s something for everybody whether or not it’s stress reduction/rest, your mobility wants enhancing, you’re getting again ache or your lung perform isn’t good. I open that dialogue with them and level them within the course of ‘take a look at this place, strive exploring this’. So they’re listening to somebody speak about it in a constructive method however not being too slender.
I additionally say each instructor will educate otherwise and when you don’t suppose it’s for you that’s OK – strive one thing totally different. Yoga doesn’t even essentially contain motion. There’s breathwork. Reasonably than say ‘you need to do yoga’, it’s about opening the dialog of what yoga can appear like and the way it is likely to be useful for you.
It’s great to be that one that will get to introduce yoga to somebody. How do you go about getting new individuals to strive it?
When educating in a studio, my expertise has been that usually there is likely to be just one individual of color within the class, which is tough to disregard when you find yourself additionally an individual of color. By way of my very own educating and enterprise, I assumed, ‘how can I attain communities the place they really feel prefer it’s not for them?’. I grew up listening to reggae so it felt very pure to include this in my observe – it’s one thing that makes me really feel calm. I run a beautiful occasion known as Dub Backyard Yoga & Picnic the place we do yoga to reggae and we have now well being Caribbean meals afterwards. I educate it within the park which makes it extra accessible and inexpensive, in addition to permitting us to take pleasure in nature. I’ve attendees of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicity and talent – for many individuals it’s their first-ever yoga class. They really feel comfy coming as they resonate with the meals and music, and the yoga is one thing they suppose ’OK, let me strive that too’. It’s relaxed, enjoyable and there’s no seriousness about it.
What does a day within the lifetime of Rebekah appear like?
I take pleasure in having variety throughout my week so a lot of my days look fairly totally different. On a hospital day, I’m in work at 8am for handover in A&E then seeing numerous sufferers throughout the day coming in with totally different circumstances. Hospital days are all the time busy however fascinating. Within the evenings I’m engaged on the enterprise or training self-care. A few of my favorite routine days are spent at my yoga studio (Levelsix) doing laptop computer work, consuming tea and having fun with a lunchtime yoga class.
Has your personal observe modified because of your instructor coaching?
After I began it was all very vinyasa targeted which is similar for many individuals. In London, everybody’s doing HIT courses, dynamic vinyasa and has an angle of ‘I simply have to train!’. The instructor coaching was the place I found all of the totally different kinds of yoga (yin, ashtanga, restorative). It took me about two weeks earlier than I actually began to really feel my physique and thoughts chill out – I began crying in a restorative class as I forgot how relaxed I might be. I reached a brand new set level of calm in my physique and it was fairly overwhelming. However I knew then – that is the place I do know I can attain and wish to be. From that time I understood the worth of slower practices like yin and restorative and the way important that was for me. I began educating restorative yoga which is such a good looking expertise – creating an area for individuals the place they will chill out too.
If there was one thing that you’d suggest for wellbeing past practising yoga, what wouldn’t it be?
Sleep – good high quality sleep makes such a distinction, and unhealthy high quality sleep impacts every thing. I attempt to do a meditation each night time earlier than mattress and that’s actually helped.
What are your favorite piece of apparatus/prop to make use of throughout your observe and why?
My favorite prop is certainly a bolster! I like doing restorative poses supported by a bolster together with beneath the knees in savasana. Even in vinyasa courses I generally have one useful in case fancy a supported little one’s pose. I discover a bolster actually elevates the relief and calm I can really feel in a category.
What’s developing for you and Pana?
I’m actually enthusiastic about just a few issues on the horizon. I’ve began working with some nice organisations to share yoga, forest bating and wellbeing workshops for younger creatives and folks of color in London which has been actually rewarding. I’m additionally planning my first overseas retreat! We’re heading to The Gambia in 2023 for a fusion of yoga and tradition to rejuvenate and uncover extra about Africa.
Discover Dr Rebekah
Web site – https://wearepana.com/
Instagram – @weare.pana
Private – @zeena.ldn