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 interesting 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 plenty of cycles of burnout and psychological well being difficulties. I’ve at all times labored arduous and put plenty of strain on myself (like many individuals do), and I obtained 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 plenty of scientific analysis to do off the again of a venture 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 academics for 2 months. I began practising yoga on daily basis – I believed, ‘that is superb, I really feel nice!’. By residing with these academics, I used to be listening to about parts of yoga for the primary time equivalent 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 completely different types of yoga. By the tip of two months, it turned an integral a part of my each day routine and I realised that that is one thing that retains me nicely, I wanted to verify this stayed in my routine going ahead.
How did you make the choice to turn out to be a instructor?
I had plenty of time for self-reflection in Panama. I knew that the minute I obtained again to London this factor would fly out of my routine and different issues would really feel extra pressing and necessary. So I felt I wanted to work on this house. I used to be going again to medical college in September, after which I wouldn’t have a lot time and so, I thought of instructor coaching. I believed possibly I used to be doing instructor coaching a bit early however I do know everybody’s journey is completely 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 believed, even when I don’t find yourself instructing in the long run what an effective way to deepen my expertise and understanding. I used to be there for a month, got here again and began instructing within the park. Family and friends got here to my courses and I used to be instructing with reggae music within the background. Two years later I’m instructing 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 prefer to be inventive; I like to know and study traditions and current them in my very own manner. 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 you could simply breathe and be your self, snort, be a bit foolish and check out 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 outdated, I spent ten years rising up within the countryside. Rising up as a bi-racial baby brings its personal id questions. Transferring 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, medication and the instruments to maintain nicely! I would like all of it to come back collectively and hope others need to come and be a part of me, however you must carve your individual 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 longer term or develops 10-year plans saying I’m going to finish up right here… that’s evident from me reserving issues a number of days earlier than I go away! I believe from the time I took a yr out I used to be having emotions of being curious about life-style medication. I’ve at all times loved train and been curious about vitamin, and a part of my disconnect with medication was that there was not any actual concentrate on that. Life-style medication didn’t exist so far as I used to be conscious. I didn’t hear anybody within the medical house speaking about yoga or mindfulness or breathwork 5 – 10 years in the past. In the previous couple of years, I really feel it’s turn out to be extra mainstream. Which specialty? I’m fairly positive I’ll be neighborhood targeted – very doubtless normal apply. An atmosphere the place I can speak to individuals extra about life-style, their each day well being and psychological well being is necessary to me. Presumably sooner or later making a bodily house that integrates medication, yoga, tradition and meals.
How are you navigating all of the stuff you need 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 potential for medical doctors to go half time now. Why not permit this if it implies that employees are happier, more healthy and never burning out and having to depart medication utterly (which some individuals don’t need to do however don’t essentially have a alternative)? I discover amongst my cohort and folks I’ve spoken to, it’s very a lot being on a set path that you must preserve bulldozing by. In the event you don’t have the time to consider another choice, you then simply preserve going. The commonest factor I get instructed from everyone seems to be – ‘simply get by this bit, energy by, then you may calm down’. However once I get by this bit, there’ll at all times be one thing else to do. What if I can simply benefit from the journey? Everybody has completely different visions and targets 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 as of late 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 optionally available module and there was nothing within the core curriculum, however in case you had been in search of it you may discover it. Coming to the tip of medical college I’ve seen issues like Nutritank – medical college students selling the significance of vitamin and bringing it to their friends. I discovered by working with the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance that in Boston a bunch of medical college students had been practising yoga for eight weeks whereas additionally wanting by yoga analysis papers – we had been hoping to carry one thing just like King’s Faculty London however then the pandemic hit. One thing like that may be a manner for people who find themselves within the early phases of their medical profession to know yoga and for it to turn out to be a standard 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 at all times discovered the 2 to be actually complimentary, but it surely comes with a sure mindset – to be open-minded to say, ‘my final aim is to be nicely 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 historic 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 may make individuals shut down.
I don’t essentially see conflicts; I see issues coming from completely different angles and you may take all of that data collectively to assist obtain a aim for you or your affected person’s well being.
How do you go about recommending yoga to sufferers?
I are likely to ask, ‘have you ever heard of it and what do you assume?’ 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 aid/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 discuss it in a constructive manner however not being too slender.
I additionally say each instructor will educate in a different way and in case you don’t assume it’s for you that’s OK – strive one thing completely different. Yoga doesn’t even essentially contain motion. There’s breathwork. Reasonably than say ‘it is best to do yoga’, it’s about opening the dialog of what yoga can appear to be and the way it could 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 instructing in a studio, my expertise has been that always there could be just one particular person of color within the class, which is difficult to disregard when you find yourself additionally an individual of color. By way of my very own instructing and enterprise, I believed, ‘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 apply – it’s one thing that makes me really feel calm. I run a beautiful occasion referred to as Dub Backyard Yoga & Picnic the place we do yoga to reggae and now we have 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 skill – for many individuals it’s their first-ever yoga class. They really feel snug coming as they resonate with the meals and music, and the yoga is one thing they assume ’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 to be?
I take pleasure in having range throughout my week so a lot of my days look fairly completely different. On a hospital day, I’m in work at 8am for handover in A&E then seeing a lot of sufferers throughout the day coming in with completely different situations. Hospital days are at all times busy however attention-grabbing. Within the evenings I’m engaged on the enterprise or practising self-care. A few of my favorite routine days are spent at my yoga studio (Levelsix) doing laptop computer work, ingesting tea and having fun with a lunchtime yoga class.
Has your individual apply modified on account of your instructor coaching?
Once 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 must train!’. The instructor coaching was the place I found all of the completely different types of yoga (yin, ashtanga, restorative). It took me about two weeks earlier than I actually began to really feel my physique and thoughts calm down – I began crying in a restorative class as I forgot how relaxed I could possibly 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 need 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 instructing restorative yoga which is such a good looking expertise – creating an area for individuals the place they will calm down too.
If there was one thing that you’d suggest for wellbeing past practising yoga, what would it not be?
Sleep – good high quality sleep makes such a distinction, and dangerous high quality sleep impacts the whole lot. I attempt to do a meditation each evening earlier than mattress and that’s actually helped.
What are your favorite piece of apparatus/prop to make use of throughout your apply 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 typically have one helpful in case fancy a supported baby’s pose. I discover a bolster actually elevates the comfort and calm I can really feel in a category.
What’s arising for you and Pana?
I’m actually enthusiastic about a number of 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