Diane Lee is a Yoga Teacher who has taught for over 13 years in Bath, a qualified Yoga Sports Coach and owner of award winning Bath Yoga Studio.
Diane’s enthusiasm and love for her wonderful creation, Bath Yoga Studio is inspiring. Her full hearted approach in her classes make it possible to transform chagrin into a positive attitude, worry into a challenge-attitude and to feel more embodied. She has a radar like quality for ‘stuckness’ that she uses to fuse all the knowledge she has in her classes, toward increasing awareness and freedom in the student’s mind and/or body. You can say that she doesn’t mind to poke her finger, even t(h)ough lovingly, in the painful, unconscious or hidden spot to see if it can transform into more space : ) It was a pleasure interviewing her, she has a lot to share and a lot of experience teaching Yoga in Bath, and even though my fingers were typing like crazy, I almost couldn’t keep up!
1. What is yoga according to you?
Yoga for me, right now, is the realisation that the knowledge I have been taught, read about and the lessons that I have learned, can be used in my purpose to help other people to spiritually move forwards and support them. It is about getting clients to feel what is going on inside their bodies and take their minds away from externally focusing all the time.
2. Why do you teach yoga?
I enjoy seeing progression. I feel that I probably have some good attributes in order to help and teach. I have come through some really difficult challenges in my life and want people to take responsibility for their lives and I want to help people. It can be just saying something in class that resonates with people, so they enjoy all aspects of yoga, not just the physical but thinking about the greater context of why they are here, how to become more empowered and how they are the only ones who can take that ownership. Everyone has to deal with something and positively see this as opportunities in life. It is kind of playing devil’s advocate at the front of the class, engaging people in a way that maybe they haven’t thought about before. And Yoga feels amazing! There are so many components that I like about teaching: to help make people sit still, be at ease, enjoy simple things such as learning how to breathe.
3. Name three of your favourite things about yoga.
– Accessing an epiphany that is evoked from a certain posture. It is a very personal thing and you don’t get it every class but sometimes you can understand a blockage, personality trait, or a feeling and this gives an understanding that can help you see through your behaviour and/or see how we hold onto blockages on a cellular level in your tissues.
– The second is to slow me down and to pause to open my breathing muscles, to breathe properly and to have a safe space that you are allowed to release. To just be yourself.
– The third thing is when you are able to still your mind and coordinate with deep calm breath, you become a blank canvas and I think you can then get really good insights into the importance of feeling content, what is important in your life and you step back from your perspective so you can see things clearer and sharper and you have a heightened awareness of changes that need to be implemented.
Yoga is the total opposite, it helps your posture, corrects bad habits, de-stresses and keeps you well.
4. Why do you think people should try yoga?
Statistically, 90% of the people in the UK suffer at one time or more from a bad back and we have an increasingly sedentary life, commuting, sitting at computers and using electronic devices and detaching our head inside mobile phones etc. Yoga is the total opposite, it helps your posture, corrects bad habits, de-stresses, keeps you well. Also, your immune system is heightened, yoga counteracts tight muscles in the body and you just feel more settled amidst a crazy stressful life.
5. Have you seen your audience changing over time, and if so, in what way?
I work in one place now, so it is consolidated into mainly one building where I can see the trends with people that I teach on a regular basis. Rather than seeing them once a week I see them a lot more often. I think that there are tons more yoga teachers, there are now three yoga studios in Bath, so people are seeking yoga more. It is massively more popular because life now seems to have become too tech-savvy, distraction based, materialistic, and we live in an aspiring society, this means that, consciously, people want something deeper in their life. Wherever they start from, perhaps they don’t know what they are looking for, they might want to feel younger or take more responsibility. Nowadays we have more organic foods, there are more healing-trained professionals so people are more health conscious.. When I started 15 years ago nobody would have heard of rolfing (myofascial release) and tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques). Now it has become more mainstream, sitting alongside the growth in Yoga.
I have taught in Bath for 13 years in different spaces, now Yoga is not confined to leisure centres, there are a lot more options. Celebrity has normalised yoga as well, 15-years ago Madonna and Sting did it and now everybody does it, and that has got people’s attention. Once people try it, with the right ingredients from a good teacher and the right style, most like it.
Loads of students do it as well, the students we have at BYS are factoring in regular practice alongside high stressed courses. I see a younger trend coming through, they have grown up with it being cool to do Yoga. Teenagers are way more health conscientious now, with their looks and physical appearance, so Yoga balances any weight training.
Professional athletes use yoga as injury prevention. Now within sport there is so much money involved, because they have to get the people back in the game as quickly as possible. Ryan Giggs played football for Manchester United until the age of 40 and he attributes his longevity and professional career to hot yoga because it prevented injury. This is the same for Andy Murray. So we see professional athletes coming to the Bath Yoga Studio now.
6. Did your teaching method change over time, and if so, in what way?
It was initially Hatha Yoga and then heavily Ashtanga influenced. I outsourced my perceived lack of confidence to other more experienced ashtanga practitioners so I didn’t question deviating from their strict teaching methods. Along the journey, having picked up conflicting information from more medically qualified professionals such as chiropractors, surgeons and authors I have asset stripped the best aspects of yoga from the various courses that I attended or books I have read. To intellectualise whether traditional yoga postures, Marichyasana D is safe functional-wise or attainable to most people. So I went from yanking people’s arms in Marichyasana D and pushing people’s knees so they can slide their arms while in Lotus into Tolasana to a safe approach.
I am a trained yoga sports coach and have learned about the safe approach and focus on core exercises, to use yoga as a way to contain the range of movement into a safe range that can hold through strength because it is not about going over the range.
Most recently personal challenges and grief have led me to a deeper spiritual understanding and authenticity in living yoga as a lifestyle rather than just teaching a class. Having humility is a massive component of that. Once you deal with any deeper routed shame, guilt or fear, your life really opens up and becomes a beautiful experience every minute.
The asana part is just one of the 8 limbs, it doesn’t sort your head out doing this. There are so many other things that help you change and evolve subconsciously (old patterns, belief systems, habits). There are loads of things that helped me, in my 20’s I was very thin and had lots of injuries etc, now coming to peace with who you are, lots of healing means coming to a kinder practice with much less aggressive poses.
Once you deal with any deeper routed shame, guilt or fear, your life really opens up and becomes a beautiful experience every minute.
7. Who are your inspirations in yoga?
My clients inspire me to teach. Having accepted that my purpose is to help and encourage other people: to enjoy yoga, for them to try to ‘get’ yoga and to feel the benefits of yoga, this is hugely satisfying.
Caroline Myss, she writes about energy and chakra’s and I like the way it’s done in a kind yet still feminine way.
Ana Forrest speaks the voice internationally of ‘people owning their own sh*t’, albeit this language doesn’t work for me that well, a little too radical! She resonated with me however, in coming through some huge traumas and dysfunction to feeling at peace with who you are.
Persevere, yoga is a lifelong commitment to your body, your mind and your sense of de-stressing and keeping healthy as it has masses of benefits.
8. Please give 2 or 3 tips for people who want to start with yoga.
– start at the correct level, don’t go to a class or stick with it when it is way out of your league and way too hard. I think you lose motivation and you might end up comparing yourself.
– try different styles and teachers that you resonate with and trust
– persevere, yoga is a lifelong commitment to your body, your mind and your sense of de-stressing and keeping healthy as it has masses of benefits. Discipline yourself to go at least once a week without fail and don’t make excuses not to go, basically commit to yourself.
9. Which precautions would you give when people want to start?
– it is essential to find a teacher who understands bio-mechanics because you are giving your body to someone who has to be qualified.
– when in class, listen to your body, and don’t be pushed to do things that you physically can’t do and intuitively do not feel right.
– It should not be rationalised by your mind, your mind will tell you to quit, freeze or be fearful and it does not mean you cannot do this physically. Do learn how to discern what you cannot do physically or think you can’t do.
– if in doubt, have a conversation with a teacher prior to committing to a class, we do not have to be to polite, a confident teacher will be confident in their ability and set your fears aside.
– steer clear of an egotistical teacher, a teacher that practices throughout the class, that uses your own class for their practice, they are there for you and should demo only.
10. Is there something else you would want to share?
Yoga is really an undulating journey, there is no linear line. Should you wish to take a step into the practice of yoga, is it impossible to separate the physical from the emotional and spiritual benefits that gently start to come into fruition. Trusting your teachers or some great reading material is really important to help you practice yoga off the mat. Human patterning is to avoid looking at how to improve and change long standing habitual patterns that are harmful to us because the journey to change them is far rockier than staying on the same destructive path. A brave person sees it as a slow continuous journey to improvement and to look into the mirror and take responsibility for continual sadhana (practice), try to accomplish this and become more evolved. It can be a hugely rewarding and gratifying ride.
Thank you so much!!
Contact Diane Lee on
and see all classes on
Bath Yoga Studio.