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Learning yoga with the inspirational Pema Deki

Pema Deki, also known as Emma Slade, has a remarkable life story.  She used to wear sexy shoes and smart business suits, working as an international banking analyst.  Then one day she was held at gunpoint in a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, and from that moment everything began to change.

An amazing story

I don’t want to spoil the story for you.  You can read it all in Emma’s gripping book, which is on sale from Amazon to raise money for her charity in Bhutan.  Emma was overwhelmed to realise she felt compassion for her attacker.  This was the start of her journey through yoga, travel, relationships and motherhood, leading to the beautiful country of Bhutan and the discovery that she was to be a Buddhist nun.

Yoga workshop

Emma has been teaching yoga for many years, both in the UK and in Bhutan.  Once I had read her book I knew I seriously wanted to learn yoga from her. I managed to get a space at a recent workshop in Blackheath.  The class was wonderful.  Emma teaches with a calm authority and a great sense of humour.  The asanas and pranayama covered were very simple, but there was a real clarity and depth to the teaching, and it felt as if we were all learning how to lie on our mats, breathe and bend our spines for the first time.  It was great fun, and wonderfully illuminating.

Stopping teaching – Oh no!

During the workshop,  Emma told us she will be stopping teaching yoga forever this April, as she wants to spend more time in Bhutan and working for her charity,  I was so pleased I had managed to get along just in time. All her regular yoga students must be heartbroken!  But it’s an important part of the yoga way not to become dependent on any teacher, however wonderful. Everything changes!  Emma commented that after doing 110,000 prostrations as part of her Buddhist practice, she felt she never wanted to do yoga ever again.  I’m not sure whether she was joking, or not!

Opening your heart to Bhutan

The charity is brilliant too.  Emma and her supporters provide access to safe medical care, disability aids and basic amenities in the isolated rural areas of East Bhutan.  They are fundraising to build and equip a school for children with special needs.  If you click on the picture below it should take you to the charity website, Opening your Heart to Bhutan.

Is it bringing you peacefulness? 

 At the end of her book, Emma shares some of the life lessons she has learned from her Lama in Bhutan.  This is one of my favourites: when trying to decide what to do, ask yourself this question: Is it bringing you peacefulness?  If not, leave it alone. This is definitely something I need to remember!

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