Hannah Barrett is one of Instagram’s most in demand yoga stars, with a following of over 350,000.
But the now yoga instructor, influencer, businesswoman and mother didn’t come to the practice to find solid abs and an ability for bendiness, she found yoga to help rebuild her own mental health after suffering a traumatic birth with her daughter in 2017, and subsequently going through postnatal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hannah now helps thousands of others, especially mothers, reconnect with themselves and realise the importance of establishing a routine of self-love through the practice of yoga, not only through her inspiring Insta feed but her newly launched app.
Continuing our series that speaks to some of the UK’s top wellbeing experts and influencers, we spoke to Hannah about how she has put her practice into good use in the year that’s been tough on everyone. Here’s what she had to say…
What are the things you will look back on from this year, both positive and negative?
In such a difficult and uncertain year there have definitely been some positive lights. Spending more time with my family and being forced to slow down has been so good. We spend so much of our life doing, doing, doing. When we are forced to stop and take things slower, it gives us time to connect and reassess what we are doing, why we are doing it and what our priorities are. Spending more quality time together has been lovely.
In terms of negatives, it’s been really tough not being able to see my parents and in-laws. Both live very far away (my parents in the South of France) and as amazing as FaceTime is, I would give anything to see them face to face for a massive hug.
We spend so much of our life doing, doing, doing. When we are forced to stop and take things slower, it gives us time to connect and reassess.
Has the pandemic changed the way you approach your work and family life?
Yes, at the start of lockdown, recovering from coronavirus myself, home schooling and with no childcare, I found myself overwhelmed and not able to be present with work or the kids, I felt like I was failing at being a mum and running a business.
It was a wakeup call and I decided to be really strict with myself at separating work time and family time. I had to say no to the majority of the things coming in but this was good for me. It made me focus on the launch of my Hannah Barrett Yoga app and some awesome other projects, and at the same time not feel so overwhelmed with work that I didn’t have time to be there for the kids and my husband.
What’s been the biggest challenge in terms of your mental wellbeing during 2020?
The lack of space. It’s felt extremely claustrophobic at times. It’s been so important to find time to have a bit of space on my own, even if it’s just taking 15 minutes in the park with the dog. When you have small children, as amazing as it to have cuddles 24/7 and someone always following you to the toilet, it’s also important to have a break if at all possible.
What advice would you give to others to navigate the strange times we’re living through?
Firstly, find something that you love. Something that when you’re doing it you are 100% immersed and present. It could be colouring, reading, yoga… the list is endless. Now prioritise time to do that thing. even if it’s for 10 minutes three times a week. Find time for looking after yourself and nourishing yourself.
Also have a real think about the split between work life and relaxing. With most holidays and weekends away off the table and lots of us stuck at home most of the time, you have to remind yourself to take a break. Over the summer I was really struggling with feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion – I realised that I hadn’t had a day off since February. No day where I didn’t think about work and just enjoyed time with the family. It’s so important to take a break or take a holiday, even if you aren’t able to leave the house or country.
What’s kept you going and staying positive?
My kids and my husband have kept me going over 2020, I didn’t think it was possible, but my love for them has grown even more. And my yoga practice has kept me grounded and calm even during some really tough times. Not just the physical practice on my mat, but yoga off the mat. My meditation practice, for example, is non-negotiable and I’ve upped it to around 40 minutes a day. You’ll probably be reading this and thinking “I don’t have time for that”, I thought the same until I made time for it. Now I get up early and have a 20-minute meditation first thing in the morning and then 20 minutes last thing before bed. It gives me so much clarity and drive and is a much-needed space of silence in the chaos that is life.
Hannah Barrett Yoga is available from £19.99, with a complimentary trial on iOS and Android devices. For more information visit hannahbarrettyoga.com