With over 360k Instagram followers, a bestselling app and a new book hitting shelves this week, Hannah Barrett has become one of the UK’s biggest names in wellness. We sat down with the yoga guru, influencer and businesswoman to find out how she made it, what motivates her and why stripping it back to the basics of breathing is the most important part of finding your zen.

 

You are one of the Instagram’s biggest yoga stars. Where did your journey with yoga begin?

Yoga really has changed my life. I used to work as an actuary in finance, was a regular gym bunny but also constantly stressed. When I had my first child, I reassessed everything and completely changed careers to pursue my passion of yoga.

Yoga helped me to get stronger than ever physically but in addition it transformed me mentally too. Now I feel so much more resilient, calm and creative and I am much less reactive to stressful situations.

Congratulations on your new book, Yoga Happy. Tell us about that…

My book Yoga Happy is basically what I have learnt along the way and what has worked for me and my students.  It is a collection of easy-to-use tools and practices for everyday calm and strength. There are accessible yoga flows, breathing techniques, meditations and proven mindfulness practices that can be done pretty much anywhere at any time. It provides you with the building blocks for getting in touch with your body and mind, and I hope it becomes a resource for people to turn to again and again.

You talk a lot about the importance of breathing, why is the way you breathe so key to how you feel?

We can’t survive if we don’t breathe! It is the only system in the human body that we can control both consciously and unconsciously. Our breath works in a circular way – when we are feeling stressed or anxious, our breathing becomes fast and shallow. The wonderful thing is, we can transform how we feel by taking conscious control of our breath. Taking a moment to pause and pay attention; to slow the breath, to deepen it. By taking conscious control of our breath, we can create calm and connection.

The breath is at the heart of a yoga practice with each movement linked to the breath. It’s used as an anchor to keep you present and in tune with what your body needs.

What are the three main benefits that others can expect to see when they start doing yoga regularly?

1. Increased flexibility, strength and tone.

2. Improved posture and studies have shown it can be effective in reducing lower back pain too.

3. It helps you handle stress better.

We can’t survive if we don’t breathe!

 

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A post shared by Hannah Barrett (@hannahbarrettyoga)

What’s your advice for anyone starting out on their yoga journey or lacking motivation?

There’s a beautiful quote by Ijeoma Umebinyuo that goes: “Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just… start.”

The scary part is starting or getting back onto the mat but sometimes we just need to pull off the bandaid and ‘just start’. Don’t expect it to be easy but do expect to start to feel quite quickly the positive benefits. Maybe you feel a little stronger or more mobile, maybe a bit calmer and maybe you’re sleeping a bit better. When the results start to kick in, keeping that yoga habit becomes so much easier.

 

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A post shared by Hannah Barrett (@hannahbarrettyoga)

Any books or podcasts you have been reading/listening to lately?

 My favourite podcast is Happy Place as I love the diversity of guests and the stories and advice that they bring. I have taken so many snippets of wisdom away from this podcast.

 I love reading and always have a couple of books on the go. I read a fiction book recently called ’The Push” by Ashley Audrain that I found un-put-downable but haunting and an emotional read. The description of motherhood over three generations (that weaves in and out) is so incredibly raw and sheds light on how much of an awful experience parents can have.

What’s your favourite go-to quick and easy midweek dinner?

I am such a lazy cook. I find life so busy that when it comes to cooking, I have no more energy to give. So, it would probably be a quick and easy stir-fry combining whatever is in the fridge!

Yoga helped me to get stronger than ever physically but in addition it transformed me mentally too. Now I feel so much more resilient, calm and creative and I am much less reactive to stressful situations.

Ready to don those leggings yet? If you need any more inspiration then check out Hannah’s new book Yoga Happy launching 27th January.

Don’t forget your workout gear, so you can sweat and stretch in style. Oooohmmmm…

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