Brixton People: Chris Holt

Written by on March 8, 2012 in Brixton People, Brixton Stories - 2 Comments

After the birth of her kids, Chris decided to make a change and leave the world of journalism to pursue a career as a yoga teacher. She tells Amy Baker from London’s Stories all about it

I was born in Birmingham and brought up in Nottinghamshire. After university I stayed in the North East for about 10 years working on local newspapers.

I came down to London and started working in Brixton in 1994. I was working for the charity Cafod writing their publications and combined that with a bit of freelance journalism. Working at Cafod meant that I got to do quite a bit of travelling to developing countries – Central America, Zambia, The Philippines and Sri Lanka. I would report on the charity’s work there and at the same time write stories about it for The Guardian, Marie Claire and so on.

Cafod used to run a lunchtime yoga class and so from the mid-90s I started doing a regular yoga class. I got more and more into it and then after I had my kids I realised that by working I was only just covering my childcare costs. I couldn’t stand the idea of only doing domestic stuff – I would have gone completely crazy so that’s where I got the idea that I would do the yoga training.

I like the fact that yoga is everything. It’s physical because you’re getting in touch with your body, keeping yourself healthy and learning about how your body functions. At the same time the mind, body and emotions are all so connected that yoga gives you a work out while allowing you to quieten the chatter of your mind.

Once I qualified I set up a once a week, evening class at St Vincent’s Community Centre in Brixton. That was about three years ago. I have an attic in my house with about eight yoga mats so now I run five classes a week from home.

I started some “barefoot actions” around the UK to highlight the harmful working conditions in shoe manufacturing industries in developing countries in the late 90s.

In 2002 I organised the biggest ever mass lobby of Parliament which saw 15,000 people from all over the UK queued up down both sides of the Thames to ask their MP’s to support changes to unfair international trade rules. I’ve mobilised people to take part in Make Poverty History and the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

This year I have been lobbying my MP, Chuka Umunna, to support a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions in the city to raise funds for development in poor countries.

I love crossing the river – whether it’s on a bus or a bike going across one of those Central London bridges it’s just wonderful.

Currently I am quite proud of the way that Yoga with Chris is going because in the space of three years I’ve gone from no-income at all to providing a bit of an income for me and my family and for people who I need to get to help me along the way. It’s very satisfying to think that I’m not actually dependant on any employer or any organisation. It’s very nice to have created something that has a life of its own.

I ran a charity yoga event at Yoga Point in Brixton in February 2012 for the Prison’s Pheonix Trust which runs yoga and meditation in prisons for the staff and for inmates. We did a yogathon which is 108 sun salutations and each participant has to raise just £108 each. 108 is a significant number in all sorts of traditions – there are various explanations. The one that resonates most with me the most is the fact that the diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.

You can read Chris’s blog here and show her some support on Facebook by clicking here.

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