Month: February 2020

EP 1.04: Jacqui Smith – “I can trust my body now”.

Show Notes Episode 4

In this fourth (already!) episode of No Ordinary Yogi podcast, your host Katherine Biggs talks to her yoga student the Right Honourable Jacqui Smith.

We talk about what led Jacqui to seek out a yoga practice in the first place and when her yoga practice started to become important to her.  We talk about the possibilities of doing yoga in parliament and what political life was like for her.  Jacqui tells us how her practice has evolved, what she likes about it and the difference it has made to her life.  She also opens up about how her yoga practice has supported her through recent tough times.  We have a good giggle about what really happens in our yoga classes and she offers her words of wisdom for anyone thinking about starting a yoga practice.  We move on to talk about what life is like post-parliament and how Jacqui’s job inspires her.

Honestly, we talk about so much stuff! Listen in because it’s a really interesting conversation! 

About Jacqui Smith

Jacqui Smith is a member of the British Labour Party.  She used to be a secondary school teacher until she became the Member of Parliament for Redditch in 1997, holding many ministerial positions before eventually serving as the UK’s first female Home Secretary.

Jacqui left parliament in 2010 and she is now the Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust and the Chair of the Sandwell Children’s Trust providing social care services to vulnerable children.  She is also Chair of the Trustees for The Jo Cox Foundation and the list goes on.  I hope I’m not doing her a disservice by not listing absolutely everything she does here because it is a very long list!

As well as all of the above, Jacqui co-presents a podcast called For The Many with Iain Dale.  I am a bit biased, but I think it’s the best political podcast out there!

You can connect with Jacqui over on Twitter if you are interested in finding out more about what she does.

More about your host Katherine Biggs

Katherine Biggs is a yoga teacher and a studio owner, based out of Great Malvern Yoga in Worcestershire.  Having taught over 3000 hours of yoga, she is on a mission to make yoga accessible to everyone.  She believes there is No Ordinary Yogi.  Anyone can practice yoga. 

You can connect with Kat on Instagram or Twitter or search the hashtag #noordinaryyogi.

Launch Day!

In January 2020 I decided that this is going to be the year of being brave. I like to choose a word for the year, I’ve usually forgotten it by March, but I know I won’t be forgetting this year’s word in a hurry.

Brave? I wouldn’t necessarily say that waking up on January 15th with a head full of ideas about a yoga podcast was brave. Bloody foolish, more like. What do I know about making podcasts? Or interviewing people? And besides, I can’t stand the sound of my own voice. Why on earth would I want to make a podcast? You can read all about the theory behind the podcast here and you can read all about what you can expect to hear, here. Haha! That’s quite funny.

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

I like a project. I like learning new skills. I work better when I’m busy. If I’ve got twenty things to do in a day, I will have a good go at cracking through fifteen of them. If I’ve got three things to do, I’ll be lucky if I get one of them done and I will have wasted three hours procrastinating about doing the other two. Getting to launch day has been a massive effort and I didn’t even have time to hate the sound of my own voice. I’ve listened to it so much now anyway that actually I don’t mind it so much anymore!

As I said yesterday on the No Ordinary Yogi Instagram account (no, I haven’t put any widgets on the website yet – there’s just so much to do), if I’d waited until I had the perfect 3000×3000 pixel artwork for my podcast cover, or if I’d waited until I’d made this website more slick, I would have been waiting forever. Sometimes you just gotta be bad at something for a while and then the more you do it, the better you get. Like yoga!

If you’ve read this far, then you’re obviously interested in what I’m talking about. So here’s my question for you – What are you prepared to be brave about in your life? Be bad at something new. Leave a comment and let me know what you are brave enough to be bad at because I’m a nosey parker and I like to know these things. Also, subscribe to my podcast please! Thanks very much. And if you like the podcast and you want to talk to me about your yoga practice, please get in touch because There. Is. No. Ordinary. Yogi.

EP 1.03: Shakti Sue Friston – “The Real Work is in the Stillness”.

EP 1.03: Shakti Sue Friston – “The Real Work is in the Stillness”.

In today’s episode Katherine Biggs is speaking to her wonderful wise friend, Shakti Sue Friston.  As you will hear, Shakti has been teaching yoga for over 30 years and we talk about how she found yoga in the first place and its importance in her life.  We talk about some of the less explored yogic practices – yes, we did talk about drinking urine!  We cover presence and fear of the present moment and the truth about our meditation practices.  There are a lot of golden nuggets in this podcast, so you’ll just have to listen in to find out what else we talk about!

About Shakti Sue Friston

Like many people Sue came to yoga during a personal crisis. In 1986, she left her office job in Malvern and the massage training she’d begun, to live at the Wexford Yoga Centre under the tutelage of Swami Satyamurti.  She says, “When he told me to return to England and start teaching a weekly yoga class, it did not occur to me to refuse”.  A term of classes under her belt, she returned to Wexford for the month long intensive Teacher Training Course in the summer of 1986.  

“Questioning what I thought of as a pretentious affectation of taking on sanskrit name I asked what my sanskrit name might be.  ‘Shakti’ said Swami Satyamurti.  A name given either because of the energy with which I rode my 400-4 Honda and took any opportunity to wield a power tool, or to counteract my tendency to procrastination and avoidance of mornings. Both could be true.  Either way, I happily became Shakti.”

The year 2000 was eventful: her dad died, her husband left and began gender reassignment, and she was initiated into Jignasu Sanyas.  Swami Niranjananda extended her name to Shaktiroopa, the embodiment of feminine energy.  “I still won’t wear a skirt though – and not just because the ex took them all with him”.

 Shakti has taught mixed ability classes in rural Gloucestershire, worked for some years at a rehab centre, taught in prisons, and a residential care home for the elderly.  She has contributed Anatomy and Physiology sessions to Satyananda yoga teacher training courses in Birmingham and London, and supported the development of the Central Yoga Circle in Ledbury, Herefordshire.

Shakti’s mum was diagnosed with dementia in 2014 and she moved home to support and care for her mum.  Since the death of her mother, she has travelled to Australia and Canada, but is now living back home in Herefordshire again.  To get in touch with Shakti, please visit her Facebook page Slow Yoga Malvern.

She also facilitates the local Death Café here in Malvern which you can find out more about on the Malvern Death Café Facebook page.

EP 1.02: Elizabeth Rees – From Party Girl to Yoga Teacher

Welcome to Episode 2 of the No Ordinary Yogi podcast.  I recently had the pleasure of speaking to my friend and former yoga student Elizabeth Rees.  As you will hear in this episode, Elizabeth is now a yoga teacher herself.

Elizabeth brings a beautiful, fresh, young energy to the podcast and I was really grateful to have her as my very first guest.  I think I was more nervous than she was!  We talk about surviving university and doing a year-long teacher training all in the same year.  We also cover finding a sustainable personal yoga practice, self-care in the form of wild swimming, sports bra malfunctions and everything else in between!  And she spills a bit of tea about working at triyoga in London

About Elizabeth Rees

Elizabeth is a former student of Kat and now a 200 hour Yoga Alliance UK registered yoga teacher specialising in Vinyasa Flow.  She is currently based in Snowdonia in Wales.

She has recently completed a Masters degree and is awaiting news about PhD applications.  For now, she’s enjoying hanging out in the mountains of Snowdonia, wild swimming and walking with her dogs.

You can find more information about her yoga classes around Betws-y-Coed on her website or find her Instagram here.

Things mentioned in the podcast:

Yoga with Keren podcast

Freya Sports Bras

EP 1.01- Katherine Biggs: Introducing the No Ordinary Yogi podcast

In this very first episode of the No Ordinary Yogi podcast, your host Katherine Biggs talks about the reasons she decided to start creating conversations about yoga. If you want to find out more, please listen to the episode. It’s only short!

Show Notes Episode 1

 This first episode is short, but full of love.  I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for listening.  I hope you feel as excited about this podcast as I do!  I love connecting with other people, so if you feel inspired or have any questions, connect with me over on Instagram or use the contact form on this website.

 And if you are interested in becoming part of the magical Great Malvern Yoga community, please visit our website.

About Your Host

Katherine Biggs has been a yoga teacher for seven years, and five years ago she founded Great Malvern Yoga, a dedicated yoga space in the heart of Great Malvern in Worcestershire.  An old boss once said to her that if you cut her in half, you would find the word “yoga” running through the middle.  This is not too far from the truth.  Her mission is to bring yoga to everyone, regardless of physical condition, so they can start living a more conscious and mindful life.

Kat lives in the beautiful Malvern Hills in the UK, where she can often be found drinking coffee and stroking her four cats.  She believes that if everyone does more yoga, we can all learn to live a life full of love. 

Credits & love for this episode: Chris Morley (for the technical help & teaching me how to use Gimp), Linda Biggs (for listening to endless takes of this first episode) and Helen Rebello (for the encouragement and belief that I could do it).


Lazy Afternoon by Zac Nelson from