Resilience and Yoga Swansea

swansea workshop


I had a wonderful time teaching the Resilience workshop in Cardiff. There was plenty of time for discussions, sharing ideas and information and lots of different practices. Next stop is Swansea Wellbeing Centre on 9th February. 

People interested in this workshop can expect a similar day with physical practices (mindful movement and embodiment work), breath experiences, deep relaxation, reflection and meditation.

The group I taught this with in Cardiff had mixed experience of yoga – some total new to the practice and some with experience teaching. Everyone was able to access it and got something from the day. We also had people in different roles and sectors – so anyone who would like to know about tools for developing resilience personally and professionally is most welcome to join the session.

The price of the workshop includes refreshments on the day (but you will need to bring your own lunch) and recordings/resources after the workshop to continue the practices at home.

Venue: Swansea Wellbeing Centre (

Date: 9th February 10.30-5.30pm

Cost: £45 early bird rate (ends 31st January) after that full price is £55. Discounts available for students and unemployed – contact me for more information.

To book on both of these stages need to be complete to secure your place:

  1. Complete this form:
  2. Payments via Paypal (please select friend and family to avoid paying fees) or email me if you would prefer to do a bank transfer.

Any questions feel free to contact me on ktbergson [@]



Caring for those that Care: A One Day Resilience Course

In the last year I have been researching and developing a resilience programme based on both classical yoga techniques as well as the latest resilience science research. I’m excited to be hosting the first two workshop teaching resilience techniques in Cardiff and Swansea in early 2019.

In a recent NHS workers survey almost 40% of worker state they feel stressed by work[1]. It is sometimes assumed that stress and burn out is an inevitable consequence of working in fast paced caring and health roles. But on the flip side of this, research is now showing that the skills of resilience can be learnt, practiced and used in times of crisis[2]

I am a trained Occupational Therapist and have seen first hand how the role can help people to do what they want and need with their lives. An important part of that is finding a sense of balance but it is not always acknowledged that health and social care professionals frequently struggle to find occupational balance for themselves[3].

In this workshop there will be interactive discussions on what resilience is and what factors affect it, as well as movement practices, breath exercises, deep relaxation techniques and an opportunity to develop your own personal resilience action plan.

The workshop will include handouts with technique reminders, audio recordings of two of the main yoga practices used and tea/coffee refreshments throughout the day.  No yoga experience necessary. Please come with comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat, notebook/pen, lunch and a cushion to sit on.

I have two date booked at the moment but hoping to add more soon. If you are interested in being kept up to date on future dates or running a programme in your area contact me to discuss further. 


Where: Heath Citizens Community Hall Heath Park (CF14 4EP). Ample parking outside the centre.

When: 26th January 2019 9.30-4.30pm

Cost: £45 early bird (book by 16th January) or £55 full price. Student and unemployed concessions available upon request – email me to discuss further.


Where: Swansea Wellbeing Centre

When: 9th February 2019 10.30-5.30pm

Cost: £45 early bird (book by 30th January) or £55 full price. Student and unemployed concessions available upon request – email me to discuss further.

To secure your place:

1.Please fill out this application form

2. Transfer the money via paypal (please ensure you click the family and friends options to avoid incurring fees).

Look forward to meeting and working with you in these sessions!

[1]NHS England. 2018. NHS staff survey 2017 [online]. NHS. Accessed on 11th May 2018.  <>

[2]Graham, L.2018 Resilience: powerful practices for bouncing back from difficulties, disappointments and even disaster. California: New World Library.

[3]Clouston, T. 2014. Whose Occupational Balance is it anyway? BJOT. Available online:

Sitting with discomfort

I will collapse in great despair, since no prayer has been answered and there is absence everywhere. Let me breath, let me breath, into life. Let me breath. Let me be as I am, just this

The lines above from singer Nessi Gomes beautifully describe an idea I have been thinking about a lot recently; how to sit with discomfort. I wrote previously about the powerful Compassionate Mental Health event which I am still contemplating, where facilitators offered the idea that to be with someone in grief, fear, sadness or other strong emotions is a privilege and not something to avoid. Right now the ashram is hosting a intensive course called Facing Death, Embracing Life – it seems that difficult emotions will be all around like it or not.

Some days at the ashram it feels like my wheels are stuck in the mud, spinning ever faster spraying mud everywhere. Or as if I was an animal caught in a snare and the more I struggle the tighter the bind becomes. In both these metaphors increasing the effort to get out of the situation, achieves very little. Likewise in moments of distress, desperately searching for avoidance, distraction or quick-fix strategies does not always help. I can’t always keep doing what I have always done, and expect a different outcome.

I find that seeing someone else in distress brings up my desire to rescue, fix and distract them, with a vague notion that it is comforting or caring for them. When I reach out in this way is it to help them or to help my own difficulty at witnessing their troubles? What if the loving response is to allow them to experience their emotions? What if a kind act is really to witness and hold that space open, rather than seek to close it down?

It’s rare that we can be really present and listen our own intuitive sense of what we or someone else needs. Sometimes that is space alone to be with the emotions. Sometimes that is listening without judgement. Sometimes it is just being with the person, without adding anything at all. But to do that we need a deep inner confidence that just being there is enough. That you are enough of a help, without being the rescuer. That whoever is in distress has the ability to right themselves, eventually, when the lessons are learnt and the emotions processed.

Gyandharma frequently tells me off for trying to fix the World. No wonder I can’t sustain a supportive role and provide real help if the expectation I hold is that it is even vaguely possible to always make everything better. None of this means that I shouldn’t help and support where I can and certainly I have valued the support others have given me in moments of distress. But maybe there is a different way, that is more balanced.

As Thich Nhat Hanh says we are inter-beings, we live in relationship to everyone and everything else. But that doesn’t mean we are responsible for everyone and everything. The idea of equanimity helps us to understand that the most difficult moments are also blessings. They are moments of grace that allow us to expand and grow, in a way that comfort never could.

What if accepting, and sitting with discomfort is when we see our true power in the World: a strength to hold both our own and others difficulties?


To take the hard path?

Geoff Livingston

Various things this week have made me think about challenges, the spiritual path and yielding softness. Social researcher Brene Brown was talking in a podcast with Krista Tippet about moving towards having conversations where it isn’t ‘either/or’ but a ‘yes and …’ responses. The point is that it can be misleading to think in binary or black and white terms where everything has a definitive answer, we miss all the subtle nuance differences in the middle (or as some of the ashram teachers say when they start an answer ‘it all depends…’).

So I’ve been pondering do I need to take the hard path in my spiritual journey? Is it part of the process to accept that life is tough at times? Is it possible that in these uncomfortable moments, with a little grace, they can also become critical turning points. Me and my teacher Gyan Dharma debated this last time I saw him. I used the phrase ‘a mixed blessing’ to describe difficult things that ultimately turn out to have a positive impact on your life. He turned to me absolutely unequivocal and stated that I was wrong. They are without a doubt, pure blessings.

In hindsight, after a storm has passed, this may seem perfectly logical but does that idea have relevance or value in the midst of trouble? The word ashram literally means a place of refuge. But at certain moments ashrams can feel anything but that. What I didn’t realise until this morning when i talked to Krishnapremananda is that another root of the word ashram means hard inner work and at times that feels more true.

There is a washing machine effect of being tumbled with my stuff from my pockets literally falling out all over the place. Sometimes it is even possible to imagine that people or places are deliberately provoking – as an attempt to deal out some of those so called blessings, or in other words tough love. In these moments I am often fighting back with all my might at the perceived dealer of these so called miseries. 

I’ve also been busy this week reading UnearthingVenus by Cate Montana  which is an exploration of feminine qualities in the format of an autobiography. She ponders that “no one seemed to realize that a head without a heart was as unviable as a heart without a head” (p298). Suggesting that too much yang or masculine (but not limited to men, rather the masculinity all human beings exhibit at times) causes that pushing, striving, achieving energy which suppresses or ignores the need to yield and be open to kindness and softness also. Heart … yes and head. Not one or the other.

From my relatively short experience, I think ashram life is often about compromise and letting go. Learning to use ‘yes and…’  rather than doggedly sticking to what you have always believed in. It feels to me like a lot of people in the World are already well versed in self punishment and that almost blind striving. So it’s easy to fall into a sense of victimhood or injustice, feeling we don’t need more of that punishment to be reigned down on our heads.

The truth is that try as I might I can’t control what the World is up to. So perhaps I should focus on my response instead, which I have a better hope of exerting some control over. Whether I fight or yield may be the difference between taking the hard path or not. Yielding isn’t about being inert and rolling over to every request but rather having a more fluid response according to what feels right in that moment, rather than blindly following old habits. As Gyan Dharma would say its about everyone feeling into their own strength to say yes and no in every situation.

Starting over again…


This year I am taking a break from my 9-5 job, my steady home life in Cardiff and am doing things a bit differently. It started with a huge leap of faith in myself and my teacher, GD, as we engaged in the process of writing a book together in Rajasthan. That phase is now winding itself down and the next part of this adventure begins with a move to live at Mandala Yoga Ashram in West Wales.

There is an extra potent sense of starting all over again, as I arrive not as Katy … the name I was given at birth and have answered to for 32 years. But as Mukti Mani, a name scarcely more than a few weeks old, still rolling itself around trying to find a comfortable familiar position on my tongue. It may seem superficial and odd to have a spiritual name but for me it adds a different flavour to things. It is a tool to help me see my stuff and maybe give me a helpful shove in the right direction.

As the final items are packed in my car ready to go the thing I notice is my desire to rush into the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing. Sometimes it’s difficult to just be here with this time, in this place…. To pause. I started reading Chloe Goodchild’s wonderful Naked Voice book where she reminds readers at the beginning to take your time to read it and to pause regularly appreciating the value of the space and silence.

I see my tenancies to plan all the time. But actually a lot of the memories I really treasure from the last few years are from unplanned spontaneous moments. Of waking early and walking through Borsherston Lilly ponds with my beau last September or the first time I went to Wye valley tagging along with a friend at the last minute for freezing cold swims in the river, yoga in the orchard and wandering in meadows of yellow flowers. So it’s difficult to say exactly why I default to planning mode. Impatience with life and myself? A self soothing mechanism to give me a (false) sense of control? An avoidance of what monsters may arises when things are really silent and still?

New beginnings often come with an equal dose of anxiety /fear and excitement. It’s interesting to sit with that duality – the sense that it can be both wonderful and awful at the same time. Perhaps it gives some sense of how our minds, emotions and behavioural patterns shape our experience. Fear and excitement are not so different … they are energised experiences with heightened awareness. Then we analysis it and add our interpretation – ‘ahh this is fear’. I wonder if it’s possible to just notice the energy and not call it fear or excitement but just be with that energy?

I don’t know what the next few months will bring for me. But then I didn’t really know that even when I had a more conventional predictable format to my life. I don’t think you have to change everything to get a sense of starting all over again. The spiritual director of the ashram, Krishnapremananda reminds me not to worry too much about what I bring with me, just come with an open and present mind. Perhaps that is good advice whatever you wake up to tomorrow. Allowing a new start to emerge, with that new day, irrespective of what is happening.

Authentically holding space

holding space

Holding space is a term used frequently to refer to therapeutic contexts such as counselling or the intention to create a healing environment in a yoga class. But actually it can also be used to describe the more day to day experience of deep listening to a friend who needs to talk or when we hold our own space to notice what we are feeling.

In this post I am talking about authenticity not to describe content (e.g. the authentic yoga teachings), but rather the personal qualities of the person holding space. Whether they really shows up, are as present as they can be and delivers something that feels authentic to them and that person/group, in that moment.

This week I attended an amazing gathering called Compassionate Mental Health. I arrived with the sense that I was going to learn something professionally to aid me both as a yoga teacher and in my other job as an occupational therapist. But I quickly realised this gathering wasn’t about roles and labels, and I was going to learn things for my whole self, not just the parts I box up and label as a professional.

Two things particularly struck me at this event. Firstly that it is a real practice to hold space skilfully. Secondly that to show up as your full self, authentically, is incredibly powerful.

Terms like holding space can easily become just more jargon and buzz words. So I like Jade Lizzie’s blog which talks about holding space in terms of support, care, preservation matched with a sense of freedom and expansiveness.  Practically I think what is meant is a balance of structure and openness which creates a feeling of safety.

The concept of space is particularly intriguing to me on a personal level too – what does it mean to create that space for myself for example with my own yoga and meditation practices? To ensure there is time and room for these daily spaces to explore. Take a listen to Godfrey Devereux podcast discussing just this.

In another way I have been creating space by choosing to take some time away from full time work this year. This choice to create a lacuna aka an unfilled space (thanks for the word Andy) is the polar opposite of my default mode of over filling each hour, day and week to bursting point. Not everyone will be able to quit their jobs, but the general principle of making more space I do think is possible for most people.

Beth Gibbs talks about holding space in terms of mental space to allow anything and everything to arise. At the compassionate mental health gathering there was an encouragement to be with discomfort – whether that was witnessing someone else’s grief, pain and sorrow or experiencing your own emotions. Really being with it. Not pushing it away, rationalising it or trying to do something to shortcut to a quick fix resolution. Culturally that feels like something we don’t encourage or allow to happen too often

It is so easy to play a role or portrait a sense of the perfection in our lives. This distorted sense of idealised self is projected visibly through the world of social media. But faking it is a disservice to yourself and those around you.

I recently stumbled across a theory from the 1980s by Hochschild called Emotional Labor which essentially states that in many professions people create a sense of acting which can impact on their stress levels and contribute to things like emotional dissonance (an internal conflict between how you really feel and what you are required to display externally), numbing and disconnection from your own feelings, and in the long term burnout. So there are very real consequences for ourselves if we don’t feel authentic.

It also doesn’t work, other people feel it. I might be emphatic towards a yoga teacher that is tired and trying to put on a show of being overly energetic but I think often subtle cues give the person away and on a intuitive level I feel that inauthenticity.

Then there is also an impact of modelling. When someone really shows up for me, it makes me more inclined to really show up in my life too. One of the most popular TED talks ever is Brene Brown’s Power of vulnerability which clearly illustrates that whilst we often feel we should be guarded and controlled, actually showing vulnerability is hugely empowering. She argues it is the cornerstone of connection to show up wholeheartedly, courageously and authentically.

I vividly remember many years ago meeting the wonderful yoga teacher Leila Sadeghee who addressed a room full of yoga students, many whom were as new to her as I was, and laid bare where she was at on that day. It was raw and real, she wasn’t in a good place but the class she went on to deliver was wonderful. She didn’t need to slap a fake smile on to be a good yoga teacher that day. She could be real and still provide that safe container for students to practice in.

Ultimately yoga is about connection to life, other beings and the self on all its many levels. The compassionate mental health conference was a wonderful reminder to me to show up as best as I can and to be real, whatever is going on for me on any given day. I might not always get it right, but it’s certainly something to aspire towards.

Truth and judgement


Have you ever been on a train looked out and wondered to yourself whether your train was moving or the one opposite you was? It’s a slightly disorientating feeling. That was my experience of being at a large yoga event over the weekend.

It is a place I have gone to intermittently in the last 10 years and a place where many years ago I met one of my first real yoga teachers. But this weekend when I attended I found it hard to connect with anything in the huge noise and busy chaos of the show. I was left wondering have I changed or has the event changed? Or is it a bigger shift in the whole yoga scene of Western culture? In fairness when I first attended years ago I had little awareness of yoga beyond moving the body and had not yet travelled to India. My yoga journey was just at the very beginning.

The event brought up questions about truth and judgement for me. I was helping on a stand for a yoga ashram in Wales and a number of people came up to the stand to ask advice. One of them told me about her life travelling and working on the road and trying to fit in yoga around that. She inevitably practices with different teachers at different times. She was concerned that it was the wrong way to do things and seeking reassurance.

Others talked to us about feeling lost in that environment – watching drum and bass yoga and wondering why they didn’t ‘get it’ when some people seemed to be loving it. Someone told me a story about a retreat he had been on when tantric practices of open sex and love had been discussed. His question, like so many others there, was ‘is that yoga?’. Each of these experiences are individual and nuanced, so whilst it feels like all of them were asking the same thing about the nature of yoga, each person needed to explore a response that was right for them.

For my own part I attended a few sessions and found myself bristling when told that something is ‘wrong’ or always taught wrongly and will lead to prolific yoga injuries. It feels sometimes like a giant squabble of ownership, authority and power. Interestingly as I drove home I listened to a podcast with Gregor Maehle when the question arose again. He was asked about whether there is right and wrong yoga. His response was that he did feel things were losing their way when anything and everything, including wine and heavy metal variations were considered to be valid forms of yoga.

In the spiritual world terms like non judgement and non attachment are often used. I was aware that when I attended a session with something I had a negative reaction to that perhaps I should keep an open mind. Having a rigid set of beliefs that yoga is only valid when it is one set thing, means excluding lots of opportunities for learning and development.

I also experienced lots of people reacting to the harmonium being played with fear (thinking – what is this weird cult/religion/brain washing) and judgement about what they assumed it conveyed about the ashram.

The conclusion for me is that not everything in the event I would consider yoga. I don’t think it is necessarily bad or should be banned. But they were not where my yoga practice is right now. As my teacher GD would say they are doorways people step through and have an experience.

So perhaps we shouldn’t be aiming for non judgement, but rather a gentler slower evaluation. I know that what our stall was offering was not the one ultimate truth of yoga for all those visitors. Truth invariably is a slippery fish, never fully graspable. It constantly moves and changes positions with the light and water changing your perception of where the fish actually is.

When you look out the train window wondering if you or they are moving, after the moment of confusion, it becomes clear again. So too after the chaos of the show, hopefully people will find they have somehow engaged with the parts of yoga they needed to, without unduly worrying about the definitive ‘truth’ of yoga.