samSo Samantha, thank you for being our Capricorn student of the month. Known for their honesty, dedication, perseverance, loyalty, ambition and willingness to work hard, do you think you are a typical Capricorn?
I feel like I can embody these qualities (on a good day!) and perhaps my career and academic path shows this. As a GP, I certainly am grateful for my natural earthy qualities, as I feel these really lend themselves to holding space for others and being able to share emotional strength.  I notice that when I find something, a new interest or concept, that aligns with me somehow, I won’t let it go, and will not give up until I have followed it to the end or understood it fully!

Those seem like perfect qualities to really go far on the spiritual path! Has it been easy for you to see progress and transformation in this direction?
When I first discovered the hatha yoga system taught at Agama in Thailand and Tara in London, I felt that a lot changed very quickly, lots of internal changes of awareness, attitude and heart opening for sure.  I took part in a 3 day women’s group, concentrating on awakening and embodying the divine feminine and it felt like a new dimension of myself opened up, something that was always there but only when I found the school was it allowed the space to expand.  With grace, I feel that I have experienced transformation quickly on this path (there is still a long way to go!) and I’m sure my Capricorn-ness has helped me greatly. Certainly having the ambition to grow, understand and evolve and wanting to dedicate time and energy to this transformation or truly this uncovering of what has been there all along!  I am so grateful for this tenacious aspect. When I have experiences of expansion or even transcendence, I am encouraged to push even further.

How long have you been practising yoga?
Regularly, for 3 years now.  Prior to this I had a regular meditation practice for several years, influenced by my Buddhist upbringing which I am very grateful for, it has given me a solid foundation.
It is the practical and directly experiential aspect of the practices that draws me to TYC.

I hear you first met a branch of this school in Thailand. It must have been a tough choice between practising yoga on a tropical island and in the centre of London! What was it that drew you to Tara Yoga Centre?
Finding TYC feels so incredibly guided and perfectly integrated.  Yes, I was in Thailand, escaping a stressful year and I accidentally discovered Agama yoga online and without much thought, signed up for the intensive 4 week yoga course.  There I made life-changing friendships, stopped eating meat and experienced the divine feminine.  I had the awesome realisation that this new path is so full of love, integrity, awareness and vitality; actual palpable experiences of these frequencies or qualities, I was totally invested! What else could I learn and integrate?
Very sadly, I had to leave the loving bubble of life in a yogic community on a tropical island and return to London.  At this point I was truly terrified of not having these ongoing teachings in my life, of losing the feeling of community, love and support. I was really panicking and working out ways to return to Thailand to learn more… only to Google around and find the amazing TYC about a 15 minute walk from my front door! Absolutely perfect synchronicity!

You were also recently in India – are you sure you are not a Sagittarius in disguise?! But seriously, how was the most unpredictable country in the world for a pragmatic Capricorn?
Well, I am kind of on the cusp, being born on the 25th so maybe I have some Sagi energy too!
3 months in India was incredible, so crazy and so beautiful and utterly life changing. Saying that, it was certainly challenging on many levels, having to let go of a degree of security and comfort does not come naturally to an earthy Capricorn! But I was really inspired to face my natural apprehension and go to the India described in the book “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda, a masterpiece in my eyes. So perhaps the innate Capricorn perseverance and willingness to work hard and to succeed saw me through some of the more unpredictable and uncomfortable aspects of India?

Do you feel like you are connecting somehow with your Sri Lankan roots through your spiritual life?
In some ways yes, I feel more in tune with the essence of the country somehow. I spent a few weeks in Sri Lanka too on my travels in 2016. On this trip, I really felt particular aspects more keenly than on previous visits. The raw natural beauty of the land, love and connection with family, a certain purity in the enjoyment of simple pleasures; there was a deep feeling of peace for me in Sri Lanka this time.

How does yoga combine with your professional life, being a medical doctor? Are the two views of the human being in strong contrast? Can they be combined? Does one help the other?
I feel the two can co-exist and even though the views are different, they can complement each other.
While in India I studied Yoga Therapy (teachings from the Sivananda lineage) and Ayurveda and could very much see how these methods could complement Western Medicine. In fact, I have been inspired to start further studies in Nutritional Therapy after these experiences in India and to make changes to my professional life. In the new year I will be publishing my first book written with a friend which is full of simple tips on healthy living or “lifestyle medicine” inspired by what I have learned so far and largely backed by modern scientific evidence.  We all know that modern medicinal interventions have saved many lives, but the current worldwide burden of chronic disease caused largely by the “western” diet and stressful, sedentary lifestyle could really be eased by taking inspiration from the ancient sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda to stop these diseases from manifesting in the first place.

What are your new year resolutions?
1. To spend more time in nature, out of the city.
2. To travel and visit more places in the beautiful UK.
I am very drawn to embracing my earthiness and being grounded in 2017.

If you have one gem of wisdom to share with the world, what would it be?
I have so many, how can I pick just one?!
Love yourself; treat yourself, mind, body and soul with the deepest compassion, respect and forgiveness.

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