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Tyndall Hidden Talents: Meet Ann Heffernan, IPIC Centre Administrator and trainee Yoga Teacher

Posted on: 12 Mar 2021

Tyndall Hidden Talents: Meet Ann Heffernan, IPIC Centre Administrator and trainee Yoga Teacher

Sometimes it’s not what’s on our CVs or our academic qualifications that give us the ‘X Factor’ which propels us to success – it’s the ability to adapt, grow, have the confidence to choose to challenge and creatively apply our hidden talents.

Tyndall’s goal is to attract and nurture people with diverse talents and excellent skills, enabling all to reach their full potential.

Meet this week’s hidden talent at Tyndall - Ann Heffernan, IPIC Centre Administrator and trainee Yoga Teacher.

Ann Heffernan,
IPIC Centre Administrator.

I have been practicing yoga for many years and really found my rhythm with it about 5 years ago.  Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and commit to taking a Yoga Teacher Training course (220 contact hours plus home practice) and honestly I have to say it is amazing and the timing couldn’t be better!  Luckily, I found the right teacher, Jess Hatchett https://www.yogawestcork.com/  whose yoga approach and philosophy really resonated with me.

With a wonderful group I started the training last September, which consists of one weekend per month over 11 months, with mandatory daily home practice.  We are currently suspended because of Covid restrictions. The course is made up of asana (physical practice), pranayama (breath practice), meditation and energy work (kriya and banda).  We also study yoga philosophy and history, anatomy, teaching methodology and practice.  

What I love about yoga is the physical practices and that each time you arrive on the mat you can never predict how it will go, yes you will experience your body interoception (internal sensations) and proproception (moving through space), but what happens in between you never know!  I am just tipping the ice-berg here. Yoga centres around breath, contact with earth, the felt sense of finding support, body awareness & intelligence. We talk a lot about mindfulness, but what about body-fullness?  Consider how children really inhabit their bodies and experience the world compared to adults.  

Yoga really encourages you to move from the head into the body, to feel all the sensations, the satisfaction of a good stretch (think of how satisfying it is when you see a cat stretch – you just know it must be good!), but there are also the stretches and poses that challenge, when you feel yourself shake with effort and you feel moderate sensation, here you are feeling your ‘edge’.   By this we mean where you feel moderately challenged, that you’re moving towards a new ‘space’.  Yoga is about creating space, by creating space in the body you create space in the mind and vice versa.  In all positions, yoga asks you to find ‘Stihira and Sukha’, or ‘steadiness and ease’ and yoga also asks you to bring these with you into all aspects of life on and off the mat.  By doing these physical practices on a regular basis you are creating space in your body which allows energy to flow more freely.  

Yoga practice has a vast number of benefits for physical and mental health, many of which are supported by science and ongoing research in the area.

I’ve been attending weekly classes, a mix of iyengar (alignment); vinyasa (build strength, get the heart pumping); yoga dance (fun, creative) and just before lockdown I’d started aerial yoga (experimentation and childlike fun). Since lockdown I have developed a daily home practice which has been so supportive during this current situation we find ourselves in.  There have been times I have arrived on the mat feeling the emotional weight and restrictions of lockdown. After yoga practice my perspective shifts, and I feel more at ease in myself and with lockdown.  The change in my nervous system is palpable, moving from a sympathetic response (stress) to a parasympathetic response (rest and restore).  

My yoga studies thus far have brought about a greater sense of self awareness, pragmatism and heightened communications skills, I bring these into my work, whilst working with my team, planning events, in communications, etc.  My yoga practice also informs my approach to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace.

Also a great part of yoga philosophy and learning is about pace, building block by block with patience, knowing that nothing stays the same and change is inevitable. Our new ways of working have meant we need to be adaptable, learn new technologies and techniques for connecting in creative ways, building communities virtually, which is now more important than ever.   

For anyone interested in taking up yoga, there are many resources available online, with lots of classes on YouTube, with varying class levels and styles. Also check out and support your local yoga studio as they too may have classes online and when lockdown eases you can participate in person.

Working from home has its own share of challenges around workspace ergonomics so it’s really beneficial to have yoga or at least a good stretching practice. If anyone would like to chat about yoga or has any questions, I’m more than happy to connect. In a month or two when our training has resumed I’m also happy to offer Tyndall students and staff some online yoga classes, if you are interested please let me know!