At the age of 17 Jo's world instantly opened up when she was introduced to yoga and meditation by her boyfriend at the time. Yoga has been a part of her life ever since. From the outset, it was the spiritual aspects of yoga, alongside the physical, mental and emotional elements, that inspired Jo to choose yoga as her path towards wholeness and self-realisation.
In her late teens/early twenties, Jo participated in yoga and meditation retreats at the Haa Course Centre in Sweden, which gave her a thorough introduction into the tradition of the Bihar School of Yoga as taught by Swami Janakananda.
Jo's plan in life had been to become a professional dancer, but having failed her audition to The London School of Contemporary Dance in 1998, in 1999, having travelled in Mexico and South-East Asia, she went on instead to study Social Anthropology with The Study of Religions at the School of Oriental & African Studies (University of London), for which she obtained a First Class BA Honours Degree. There she met Matthew Clarke, who was not only her university teacher, but also became her yoga teacher, introducing her to the demanding system of Ashtanga Yoga.
Jo's academic studies were particularly inspired by Indian Philosophy and Critical Theory, and she also studied Sanskrit, the language of yoga. Her love and understanding of the Indian traditions of yoga deepened and following completion of her degree, Jo went on to train to be a teacher in the Ashtanga Yoga style, with Brian Cooper of Union Yoga (2003).
Jo has had a rich and varied working life, but has mostly worked with vulnerable children, young people and families in various supportive and at times high risk roles within the Local Authority. This journey started as a Youth Worker in her late teens, supporting young people in youth centres and via outreach work. Other roles have included:
Child & Family Worker - supporting families in crisis where children were at risk of being taken into care, or were returning home after being in care.
Early Intervention Family Support Worker - supporting families with young children who were identified as being at risk unless they received support early on.
Family Intervention Project (FIP) - long-term intensive support to families with a number of complex needs who are engaged in anti-social behaviour and at risk of eviction from their homes.
Multisystemic Therapy (MST) - Intensive therapeutic support to families where there is a young person at risk of going into the prison system or the care system
Sadly, with the funding cuts to Local Authority Children's Services during the noughties, many of the above teams have been dissolved and are no longer offering these critical services. Working in these roles enriched Jo's life greatly and she learnt many tools to support her as a parent with her own young family. At times however, the stress and high level nature of some of the work felt difficult to reconcile with being a mother to 2 young children. Jo was continually called back to yoga to support her on her path.
In 2009 Jo was initiated into the tradition of the Bihar School of Yoga (Satyananda Yoga) and given the spiritual name Satya Roopini by Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati. Satya means 'truth' and Roopini means 'female form'. This name resonated deeply with Jo and she used it as she began her life as a yoga teacher. She trained with Swami Pragyamurti Saraswati, Amarajyoti & Lalitambika from 2009 - 2011, gaining qualification with the International Yoga Fellowship.**
In 2015 Jo became a qualified Children & Teens Yoga & Mindfulness teacher and began teaching yoga to children and families in community centres, schools and children's centres across Cambridgeshire. With a young family herself, her Sunday Family Yoga sessions at the Brownsfield Community Centre became a much cherished part of her and others lives, and these sessions continued up until Jo, alongside her husband Paul, opened the Satyam Yoga centre in October 2016.
Jo has also taught yoga sessions with The Cambridgeshire Deaf Association, The Kite Trust, Corona House and other charities and organisations in Cambridge.
Other Training includes:
Counselling Skills & Theoretical Approaches to Psychotherapy (2003)
Yin Yoga (2015)
Ayurveda, Yoga, Mantra & Meditation (current)
In 2005 and 2006 Jo gave birth to her two children, Anabella and Noah with her husband Paul, who also had a daughter, Hannah (now with 2 children, Martha and Alfred, of her own). Being a mum has been Jo's greatest spiritual journey.
Jo's other pleasures include: Walking in Woodland with her her dog, Taking baths in the middle of the day, Playing Scrabble Anagrams, Dancing in her kitchen (or anywhere), Music, Music, Music, and trying to remember to water her plants.
In 2016 Jo and Paul opened Satyam Yoga & Wellbeing Centre in their hometown of Cambridge.
**In 2014, there was an Australian Royal Commission Report carried out on historical abuse within the Satyananda Yoga tradition. Sexual and physical abuse carried out by Swami Satyananda, the guru of this tradition, and some of his disciples, came to light and this led to a call to discredit the very foundations upon which the Satyananda tradition is based. Since this time Jo has been reconciling her love of the yoga practices that have shaped and enriched her life with her strong sense of needing to disassociate from a yoga tradition that has also caused pain and trauma. This process continues for Jo to this day, whilst no longer calling herself a Satyananda teacher, or using her spiritual name, but reclaiming and sharing the yoga and meditation that she loves.