Judith Valerie grew up near London, England in the 1950’s and 60’s. In 1975, aged 23, she had a profoundly transformative, transcendent experience which she couldn’t describe. She realized she couldn’t continue as a schoolteacher by day and disco queen by night, but needed to explore new ways of living and learning.
She took off to the East in the summer of ’75 and travelled on buses and trains across Europe, through Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and India to Nepal and Sri Lanka. She stayed in inexpensive hotels and with families who adopted her wherever she went.
On her return journey she flew from Istanbul to Tel Aviv, and lived in a kibbutz at Rosh HaNikra. On a trip to the Sinai desert she met an American scuba diver, fell in love, and married. “That year of travel’s one of the best times of my life,” she beams, “Oh the adventures…It seems amazing now, to have been in all those countries for months at a time, and before emailing or cell phones, just letters. And to think I did it all on just six hundred pounds. (about twice that in dollars)”
Judith and her husband flew to his home town to live in the summer of 1976. To say her new life as a new wife in Jackson, Mississippi was a cultural shock is an understatement. She threw herself into starting a new school (based on the British Elementary School), an Education Programme at the Zoo, and an Arts Education Programme for the schools with a local arts organization.
Judith and her husband attended a yoga class together in 1977. “He was a muscle bound rugby player and never went back,” she reminisces, “But I floated out feeling more relaxed than I’d ever been in my life, and sort of reconnected to the mystical experience I’d had back in England.”
She has practiced yoga ever since 1977. “It’s given me something firm to hold onto, like a surf board to glide me safely over the waves. Yoga’s helped me cope with just about everything, from pregnancy and childbirth, mothering and divorce, anxiety and depression, geographic relocation and building my own business, to menopause and aging. Now I think of yoga as a friend to grow old gracefully with.”
Judith started teaching in Jackson in the mid 1980’s. She studied Iyengar yoga with her beloved teacher and mentor Janie Jackson Stickland from 1977 until 1989 when she left Mississippi. Her first 10 day teacher training was at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, California. (1988). She lived in several yoga centers in the US for a month or so studying various classical styles of yoga, yoga philosophy, the psychology of yoga, and yogic life-styles. Judith was certified at the 200 hour and 500 hour professional levels of yoga teacher training by the Kripalu Center. Her style of teaching is an eclectic blend and she loves to study and broaden her repertoire. Judith spent a month studying an intensely exploratory style of yoga with Angela Farmer and Victor van Kooten in Greece. She received certification in Expressive Arts Therapy at a month long residential training with Natalie Rogers, daughter of psychologist Carl Rogers. She has also enjoyed learning with many senior Iyengar teachers, Integral Yoga from Satchidananda Ashram, Esther Myers, Vini Yoga at Swami Chetananda’s Nityananda Institute in Oregon, Mary Cochran’s Awareness Through Movement Feldenkrais work, Qi Gong (flowing Chinese yoga), Betsy Dowell, Lila Pierce and many other wonderful professionals. Most recently Judith has taken two trainings in Yoga for Osteoporosis Prevention Studies with Nirmala Limaye, M.D., and Kay Hawkins, yoga teacher and yoga therapist.