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Digital Subscriptions > OM Yoga Magazine > October 2017 > HEATHER MASON


Yoga and mental health pioneer Heather Mason talks to OM about her work at The Minded Institute and how she is championing yoga in the NHS

OM meets…

How did you first get into yoga

In 1995 I was struggling with my mental health. Although I was away at university I used to travel home every weekend to see my father and childhood friends. On one of the journeys I had a very surreal experience. I sat next to a man who told me that he was a disciple of Gurumayi and that she wanted to meet me. He even gave me a bus ticket to travel to her ashram. I thought this is probably just some scam or a cult, but as he we continued chatting, I became intrigued. The following weekend I used the ticket to visit Gurumayi’s ashram in upstate New York. There were hundreds of people there all getting in line to bow at the Guru’s feet, but one of the residents found me and told me that I was there for a special reason and that I was to have a private audience with the Guru. The following day I met Gurumayi. I thought she would either solve all my problems or try to convert me to some weird sect. Instead, she just told, me: “You must start your journey…go to India.” The next time I saw my father, I begged him to send me to India as part of a study abroad programme. After much debate, he acquiesced and in the Autumn of 1996 I travelled to India to study Indian philosophy. As part of the course all the students had to wake around 6am and pr actice yoga. Unf ortunately, f or the first f our years, pr obably because I was an ex-gymnast, I saw yoga as a competitive sport. In 2000, at the height of my depression, I travelled to south-east Asia and began intensive mindfulness meditation in Buddhist monasteries (most of these monasteries also taught yoga). It was in this context that I learned what yoga could truly bring to my life.

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About OM Yoga Magazine

In this issue of OM Yoga & Lifestyle magazine we’ve got a special report looking at hot yoga, and profiling some of the incredible studios where you can try this fantastic style. If you haven’t experienced it yet, give it a go. It’s a great health boost and might just even change your life. Yoga transformation is what we’re all about so keep reading for lots of life hacks, healthy eating tips and amazing personal stories if you want to get inspired. We’ve also got plenty of practical yoga and meditation too, to keep your practice fresh and alive on and off the mat. OM magazine is your complete yoga fix each and every month.