I am a mother of four children. My eldest daughter Billie has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user. When she was approximately one year old she had her first seizure. The epilepsy remained until she was 15. I was a single parent when Billie was 3 and her younger sister was 1. At the age of 9 Billie's epilepsy was at its peak and she was on four different kinds of medication to try to balance her mind and body. It didn't work so she had to go to a specialist residential school. It was the first time Billie was away from me and as sad as I was, I then also had time to focus on my other daughter.

 

Unfortunately Billie went in September and the following January I found a lump in my breast. That year I had chemotherapy and radiotherapy and somehow managed to keep things going as a single parent raising 2 children.


My work was definitly cut out for me but some years later, I have managed to re-marry and have two more beautiful children and find my way with teaching Jagadamba Yoga.

I had been doing Yoga myself for many years with my teacher Krishnaa Devi until I had a mid-life crisis, which prevented me from practicing Yoga. Krishnaa, helped me through my difficult times, however, I still could not get my body to do yoga when my head was elsewhere. I had the ability to convince myself that I was entitled to a mid-life crisis because of the many years that I had struggled on my own. I started drinking to numb the pain i felt. Nobody really knew the severity of the problem and the internal pain i was dealing with because i was good at hiding it. I had to hit rock bottom before anyone could help me. The hardest part of my crisis lasted for a period of 6 months (luckily.) With the support of my second husband Raphael, I went on to become a qualified Yoga teacher

 

I went to India to study Sivananda Yoga, and there obtained my qualifications. Whilst in India/Kerala, I found myself drawn to the children that were living in very poor conditions in the nursery that was in the back of the Ashram.
I raised money for them and felt, not just happy, but happy with a true purpose! I was then given a spiritual name of Jagadamba "mother of the universe." I do not use this name for myself personally, it is only used for the work that i do.

I came back home with a mission. I did a course at The Special Yoga Centre with Jo Manual and then started teaching mainstream adults and children in schools. I had no idea where I was going with this but I knew that teaching Yoga was the way forward.

Mapledown School, a local special needs Secondary School, really appealed to me because it was local and the children were not too dissimilar to Billie. I approached them with the hope of teaching Yoga to the children. I had no experience, teaching Yoga to special needs children, but I hoped they would accept me on the basis of being a passionate Yoga teacher, and having a special/additional needs child. After quite a few months they gave me an opportunity that would change my life. I began by doing one 45min class, whilst being introduced to Makaton, to teaching 4 classes a week in a period of under 2 years, and I have now achieved my Makaton Enhancement Certificate which allows me to "share my knowledge" of Makaton. The progress that these children made was astonishing. Mapledown School have worked hard to keep the funding to maintain the Yoga classes, but as we all know, funding can be stopped at any time.

I continued to be drawn to any form of special/additional needs and have since taught in Norwood, Mencap, and other special needs schools. The catergory that it falls under is now so vast the it can be related to cancer patients, alcohol and drug users, children/adults who have anorexia, depression, dyslexia anyone that is not "able" to take control of their life, or need that "extra help." I am now also  teaching Jagadamba Yoga at Resources for Autism, Jewish care mental health, and privately.

I finally realised why Billie had come into my life. All of my knowledge of "special/additional needs" comes from her. She grounded me and gave me a purpose in my life that I could not find just by having children and being married.  I am eternally grateful to her. She is "The Love Of My Life!"

Every time I teach a class I feel something beautiful happens inside me, a feeling of such pure happiness.

My work continues and has progressively moved forward.

Enjoy.

Janette Brazil

Jagadamba Yoga