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Secret life

“It is not just stretching the body but relaxing the mind”

West Yorkshire locum optometrist, Meena Pillay, on training as a yoga teacher during lockdown

sunset yoga

I’ve come quite late in my life to yoga. I started two years ago and completed my teacher training at the beginning of the first lockdown. I couldn’t work at the time and was wondering what I could do. I am qualified now.

My initial thought was to deepen my own practice. I really enjoyed it and decided that I would like to teach. You teach the philosophy and about meditation and breathing – all these different aspects that make yoga a whole way of life. The fact that I can share that passion brings excitement and a bit of vitality to my life.

Locum optometrist and yoga teacher, Meena Pillay
Because of lockdown, I am teaching Zoom classes. When the pandemic restrictions ease, I can’t wait to do in person classes. I have been a locum optometrist for 15 or 16 years and am still working as a locum one or two days a week.

I enjoy the fact that yoga is a discipline in my life that I can live by. It is not just a quick fix like a gym routine or a diet. It brings mental clarity and calmness to my life. I am more content than I’ve ever been even though I am not earning much money.

Optometrists spend a lot of time sitting down or leaning over. There are yoga postures that can help to lengthen the spine. You might open the chest by doing a slight back bend – you reach up in a mountain pose and reach your arms back past the head.

Brain fog, panic attacks – I’ve had them all. You can only look after others if you look after yourself


It is not just stretching the body but relaxing the mind. Burnout is a big thing in optometry – I’ve personally experienced it. Brain fog, panic attacks – I’ve had them all. You can only look after others if you look after yourself.

In yoga you sit with discomfort quite a lot. You learn how to manage discomfort and not let that affect you. If there is an issue at work, it doesn’t wear me down like it used to. Yoga helps you to let go and accept things for what they are in this moment.

For more information on Meena’s yoga classes, visit her website or Instagram account.

  • As told to Selina Powell.