The Adia Interview: Clare Connolly, Yoga & Meditation Expert
3rd March 2020
Clare Connolly is the beautiful voice behind our guided meditations, one of the Adia community’s favourite features. Ahead of launching our upcoming Meditations for IVF, we sat down with Clare to chat about her career, the importance of the mind-body connection, and the role yoga and meditation plays in fertility.
From the stage to the yoga mat
We know and love yoga and meditation expert, Clare for her calming influence and soothing voice. However when she moved to London, almost two decades ago she became intent on pursuing a career in musical theatre. She had been passionate about dance since the age of 3 and always dreamed of working in the West End. Clare achieved her dream, and also went on to have numerous roles in film, TV, plays and voice over work. But how does treading the boards lead to practising on the yoga mat?
“I think my love of dance is what gave me an interest in yoga and the mind-body connection, as it’s a very body orientated practice,” she tells me “When I moved to London, in between my dance and acting jobs, I wanted a way of keeping fit. So I started doing some yoga”
Initially, the physical benefits drew Clare to yoga. But she realised it was positively impacting her emotional wellbeing too. “I started yoga because I wanted to keep strong and flexible. But the classes were really powerful emotionally too. Sometimes I would find it really hard and the teacher would say ‘what’s happening on the mat may be happening outside as well’ and that resonated with me as I was going through quite a tough period at that time auditions and rejection are, after all, what an acting career is built upon.”
Confidence and focus through yoga
In her first years in London, Clare was navigating a new city, and an industry that wasn’t always kind. Yoga gave her the opportunity to release those emotions in a positive way, and remind herself of her inner strength. “I realised yoga was helping me stay strong and focused. When I got through a difficult class, I felt like I could do anything, it gave me a bit of much-needed confidence and that really helped me to succeed and build my career as an actress.”
Through yoga, Clare was also introduced to the concepts of meditation and mindfulness, where she noticed yet another connection to her dance background. “Meditation is a form of switching off from the outside world. When I was dancing, nothing else mattered. I used to almost meditate through my dance. So with yoga and meditation, it brought me right back to my childhood, of bringing the mind to stillness through my dance.” Switching off is something that Clare still finds difficult to do, but through yoga and her daily meditation practice she maintains a regular opportunity to connect with herself and shut out the rest of the world. “When I go to a yoga class, it’s like I surrender that hour to be with myself, be with my body, be with my mind and see what happens.”
Meditation is a form of switching off from the outside world
Time to teach
Clare’s growing passion for yoga was so strong that she knew she wanted to share it with others. “I never had the passion to teach dance – it felt like something that was all for me. But with yoga, It was like, ‘oh my god, we all need this’. Clare says “I started teaching my friends and they would all say ‘ I feel amazing after that’ and I knew it was something I wanted to do more seriously”. Clare travelled to America to complete her teacher training, and has now been teaching in the capital for 12 years, with students from all walks of life, including Adia’s very own founders, Lina and Tyler!
Working in London, Clare sees yoga as an integral part of helping people cope with the daily stresses that city life brings. “In a big city where we’re all striving – to pay our bills, to beat the rush hour tubes and traffic, to find relationships, to find the time to see family and friends, it’s all too easy to get disconnected with our minds our bodies and with our authentic self – we’re always coming up against battles, perhaps unwanted pressure and this can all play out in our body physically and mentally in the form of stress”
The mind-body connection
However, it isn’t just Londoners who desperately need to dedicate time to relaxation. From fake news to social media, Clare believes that the information overload of modern life is disrupting our mind-body connection. “There’s a lot to deal with these days. How are people supposed to switch off their brains when they can’t switch off their phones and their emails?” Clare’s approach to teaching is about helping us to switch off from those distractions – at least for a few minutes or hours a day.
She encourages her students to come back to themselves and explore their bodies and minds, so they can better understand their emotional world. “Sometimes we feel a bit rotten and we don’t really know why.” she explains “Then you might come to your yoga mat or you might come into your meditation and you realise it was a conversation you had with somebody weeks ago or something you read in the newspaper or online and you might still be, unconsciously, holding onto it. Yoga and meditation teach you to be in the moment, rather than think about the past or the future. So it is a time for you to just really let go. I think sometimes you have to get quiet. Even make the mind chatter silently before you can figure things out.”
Yoga and meditation can help us nurture the mind-body connection. This connection is active even when we don’t notice it. This symbiotic relationship can manifest in positive and negative ways. “The mind and body connection is happening constantly – it happens when we hear a piece of beautiful music, and we get goosebumps or when we smell amazing food, and we get hungry” she says. “So when we experience something traumatic, it also has some sort of physical impact that is happening on a deeply unconscious level.”
Meditation for fertility
Clare believes holding on to stress can cause illness and long-term damage to our bodies. She also feels like stress plays a role in the chances of conceiving. This is one of the reasons she’s so passionate about working on Adia’s guided meditations. “I love recording the meditations for Adia. Since I want to have children myself, so I feel excited that people are listening to me in order to fulfil that desire to have a child. I love the idea of helping people to do that.”
Clare’s guided meditations at Adia can help reduce stress during your fertility journey. They can also be a powerful way of connecting to and understanding your body. The Cycle Day meditations let you know what’s happening in your body at each stage of your cycle. The new self-care meditations are designed to get you thinking about ways to be kinder to yourself. They also allow access to points of stress so you’re able to recognise stress manifesting. To get free access to Clare’s meditations, sign up to Adia and start listening today.
“Struggling with fertility is never easy, but I think it helps you a little bit when you give yourself the chance to let go. A lot of the meditations are about letting go of control and also being grateful for the relationships that you have.”, Clare explains. “A fertility journey can put a lot of stress on the relationship you have with your partner and on the relationship you have with friends that are getting pregnant around you. And if you’re going through it on your own meditation can help with resilience and the relationship you have with yourself.”
“Struggling with fertility is never easy, but I think it helps you a little bit when you give yourself the chance to let go. A lot of the meditations are about letting go of control and also being grateful for the relationships that you have.”
Trying to meditate
If you’re nervous about taking your first plunge into meditation, Clare has some advice. “It’s called a practice and you only get good at it by practising. The first time you do it, your mind is going to wander off. That’s okay. Some days will be better than others, you have to just keep practising”. The Adia meditations are only a few minutes long, to fit into busy lives. That’s something Clare was passionate about. “I always think back to what the Dalai Lama said, which is on regular days, he meditates for one hour and on days when he’s too busy, he meditates for two hours! On days when we’re too busy. That’s when we really need it.”
Join free today to listen to our short, free guided meditations.