Donna Southwell

I’d tried many yoga classes over the years, but when I first went to an ashtanga class in Rishikesh, North India in 1999, I knew that this was the style for me. Unbeknown to me, those two weeks of practice would change the direction of my life.

I continued to do my own practice whilst travelling around the world using David Swenson’s Practice Manual as a guide.  A workshop with John Scott, early in 2000, made me realise that I needed a teacher of my own.

That same year I moved to London to study with Hamish Hendry at Astanga Yoga London. It was through Hamish that I realised the benefits of a daily morning practice and there that I eventually began to learn to teach in the traditional Mysore style.

My first trip to Mysore was at the end of 2002 – I ended up staying there for four months. Since then, I have visited as often as family, life and work commitments will allow. I have been lucky enough to have studied with Pattabhi Jois, Saraswati and Sharath and in 2012 received the level 2 authorisation to teach both the primary and intermediate series. 

Teaching wasn’t something I planned to do, but it seemed to find me, working as an assistant for Hamish and working as a receptionist at Triyoga, the largest yoga centre in London at the time, meant that I was at the right place and at the right time. I started to be asked to cover classes, then asked to run my own and teach people privately. The work kept coming, and in 2003 I decided to start teaching as a full-time job - I haven’t looked back. Living in London allowed me to study with loads of inspiring teachers as well as gain a wide variety of teaching experience in so many different situations. 

My love of nature and the outdoors gave me the impetus to leave my ashtanga community in London and move with my family to the north of England to help create an ashtanga community up here. This is where I still live with my two children, Caleb and Daisy, as well as my dog and cat. Here I teach classes locally as well as running workshops and retreats much further afield.

I love the Ashtanga community that I have helped to create locally, helping to guide my students on this journey and being able to support them along the way. My retreats are an extension of this. I wanted to connect my love of the practice with my love of the outdoors. On these trips away, students have the opportunity to reconnect with nature and challenge themselves in new ways, taking their yoga practice off the mat. Whether it’s climbing mountains in all the elements, facing your fears while rock climbing, sliding down natural water chutes and jumping into pools while ghyll scrambling or breathing deeply as you swim in icy tarns and lakes. It’s amazing to see the strength of the friendships that develop over the time away, however short, and watch as peoples’ confidence, energy and belief in themselves and their potential grow.

At the end of 2019, I was offered the opportunity to take over the running of the Calderdale Yoga Centre along with my close friend, Chris McArthur. It felt like the right time to take on this new challenge. We are both super excited about growing this space for the whole local yoga community.

I started this practice in my 20s – young and free with tons of energy and few commitments. Since then the practice has been my one constant throughout all of life’s upheavals – marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, parenthood, moving home, divorce and now heading towards menopause. My goal has been to create a safe and supportive space in which I can support others on their journey, helping them to explore and deepen their practice in a way that is both nurturing and sustainable. I want to enable students to have the confidence and ability to be able to work with this practice in a way that helps support them in all stages of their life and so make this a lifelong practice.


07985 274 181

teacher's website


7:15 - 8:45
dynamic yoga
9:30 - 10:45
introduction to ashtanga
6:00 - 7:00
ashtanga mysore style or counted primary (monthly)
9:00 - 11:00