Updated: Oct 6
Warm, resilient and ever-so-alive - the first time I ever met Annet Richard-Binns I was completely enchanted by her musical voice and ability to lift the energy of a room simply just by being there. Her positive energy resonated strongly with me and a year or so later I caught up with her on Zoom for a chat about accessible and authentic Yoga, diversity in rural areas and all things Annet…
Hailing from Jamaica and making the jump over to Britain in the 90s, Annet started practicing yoga when she was about 15 years old. ‘I was given a book on some basic asana and Yogic principles when I was a teenager - and from there on I practiced by myself privately until I was an adult living in England. When I first arrived in the country I didn’t even consider going to a Yoga class, I was so used to it being something I did privately it took me a while to open up to that possibility!”
Talking about her journey through practicing basic asana and meditation into becoming the well-loved and open-hearted teacher she is today, Annet mentions how the magic of Yoga helped to heal her through a troubling time. “Within the space of five weeks I was involved in two near-fatal car accidents. Although I was mostly physically unharmed I was left with some significant recurring whiplash that nothing could help me shake off. I tried massage, physio and various other therapies but the thing that really helped me sleep through the night was a consistent Yoga practice. After that I marched straight into Orange Yoga in Cheltenham and said to Ian (Davis) that I wanted to teach! Soon after I was enrolled on my first YTT and began my journey as a teacher. As for my own practice - my first 20 years or so were completely self-taught. I built the courage to allow myself to be guided and have been practicing and training to improve my skills as a teacher I’m just catching up now with what the world can offer.”
Music, dance and art means a lot to Annet and her journey began with her sharing of her cultural dance background when she arrived in the UK. She specialises in teaching Caribbean and African dance and has taught many children young people and adults throughout Gloucestershire and the South-West. In the past decade she extended her offerings to include Zumba and Fitsteps – based on Strictly Come Dancing - Annet shares her beautiful gift of movement in many different ways, “I move every morning. I love doing that. I put on a track and just move to the music. I think dancing is so joyous and so amazing. It’s beautiful really.” She offers classes all over Gloucestershire and encourages people to connect with their own movement and flow in an uplifting and joyful way.
An advocate of the true message of Yoga, Annet teaches with a refreshing attentiveness to tradition, focusing deeply on the inner world. “I am learning and feeling the message of Yoga has got a bit lost and been packaged in a particular way in the West. Where contemporary studios sell expensive leggings in their reception areas and Instagram shows a very particular look of Yoga being a gymnastic sport, only for the able-bodied, I feel we need to return to the true message of Unity, love, compassion and true happiness.”
Talking about her first experiences of teaching, “When I arrived ready to teach my ever first class, a student approached me and said ‘you’re not going to do any of that OM stuff are you?’ It really threw me! I like to design Yoga practices that are accessible to all abilities and backgrounds but still focus on the authentic Yoga I know and love. It’s a difficult line to find, even with good intentions but there is a balance and I hope to do my best to honour the practice of Yoga and its lineages.”
Annet has since gone on to champion accessibility in Yoga for people all over in Gloucestershire. Starting her recent joint-venture ‘Gloucestershire Yoga For All’ in April 2017 with Ellie Stafford whom she met on a teacher training with Ian Davis. Of Ellie Stafford Yoga. Specialising in bringing the magic of Yoga practice to rural parts of Gloucestershire alongside individuals who may be left out of the contemporary ‘Yoga Studios’, Annet and Ellie are aiming their practices at the people who may not fit in to the western perception of Yoga practitioners. A large part of their work so far has been in schools and children with special needs.
Pushing the message of Yoga for children with a dazzling smile and her trademark sunshiney personality, Annet brings the true spirit of Yoga and mindfulness to those who need it most. , “I went on to set up a children’s charity, offering cultural and ethnic arts and crafts to children from low income backgrounds and children with learning difficulties. I taught dance in schools, African-Carribean dance to begin with - Yoga came along later - but I really want everybody to experience the joy of Yoga! It's so necessary to educate the next generation with these skills - for a better and more peaceful future."
A living embodiment of the power of creativity, Annet recently made her debut as a writer, publishing a piece in Moon Magazine ‘4 Steps To Embrace June’s New Moon Eclipse Vibes’ which was read and received nationally by the holistic community. “During Covid I really got busy being creative. Dancing, Practicing Yoga, playing, being outdoors, singing (even though I can’t sing!) and more recently - writing. I like to create from my own experiences. I’m no ‘Moon Expert’ of anything, but I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on how I relate to the Moon and my own experiences of the ebb and flow of the natural world. I’m really into self-inquiry and asking questions to peel away the layers of ourselves. I feel writing is one of my vehicles to do just that.”
On the theme of diversity and loving acceptance on a global scale, Annet describes her feelings surrounding the recent social, global and humanitarian issues; "I feel these issues that have exploded over recent months are a brilliant opportunity for us to reimagine the Yoga space. To make something new, inclusive and diverse that has space for everybody to be a part of. Now is the time to focus in on the heart. We need our open embracing hearts in this new and emerging world in so many different ways, and we cannot be afraid to come forth, to take action.
Annet is currently studying Rasa Yoga with Master Teacher Sianna Sherman and Greta Hill. Rasa yoga brings it all together for her. “It’s an incredible journey and I will tell you all about it another time! “ We wait in anticipation...
A warrior woman on a pilgrimage to self-discovery, compassion and loving acceptance on a global scale, just stepping into Annet’s powerful wake allows you to be rocketed upwards to fly alongside her. A person who’s immensely powerful heart will leave you feeling elated for days after just sharing a smile with her - Annet is an extraordinary and authentic Yoga teacher on a mission to spread good vibes, acceptance and kindness worldwide. She is a force of nature and will insist on taking you along with her for the ride.