Fiona Sarjeant

How Iyengar Yoga started in the Highlands…

How Iyengar Yoga started in the Highlands…

This year we are celebrating 50 years since the first Iyengar Yoga classes in Scotland began and there is a dedicated website with further information but that got us thinking about how classes first started in Inverness. We asked Ailsa Peck to reminisce about how she started it all:

Starting Iyengar Yoga in Inverness

A personal view by Ailsa Peck.


I started yoga in 1974 with Bob and Kathy Welham firstly at Edinburgh University and later at the Bruntsfield centre. I remember them as exacting teachers. There were few props, maybe just some bricks for the standing poses, but I responded to their quiet and disciplined approach.

In 1982 I started teacher training with Kathy and when Mr Iyengar came to Edinburgh in 1984 I was inspired by the demonstration  by the more experienced teachers.

I  obtained my Introductory Level Certificate in 1985, and taught first  at Edinburgh University and later at the Bruntsfield Centre. I moved to Highland region in 1988.

Setting the scene

Thinking back to that time 36 years ago when I arrived there were a few yoga classes around and I sampled some, but non compared with Iyengar yoga.

I was naïve and inexperienced but enthusiastic and enjoyed teaching  and I wanted to introduce Mr Iyengar’s teaching method to people who were interested.

What were the difficulties

So, how did I go about it and what were the difficulties? One is the size of Highland Region, which is 1/3 of the land area of Scotland, so there is not a lot that one person can do on a regional basis.

Distance can lead to the potential isolation of an individual teacher from supportive yoga communities in Edinburgh and Glasgow where personal contact, attending classes and workshops can keep practice fresh.

While understanding the principles  and ethics of yoga may have been developing in urban communities, in more rural areas long held beliefs could be a barrier to teaching yoga. I vividly remember one of my pupils coming to me and saying that her church elders had told her that she was letting in the devil by relaxing her mind body and spirit her mind in Savasana.

Goodness knows what they thought of me!

Establishing classes

I lived in a tiny village 30 miles away from Inverness, but I needed to  establish classes in a more populated urban area  so I chose to teach at the Spectrum Centre in the middle of Inverness. Because I had to travel long distances to get to the classes I taught three on one day there, and another in Drumnadochit which was only 16 miles from home. Quite close by Highland standards!

The press came to the first class in Inverness and my photograph was splashed on the front page of the Inverness Courier. I was lucky to attract some really dedicated pupils, some who were new to yoga and others who had come from other classes as well as their teachers

After a couple of years I had enough able students who would enjoy workshops and a wider approach from more experienced teachers. Among others Margaret Austen and  Elaine Pidgeon came. They were so kind in supporting my efforts and the students benefitted from fresh new perspectives.

Supporting myself

During this time I managed to get to as many classes and workshops as possible in Edinburgh . That was a drive of 7 hours there and back but I never minded that. It renewed my enthusiasm and refreshed my teaching.

I later gained my Junior Intermediate certificate by hard work at home and attending classes at the centre.

Teacher training

I wanted to be able to offer teacher training classes but in 1992 I didn’t hold the  correct certificate but I approached Jean Maslen and was given permission to start. I was so naïve, Kathy had made it look easy. At that time was really lucky to have been joined in Inverness by Fiona Sarjeant who had already been doing teacher training with Anke Van Bevren in Aberdeen. Fiona and Donna Youngson qualified in 1995 which was wonderful.

 Bowing out

Unfortunately I developed a chronic back problem and this together with starting to work full time and travel abroad put paid to my yoga classes, but Donna  and Fiona took over the baton. I eventually left Highland for Edinburgh in 2006.

Iyengar Yoga in Inverness now.

Looking at the Yoga Inverness website I can only marvel at the changes over the past 36 years. There are four teachers and both regular classes at various levels in a number of different venues, zoom classes, and workshops by visiting teachers. Looking at the online it is wonderful to see the positive feedback from students.

I  can only thank the dedication of all the teachers there who have been able to carry on from my stumbling beginnings.

Good luck to Yoga Inverness!

Uday Bhosale workshop – 8th & 9th June 2024

Uday Bhosale workshop – 8th & 9th June 2024


We are delighted to welcome Uday Bhosale to the Highlands.

Uday’s love of Iyengar Yoga began in the late ’90s when he began training and learning in Pune, India with Guruji (B.K.S. Iyengar, the founder of Iyengar Yoga), his daughter Geetaji and his son Prashantji in 2002.   He has over 20 years’ experience of teaching Iyengar Yoga, 15 years of which were at the world-renowned Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI). In that time he has taught over 10,000 students in 17 countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia teaching a wide range of students of all ages (from 7- 92) and abilities from beginners to experienced teachers.

He delivers sessions that are interactive, engaging, light-hearted and fun whilst staying true to the art, science and philosophy of Iyengar Yoga. He is keen to make Iyengar Yoga accessible to all.

Uday has been based in the UK since 2015 and during that time has run charity fundraising classes and was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for fundraising services to NHS charities and supporting the mental health of yoga practitioners during COVID- 19, raising over £55,000.

A General-level weekend workshop aimed at those with at least two years’ experience and regular attendance at classes. 

Saturday 10 am – 4pm and Sunday 9:30 am – 3:30 pm.  Our venue is Inverness Creative Academy (WASPS), Stephen’s Street, Inverness, IV2 3JP. The cost is £100 for the full weekend, or £50 per day. Preference will be given to those booking the full weekend.  If you can only make one day try to make it the Saturday.  Space in the hall will be limited to 30 participants, please register early to secure your place!

Equipment to bring – the usual things – sticky Yoga mat, Yoga belt, 2 x wooden/foam/cork bricks, 4 foam blocks, 1 Yoga blanket. Also if you have your own Yoga bolster and Yoga chair bring those along.  Some equipment will be available to borrow on the day but please check in advance so we know what to bring.

Please visit our timetable to book your space, scroll down to the section on workshops.  Payment is made through PayPal; you do not need a PayPal account to do this and can use credit/debit cards, click on the correct icon.  Any issues please let us know.

If, once booked, you need to cancel, please let us know ASAP. If we can allocate your place to someone on our waiting list then you will receive a refund, less a small PayPal charge.

For those travelling to Inverness please book your accommodation as soon as possible.  The area of Crown is where the venue is located and is just a short walk from the railway and bus stations.

Any queries please contact

Bobby Clennell Workshop 1st – 3rd March 2024

Bobby Clennell Workshop 1st – 3rd March 2024

We are delighted that Bobby is coming back to Inverness to teach a weekend of yoga.

Bobby Clennell has been a direct student of B.K.S. Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar and Prashant Iyengar for over 43 years and teaches for the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York. She is the author and illustrator of: Watch Me Do Yoga, The Woman’s Yoga Book and Yoga for Breastcare. Bobby’s teaching style is strong, energetic, precise and kind. She is also the creator of Yoga Yantra, a beautiful animated short film based on the movements of B.K.S. Iyengar;

Class details:

Friday March 1st 6-8pm (GMT) Intermediate, experienced, teachers and teacher trainees.

Developing Sensitivity in Asana: tuning into bones, joints, muscles and skin – the standing poses build strength and endurance and we gain vitality. They can also, if we work with awareness, help us develop an understanding of the skin, the largest of sense. It is when the skin is aligned with the organs of action – arms, legs and spine – that we find ourselves most at ease.

Saturday March 2nd 10am – 4:30pm (GMT) General level

Yoga for a Woman’s Life – using a wide range of yoga poses, Bobby will take through the various phases of a woman’s life, showing how to adapt our practice according to our age. Come prepared to be 5 year’s old! Can you remember yourself as a teenager? Even if you have never been pregnant, experience it now with some yoga for pregnancy poses. Postpartum? We will practice as if you had just given birth. Are you under the impression that menopause will never happen? Get a taste of a menopause practice with some carefully selected poses and the same with post-menopause. Practice being elderly – it’s not so bad – with some of the poses Guruji did in his later years.

Sunday March 3rd 9:30am – 3:30pm (GMT) General level

Active Forward Bends – these forward bends are energizing, bring relief from anxiety and create much space in the lumbar spine.

Towards Mulabhandasana – “a posture where the body, from the anus to the navel, is contracted and lifted up and toward the spine”, BKS Iyengar: Light on Life. Mulabhandasana mobilizes the hips, ankles, knees and toes.


Full 3 day weekend

  • In-person £110
  • Online £85

Friday evening class

  • In-person £30
  • Online £25

Saturday or Sunday full day

  • In-person £50
  • Online £40

Preference will be given to those booking the full weekend (Fri/Sat/Sun). A recording for the days booked will be available for two weeks for those booking on-line.

There are two discounted places for those suffering from financial hardship, these will be available on a first-come-first-served basis – please contact us for further information.

Practical things

For those attending by Zoom please note that Bobby will need to see you; please arrange your device so you can be seen and be prepared to change the camera angle if need be.

For everyone, Bobby has asked people to have the following equipment:

  • 1 x metal folding chair with the back removed
  • 1 x yoga mat
  • 1 or 2 bolsters
  • 2 x yoga belts
  • 2 x identical wooden/foam/cord yoga bricks
  • 4 x foam blocks
  • 2 x blankets

Some equipment will be available for those attending on the day to borrow so please le us know in advance if you need anything.

How to book

Please visit our Timetable and select March. Select either the entire weekend or individual days if you can only attend part; similar options are there for online ( Zoom links will be sent a few days prior to the event). Payment is made via PayPal – you do NOT need a PayPal account to make payment – if paying by card please click on the credit card symbol to pay that way.

Cancellation – if you need to cancel, please get in touch ASAP. If we can fill your space a refund will be provided minus an admin fee (PayPal charges).

Please let us know if you wish a printed version of this flyer.

2024 – 50 years of Iyengar Yoga in Scotland – this event is part of the celebrations.

Garth McLean Workshop 9-11 June 2023

Thanks to everyone who came to this event – a real treat to study with Garth. We  hope to welcome him back next year.


We are delighted to welcome back Garth to the Highlands.  More information is in the flyer below and you can book either on our Timetable page (selecting June as the month) or on our About our Classes & Workshops page (scroll down to Events section).  For avoidance of doubt the Friday evening session is £30.

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Bobby Clennell Workshop 24-26 February 2023

Thanks to everyone for attending- it was great to see to many students keen to practice and learn together!


We are delighted to welcome back Bobby to Inverness. Like last year ,we hope you will join us in person at Inverness Creative Academy (WASPS), however for those unable to make it to the Highland capital, it is possible to join on-line too. 

Further information is in the flyer below. 

Please note there is a discount for student (non-teaching) members of the East of Scotland Iyengar group.  All the options are colour coded on our timetable page. Take care you book the right option.



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Yoga and menstruation

How to practice throughout the month for those who menstruate?

You may have been listening to the excellent Radio 4 series “28ish days later” broadcast in July – I found this really fascinating., you can still hear it via BBC Sounds. Geeta Iyengar prescribed a different practice to be adopted during menstruation; those attending the Institute have to know it when their period comes so they can practise it during the classes. The sequence may also be done in class when you attend (speak to the teachers first) and is shown below:

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Bobby Clennell Weekend Workshop 22nd – 24th April 2022


We are delighted to announce our workshop with Senior Iyengar instructor, Bobby Clennell.  Sessions  for teachers, general level and beginners are available face-to-face in Inverness or via Zoom for those who cannot make it to the Highland capital.  Please read the adjacent flyer and follow the instructions for booking. It is also possible to pay by PayPal – contact us about this or any other issue.

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Outside classes

Summer is here and the time is right for practising Yoga outside

We will be using the Belladrum Estate (many thanks to the owners for permission) for three Sundays in August (1st, 8th and 15th). 

The classes will be suitable for all from beginners upwards (not for complete beginners).

Be prepared for all weathers.  It is a good idea to bring a picnic blanket or ground sheet to put under your Yoga mat and bring a blanket (or two) and a belt. 

We ran three of these last year and it was really lovely working face-to-face in peaceful surroundings.   Come and join us – book your place below.

Please do not attend if you, or someone in your household, are suffering with Covid symptoms



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