Meet the Urban Yogis Team

Our team have a wide range of experience and qualifications within yoga, sport/movement, social care, education, and youth & community work. This enables them to deliver a brilliant service to young people and communities. The team are all motivated and passionate about helping young people, and believe that Yoga has the power to make a positive impact in peoples lives.

Ben Eckett

Ben has been practising Yoga since 2016 and completed his teacher training in 2018 – he currently holds a 300 hour RYT.

Ben has over 15 years of experience working in social care, youth offending, youth work and education. He has a BA Hons Degree in Social Pedagogy (Youth & Community Development) and REPS Level 3 Personal Training qualification, Level 3 ‘Place2Be’ counselling.

Ben is the Co-Founder and Director of Gloves Not Gunz CIC which uses sport and education to divert young people from crime and exploitation. The organisation offers community sports, mentoring, schools workshops, counselling and an alternative education provision. In 2018, they started a programme called BoxFlow Yoga, this was an intervention that uses yoga to support young people involved in serious violence and gangs. Ben has created classes that teach the young people asana, pranayama and meditation to help them develop their emotional awareness and build resilience. The programme had a positive influence on diverting young people from crime and preventing school exclusions. In 2019 Ben became Director and Yoga Teacher at Urban Yogis UK. The previous Box Flow Yoga programme integrated into UYUK.

Ben is passionate about making Yoga being accessible to all and teaching the true roots of yoga to help support and develop communities.

Adam Ballard

Adam is the Co-Founder and Director of Gloves Not Gunz. He has over 10 years of experience in Youth Work and has been coaching in sport for 15 years. Adam is new to Yoga but already practicing daily, he believes that Yoga can be a great tool for relieving stress and anxiety, improving mental health and keeping active.

Adam competed in Muay Thai boxing and has coached a young person from Gloves Not Gunz to become British Champion.

Nicola Bianca

Nicola started her yoga journey in 2015 and in 2019 completed the Hatha Yoga Teacher training with British School of Yoga and is currently studying for her Meditation Teacher Diploma with Centre of Excellence. She has been sharing her practice and teaching yoga since 2018 around Torbay. She has spent the last 2 years working with the sixth form students at Brixham Community College on Flexible Learning days introducing the basics to yoga philosophy, pranayama, asana and meditation. In 2019, Nicola did a 4 week yoga programme with a group of year 10/11 girls helping to show the students how yoga can relieve stress and anxiety. Working on specific postures to help release stress and tension in the body and mind, showing how the body benefits from movement and the mind benefits from stillness.

Yoga came into her life when travelling with friends across America who introduced this lifestyle to her and its many benefits. Her passion for yoga grew as she saw the physical benefits when it helped to heal an ongoing knee injury and how her mind found clarity through the continuous spiritual journey that yoga offers. Nicola’s goal is to use her experiences to help others do the same. Yoga provides us with the tools needed to help heal the mind, body & spirit. Nicola truly believes that yoga is for everyone and is a powerful tool to bring balance into our lives.

Romario Simpson

At the age of 11, Romario competed in national gymnastic competitions. Since then, physical fitness, movement and breath have always been a part of his life. He is a trained professional actor, graduating from The Academy Of Live & Recorded Arts. Majority of the training was practical and filled with daily yoga routines. Since then, he’s noticed how abandoning this routine has made his breathing shallow, and posture slouched.

He is currently completing a 200 hour yoga teacher training and is restoring his connection with mind, body, spirit. Yoga can help young people and adults to channel self control and discipline. He now focuses on bodyweight training and clean eating. Health is wealth!

He is a youth mentor at Gloves Not Gunz, aiming to prevent and divert young people from crime and exploitation and equip them with skills they need to progress further.

Helen McCabe

Helen started practicing yoga in 1991 as new mum-to-be, working in an exciting but stressful job in the film industry and immediately recognised what an incredible tool for life it was. It has played a major part in her life ever since. and she has been teaching for over 16 years. She completed the BWY 3 year teaching diploma in 2005 and subsequently an Ashtanga yoga teacher training with John Scott and Lucy Crawford between 2008 -2010 and Pre and Post Natal yoga training with Nadia Narain. Helen is a registered Senior Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals.

Based in Dorset, Helen founded ‘Yoga at the Space’, where she teaches a schedule of weekly classes. She also mentors and supports other teachers through her mentorship and continuous teacher development programmes and runs regular retreats and workshops both in Dorset and Internationally.

Helen teaches with a gentle, inclusive and encouraging approach, supporting students to explore and cultivate their own personal practice, as a resource for life. She is also passionate about the importance of building community. As a mother of two grown up daughters the involvement with the Urban Yogis UK project which looks to share this practice with young people is also very close to her heart.

She considers herself to be a student first and foremost and is currently furthering her study and knowledge of yoga as a therapeutic modality through the Yogamedicine® advanced teacher training programme. She is also a qualified Level 1 coach with Align Somatics.

Abi Barber

Abi first started doing yoga in her mid 20s, when she was training regularly in TaeKwonDo and wanted a gentler practice to complement all the jumping around! Both disciplines involve the physical body – she absolutely loves to move – but they also go so much further, bringing in breath, energy, focus, mindset…

These days Abi gets her adrenalin from running rather than TaeKwonDo but the yoga has continued throughout. After about ten years of practising she decided to train with Yoga London as a teacher to see if she could share the benefits with others. Fast-forward a few more years and it’s now her full time job. In addition to running her own classes Abi also has the joy of working as a teacher trainer, helping new yoga teachers find their voices and start out on their own journeys. Abi will complete her own 500 hour training in 2021.

In previous jobs Abi has worked with Looked After Children, with young people who have been excluded from school, and with women in an addiction rehabilitation centre. Her current yoga teaching includes classes for full time carers, and for women at risk of homelessness who are living in shelters or supported accommodation. These groups of young people and adults face hugely challenging circumstances and multiple disadvantages and Abi is delighted that through joining the Urban Yogis team she has been able to combine her passion for inclusion and accessibility with teaching yoga. Through conscious, steady breathing and gentle movement Abi is working with her students to create some space at a hectic and disconnected time. Sessions include balancing and building strength, wobbling and laughing, and a calm focus on what is happening in the present moment, helping everyone take some much-needed time for themselves.

Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson is the director and senior yoga teacher at Stillpoint Yoga London, a successful ashtanga yoga studio in London Bridge. Scott co-founded SYL in 2009 and has attracted thousands of dedicated students since it opened, with it’s yoga community growing year on year. Scott has been teaching ashtanga yoga since 2003 after being inspired by renowned ashtanga yoga teacher John Scott. He is passionate about how the ashtanga yoga practice can unfold through a personal relationship with students and seeing the bigger picture of how practice can move into daily life. It is this insight that compelled him in 2012 to practice and study mindfulness, leading to qualification as a level 2 graduate with Clear Mind International in 2014. CMI has just received acceptance into the UK Mindfulness Network.

Scott sees the practice of yoga and mindfulness as a way of beginning to truly getting to know yourself and the understanding that getting to know yourself allows you to create true choice in your life.

Tara Clark

Tara has her 500hr Teacher Training through East London School of Yoga and it mentored by Stewart Gilchrist. She now teaches all over London and Surrey, whilst assisting Stewart on his teaching training courses.

She believes that the ancient teachings of Yoga are just as relevant in today’s life as they were all those thousand of years ago, a cultivation of self-awareness learning to practice through whatever we are feeling through one’s own life experiences – can bring change.

She concentrates her teaching on Pranayama (Rhythmic control of the breath), Asana ( keeping our body strong and healthy), Dhyana ( Meditation – moving or seated) and mantra – Following the 8 Limbs of Yoga.

She is passionate about teaching young people how to take the learnings from yoga off the mat and into our daily lives, so that they can be healthier, happier and reach their full potential.

Natalie Cresswell

Natalie is currently a yoga teacher and youth work.

After a few years of volunteering Nat took a substantial part time post in youth work in 2001. She managed a youth centre in a busy estate offering generic youth work sessions and completed her post graduate in youth and community work. She delivered and managed many projects including motorbike maintenance, setting up a music studio, sexual health work, football projects, targeted drug and alcohol work, a volunteering project in India and emotional health retreats.

After a rewarding 5 years she moved into area management developing more strategic management skills. After enjoying a couple of years in this role she decided to pursue a career in yoga. She is now fortunate enough to be able to do both a yoga teacher within the youth service.

Emma Burdon

Emma is an Ashtanga yoga teacher based in South East London. She began teaching in 2019 after qualifying as a Hatha Vinyasa yoga teacher (YAP 200hr), and completing David Swenson’s Ashtanga teacher training. Since then she has gone on to deepen her study of the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga system through the  Amayu education pathway (Essentials 1 & 2).

Drawing on ten years of her own practise, her classes focus on mindful movement and connection to our breath. She is passionate about making yoga accessible, and her aim as a teacher is to empower people through their yoga practise, showing how yoga can benefit us in our everyday lives.

Alice Wood

Alice found Yoga when she lived and worked in Singapore, over 10 years ago. She qualified as a yoga teacher with a 300 hour certificate in 2020 and, as well as Yoga, Alice teaches the Mindfulness in Schools Project course to the young people with whom she works as SENDCo and English teacher, at a Surrey boys’ school. As well as teaching within the state and independent sectors both in the UK, and internationally, Alice also has experience working in the specialist SEMH sector.

Alice absolutely believes in the transformative qualities of both Yoga and Mindfulness and believes that both disciplines can be hugely beneficial to people’s mental well-being, particularly. Alice enjoys teaching Hatha Yoga, with the restorative property of the breath at the centre of her practice.

In January 2022, Alice hopes to begin her studies for an MSc in Mindfulness and Compassion.

Rohil

Rohil has taught immersive retreat and teacher training programs in Morocco, Bali and India. He is currently pursuing a masters program in Cognitive Science to understand the scientific basis behind the various practices of yoga. He has spent long periods of time learning & practicing Ashtanga in the traditional Mysore-style, as well as classical Hatha with his teachers in Mysore and Rishikesh. He believes that yoga is not simply a physical practice and strives to highlight the philosophies that underlie these rich and sacred traditions. His teachings are non-dogmatic, whereby different students receive unique and appropriate instruction to tailor the practice to their needs and not the other way around.