Doortraits: Lockdown stories of my neighbours & community. I e-met Tessa Sanderson on Facebook through a facebook group I help to run with a local entrepreneur Tanya Gaffon. She was interested in having a doortrait taken so that she could talk about her lockdown experience and also to be able to talk about how the lockdown has affected her business.
A doortrait usually takes around 5 to 10 mins depending on how many people I am photographing, Tessa is such an interesting and fascinating woman, I was there almost as hour. I couldn’t stop asking her questions. She kindly gave me a book that I could read with my little boy. You can read about her books, classes and more in the interview below. Please do not scroll on, this really is interesting stuff. I feel enriched from meeting her, please read and give her a follow.
Has lockdown affected your business?
Yes! I am a yoga teacher, cycle awareness educator and author so these activities have been affected differently. All my yoga classes (www.tessayoga.co.uk) immediately moved online. I’ve been using Zoom so that I can still interact with the women in my classes. I specialise in Pregnancy Yoga and Mother & Baby Yoga: initially a lot of pregnant women thought that they would just wait a few weeks and join a face-to-face class when lockdown had passed. As the reality has sunk in that restrictions will be with us for a while, new pregnant women have been seeking a virtual class to meet other expectant mums and prepare for labour.
The Mother & Baby Yoga classes have given a rhythm to mums’ week and we have a chat at the beginning and end of the class. I have to mute everyone during the class because otherwise there’s too much background noise and a delay in the singing, so I really miss hearing the babies’ giggles. The Well Woman Yoga is missing some regulars who have little ones that have a sixth sense and know when mum is in the house trying to do yoga!
Who do you teach cycle awareness classes to?
I run puberty workshops for girls and also one-day gatherings for 10-12 year old girls. I haven’t run any of these during lockdown and would be interested to know if your readers’ children have still had their Relationship and Sex Education classes at school (for those that have gone back) or through online lessons. They often seem to be at the end of the Summer Term.
I also run a Red Tent, which is a women’s circle. It’s a lovely space to be with likeminded people and just be yourself. We talk about anything and everything. Usually we meet in a yurt on the edge of some beautiful woods, but we’ve meeting on Zoom. This has allowed women from further afield to join in, but we are all looking forward to seeing each other in person again. There is something about seeing someone with your own eyes rather than a screen that is important for connection (www.cyclicalwisdom.com)
I run online cycle awareness courses and ran a group one through the month of June. There were women from Italy, Spain, France, Ireland and the UK, and the yoga, relaxations and meditations were particularly useful with the uncertainty and anxiety around the pandemic. There’s a self-study course for those wanting a better relationship with their cycle (http://womenswisdom1.teachable.com/p/the-menstrual-cycle-circle1/)
And you’ve just published a book…?
Yes! Dante Leon’s Curious Journey is a book about boys’ puberty and is suitable from seven years onwards. It’s so much easier if you answer questions when children are curious rather than wait until they (or you!) feel awkward. I really recommend having a couple of books that you feel comfortable with to turn to when you get an unexpected question.
You can buy it on Amazon (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dante-Leons-Curious-Journey-anatomy/dp/0993375197) or buy direct from me with a personalised message (email me at email@example.com). I was hoping to have a book signing at WHSmith as I did for the girls’ books, but that will need to wait until restrictions lift further.
Yes, I saw that there was a gap in the books for younger girls around their bodies. As I said, the earlier you start using the proper words and talking about how the body works, the easier it is to keep the channels of communication open as their bodies start to change. Ruby Luna’s Curious Journey is an illustrated book, like the boys one, and it was important to me that the children in the watercolour pictures had different skin tones so that it was inclusive. (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ruby-Lunas-Curious-Journey-covering/dp/0993375138)
I also wanted to write a book for girls just about to start their periods so it would not feel scary for them. Ruby Luna’s Moontime was the result. In the groups I run, I’ve had so many women say that they had no idea what was happening when their first period started, and they thought they were dying. From September 2020, it will be compulsory to teach menstruation in secondary school, but for the 10% of girls that start at primary school that’s too late if they missed the relevant RSE lesson or parents haven’t talked about it assuming someone else will.
The feedback I’ve had from girls (usually 10-13 years old, but also younger if they’re starting puberty sooner) has been fantastic. They can’t put the book down! I was asked if it was written by a 10-year-old girl because the voice was so authentic, but I wrote it by channelling by 9 year old (Shh! Don’t tell her). (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ruby-Lunas-Moontime-transitioning-secondary/dp/0993375154)
Congratulations! How exciting to have published a book during lockdown.
Thank you. It’s been a balancing act with home schooling. When the girls were doing their lessons in the morning, I would find activities I could do where it wouldn’t matter if I was interrupted. I started drawing mandalas and have created a Colour Your Cycle book with mandalas to colour and stories about the different phases of the menstrual cycle. It’s currently being printed so follow me on Instagram @tessayogawomanality or Facebook @redtentcaversham if you’re interested to finding out more.
It sounds organised and productive, but definitely isn’t all the time. On the two mornings a week I teach yoga classes, the lessons would often take a back seat and end up being attempted after lunch instead. There’s been a lot of juggling and times when I’ve just had to take a deep breath and stop trying to follow any agenda!
We’re all just doing the best we can.
Read about Tessa’s books: www.cyclicalwisdom.com/books