Alice Griffin reports…
Tiny Home Yoga with May – on top of the world!
WHEN Meagan Anne Mansfield – known as May – found herself going stir-crazy in the stillness of everyday life after a period of exploring the globe, she decided there was no choice but to seek out a similar sense of freedom right here in the UK.
“Moving around is very much in my heart and brings a lot of joy to my life. I lived abroad for five years, travelling through Nepal, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos before settling in Australia for a while. I then lived in New Zealand in a van for a year. When I returned home to Leeds, and with the addition of Covid, it was as if the walls closed in.”
May and her ex-partner decided to come up with a plan to return to a way of living that cultivated a sense of self-reliance, that brought them back to a more immediate way of living. “We had many ideas like buying a yurt/land but in the UK this is very difficult so when our friends bought a boat, we soon followed!”
It was a 1981 62ft traditional narrowboat that caught May’s eye, because of the space as well as there not being much to do internally. “She also had a lovely previous owner who was a liveaboard and gave me a great handover explaining the systems!” Perhaps most importantly, though, the roof space allows May to practise her beloved yoga, as well as providing the perfect backdrop to her popular YouTube yoga videos.
Having struggled with her mental health while abroad, May turned to yoga for healing. “Even though I loved where I was and the experiences, inside I felt lost, confused, anxious and I had no reason really. It was a vicious cycle of self-doubt!” Yoga became her catalyst for change and May attended classes daily while living in Melbourne and when on the road she was not averse to unrolling her mat in a scenic car park.
“In my opinion, stress is hugely linked to much of the disease we experience today and yoga is the natural healer of stress. I believe if you start with the foundations of yoga, the principles: breathing and connection to self, then other health benefits soon follow.”
So inspired was May by how yoga helped on her own personal journey, she decided to travel to India and complete her teacher training. Now she teaches locally in the UK as well as online, live from her narrowboat. “It was a mixture of people, travel and yoga that changed my mindset to one of abundance and positivity.” May now uses yoga as a means to connect everybody to themselves. “My style is more about the mind-body connection rather than the exercises,” she said.
Small space challenges
Being a fellow narrowboat yogi, I understand the constraints of small space practice but May has approached these challenges with creativity. “Practising in a small space has been tricky and I have had to adapt my practice and teaching to fit, but it further proves that yoga is a lifestyle. Being flexible in your thinking and approach to life gives you that ‘can do’ mindset that makes all the difference.”
This same mindset encouraged May to embrace the challenge of becoming a continuously cruising solo boater in the summer of 2022. “When I split with my partner I couldn’t bear the thought of losing both him and the boat so I gave him every penny I had to buy him out.”
May shares that while it was daunting to go solo, it was also the push she needed. “I’m making a life for myself that is my own, redefining the person I am. Now I’m solo I feel more doors have opened up and I’m less afraid to put myself out there and be 100% me!”
May’s experiences on the water have seen her enjoy a community that is always happy to help. “In my video ‘I need water,’ a lovely boater helped me with my engine. After multiple failed jump starts he actually gave me a starter battery!” There are plenty of other things about life on the water that suit May, like being connected to nature and the challenge of no two days being the same.
She appreciates the rawness of having to work for basic needs, like warmth. “It feels very human to be handling wood and starting fires.”
Aged 30, May has a whole lot of life ahead and with her positive can-do attitude, I expect what unfolds will continue to be an inspiration for those following her journey.
PHOTOS: Meagan Anne Mansfield
For information about May’s online LIVE from the boat classes:
Email: [email protected]