My name is Leif Olsen and I have been a yoga teacher specialising in women’s health for nearly 20 years.
I am crowdfunding for £7,000 to relaunch my yoga studio, Garbo House, as an independent centre with a 360˚ approach to women’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
The funds will be used to buy equipment, promote the new centre, and crucially to provide a bursary so that women from all economic backgrounds can access the classes and benefit from the powerful support network women provide for each other.
Why do we need a women’s wellbeing centre?
I’ve seen hundreds of women experiencing the profound life-changes of menstruation, pregnancy, birth, motherhood and menopause, and I strongly feel that right now many are being let down by massive gaps in the traditional healthcare system.
Despite the many fantastic midwives, GPs and nurses, the system as a whole is stretched to breaking point, leaving paper-thin support for women at key times during their lives. This is putting them at risk of long-term physical problems and poor levels of mental health. Our health system deals with illness and disease. Fertility issues, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause aren’t diseases, but they are complex aspects of women’s lives and they can have ongoing – and often unseen or undiagnosed – effects.
“Leif is highly skilled and experienced. She provides a nurturing space where women can come together to learn, connect and be supported through all stages of life. I believe that Garbo House will be a great asset to our community.”
~ Dr Sarah Shaw
What qualifies me to help?
In 1999 I trained as a Holistic Childbirth Educator and then in 2003 I completed a two-year yoga teacher training course with Duncan Hulin and the Devon School of Yoga. I also studied Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vini Yoga, Anusara and Scaravalli with many inspiring teachers from around the world. It is very simple; a regular yoga practice makes you happy and healthy and that is all most of us want. I’ve enjoyed nearly 20 years of teaching yoga and specialising in pregnancy and postnatal yoga. It’s a
real honour to work with so many brilliant women and to empower them towards a positive birth. However, my pregnancy yoga classes have given me a valuable insight into the contemporary challenges facing pregnant women and new mums; lack of contact with midwives and low levels of postpartum care, feelings of isolation and intense pressure – I have seen women from all walks of life facing an uphill struggle, and I want to help.
The various practitioners I am working with to deliver this project are all specialists in other areas, and we all share the same passion for women’s health.
“I think the NHS should offer your pregnancy yoga classes to every expectant mum! Midwives are amazing too, but your class helped me to have a much easier, less clinical labour and birth the second time round. You gave me the confidence and knowledge to make it a really positive experience.”
What will happen at Garbo House?
Garbo House will become a multi-faceted space with classes, workshops, activities and treatments. I will be collaborating with other specialist practitioners to offer a programme of progressive, holistic support to help women take control of their wellbeing – with positive impacts for whole families and the wider community.
The timetable will include yoga for teenagers, pregnancy and baby yoga classes, women’s yoga therapy, a singing group, meditation, couples birth preparation, Mamas Retreats and workshops on baby massage, perimenopause, anxiety, trauma and using herbs in your home. There will also be the opportunity to book massages, acupuncture and one-to-one sessions with other specialists.
However, a centre such as this is designed to become more than the sum of its parts. Every class I’ve ever run has become a useful support network for the women involved; friendships have formed, challenges have been shared and overcome, and the participants have felt nurtured and empoweredthrough connectivity. It’s a way of building resilience in ourselves, and in our communities – and there’s not enough of that right now!
“I was lucky enough to stumble on Leif’s pregnancy yoga class at Garbo House when I was pregnant with my first. I can’t imagine what life would have been like if I hadn't joined that yoga class! Some of my best mum friends I met at pregnancy yoga and we continued through to baby yoga where our children have found friends for life, from before birth! I wish all mums-to-be and beyond could have
the support I have been lucky enough to receive, simply by going to Leif’s pregnancy and baby yoga classes.”
What exactly am I crowd funding for?
There are three elements I am looking to crowdfund so I can take Garbo House to the next level:
A bursary for women who are less able to pay for classes. I want all women to be able to access our services, no matter their economic background. We’ll be working with GPs and schools to engage with as many women as possible and raise awareness of the help we offer, and hope to be able to provide free yoga classes for teenagers.
A variety of new teaching equipment for the yoga studio is required in order to deliver the programme.
A creative and comprehensive marketing and PR campaign to make sure we reach as many women as possible. This will include branding, website, print marketing, press releases, filmmaking, advertising and a launch event.
With your support we can make this a reality and start improving women’s lives immediately here in West Cornwall.