Movement brings me joy.
As a child I was always dancing. I dreamed of being a gorgeous ballerina, twirling effortlessly on stage, lost in the music.
At the age of 13 I was told I would never be a classical ballerina. I had the wrong body, wrong shape, wrong size. Totally devastating I can tell you.
But I had to dance. I set about schooling and fine-tuning my body with the one aim of achieving technical prowess. For my instrument to become a virtuoso super-human movement machine: no matter at what cost.
It was what you did to make it: to be better than anyone else, to be seen, valued and noticed. It was what I knew.
I did dance professionally and my years dancing were all consuming; full of passion, creativity and excitement. It was an incredible time. There was however a flip-side: I was always pushing to be more: stronger, quicker, thinner, more flexible. Never feeling quite “good enough” within myself.
Following a back injury, when I was on physio, painkillers and rest, I read a lot. Anatomy books, books on physiology of movement. I read the work of Mabel Todd and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. I had lots of light bulb “aha” moments, shifting and re-framing my perceptions and also my personal boundaries. I started looking differently at my body, my work….my life.
The Alexander Technique, then later Release Work and Contact Improvisation introduced me to a totally new experience of movement.
Exploring how breath, release of weight, the pull of gravity, bring an ease, grace and beauty to movement.
Through the Feldenkrais Method I became curious about developmental movement, how we are programmed from birth to learn and internalize useful movement patterns. I discovered new and exciting ways into the body. Different approaches to internalizing and embodying movement. I could achieve the same (and often more), by doing less.
It was a poignant time of learning and of un-learning. I found myself celebrating in the body’s innate intelligence. Touched and delighting in a very different movement aesthetic: the beauty and honesty of natural movement, rooted in the day to day. I started looking more towards our inner landscapes and the relationship between body, mind and movement.
My yoga journey was to come from this.
My Official Bio
Ruth Polden is a yoga facilitator and mentor. Her work is inspired by Vanda Scaravelli and informed by somatic movement practices: in particular the Feldenkrais Method, Contact Improvisation and Mind Body Centering. She works (teaching and speaking) throughout the UK, US and Israel. Ruth is a tutor on the faculty of The London Yoga Teacher Training Group and a senior tutor and lecturer on The YogaBirth Training Couse: preparing yoga teachers of the future. She co-created The Bliss Space an online community supporting mothers to celebrate their motherhood experience. Ruth was one of the founders of Motherwise The Israel Natural Childbirth Centre: the first educational centre of its kind in the country and a catalyst for change and choice in childbirth for women in Israel. (where she lived for 20 years.) Her teachers include Sandra Sabatini, Peter Blackaby, Lisa Mcrory, Monica Voss and Donna Farhi.
Ruth is a YogaBirth teacher and Active Birth Teacher and trained with Janet Balaskas in 1991. She has been following her passion supporting and empowering women through their life journey for over 25 years.
During her career as a dancer Ruth performed, choreographed in Europe and Israel. She was a lecturer on the dance faculty at Eastbourne University and Dance Foundation Course Hammersmith Education Centre.
She enjoys dancing, music, walking (on the beach in particular), cooking and sharing good food with loved ones. She lives in Sussex with her beloved husband and 2 incredible children to whom she is eternally grateful.
Other qualifications and letters I have after my name…
I have completed the Playing Big Facilitators training with Tara Mohr and am an Alumnae of the Playing Big leadership program for women (Bless you Tara!)
Humanistic Yoga Course (Peter Blackaby)
Birthing From Within Introduction
Birth Trauma Training (Sheila Kitzinger)
B. Mus. Rubin Academy of Music and Dance Jerusalem
The Roehampton Institute B.Ed in Dance and Education
Montessori Teaching Certificate London
My Birth Passion
Celebrating Life and living it.
My mother, Margie Polden, was a pioneer in the field of Women’s Health Physiotherapy, a groundbreaker and an inspiration. She loved her work and was dedicated to supporting and empowering women, before, during and after childbirth, and in meeting challenges of later life.
As children, we grew up hearing about women’s pelvic floors and all their other “bits” over the supper table. Enthusiastically-told stories of pregnancies and births often peppered daily conversations, as we shared what had happened that day at school, who said what to whom etc. It was normal, natural: for me pregnancy and birth were always a part of everyday life.
My mother had an uncanny gift of being able to bridge gaps between people. With her feet firmly in academia, she could nonetheless speak everyone’s language. She created wonderful connections between women and medical staff, doctors and midwives, midwives and physiotherapists, with the sole purpose of providing excellent care and support, with women at the heart.
I feel privileged and blessed to have watched an extraordinary woman work and grow, fuelled by her passion and calling, at such an informative time in my own life. I am in no doubt that the roots of my own Birth Passion were nurtured and nourished by my amazing mother and all she stood for in her life.
Mum, I feel you with me, alive in everything I do.
For me, birth is a recurring metaphor in life. It takes meaning from birthing babies and also our journey towards self-actualisation. Birthing ourSELVES fully and more authentically as women, as men.
Life moves. We gather the seeds of experience and learning and grow in awareness as we go. Each life journey is totally unique, so no two birth experiences will be the same.
Birth is steeped in mystery; we never know where it will lead. Often we resist its calling. Afraid of what we might meet en route; we tell ourselves we’re not ready, that we need more time.. When we do step across its threshold, we step towards the unknown, knowing there is no turning back. We meet parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed. We come through with the spoils and marks of our labours. We are forever changed.
Birth is powerful and profound. It can bring us to our knees, take us to our limits and beyond. Fear and self-doubt may rise as we hit a wall and bump up against our belief systems. We want to run away, give up. We convince ourselves it is safer to stay small in our perception of who we are and what we can do.
Yet, as in any hero or heroine’s journey, there are very precious treasures to discover and to take with us. Each birth offers up opportunity to grow. To discard what we no longer need. It asks us to pay attention, to step more honestly into ourselves.
Trusting life and opening to new possibilities. We discover the joy, lightness and flow in self-realisation. We celebrate our BIG-ness!
In so doing, our quest is simple: to become more human, more authentic, more present, more empowered: celebrating Life and living it.
What I’m Proud Of
Each so different, each with their fabulous gifts and qualities. Through you I have the courage to aim higher in my life. I am so proud of you! Love you guys!
Finally creating and birthing my website…it’s been a long pregnancy I can tell you!!! Big love and respect to you Tara.
Facing My Fears
Facing my terror of writing. My fear of technology….so out of my comfort zone with it. Learning to push through and embrace the good stuff. Thank you to Alan, Tara and Alex for your never-ending patience and encouragement.
The Bliss Space
The Motherwise Childbirth Center in Israel that I co – created in 1991 as a catalyst for change, choice and continuity of care for women and their families in Israel. The first educational center of it’s kind.
The incredible women I have had the privilege to work with over the years, who have made fundamental shifts and choices around what they need for themselves in their life.
The magic that happens as I watch incredible women step more authentically into themselves.
On their journey through all they meet, learn, discover and create.
What I Believe
We need S P A C E to come back to our SELVES. Release our “automatic” (habitual) patterns and re-connect with who we truly are.
Extraordinary that society doesn’t place mamas up there with valued CEO’s, politicians and other revered leaders: in recognition and respect of all they do.
When we embody this within ourselves, as women and as mothers, truly and deeply. When we demand it from our community and from society: change will happen.
The way forward in the world is through acknowledging what we have in common. What we share. Where we are the same. Our humanity.
We are human. We are here to become more so.
Mothers are the caretakers of the next generation of… mothers, fathers, doctors, political leaders, teachers, nurses, soldiers, artists, psychologists, carers, gardeners…
Being a mother is one of the most important jobs… and it ain’t always easy!
MOTHERHOOD is a catalyst for reconciliation, growth, peace, change.
Motherhood as a cross cultural arena for meeting. Sharing in our challenges, fears, hopes, desires, joy, fulfilment. Mothers together regardless of culture, religion and political standing.
You may be wondering why my logo has a pomegranate.
I love them! Their glorious shape: voluptuous and feminine: full with hidden promise.
When I open a pomegranate, I am always thrilled to discover the plump ruby seeds, revealed, like hidden jewels. When you bite into them, they explode their sweet juice on your tongue.
“The fruit of many seeds” like the rich seeds of potential within each of us. Gifts we are each blessed with, that become revealed as we move through life.
They also remind me of my deep connection with Israel.
Some cool things about them:
This mythical fruit is a symbol of fruitfulness, fertility, love, abundance and prosperity in many ancient civilizations. The Persians believed that the fruit Eve ate from the “forbidden tree” was a pomegranate.
The ancient Egyptians buried their dead with pomegranates, believing they offered eternal life.
Pomegranate seeds are thought to bring good luck in China.
Over the ages the pomegranate was venerated for its extraordinary medicinal properties. Ancient cultures made use of all its parts: petals, peel, fruit and leaves.
It is helpful to fight gum disease, stop diarrhoea.
More recently it is being considered in the treatment of diabetes, arthritis, cancer and cardiovascular health.
Lastly…I love eating pomegranates — they are delicious!
Nutritionally they are brimming with healthy antioxidants, vitamin C, K and B6, potassium, folic acid and even iron.
Here are my current favourite recipes. Do try them and let me know what you think…
1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus additional
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Plain yogurt, for serving
Chopped fresh mint leaves, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss the cauliflower with the oil, cumin seeds, salt, and pepper.
2. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and its edges are toasty, 20 to 30 minutes.
3.Whisk a pinch of salt into the yogurt. Dollop the yogurt on top of the cauliflower and strew the mint and pomegranate seeds over the yogurt.
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp olive oil ½ onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
5cm/2in piece ginger, grated 250g/9oz
red lentils, washed
2 bay leaves
900ml/1½ pints vegetable stock
3 tbsp tamarind paste
100g/3½oz Medjool dates, finely chopped to serve
1. Heat a frying pan and dry fry the cumin seeds until fragrant. Grind in a spice blender, or grind in a pestle and mortar until smooth. Set aside.
2. Add the oil to the frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onion and garlic for about four minutes, or until softened.
3. Add the ginger and cook for a further two minutes.
4. Add the lentils, ground cumin, bay leaves and stock. Stir in the tamarind paste and bring to boil before reducing the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.
5. Five minutes before the end of cooking time stir in the dates.
6. Serve the lentil stew with pomegranate seeds and mint sprinkled over, and watercress.
Serves 4 / by Simon Rimmer
Add pomegranate seeds to a salad of green leaves, fresh coriander and parsley, toasted hemp, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds and dress in your favourite dressing. (Goats/sheeps cheese is great if you have dairy).