I grew up feeling a little more ‘out there’ (read: weird) than my friends in a small seaside town in England. Luckily enough, my parents were of the original hippy generation, and lived in Morocco and were devout Sufis at this time. Growing up, my name was Habiba (meaning Beloved One in Arabic). At 10 years old, in a new class at school I was asked if I had a nickname. I said ‘Claire’. I just wanted to be normal like my friends. But feeling different can often be the catalyst for doing things differently.
I started dancing at about age 6. It became my life, and my escape and solace when my parents split up. I danced every night and loved every moment. In the most difficult childhood moments, getting lost in movement and music helped me cope with the real-life upset. My teacher, June Ranger, is one of my biggest inspirations, a true visionary. She taught me discipline, how to work hard and to find my direction in life.
I went on to become a professional dancer, choreographer and to lead a dance company. At this time (in my very early twenties) I led the company, taught dance and lectured in movement, facilitated dance degree courses and choreographed over 40 music videos for various rock bands, including Manic Street Preachers, Blur, Funeral for a Friend as well as many performances for the old show Top of the Pops!
I came to yoga as a dancer, for the physical benefits. I still remember the first time I practiced – no form, no strength just a really flexible body and a big heart with no direction. With the help and inspiration of my teachers, my body and mind changed, I became focused. I loved merging the spiritual aspect of yoga into my body. It felt divine. I had come home.
I began yoga in 1995, with Ruth White, then a Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher, and still train in Iyengar in London and Los Angeles to this day, so this yoga thang has been dripping into my consciousness for a long time, even before it truly found me. I took my first class at Jivamukti Yoga in NYC in 1997, and was completely besotted with the practice. In 1998, I also began study of Kundalini Yoga kriyas – this has informed my self practice for many years. My self-practise also includes the Ashtanga Vinyasa method. I studied in Mysore, India with Sri K Pattabhi Jois from 2001to 2009, and then with Sharath Ramaswamy. My last trip to Mysore was in 2012.
For the past 18 years, I have aimed to create my own detailed and methodical approach to Vinyasa Yoga, building specific methods of creating krama (sequencing) and alignment, and layering music, yogic philosophy and real-life stories to create a fully dimensional and inspirational story-experience. I continue to study to build on this extensive research into the minuscule details that make Vinyasa Yoga the yoga form of the future. I continue my studies in Iyengar yoga and continue to practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga when my body needs it. I have a committed sitting daily meditation and Kundalini yoga kriya dedication. Spiritually, I consider myself a devotee of Maharajji (Neem Karoli Baba), inspired to my soul by Baba Ram Dass, and I have always loved the philosophy of the Sri Ramakrishna Lineage, and attend satsang, puja, lectures and collectives at the centres in the UK, USA and India.