Ayurvedic Yoga Massage UK was set up in 2011 by Despina Psarra, with the intention of sharing this extremely effective and beautifully pleasant to give and receive method; and helping more people to benefit from receiving it by making it more widely available and accessible in the UK. Despina started by offering treatments to low income and high end clients alike, and enjoys finding creative ways of keeping AYM treatments – and now also the training, as wonderful and effective as they can possibly be, while they are maintained accessible to all. Since 2014-15 it had been difficult for Despina to cope with demand for massage sessions, and a lot of people had been asking her to teach the method, so she sought to qualify as a teacher. Since 2016 Despina has been privileged to be able to recommend her qualified students and receive brilliant feedback for them; and is now delighted to feel part of a supportive community of practitioners in the UK and abroad.
Despina, as well as everyone else involved with AYM UK, value collaboration. We realise that we need to work with many more people to help achieve our goal of making AYM more widely known and accessible, and better recognised; so that more people can benefit from both giving and receiving it. We love working with people and collaborate with everyone in sight with compatible goals. So now the AYM family includes many clients, therapists, teachers and people who run yoga spaces and organise workshops and courses.
It’s challenging, but also extremely rewarding to take an Indian style of teaching and enhance it by involving well trained people who can teach relevant anatomy, physiology, pathology, ethics, first aid – everything a massage therapist in the West really needs (wonderful AYM technique and a personal/meditative practice aside!). We intend to keep the option of just studying the technique only – in the same format as it has been taught by Kusum, and is currently offered as the only option in all the AYM schools/training institutes in India and abroad. We consider studying the technique only (without anatomy and physiology or other relevant training) a valid choice for students to make, especially if they have already covered everything else that they need as part of massage courses that they have previously attended; or as long as students who are new to massage are clearly taught the indications and contra-indications for all the massage strokes and stretches that they learn, and stick to the techniques that they learn.
When Despina trained in the AYM method and started using it a lot, she saw how it’s relevant, interesting and beneficial for both her and her clients to have some more relevant knowledge. Despina found it difficult to find the courses that she needed after she attended her AYM course, as there was no one school, qualification or course that covered everything that she needed to learn, without also covering a lot of material that would be unrelated to her AYM work. So she didn’t want her students to have to go through the same, and is working with other AYM UK teachers and admin staff to develop and provide a more complete programme that new AYM therapists can opt to follow, that provides all the knowledge that our students need easily and affordably.
We respect all our clients, students/therapists, teachers and other people and spaces who we work with. We offer easy payment plans so that the courses are not inaccessible for people on low incomes. Free scholarship places in our training events are available to asylum seekers and refugees.
We also strive to work with and use ethical and sustainable products, services and partners where possible. We use Footprint eco workers cooperative for our printing, No Brand environmentally responsible screen printing studio for merchandise printing, and the Phone Coop for business phones.
AYM UK supports a number of charities, including:
- Feed Leeds Homeless, a small charity that raises funds and collects donations, so that volunteers can cook a hot meal every Friday, and walk around Leeds offering hot food, drinks, sleeping bags, dry bags, warm clothing, blankets, toiletries and other essentials to homeless people in Leeds.
- Operation Shanti, a grassroots, volunteer-run organisation in Mysore, India, which helps destitute children, women, elderly people and families meet their basic needs and have access to education, in order for those people to be able to become self sufficient over time. Food at our events is vegan, as we try to promote a compassionate way of living, and treading lightly on the environment.