Fern Ross, Yogi & Journalist
Family, Friends, Outdoors
Fern Ross is a former journalist-turned-yoga teacher who lives in Edinburgh with her husband Mark, 10-month-old son Rudy and rescue cat Sherlock. Prior to relocating to Scotland, she lived in London and worked on titles such as ELLE UK, more! Magazine, the Telegraph, Daily Mail and the Press Association. In 2015, after a decade-long career in media, she retrained as a yoga teacher, leaving her role as ELLE’s Associate Editor a year later to teach yoga full time, and has been leading classes, workshops and retreats across the UK and Europe ever since.
What are the three things you live for?
My family, my friends and being outdoors.
What do you love the most in life?
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Aberdeen but moved to Singapore aged four, as my father worked in oil. I think spending my formative years in the Far East really shaped my outlook on life: I’ve always retained that thirst to explore and experience as much of the world as possible. I’m fascinated by people and a natural observer so I think that, coupled with my love of words, definitely led me to journalism and then yoga: people’s bodies tell so many stories. I love travelling and have been lucky enough to go to some incredible places and witness some remarkable events through my work. My husband and I have been together for 13 years now and it’s definitely a passion we share and hope to pass on to our son, Rudy: we’re taking him to Singapore and New Zealand for his first birthday and I can’t wait to show him where his mum grew up. Saying that Scotland is still one of my favourite places on earth, hence why we chose to come back here to start our family. The light, the colour palette, the wildness, the solitude and space… rain or shine there’s nowhere I’d rather be than clambering up a hill or drinking wine by a fire on a Hebridean beach with my friends. (I mean, it could maybe be a wee bit warmer but you can’t have everything, can you?!)
What do you do for a living?
I’m a yoga teacher but still do some freelance journalism on the side and will always love words and the craft of writing. I did my postgraduate in journalism in 2006 and started working as a trainee for the Press Association straight away. I was based in Leeds for 18 months then landed a job on the Mail features desk in London aged 24. I found myself working evenings and late nights in a fast-paced and high-pressure news environment in a vast capital city and felt pretty isolated and alone at times due to the antisocial hours. I discovered yoga one morning in my local gym and that was that: it really felt like coming home and my overactive mind was quietened, if only for a short while. Fast-forward to 2015, I was Associate Editor at ELLE magazine and suddenly realised that I’d come as far as I wanted to in my journalism career. I was feeling increasingly disillusioned with the way the print industry was going and felt a deep calling for change. By then I was practising yoga at a fantastic studio in East London called Stretch and decided to do my semi-intensive teacher training with them (in conjunction with Frog Lotus Yoga in Spain and the amazing Vidya Heisel). Upon qualifying, my teacher Carl Faure offered me the Sunday 9am slot and that was that: I said yes to every cover class, set up a Saturday morning class at my local studio The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms and things built from there. Nine months later, in August 2016, I left my job at ELLE to teach yoga full time. The transition phase was tough, I was often working up to 50 hours a week with ELLE, then teaching before and after work (which meant getting up at 5 am and getting home at 10 pm), as well as teaching at weekends and somehow finding the time to maintain my own practice, but I simply felt compelled to teach, so I made it work. Don’t get me wrong, it was tough. There were many classes when only one person (if that) would show up when I’d be freaking out about how I’d make it work financially (very careful household budgeting with my endlessly supportive husband), but I knew that it was just a period I had to go through to build the life I wanted. Today my life feels balanced, sustainable and incredibly emotionally and creatively rich, and I am able to work part-time alongside being with my son every day. I am so much happier and less stressed and feel incredibly lucky to have made it work. Sometimes you just have to trust your gut and your heart and take a leap of faith.
What rules do you live by?
Treat others how you’d like to be treated. I was badly bullied at high school and it really shaped who I am: I have struggled with anxiety and depression since my teens as a result, and being in large groups can still be triggering. Yoga – both teaching and practising it – has been incredibly healing for me. I never thought I’d be able to get up in front of a room full of people and lead a class, let alone feel comfortable doing so. It rebuilt my trust in others and has helped me (and continues to do so) return to my true nature: to live open-heartedly and with kindness and compassion for both myself and others. I hope to facilitate this in my students.
How do you practise self-care?
Self-care is a bit of a contentious topic right now, isn’t it? For me, self-care doesn’t mean massages and bubble baths and face masks, it means being disciplined and making sure I look after my mental, physical and spiritual health, even when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. In short, making sure I exercise, eat nutritious food, limit caffeine and alcohol, meditate even when I want to avoid my thoughts… you get the idea. I try and do yoga Nidra every day when Rudy naps (YogaGlo and Movement For Modern Life are both great resources for this, as is Insight Timer), and have magnesium baths a few nights a week. Verdant Alchemy’s Drift is a personal favourite!
How do you make time for yourself in your busy schedule?
This is hard as I have a young baby who I look after full time, while trying to run my business and breastfeeding, so 20 minutes of yoga Nidra or restorative yoga a day is key! I also try to be strict with my phone and social media use, as it definitely affects my sleep and mood, and I could use that scrolling time elsewhere, so I always aim to put my phone on aeroplane mode every night at 9pm and read a book instead.
How do you take care of your mental, emotional and physical health?
Yoga is key for me, obviously. Since having Rudy the physical practice, or asana, has mattered far less and practices such as yoga Nidra and meditation have become vital for rebalancing my nervous system and making up for all the sleepless nights. Beyond that, movement and being outdoors has always been my therapy: I walk everywhere, swim three times a week and do reformer pilates once a week. I have also built an incredible support network of other women since having Rudy. As someone who has suffered from anxiety and depression for most of my adult life, it is all too easy for me to hide away when I feel low, when actually connection and community is key.
What is your biggest indulgence, and why is it important?
Almond butter! I’m not even joking… I mainline that stuff. I had a birth and postpartum doula and she explained that growing baby boys require more magnesium due to the testosterone, so I’ll blame my cravings on that. But I really do spend most of my money on good food and books. I love cooking, eating well and reading.
What are your favourite life-hacks to improve your day-to-day?
Meal plans. I do a weekly meal plan and an online shop. So dorky but it saves so much time, especially as I’m out teaching a couple of nights a week: it means there is always food in the house and Mark knows what to cook while I put Rudy to bed. Anything that makes the day-to-day simpler and means I can use my brain power on more creative and nourishing pursuits is a winner in my eyes.
What does ‘thriving’ mean to you?
Living a balanced, joyful and creatively fulfilling life. I’m lucky enough to feel I have that.