My 4Beat

By Fiona Callanan 

It was in the middle of summer 2019 when I tried my first 4Beat class (although it wasn’t called 4Beat at the time).


I was on a trip back to London from Hong Kong, where I had been living for 12 years and practising yoga for 5, and at the time I was a fledgling but enthusiastic yoga teacher. I remember I was struggling to find my teaching style, and I felt even more confused after first trying 4Beat! Who were all these people doing fancy things in handstands? Why was no one seemingly doing the same thing as the person next to them? It felt a bit intimidating. The music was good though. And so was the teaching.


Fast forward a year. 2020. Lockdown across the world. Yoga had gone global in living rooms everywhere. I took a 4Beat class on my roof one balmy August evening, and I was hooked. I got to do all the asana I loved and wanted to do in one practice. And there was choice. I could take my practice where I wanted. However it worked for me and my body. I loved it immediately. And the music. And the breath. They were aspects of the practice I had never experienced before. They went deep into me. The experience was powerful, even from 6000 miles away.


Before I knew it I was 4Beat-ing whenever the time difference allowed me to take online classes, and drinking in all the knowledge that I could about the practice. I learned how to make my own 4Beat mixes online – no mean feat for a (then) 44 year old, technologically illiterate lawyer, and mum of 2 – and started teaching it in my classes shortly afterwards.


When I got the opportunity, I was coming back to London to top up my knowledge by doing all the training I could, and in 2021 started teaching 4Beat in my classes in Hong Kong. The rest is history, as they say. Or maybe not. Maybe history is history. And history can matter a little bit as far as all our practices are concerned. For me it matters because I’m disabled. I’m a right below knee amputee having lost my leg in the Asian Tsunami of 2004.


From the minute I tried my first yoga class, 10 years after the tsunami, my body knew this was something I had to keep doing. But my mind is that of a lawyer. Nothing is easy as a lawyer. And so I never expected yoga to be, nor had I wanted that. I needed intensity and challenge.


I went to the hardest classes I could and did them to the max. And over the years I found ways to modify my practice to account for my disability in pretty much every asana that exists. My body changed: it became stronger and more flexible. Then I noticed my mind started to change too. I was able to cope with the stress of my young family and demanding job in better, healthier ways than I had before. I was also able to see more clearly where things needed to change in my life, and to make those changes with courage.


My teachers in Hong Kong still taught yoga relatively traditionally. So when I began my 4Beat practice and was constantly encouraged to work out what I needed from the practice as a student, I got a surprise. For the first time in my yoga practice, I genuinely started to feel that taking variations did not make me ‘less than’, but empowered to tailor my practice for myself. I also loved the consistency of the practice. Knowing broadly what was coming each time gave me space to work out how I was feeling in the moment and to adjust my practice accordingly. Of course, I finally learned how to breathe too. It was a lot of fun!


I moved back to London mid-2023 and have been teaching 4Beat here since then. I’ve especially loved watching my students’ progress. There’s no better feeling as a teacher than seeing your students learn how to take charge of their own practice and use it for what they need in the moment, knowing that you’ve played a part in that.


That’s why I’m looking forward so much to hosting my 4Beat 4 All workshop at Mission on August 23rd. This workshop is for every body. It’s for anyone who wants to give 4Beat a try, but is worried about trying a group class. For anyone who is curious about the practice (like I was the first time I tried it). For anyone who wants to learn more about yoga and about how best to make it work for their individual body and mind.


We will spend the workshop empowering you to truly learn how to make this amazing practice your own. And have a lot of fun in the process. See you there!

Book now.