Ché (pronounced Shay) Dyer is a South African creative powerhouse – a blogger, illustrator, yoga teacher and mother-to-be. She’s also a YogaLondon graduate (yay!) who tells us all about her super-romantic engagement story and how falling pregnant in lockdown has changed her whole outlook on her work/life balance.
1. How did you get into yoga?
I had a friend who was doing her yoga teacher training and she came over to my house to practice her teaching on me, and afterwards I’d feel so amazing – I was hooked.
To begin with, I taught myself by doing yoga challenges on Instagram, YouTube – wherever I could find it online – and then after about two years of doing it every day I noticed such a shift in myself that I wanted to pass it on.
I applied to do my 200-hour teacher training at YogaLondon in 2015, then I did my 300-hour training in Goa in 2017.
2. What did you learn from the two teacher trainings and how did they differ?
The Goa training was completely immersive, so I had the whole month completely dedicated to yoga. When I did it with YogaLondon, it was over three months so it was a lot more integrated into my life, which was great as well as I had more time to assimilate the practices.
In Goa, I found I had a lot more resistance to the training. I had this idea that I knew everything because I was a yoga teacher already! So it was about letting go of that idea and becoming a beginner again – and realising that we never stop learning.
3. You do the illustrations for the Cheeky Yogi posts. How did you get into illustration?
To be honest I’ve never got out of it! I started doodling and drawing as a kid, and I was never told it was something I couldn’t do. It continued throughout my life. When I did a Journalism degree, I specialised in Communication and Graphic Design, where I learnt the technical skills. Over the years I then honed it into my own style.
It’s also something I do for my personal growth, I’m a big fan of art journaling.
4. Congratulations – you’re expecting your first baby! Tell us all about it.
It was unplanned, but completely the right time. At the beginning of every year I put together a vision board, and this year it was full of all the retreats, trainings, and group programmes I was going to do. In the very centre I’d put a tiny picture of a nursery, as a way of making space for a baby IN THE FUTURE.
Then the pandemic happened and everything else I’d planned was wiped off, and I fell pregnant! It felt like it was meant to be.
I’m 25 and a half weeks now, and the baby is the size of a cabbage 🥬
5. How has being pregnant affected your yoga?
At the beginning, it surprised me how difficult it was to breathe deeply. I realised that early pregnancy hormones affect the regulation of the breath.
I was also finding the Zoom demonstrations much more challenging. However, I was so grateful for Zoom as it meant I could just teach and then rest on the couch.
I have maintained my practice throughout, keeping my body strong, which is important for labour. Later, when it’s more challenging to move, I’ll modify my practice. I’ve found that it’s already started happening naturally, as I’m now teaching two pregnancy classes.
6. You’ve written a great blog post about the reality of being pregnant – what’s been the most challenging aspect of being pregnant so far?
I didn’t expect to feel so tired in the early stages! I expected the ‘morning’ sickness but the fatigue was NEXT LEVEL. I couldn’t even change the channel on the remote. But now thankfully I’ve got a lot of energy back.
I’ve also realised that I did have an attachment to a certain body type and a certain way of looking, and it’s been really liberating to appreciate my body for what it is and this miracle that it’s creating.
7. What’s your most popular blog ever?
The most popular blog post I’ve ever written is about the engagement story between Warren and I [her husband]. It was such a surprise thing.
Warren and I dated at University for 8 months and then we separated for 7 years. And after those 7 years had passed Warren said ‘why don’t you come to London to see if there’s anything still between us?’ So I did.
Then two months later he flew out to South Africa and proposed to me. We weren’t in a relationship or even dating, it was crazy.
After the wedding, I moved to London and moved in with him, which was the first time we’d EVER lived together. I was like we were dating again, but we were already married. But there was no hesitation from me, and I had this very deep knowing that this is the person I’m going to be with.
8. How has lockdown affected your yoga business?
In terms of work, it’s been a blessing and a curse. I’ve lost some studio classes and private clients and I’m teaching a lot less than before, but it feels right, as I’m trying to do less to make space for the baby. Not seeing people face to face has also been quite sad.
But on the plus side not having to commute has been incredible. Pre-COVID days I was spending 72 hours (or 17 – it felt like 72 anyway) a week commuting between studios and private clients.
9. You’re shortly running a ‘Yoga and Creativity’ course. How do you think yoga and creativity interlink?
Yoga is a very spiritual practice and the creative process is the same. When we’re creative, we’re tapping into our intuition and leaping into the unknown. Both yoga and the creative process allow us to connect to something bigger than ourselves.
I’m also really interested in how the creative current overlaps with the Chakra system; the crown chakra is the connection to the soul – the source of our inspiration, the third eye chakra (in the centre of the eyebrows) is our creative vision, the throat chakra is our creative expression, the heart chakra is our trust in our identity as a creative person, and the root chakra is the earth – the artistic materials that make our creative ideas manifest in the world.
The things that block us in life are the things that block us on the creative path. Yoga helps to unblock these things for us.
10. What do you most enjoy about creative collaborations?
It’s so interesting to see what other people are working on and it keeps me engaged and interested in things. I have a really nice mix of projects.
So there’s the Cheeki Yogi blog for YogaLondon, a Gut Bag Picnic book for kids for nutritional therapists, a pelvic floor illustration for physios – it’s really informative for me! I’ve also done some fun cartoon images of yoga teachers for them to use on social media.
11. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to leave an emotionally abusive relationship. We were together for a year, and then it took me two years to get out because my whole foundation had been eroded.
Yoga was a crucial part of my journey to undo that negative conditioning so that I could make that leap of faith, and learn to re-establish that sense of worth from within.
12. The BLM movement has had a huge impact over the last few months. How has it impacted you?
I’ve definitely done a lot of my own reading and research and unpacking on that. At one of the studios where I work we set up a group to go through Layla F Saad’s book Me and White Supremacy.
I’ve also been looking at my own creative content, to see where I am unintentionally excluding people. And when I draw a general yoga scene, how I am representing people of colour?
We run a podcast Kombucha and Colour and prior to the BLM movement we’d had two POC. That’s not representative enough ,because we’ve been in this little bubble of whiteness. So that’s been really useful.
13. What do you hope your baby will inherit from you?
Some of my good sense of humour.
The one thing I hope my baby doesn’t get is my teeth. I have the worst teeth. The front teeth are veneers from when I was ten – I was piggy-backing another kid on my back and we were racing and I fell forwards and smashed my four front teeth out.