From a very young age, Sevanti was fascinated by movement and dance. By the time she reached her teenage years, she was developing an interest in Yoga and meditation. For the past 20 years she has been teaching yoga, massage and healing in classes, workshops, teacher training and retreats, eager to educate others in the benefits and wellbeing they can bring.
“I am determined to make a positive difference to the world, by bringing the life-enhancing philosophy of Yoga to the lives of those who need the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual support,” she explains.
Sevanti attended her first Yoga class as a teenager and went on to study for a first-class BA Honours degree in dance theatre at LADA (the Live Art Development Agency) in London.
“It was while I was doing my degree that I really got into Yoga as I had a bad back injury and it was Yoga that really helped me continue to dance,” she says. “I’m now in my mid-40s but Yoga has kept me going all those years.
Sevanti danced professionally for a while but at the same time embarked on a three-year apprenticeship to become a Yoga teacher. She met an inspirational teacher who was based in Spain and she travelled with him around the world to develop her skills and techniques, including visiting India. It was on a stay in India 15 years ago that she decided to change her original name of Jo Attwood to Sevanti.
“I also trained as a massage therapist, learning all different styles – holistic, Thai, Asian, Balinese, and in addition I trained as a Reiki practitioner, becoming a Reiki Master, and learnt crystal healing,” she says. “It’s been a very long journey but I love practising them all – dance is my passion but they all integrate together beautifully.”
“When I had my daughter in 2009, as a single parent myself I realised I wanted to include teaching for families, as it can be difficult for single parents especially to find something that would satisfy their needs, so I made sure I ran retreats which would include activities to keep children entertained and busy.”
Another element of her work in which she takes great pride is having created a pioneering form of partner Yoga in 2002.
“It brings people together. That can be families, work colleagues, groups of people at festivals. They can be doing amazing poses and it’s an amazing practice that is fun but can also be deep and meditative.”
Sevanti is now meeting her biggest challenge to date, opening The Unity Centre in the former Turkish Baths in Lewes. It’s a community centre offering Yoga, massage, dance, art, music and theatre as well as a variety of gatherings and event and will also include a sauna, flotation tank, vegetarian cafe and gallery.
“This centre has been my dream and it took me a long time to find the right venue,” Sevanti says. “I’ve wanted it to be in Lewes as I’ve lived here for nine years.
“It’s been two years of hard work, putting it all together and raising £200k to pay for the restoration, breathing new life into a lovely old building and making it suitable for anyone with disabilities.
“Yoga and the other therapies we will be offering are for everyone, not just a certain type of person, and I want the centre to be a place where everyone can come in without feeling intimidated, a place for the whole community.
“We’ll be welcoming people with various physical and learning difficulties and from a variety of backgrounds and economical ability. We will have music for Alzheimers, art therapy stroke patients, tea dances for seniors and Yoga therapy for children with cerebral palsy.
“I’ve put a huge amount of energy and effort into the project but life is fleeting and I believe it is important to try to realise your dreams – the centre is my way of giving something back.”
The Unity Centre will be opened by the town’s mayor on Friday, September 6 followed by a weekend of free classes