A woman who set up a yoga business in Daventry 15 years ago has scooped an award for being the best in Northamptonshire.
Yoga Senses, which holds classes at various venues in Daventry, including Ashby Fields Primary School, St Augustine's Church and Daventry Methodist Church, has won a Muddy Stilettos Award for being the 'Best Yoga/Pilates Instructor' in the county.
The fifth annual Muddy Stilettos Lifestyle Business Awards for Northamptonshire saw winners crowned in 24 different business sectors, from cafes and art galleries to farm shops and pubs.
Thousands of votes were cast by readers of the Muddy Stilettos Northamptonshire website, a guide to the best restaurants, walks, boutiques, day trips, hotels, interiors and social events in the county, with the winners announced on May 22.
Rebecca Gartshore, of Staverton, won the Best Yoga/Pilates Instructor category for her Daventry-based Yoga Senses business after she was nominated by one of her clients.
A former fashion buyer for a big retailer, Rebecca decided to launch the business after the birth of her son, who is now 16 years old.
She wanted to do a job that could work around the demands of being a mum and her yoga classes initially started as classes for children.
The business has gone from strength-to-strength, with a purpose-built yoga studio now opened in Staverton and she runs nearly 40 classes a week, including a high proportion of one-on-one sessions.
Yoga is for all, the 47-year-old explained, with her classes attended by youngsters as well as those aged in their 80s. A large number of men also attend her classes, from builders to golfers, with the stereotypical person involved in yoga shifting in recent years.
Rebecca said: "In an age where mindfulness and mental health is key, I feel so privileged for a company such as Muddy Stilettos to value the work we do.
"It is a real boost for the business and it's the first award the business has won, so it was a really nice surprise."
Rebecca's passion for yoga began nearly 20 years ago as a way to stretch and relax after a long day at the office.
After the birth of her son three years' later, she decided to study yoga to teach to anyone who would listen -- and after qualifying, she took the plunge to set-up her own yoga business.
She said: "My philosophy has been to make yoga as accessible as possible; no-one should feel uneasy in a class and everyone should leave happy and energised, feeling the amazing buzz that yoga gives you.
"The class style is vinyasa yoga, beginning with gentle stretches, followed by flow sequences to stretch every part of the body and ending with a relaxation to relax your muscles and still your mind.
"I also practice yoga therapy to help clients recover from injuries, operations, stress and depression. These one-to-one sessions allow each client personal time to achieve total comfort and relaxation.
"Yoga should be used to free your body and mind; it is an active meditation and when shared with like-minded yogis, it’s easy to become hooked on the sense of well-being, body awareness and freedom it brings to your life."
Muddy Stilettos can now be found in 21 counties, with the Northamptonshire edition augmented by others in Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, the Isle of White, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Kent, Norfolk, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire and Wiltshire, with more to follow later this year.
All the winners were invited to a drinks party earlier in June with canapés, sweet treats and bubbly served at the giant tipis at Elms Meadow in Isham Road, Kettering.
Nationwide, more than 15,000 businesses were involved in the awards scheme, with some 750,000 votes cast for the overall national winners.
Anna-Lou Dearden, the county's Muddy Stilettos editor, said: "The awards are free to all and run as a good-natured, positive celebration of the most brilliant, unique and unmissable businesses across the Muddy counties.
"Northants always gets a brilliant reaction and thousands voted across 24 lifestyle categories, showing how much we all appreciate independence and creativity."
For more information about Yoga Senses, visit the website https://yogasenses.weebly.com
The full list of winners for the county's Muddy Stilettos awards can be found online at https://northants.muddystilettos.co.uk