top of page

Discover Wholly Aligned – Your Path To Wellness & Inner Healing – Interview With Ciara Jean Roberts

Ciara Roberts is a writer, yoga facilitator and nutritional therapist, with a pioneering spirit to create true and lasting change across the landscapes of holistic healthcare and medicine. Founder of Wholly Aligned, an innovator, quester and cross-pollinator, borne from the lessons and adventures with her kidneys, which failed at age 14. Charting several years at a young age on dialysis, two kidney transplants and a treasure chest of tools, she is uniquely placed as an insider/outsider to effect change in the current embedded systems. Stepping away from banking in 2012, she has dedicated her life to helping others awaken their inner physician and reclaim their innate sense of wholeness.

woman with books looking away at the camera

Ciara Jean Roberts, Wholistic Health Educator


Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.


I came into this world under the glow of the South African sun – in Johannesburg. Borne to an adventurous pair, who had met in the sixties in London, they married and embarked on travels to South Africa to experience another way of life. We went on to live in Zambia when I was 4 until 11, my older sister soon going off to boarding school in Dublin. We moved to the UK after I’d had a pretty bleak one academic year at that same boarding school.


Such a wild, natural, sun infused childhood sowed strong seeds around connection to nature, food grown in the garden, to music as my father played in a ceilidh band and to yoga. My mother a trained yoga teacher who shared this with various classes in both her friendship circles as well as for kids.


Diagnosed with a rare kidney condition at 4, this childhood was a blessing. Like a strong plant, I grew well being so deeply nourished. Returning to the western medical system after the far more holistic approach with a wise, kind doctor, Professor Thompson in Johannesburg, was brutal. Highly medicalised, out of tune with any real sense of humanity, just process and sterility in behaviours, a slow sense of heartache began to perfuse my soul. My kidneys failed at 14. A shamanic rite of passage unfolded in the form of 7 years requiring regular dialysis treatments.


Nothing is wasted. These experiences are rich fertile soil to root deep into human and spiritual understanding. The early years in magical Zambia pulsed in the rhythm of my heartbeat and hummed in the very marrow of my bones. We are so much stronger than we know.


I had the gift of a cadaveric kidney transplant when I was 21. It was a very difficult integration and took about two years to feel myself again. Still, a year after the surgery, my friend Jenny and I took off on a round the world sojourn. Landing back full of zest, I moved to London to initially live with my sister, already settled there, and found myself working in banking. Rising up the career ladder over the following years, I connected with a regular yoga practise towards my later twenties, that was foundational in bringing me back to the wisdom of my body, A recapitulation of aligning mind, body and spirit. Which presents in many ways! An inner spiritual compass in the form of intuitive trust was gently igniting.


What inspired you to start Wholly Aligned Ltd, and what is the mission behind your business?


In 2012, after completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training in Spain and soon to be qualifying as a naturopathic nutritional therapist, I returned to the great fortune of a part time role in credit risk. Having a positive relationship with the then Global Head, after I had mustered up the decision to resign, to follow the inner call to be of true healing service in the world, he countered with suggesting a part time arrangement. Very unusual for the type of role I was in. Another incredible affirmation to follow intuition and be open to what then might reverberate, echo back in return. This allowed me to begin to focus on building Wholly Aligned with an ongoing decent 3 day salary coming in. I had space to then craft a website. Build a newsletter following, enjoy sharing one to one yoga sessions. It took commitment and inner belief. I never doubted the path and a year later, resigned completely. I was 36.


With a chorus of support from the bankers and colleagues and friends, I was off into a whole new chapter. Wholly Aligned birthed, with the intention to help each person awaken their inner physician. To align with their inner truth. To unpick and unravel the limiting ideas and allow healing to happen. Which is so nuanced and contextual. Always an ongoing process. Also being so involved with the medical system by nature of having a difficult health situation that I must always walk with, it continues to humble and amaze how we can tap into our adaptive capacity. To shape shift and understand how to utilise energy. With both practicality and a sense of enchantment and magic!


The mission to really help someone understand their own sovereignty and cultivate such trust in their bodies and relationship with life. With nature. With real food. With breath. It was a time too where the kidney transplant was struggling. The function decreased rapidly after I returned from the yoga training and was a significant catalyst for making the decision to finally leave the corporate arena and honour the path of setting up a healthful beacon in the world. The dark times that help awaken greater light within. Yes we really can spin our wounds into wisdom.


Could you provide an overview of the products or services offered on your website and how they contribute to promoting alignment and well-being?


The services I now offer, 10 years into Wholly Aligned are there to offer various ways in. A unique creative process for each person. To also embrace the inner silly! We can hold both grave feelings and whispers of joy at the same time. Paradox is part of life. And a sense of humour is very key. There are so many ways in to that deeper understanding – Sacred Hoop is a Sunday morning group session set up in lockdown that continues now. A weave of yoga, of freestyle movement to encourage greater somatic agency, of myths and legends like the Goddesses of both Celtic, Andean and Hindu cultures and more.


To help enliven a sense of wonder – that these myths are living and become alive in how we each interpret and embody them.


Yin yoga is also a profoundly healing container for recalibrating the nervous system. With so much activation in our nervous systems in these times, yin is the lunar energy of surrender. This year an ongoing 13 Full Moons program is also available with monthly explorations around each Full Moon that each explore an essence, quality and intention in line with the current astrological season. The Moon and yin yoga are a happy marriage. The poses in yin are passive and long held. Like the night perhaps. Don’t be mistaken that it’s an easy practise! Especially when someone might be so patterned into always ‘doing’. Yin yoga invites stillness, bearing witness to sensations in the body, unravelling the tightly held inner narratives. I find it to be such a poetic practise and love to share this in weekly Wednesday night classes.


Having enjoyed and learned so much from working one to one with people in both yoga and nutritional consults, my work is now morphing into more writing and bigger community projects, a second and third book currently being crafted, as well as an exciting collaboration with an Australian professor of nephrology.


I continue to deliver yoga classes for a law firm too, that is coming up to nearly 10 years. I understand the stresses and politics that come with working in the corporate world (which of course bleed into all industry including yoga and wellbeing) so can empathise and offer ways to self soothe, to keep coming back to the body. To let off some steam.


Having worked for 18 months on a project Kidney Beam, an online wellbeing service set up by King’s College Hospital, London with support from the major UK kidney charities (only a few months after my second kidney transplant in October 2019) I am well placed to comprehensively understand the challenges of the mainstream medical system and the frustrations that come with creating change. I have spent the past few years cultivating a heartfelt interest in medic wellbeing. As another wise soul mirrored to me, ‘You’re an insider/outsider.’ Wow, that resonated. And helped me understand that whilst I know the intricacies of certain aspects of the NHS, I also have a far broader view of health that simply does not yet exist within mainstream medicine. And my, this comes at such a big cost. The simple things are the incredible things.


I care very much too for community engagement and healthful practises to help those who might not otherwise be able to access a good yoga class. Having spent a few years delivering in person yoga classes in South London under the umbrella of social prescribing, the funding was cut by NHS England so I created an online class at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020 that continues every Tuesday at 11 a.m online. A wonderful group of diverse people. I’m keen to widen this more and seek funding for really meaningful community practises. For rising health issues like hyper-tension, anxiety, loneliness and excess weight, there truly are so many ways to help with these profoundly challenging societal issues. We need more spirit and joy and trust that it’s ok to not know exactly. We are all making it up as we go along.


So whilst I don’t know exactly yet what this agent of change in medicine role might expand into, I do know that a big piece of my mission is to inspire sparks of change in the current reductive bio-medical model. There is no way I would have created and lived this rich and beautiful life without the knowledge and curiosity of yoga, the animistic healing arts, nutrition, the inner peace that wells up for within when we follow our true purpose. When we sing a bold and brave new song into the world. And I know I must share these things more widely. It’s time.


How do you ensure the quality and effectiveness of the products/services you provide to your customers?


I hold the role of health educator, teacher and indeed confidante, very much in my heart. I have well over a 1,000 hours now of continued education and extensive training within both yoga, nutrition and the shamanic healing arts. In recent years immersing too in the fields of neuroscience of breath, embodiment and somatic regulation – namely helping people access all the inner cups and bowls, rivers and streams. It’s a gift to learn more about our incredible bodies. The cerebro-spinal fluid, the biometrics that are influenced by deep breathing. The challenges too for people to breathe through the nose or access feeling in their lower belly. Our bodies hold the stories of all we have experienced. I learn from experience, whether it’s running retreats, offering a free session for medics, or asking people how they feel which might be a direct conversation or a survey that can serve as a reflective opportunity. Always keen to understand ways to effectively and poetically communicate newer ideas and also stay true to the ancient wisdoms that want to stay alive in who and how are are now.


What sets Wholly Aligned apart from other similar businesses in the industry?


Wholly Aligned birthed to allow me to deepen my own healing too. I have taken time and commitment to grow this wisely and slowly. The fires I’ve walked through with my own health, the inner work I continue to explore so to create a safe and sacred container for people to heal within. We do this together. I am extremely discerning in what I offer and how that is communicated. I’m not interested in vast anonymous numbers, I’m interested in each unique person I work with. I know each person who comes to my weekly sessions. It matters very much to hold safe space as I know the cost of feeling unsafe. Creativity is also important to me so I like to provide variety in classes. Different people resonate with different things. I also speak honestly. It’s tough to be on the path of a quester as it means going deep into one’s own BS! So the creativity, the humour, the knowledge, all needs to be there to enhance possibilities for the other person. Just as I have learned so much from my teachers. It is indeed a sacred hoop. I write as a medium to reach more people. This also feeds my teaching as writing for me is such a spiritual, cathartic, reflective and evolving craft. I encourage all the many ways to heal as I know how key it is to remind myself of this too. So it’s a co-creation. Never meant as a dictatorial instruction of ‘do this, do that.’ I have the balanced view through four decades of experiences in the health system, being very au fait with medical vernacular, pathology and process as well as the wonder and expansiveness of being a seeker.


Can you share any success stories or testimonials from customers who have benefited from your offerings?


Receiving emails that arrive spontaneously always gladden my heart. That someone has been called to write of their own accord. These are two that I asked it was ok to use them in this way.


‘I meant to get in touch with you about your book. I finished it a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it! I especially enjoyed the way you introduced your story with your childhood. Your separation from home and family, your first encounters in dealing with your own health issues as a child in a foreign land. It drew me in immediately.


Many people who write their biography often choose to begin with a “big moment” in their youthful stage of adulthood. I loved the way you were in close touch with fruit from your garden and the warmth of the sun, also your family and close friends who have supported you through thick and thin. The story is truthful, intimate and naked, in a well-crafted way. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve passed the book on to another student/practitioner of your Tuesday class.’ Vanessa, London (writing about Wholly Aligned, Wholly Alive: Awakening your Inner Physician)


‘A while ago, in September, I experienced one of our yoga sessions in a very special way that I have been wanting to write to you about. You always remind us to be kind to ourselves, to find out what our body tells us it needs, if, for example, in the form of cushions or alternative positions as well as not forgetting to relax our jaw muscles. Just that time all this made me feel that what we are doing is consciously creating a (comfortable) 'envelope' – like a body pillowcase – for our breath and breathing. And that this essentially is what yoga is about.


Before I had this experience the most important thing was, and of course in many ways still is, the positions and movements and the work of actually feeling and using my body. In relation to this I love it when you also get us to dance with it and enjoy 'lubricating our joints’. Irene, Sweden


Tell us about your greatest career achievement so far.


Living a life I truly love. That’s what springs to mind first.


I’m very proud of the courage I seemed to be magically granted in performing a Tedx talk in 2019 and in also now being a published author with more commissioning editors keen to publish further works. I must acknowledge too that hard work and discipline was needed for these to sprout.


I take this question as one of celebration. That I braved the wilderness of running my own business and becoming who I am truly meant to be. And how I long to ignite this too in you. It’s therefore not about one time achievements. It’s a tapestry where we learn to spin gold into the core of who we are. To shine.


If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?


Oh this is a big one. Especially in these times where so much ‘wellness' information is around and can be very confusing and also co-opt people into following rigid and/or expensive dietary plans or programs based more on control and dominion, than the art of embodiment and truly listening to inner wisdom. I’d encourage people to cultivate and practise ongoing discernment and intuition in choosing teachers and programs that are fruitful to their unique awakening and whole health.


Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter and visit my website for more info!

Comments


CURRENT ISSUE

  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04

CHANNELS

bottom of page