MIGHT be hard to imagine two more different careers than scientist and yoga teacher.

But Lesley Charters has done both.

After studying for a chemistry degree at university and a few years working in the marketing department of a chemical company, she spent some 13 years teaching chemistry.

But although it was a job she loved she has given up her chemistry teaching career, and the security it bought, to focus on an even greater love: yoga.

Lesley first started doing yoga a few years into her teaching career to help her deal with work stress.

“I loved my job but I did find it very stressful,” she says.

And soon she moved from just enjoying yoga for herself to wanting to share it with other people.

“I found the benefits of yoga were so huge for me that, being a teacher already, I wanted to teach it and share that with other people.”

Lesley, who lives in Hamble and worked at St Vincent College in Gosport, dropped to teaching for four days and then three days, so that she could spend three years retraining as a yoga teacher in 2004.

She began going on retreats across the world, including ones in India, Turkey and France.

“It was while I was on a yoga retreat that I decided I was going to stop teaching chemistry altogether and it was soon after that that I handed my notice in,” she says.

“It took a lot of courage. It was a huge loss of income and that was very scary. As much as I’d like to think I don’t need money, you do need money to live!”

But Lesley says she loves everything about yoga.

“It certainly has reduced all the stress I was feeling in my life. It’s all things. It’s a physical thing, so I feel healthy, it’s a mental thing, so I feel much happier, less stressed and calmer and spiritually it’s given me a way of feeling a connection with something greater than myself.”

Lesley now does a combination of yoga classes, one-to-one tuition and yoga holidays.

Some of these also combine her other passion, walking.

“I don’t earn as much as I did before, but I don’t spend as much either so I don’t feel less well-off,” says Lesley about her change of lifestyle.

“I feel as though my life has come into balance.

“It was a great decision. It was one of the hardest ones I’ve had to make because I was clinging onto having a salary, but once I let go of that and trusted in something greater than myself and practiced yoga I realised that it would be more than OK.”

She says that the expression ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ inspired her to make such a big change in her life.

“If you want to make a change in your life you should most definitely go for it but I think you need to be supported in some way,” she says.

“You have to keep reminding yourself of why you wanted to do it because otherwise we go back into our old habits when we’re really busy and forget why it was that we wanted to make the change.”

  • For more information about Lesley, including her forthcoming yoga and walking retreat in the south of France, visit time2breathe.co.uk