BEHIND THE SMILE AND MAKEUP, I WAS BROKEN
SÍLE SEOIGE SPEAKS TO MARY FOGARTY ABOUT YOGA, WORK, AND RECOVERING FROM CANCER
BROADCASTER Sile Seoige makes the journey from Lucan to Bray two evenings a week, on one occasion to teach and on another to learn.
She discovered yoga when ‘ life came crashing in’ on her, following serious illness and the end of a relationship, and it has become one of her life’s greatest passions.
Síle, a former resident of Bray and a native of County Galway, leads a chanting session following Lisa Temple’s yoga class at the Olive 3 studio on Wednesday evenings, and she is taking on further study with a 500-hour yoga course there on a Monday evening as well.
When training as a teacher, she connected most with the yoga of mantra.
‘Yoga is about quieting the mind and getting in tune with yourself,’ she said. ‘From standing on the mat doing a pose, to silent meditation and chanting. They are all different ways of becoming more connected with yourself. It can sound confusing and maybe a bit heavy for people who are not used to it but it’s really very simple.
‘People don’t necessarily realise that the whole purpose of the asanas, or positions, is to bring you to a point of hearing what’s going on in your own mind and body. The poses are just a way of getting there.’
The practice is by no means about perfection, and a person who isn’t particularly physically flexible or ‘accurate’, can be ‘incredibly yogic’ said Síle.
She said that the practice can be beneficial to anyone, regardless of their gender, age, size, or anything else.
Síle had dabbled a little in yoga and took part in a few classes down through the years ‘I found it lovely and thought, “I’d like to try that yoga thing, I’d like to give it a shot.”’
When she was just 32, she was diagnosed with cancer. ‘For a period of time things weren’t good in my life.’
Prior to that, her marriage had ended. ‘It was a difficult time for me,’ said Síle. ‘Behind the smile and the makeup I was broken.’
She had met Lisa Temple, who founded Olive 3, and connected with her instantly. ‘She was talking about yoga and what she said really resonated with me. I went to one of her classes and absolutely fell in love with it.
‘When I came to the first class I really wanted to hide in the corner. But Lisa is a really gifted teacher and she helped me to build up my confidence.
‘It brought up a lot of feelings. I went to the class quite upset and different things came up for me. But it gave me the space to be okay with that. I went from feelings of upset and feeling lost to being empowered. It’s great craic, and I’ve made brilliant friends through it.’
She said that the practice has been fantastic for her mental as well as physical health, and has helped her deal with things. ‘I very quickly got my life together and yoga was a huge part of that.’
Lisa encouraged Síle to take a teacher training course and, interested in deepening her own understanding, she did so. ‘It was the best decision I ever made.’
There is no end to how much more can be learned. ‘You could study for the rest of your life and you still wouldn’t know everything,’ she said. ‘It fascinates me.’
She earned her qualification at the start of the year and started teaching in the studio straight away.
It is very different to the radio and television work she has been doing since first presented ‘Hollywood Anocht’ on TG4 aged just 19.
‘It is different, but can only benefit any kind of work. Working in the media business, a lot of it is about creating an illusion. Yoga is about cutting through the illusion. It helps you become more genuine in the environment you occupy.’
While she was a less than enthusiastic camogie player in school, In her adult life, Sile has been more interested in sports and exercise.
She climbed Kilimanjaro for Crumlin Children’s Hospital, has done the Connemara Half Marathon for cancer support, and a 600km charity cycle . ‘I’m not a fitness fanatic by any stretch h but go through periods of being quitee active.
‘I got into running a bit, particularly y coming out of being sick. I wanted to set t positive goals for myself. When you’ve e been through treatment your body feels s very fragile. I wanted to build myself up both physically and mentally. I started with 10km and then got a gang to do the Connemara half marathon. About 30 of us did it.’ They included chef Clodagh McKenna,a, Keith Duffy, ands friends from the media and fitness s world. ‘It was really special. l. It was the alfirst big physical challengen I completed on the other side of cancer.r. I was overjoyed when I crossed the line.’
This was a world away from the day a doctor told Síle she had cancer. ‘Shock is definitely something that happened straight away,’ she said. ‘You just don’t expect to hear it. Nobody would want to hear those words. I’d had the first operation and had a biopsy on it before which was clear.
‘In my head I was there for the doctor to tell me everything was fine and I could go back to work. I walked out in a daze. Slowly but surely after a while it started to sink
I WENT FROM FEELINGS OF UPSET AND FEELING LOST TO FEELING EMPOWERED
in and the upset happened later’later.’
However, she feels very fortunate. ‘I was lucky it was caught early and my course of treatment was set out with no surprises.’
YOGA was beneficial, giving Síle an understanding on a holistic level. ‘Medicine is wonderful and I absolutely bow my head to science. But I believe in looking at the whole being and not just the physical form. Yoga honours all that and really helped me get through that and what followed. Even at the end of treatment your life has changed forever. You have shifted massively as a person. You don’t go back to who you were that minute before you were told before you had cancer.’
She is currently working with the HSE on their ‘Little Things’ radio campaign, facilitating conversations to promote good mental health, broadcasting across 15 stations in Ireland.
Their campaign has been much talked about and it recently won ‘Most Effective Radio Campaign’ at The Love Radio Awards in the Mansion House in Dublin.
‘Life is good. Busy, but comfortable. It’s great to have time to be able to give attention to my passion for yoga,’ said Sile.
Her work on the airwaves began almost immediately after Síle finished school, where singing, drama, and communicating were her strongest suits.
She was young and unsure about what to do with her future. ‘I was presented with an opportunity and took a step forward and went for it, and I’m glad I did. In my heart and soul my passion has always been using my voice – speaking, singing, communicating – so I would have gone that direction anyway.
‘I didn’t necessarily choose the media industry, but I’m really glad it came my way.’
Síle, above, and with Lisa Temple, left.