Go with the flow…

Ahead of Lucy Parker’s new well-being column starting next month in SO Magazine, Eileen Leahy meets the co-founder of Flow Tunbridge Wells to discover why her studio’s comprehensive approach to holistic health is so unique – and why her personal story plays such a pivotal part in its success…


Yoga is considered to be one of the most effective ways in which to strengthen your body – as well as your mind and spirit. But for one local mother and entrepreneur it has proved to be so much more, allowing her the opportunity to heal from profound grief, build a business and dedicated community and ultimately find personal happiness once more.

For those readers who don’t already know her, let me introduce you to Lucy Parker, co-founder of Flow Tunbridge Wells, whose life over the past eighteen years has journeyed through huge sadness and debilitating grief, to finding happiness and fulfilment once again.

Sitting in her beautiful, colourful kitchen which is an energetic mix of bright yellow hues and citrus pops of orange and lime, tempered by stylish gun metal grey accents, you would never know the mother of two, experienced yoga teacher and newly accredited coach and counsellor has survived the most unimaginable situation in life.

As Lucy pours us both a hot cup of homemade lemon and ginger tea, I look out at her gorgeous garden which is in early summer bloom and also where her custom-built yoga studio and treatment rooms are located.

Despite the drizzle, the mood is serene and relaxing. This is something Lucy says most people comment on when they arrive at Flow Tunbridge Wells, which is located in the outside space at Lucy’s home on Woodbury Park Road, Tunbridge Wells.

“As people crunch up the gravel path and do a left into the garden and see Flow in all its beauty they tell me they immediately feel relaxed,” she smiles as she sits down to chat at her kitchen table.

“I really do feel like we have built a really good community here over the past eight years.”

Lucy explains that yoga has always been there for her in life – through the good times and the unbearably sad ones too.

“I have practised yoga since I was 18 after my mum sent me on a course to ‘chill out’ as she put it,” recalls Lucy who was born and bred in Tunbridge Wells.

“But after having lost my husband Alastair in 2007 to a brain tumour, I eventually found the strength to start practising again and it ended up getting me to where I am now.”

Alastair received the diagnosis five years before he eventually passed away, so Lucy says the couple, who were living in London at the time, decided to get married and try for children.

“We were lucky enough to have two boys who were just 1 and 3 when Alastair died. I had a big job as Director of the London Art Fair and suddenly found myself in a very difficult life situation.

“I moved back to Tunbridge Wells but quickly realised that commuting to London every day just wouldn’t work. I had to rethink everything so that’s when I decided to retrain as a yoga teacher.”

Lucy reveals that in order to get going she started hosting classesin the living room of her flat on The Pantiles.

“I’d be moving back the sofas to prepare for people coming and then usually find one of my son’s Nerf guns underneath,” she remembers.

“I had to make the classes work around the children so I would host when they were at nursery, and then later school, or once they were in bed. Gradually, over the next five years Flow started to build momentum. I had a lot of people who wanted to support me as I am local, and people knew what had happened to me. At that particular time in Tunbridge Wells there really weren’t many people offering yoga classes so it worked for me.

“As I’ve said, I’ve always practised yoga. When I was pregnant; when I was trying to cope with the grief of losing Alastair, it’s always been there. I’ve done it when I have been really bouncy, fit and healthy and then when I’ve been on the floor consumed by profound loss. So it made sense to do something with it.

“I started to get booked up and a few years later got some well-known names down from London to teach. Everyone had this real drive to make it work and I guess to ultimately build a community.”

Eight or so years on, Lucy met her now husband Ben Parker who is a registered osteopath and father of two boys. And as well as running his original Groombridge practice, he also operates from the Flow Tunbridge Wells HQ at the couple’s home.

Lucy explains that they got together after their paths kept crossing professionally. But it took them both a while to realise that in fact these ‘serendipitous’ opportunities had been engineered by a wannabe cupid…

“It turned out to be one of Ben’s patients, who was also one of my yoga students and they had decided to take on the role of matchmaker!”

Lucy says the pair quickly realised the synergy between them personally also applied professionally too.

“It made total sense to work together given we both focus on anatomy, albeit in different ways. So eventually we decided to get married, bring the kids together and set up a business.

“In 2014 we found this house on Woodbury Park Road and we realised it had immense opportunity for something.

“At the time there was no studio but the garden was stunning and we instinctively knew it would work. It just felt like a very serene place to be.”

The couple opened their Flow Tunbridge Wells studio in 2015 after getting it built in just five weeks. It now houses Lucy’s stunning yoga studio as well as Ben’s osteopathy practice and also a massage treatment room which is overseen by Melissa Denyer.

“We now also have 12 yoga teachers running classes here daily. During the week they start at 7am and then there’s another at 9.30am. We then have a couple of lunchtime classes and two evening classes every night,” states Lucy.

She adds that Flow also runs lots of additional workshops, training sessions and retreats.

“We haven’t done many of the latter because of Covid but we have one lined up for Kefalonia in Greece soon.”

Over the years of building up her business Lucy confides that she has become more and more interested in people’s mental health as well as their physical health.

“The two really dovetail each other. You can’t have good physical health if your mental health is suffering, and vice versa. So I now offer bespoke one-to-one classes and I am doing a lot of these. It’s usually for rehabilitation after an operation or specialist movement therapy. I talk about how to manage those conditions and how to adapt.”

Lucy says that in offering these tailored one-to-one to classes she soon discovered that people wanted to talk a lot, in addition to doing yoga and she found herself almost acting as a therapist.

“It’s fantastic that clients want to do that but I wasn’t qualified to give advice so I decided to enrol on a course.”

Last month, on May 23 to be exact, Lucy completed a Post Grad diploma in Integrative Counselling and Coaching from the University of East London.

“That means I will now be a registered therapist with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) so I can professionally offer advice. I am excited about this as I will be able to fuse the whole physical and psychosomatic understanding to our individual clients.

“As humans we have often been divided up a bit like a jigsaw. In the past you’d see a doctor for your physical health, churches might help with your spiritual health and psychologists could help with your mental health. But no one was really looking at the whole picture. Thankfully though this sense of unity and connection between the body and mind seems to be filtering through. It’s so obvious and so vital but not everyone understands that.”

Lucy is quick to acknowledge that Tunbridge Wells is very lucky to have an incredible amount of talented yoga teachers and studios but she believes that what sets Flow apart is the comprehensive and bespoke offering she and her team can offer.

“We now have an amazing opportunity for Flow studio to embrace the whole idea of wellness, from the functional aspect courtesy of Ben’s osteopathy to the physical with Melissa’s massage. And then the various classes with all our teachers. We also have the very bespoke offering courtesy of my one-to-one coaching and counselling. It’s a holistic whole package if you like – and quite unique. Ultimately for me it’s all about connecting both the body and the mind together.

“At Flow Tunbridge Wells we really are all about community and I hope that’s what makes us stand out. Allow yourself to be unique. That is what we can offer here.”

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