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Published: June 8, 2024

International Voices of IIN: Laura Hayden, on Building a Deep Connection to Self to Serve Others

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Voices of IIN is our content series where we talk with IIN students, graduates, and staff members who make up our diverse, vibrant, and passionate community ‒ from all over the world! IIN’s commitment to improving health and happiness is what brings us all together, and we aim to celebrate this commitment by sharing the unique stories and backgrounds of IIN change makers. Through this series, we hope to continue working toward creating a more inclusive wellness community, where all feel welcome to create a healthier life.

Laura Hayden is a girl in a band turned woman who reclaimed her power. Laura began modeling at the age of 15 and, by 21, was working in media, interviewing artists and celebrities as well as writing for Harper’s Bazaar España. At 23, she embarked on her own musical career in London and started her band, Anteros, landing a top 20 record in the United Kingdom and slots at prestigious festivals like Glastonbury and SXSW as well as a feature in the Netflix movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.

In 2019, everything seemed great on the outside, but Laura was crumbling inside: She was battling anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder ‒ which forced her to take time away from music and the only life she’d known. In 2020, Laura began her journey of self-knowledge and acceptance through yoga movement and philosophy. After certifying as an RYT 200 yoga teacher later that same year, she began working with women who were struggling with similar issues.

Since then, Laura’s become a certified RYT 500 yoga teacher and soon-to-be IIN graduate. She’s also created "Soulbodhi: Empower Yoga," a practice that combines power yoga with group coaching workshops to bring body and soul together, which she hosts free online as well as in person every month.

To learn more, check out her website and Instagram page.

Origin Story

What did health and wellness look like for you growing up?

I was a little late to the health and wellness space, for sure. I feel like the 2000s were not very conducive to a healthy life: There was a love for crash diets, and I still remember size zero being something every magazine was telling women and girls to aspire to. I was just a kid when I was exposed to that, and it affected me in my early years.

When I started modeling at 15, I developed body dysmorphia, which led to anorexia nervosa as well as binge eating for most of my adult life. I weaponized food and exercise until I began to unpack and work on my relationship with food and understood the importance of health on my physical and mental well-being.

Why did you ultimately decide to come to IIN?

The same way yoga teacher training (RYT 500) helped me in healing the relationship I have with my body, IIN is helping me heal my relationship with food. I read a statistic the other day that said around 75% of women have issues surrounding their body or food, and I was shocked! I don’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through.

Perspectives on Nutrition and Health Coaching

How are you using your IIN education?

I’m putting my IIN education to use in so many ways. First, with myself. Every module seems to be coming at the perfect time for me to apply it to myself or a loved one. Second, I’m past the halfway point, which means I’ve started working with others by listening, learning, and helping them navigate their own health journeys.

What about your IIN education inspired you most?

I love the holistic approach, how I can learn about feng shui in one lecture, then get stuck into the importance of healthy gut bacteria in the next. The curriculum’s incredibly well-rounded. I’m also kind of freakishly obsessed with Dr. Amen’s brain scans.

What does being a Health Coach mean to you?

It’s making my heart full! After years in the fashion, entertainment, and music industries, it’s a breath of fresh air. Life has been incredible since I shifted the focus from myself to how I can serve others.

How do you apply bio-individuality in your life? Your clients’ lives?

Bio-individuality: This unique IIN concept means that we’re all different and must embrace our uniqueness to best take care of our health, from the food we eat to the environments we thrive in and everything in between.

I love this concept for two reasons: For one, it helps me stay curious. When something comes up with me or a client, I try to ask more questions to better understand, instead of judging or labeling. Second, it helps me stay compassionate because I understand that everyone has different genes, backgrounds, stories, lifestyles, and narratives. This quality helps me build stronger and deeper relationships with my family, my friends, and the people around me every day. I feel more connected.

Nutrition, Healthcare, and Equity in the Wellness World

If we traveled to your country, what would we find in terms of food, wellness practices, etc.?

After almost 10 years in London, I’ve moved to Barcelona, and I am loving life here. The weather is great, which makes it easy for outdoor activities like hikes or paddleboarding. There are yoga and Pilates studios everywhere you go, too, which is also a plus. In terms of food, I couldn’t be happier either: the Mediterranean diet is one of the best for longevity. The fruits and veggies are sun kissed, the seafood is delicious, and paellas on Sundays are a must for me. There’s a big culture around family life and getting together; I feel like there’s a stronger sense of community here than I had in London.

Is wellness accessible to everyone who wants/needs it in your country, or is there still work to do to make it more accessible?

I think there is a lot of work to be done in terms of added sugars and more knowledge about food groups, however the fact that it is sunny means easy access to vitamin D as well as free outdoor activities. I feel like nutrition and the science of food should be a priority in school studies as this knowledge has the potential to shape our adult lives.

Personal Goals for Social Impact

What is your ‘why’?

‘Why’ – Refers to one’s purpose and the reason behind their chosen work

Contribution is my biggest WHY. To live, learn and grow and to share. To connect and to listen and learn together. We can learn so much from other people’s stories. I feel like I have grown and learned so much in the last three years, so if I can help at least one person in their process, it will have all been worthwhile.

If you wanted your audience from your country to know one thing about health coaching, what would it be?

It's so interesting because when we think of health - at least the way I used to think of it - we immediately think of supplements, physical exercise, or eating kale, but it is so much more than that. We use “healthy finances” to describe the stability of an individual's personal finances. We use “socially healthy” to describe balancing your social and personal time or being engaged with other people in the community. We use “healthy sex life” to describe people who have sex often. When you invest in your health it creates a domino effect that transforms other aspects of your life and makes them healthier.


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