Interview with Dr. Rachel Beanland

In today's podcast, Dr. Rachel Beanland describes her transition from working for the NHS to becoming a freelance Yoga and Meditation Instructor.

Dr. Rachel Beanland completed her basic medical degree in the United Kingdom at the University of Bristol. A few years later, she completed additional Public Health training at the University of Sheffield.

In 2019 she founded Resilience Yoga. Resilience Yoga creates personalized classes for clients to build their own yoga stories and live more mindfully. In her Yoga practice, she helps women in medicine understand their needs and prioritize their health. She does this using evidence-based approaches, enabling clients to make conscious decisions and live a life they love.

She is now able to do both public health consulting and yoga and meditation practices.

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Journey to Public Health Specialist and Yoga and Meditation Instructor

In the UK, you can go begin your medical training at the age of 18. Dr. Beanland did that at the University of Bristol in the Southwest. During her 4th and 5th year, she had the option to spend time either overseas. She went to South Africa to a rural hospital where they were piloting the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission and HIV treatment. Subsequently, she returned to the UK to finish her training in adult medicine.

When Rachel finished her training, she decided to move to France and start working with United Nations organizations. For the last 8 years she's been working with the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, and academic institutions. And she found that she can work independently doing consulting, which enables her to balance her time between that and teaching meditation and yoga.

Yoga and Meditation

Rachel has been a yoga practitioner for years. In 2008, she developed a much more consistent practice, which led her to complete teacher training in yoga and meditation. Now, she balances freelance consulting work with yoga and meditation instruction.

In Resilience Yoga, she offers one-to-one programs using Zoom on a weekly basis over a three-month period of time. She also offers live teaching using the InsightTimer app. And that enterprise is run as a not-for-profit. 

She is also working on a new course which is the Breathwork session. It's a really simple tool to use, to reduce stress and anxiety for healthcare workers in their clinical environment.

The morning's guide to yoga is a really simple practice. It won't take very long and it's based on six movements of the spine. You can do it right in your pajamas next to your bed.

It's the first thing you do when you wake up. And it's just a really nice outline that someone can get started with… That's what I like to try and do with people: just to give really simple things that you can add in.


You can find Rachel at or on LinkedIn.

Then check her podcast, “Authentic Tea” where she connects with coaches in medicine who have found their way to balance. She also highlights people who've explored lifestyle medicine, yogis, and people who have stepped out completely of medicine and are now doing other things.

NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode.

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Transcription PNC Podcast Episode 250

Find the Fulfillment of a Freelance Remote Yoga and Meditation Teacher

John: Well, today I have another international guest who's originally from the UK, who's living in another country in France. She can tell us about that. So, I'm just happy to be able to expand our reach here to outside of the United States. With that, hello, Dr. Rachel Beanland.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Hi. Hi, John. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here and to chat with you today.

John: Yeah. We just love talking to physicians that have gone through some career changes and have responded to whatever happened in their life that prompted them to reach out and try something new. I think this can be very instructive and inspirational and it can be fun to hear about your background, which is different from my usual guests. So, thanks for coming on.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.

John: All right. Like we usually do here, the first part here is we're going to let you introduce yourself a little bit, tell us about your medical education and background. In fact, if you want to expound us a little bit to remind the US listeners how the system is a little different. And what I was trying to get into too is, at what point did you segue from general practice or the training into public health, which is a big part of what you do?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yeah, sure. As you said, I'm from the UK originally. I did my training in medicine in the UK. And in the UK, you can go straight in at 18 to do your five-year training. So, I did that. I did that at the University of Bristol in the Southwest, a beautiful part of the UK, if you ever make it over there. I really enjoyed my training. And towards the end of my training, it's usual for us between our fourth and fifth year to usually spend some time either overseas or in a different environment so that people can get an experience of what clinical medicine is like somewhere else. So, I actually spent some time in South Africa then. And I was very fortunate to be in a rural hospital where they were actually piloting prevention of mother to child transmission, HIV treatment.

At that time, ART wasn't routinely available for adults or children in South Africa. And they were just starting to get more medication to people and to trial things. And actually, I think that experience really opened my eyes to a lot of different things, definitely to inequality across the globe, but also to the world of prevention and looking at how we could balance prevention and treatment. And it sparked an interest in me looking at global health as a bigger picture. But I went back to the UK, I finished my medical training and I worked in clinical medicine. So, in the UK, straight out of med school you do a year where you're sort of preregistered, and then you're straight on the wards from that moment, from the first year onwards.

I decided to continue training in adult medicine, which would be in internal medicine in the US system. And I went through various rotations, the normal kind of rotation that you would expect. So, cardiology, hepatology, et cetera. And I really enjoyed it. I really loved it. I loved working in a team. I loved the connection with patients. I didn't love the exams. I was doing more and more exams and it was very difficult to balance the studying and the clinical environment. And I also realized that I was seeing a lot of patients again and again, coming in and starting to realize that there was a limit to what I could do in a treatment capacity. So, I think that was starting to come through in me that I wanted to kind of explore a little bit broader, what could I do that was slightly broader. And at the same time, I also found that environment quite draining in my own energy levels. And I probably wasn't really looking after my own physical or mental health very well. If I now reflect backwards, I can see that I was just on a roller coaster.

John: Right.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: And there was a point where it was quite interesting because the system in the UK changed. So, the training system changed. It used to be that you could continue doing placements whilst you were getting exams, and you could wait till you then moved on to the next specialty. They changed that and they enforced a much stricter rule. So, you had to have a certain amount of years. If you'd gone over those years of practice, but you hadn't finished your exams, you were forced to either stop that specialty or find a different specialty.

And that in a way, I always think threats can be opportunities. At the time it was quite stressful, but it made me reflect a little bit on where I was going with my career. And that was when I decided I would take a clinical research post. So, I step out of the wards, I took a clinical research post in sexual health. I wanted to see really what it was like not being on the wards full time and whether I would miss the physical sort of interaction with people and the clinical contact. And I realized that, yes, there were lots of parts of clinical work that I had enjoyed, but I could see that by focusing more on the more upstream aspect of health and health systems and health policy, that actually I could still feel very fulfilled within my medical career. So, I decided to specialize in public health.

And so, in the UK, the public health training is a five-year program. You do a master's in public health as part of that program. And then you do a rotation around different public health bodies in the UK. So, you spend time at national level, regional level, and then obviously the local level. I was able to do that, and that really gave me an enormous portfolio of skills, really, to look at population health differently. I did to begin with, I hung on to a bit of clinical work. I'd been doing more and more infectious diseases. So, I continued doing a TB screening clinic.

And then I was at a point where I realized I couldn't do both. I had to make a decision because it was hard to dip into clinical medicine and feel confident and up to date with everything. And at the same time, I needed that time and energy to pursue a public health career. I always continued wanting to look at global health, and I think that comes from that very early experience of spending time in South Africa. And I also, during my internal medicine training spent some time in Honduras as well, working in a clinical setting. I think both of those experiences gave me a motivation to want to try and address inequality in health across the globe.

So, when I finished all my training in the UK, I decided I would like to come across to France and start working with some of the UN organizations and explore what that looked like. For the last eight years I've been working largely with UN organizations like WHO, UNAIDS, IMO, those organizations, but sometimes academic institutions as well.

I've kind of found that I can work independently and do contracts and consulting, and it allows me to find the teams and the people that I really enjoy working with and pick up work that I find interesting and that I can use my skills for. So, that's how I found my way to becoming an independent public health specialist as to where I am today.

John: Very nice. You completed the formal training about eight years ago. I don't know if the entire time of these eight years you've been an independent contractor or with some of that with employment. But it's really all the same thing. You're doing that kind of work. And for my listener's benefit, public health, like you said, there's opportunities to actually see patients, but you can do a ton in public health, which doesn't require daily face to face interacting with patients.

And to me, it reminds me of when I was a chief medical officer for a hospital. I was having this impact on thousands of patients, but I didn't actually have to sit down with a patient and deal with an EMR and do those sorts of things. So, I kind of get that you had a similar type of feeling.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yeah. And I think now, it took me a while to adjust. I think I was so used to seeing immediate feedback. Someone would either get better or they would. And you knew that very quickly, you'd get the very sick patient come through, acute medic, and then you'd think "Okay, we're going to do the X, X, Y, Z, or this isn't working, now we're going to try this." You would have your protocols. You felt very familiar with it.

And when I stepped into public health, I've realized the impact can be so much bigger, but I probably am never going to see that impact. Maybe somebody else will in my role, or maybe it will take two or three years or longer. And so, you have to kind of be very happy with that level of uncertainty. And I think that comes from having a sense that you know what you're doing. It has the potential to impact the lives of hundreds, thousands, millions of people.

And so, one of the things I was able to work on when I came out here to live in France is working with the WHO on their HIV treatment guidelines. And it made me realize how sort of circular it's been since that medical student that went to South Africa and saw hundreds of people with HIV who were dying at that point because they didn't have any treatment. And so, it's been really interesting for me, in my journey to kind of realize that that experience has probably shaped my passion for wanting to look at what else is going on in the world and to try to do what I can to make an impact on that somehow.

John: Yeah, I think that probably would resonate with a lot of physicians. And I would encourage, we don't talk about public health very much on the podcast, but actually some of the people that I've known that have been "nonclinical" were in public health and it's an area in the US where it gives you a lot of different options in terms of medical writing and you can work in prisons, you can work with public health service. And again, it's at a level where you're dealing more with your measuring outcomes. They are long term, like you said, it's not like a month or a week. It's a year, two years, three years longer, but you're working and you're affecting lots of lives. In fact, that's another good thing that you brought up because one of the things that irritates physicians sometimes is fact it's one patient at a time. And if I leave this clinical thing, I'm not going to have the impact, but the reality is in many nonclinical including this, you have a much bigger impact long term, and more even global, like you're doing.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yeah. And the potential to reach a lot of people. I think that is the positivity around it and the options. And I also think public health is incredibly broad, like you say. So, it also has allowed me to explore different aspects of it. And there's parts of public health that really don't suit me very well at all, but it's allowed me to kind of see who I like working with, what I like to work on. And I still maintain all the infectious disease that I was doing in internal medicine. So, most of my focus is on HIV and TB. And obviously COVID has been a big focus for so many physicians over the last two years. I think that's the joy of medicine actually in so many ways. It's so broad that there are so many things we can do with the skills. And what I really like to try and encourage people through some of the work I do now is that we shouldn't be afraid to try and explore it because it's there for us to do that. And there's so much there that you can find something that you feel really passionate about and feel joyful about waking up to do.

John: Yeah. I think a lot of us have tunnel vision because we just have this fantasy of what medicine is. Okay, we're going to become a family doctor, an internist or surgeon, and we're going to be in the hospital doing operations. And we don't even realize that there's so many things that physicians can do and should consider, and just have to spend some time and learn about what those are. And some of those are very close to clinical, like public health and others are completely nonclinical, more of leadership in whatever venue it might be. So, are you doing this pretty much full time right now? Or have you segued into other things?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yes. I would say about 50% of the time I do public health. Depending on the contracts that come through, sometimes it can be quite concentrated, other times it can be one or two days a week. But I think what it has allowed me to do is to explore other passions in my life. And one of those things that came into my life at the same time that I stepped out of clinical medicine was yoga and meditation. So, it was quite interesting because it had always been something that I had been interested in exploring, but I never had the time or the energy to do it. I was terrible at canceling classes. I would see people and think, "Oh, I'm not sure that's me."

And I think taking a step out of that tunnel vision, traditional role, allowed me to just try to be myself more. I think, like you say, we kind of go into something and we feel like we have to follow the steps that everybody in front of us is following. And there were times where I really didn't feel like I was being myself. And when I was able to step away and have that moment of reflection, I could start to explore other things.

So, yoga was one of those things for me. And since 2008, I've just really developed a much more consistent practice with it, which led me to do my teacher training, and trained to be a meditation teacher as well. And so, the other half of my working week, if you like, is spent on developing my yoga and meditation business and sharing that with other people. And the majority of the people that I have in my community and my clients are other women in medicine, because I think it's me sharing my experience and understanding the environment that these women come from, allows me to support them to make changes in their lives.

John: Now, is that something that's pretty much 100% remote access, or are you doing anything face to face?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yeah, it's all remote. It is sort of mainly because of the pandemic, again, an opportunity but I think the online world is an interesting one. As an individual and with my own wellbeing and my kind of conscious practice, I can see that there can be lots of negative things about the world of online and social media. But I think it's such an amazing way to connect to people. You and I are assisting here in completely different time zones, having a conversation. Without the use of social media and all these different platforms, we wouldn't be able to do that. So, it is amazing to be able to connect to my clients and my community in other countries, to women working in different environments, to other clinical settings and to share my support with them.

It wasn't my intention necessarily when I started my yoga business, but with every business, I think you have to evolve and adapt and see where it takes you. And that's actually something I found interesting. I don't know whether you've had this with any other guess, but when you step out of medicine, particularly out of clinical medicine and you maybe have your own business and you start something, you suddenly have a lot of ability to be really creative. You can make up your own rules, you can decide if something's working or not.

And I think for a lot of medics, that can be quite scary because we're so used to protocols and being very driven by what's the right thing and the evidence driven approach. And it's quite different to suddenly be able to decide which day you want to launch your podcast on, or what your course looks like. And if it doesn't work, you can take it off again, these sorts of things.

John: Yeah. I would think that's definitely true. And also, in medicine, you pretty much have to be perfect in the sense that you want to use protocols. You want to follow the right way to do things, keep people well, don't injure them. And the wrong thing done at the wrong time is you can easily hurt a patient. But in business it's no, you should try different things. And maybe half of them will fail. It doesn't matter. Each failure is just a learning experience and you move forward. So, it is really difficult for many physicians to make that adjustment.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yeah. It's a big change. It's a very different thing, but I think one of the real positives that come for me is being able to have that creativity blogging or podcasting, whatever format you choose to express your ideas and your experience to your community. It's a really creative avenue, which I don't have in my public health life. I think that's where I love doing both of them because they allow me to have maybe slightly different parts of my personality in both of my roles. And so, I quite like how they balance each other. I quite like how they kind of sit alongside each other. And I think one without the other probably wouldn't work for me.

John: Yeah. It's nice to have that balance. I wanted to ask you about yoga and meditation, the online remote coaching, and consulting or teaching. So, everyone does it a little differently, I think. I've had a few other guests that are doing some aspect of that. So how does it work for you? What are you actually offering? Maybe you should tell us the website to find all those things, but tell us what you're offering and how does that look? Are you doing video courses, one on one, groups? How does that look?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yeah. My brand is called Resilience Yoga. Within that, the majority of the work I really like to do is one to one, because I can really see a greater benefit by working with people individually. And so, what I like to offer is a one-to-one program, which is a coaching relationship over a three-month period of time, whereby we work through whatever the transition is that someone is going through. Sometimes that's a career transition. People thinking about moving outside of clinical medicine into something else. Sometimes it can be a life event, either moving home a bereavement, something has happened, whereas somebody needs that additional support to kind of make those changes that they want to do. So, I really like doing that one-to-one and that's done online. We do Zooms and we connect to each other like that on a weekly basis.

And then the other work I do is through offering live teaching. And I do that through the Insight Timer app, which if anyone has not explored it, I would definitely recommend. It's an amazing app because it has so much content on there. Lots of guided meditations, lots of talks and podcasts. It has some yoga classes. And what it does is it has a free version of the app and a paid version. And the whole model is run as a not-for-profit model. So, it's a really nice space. It's a really safe space. It's a really positive environment. And I offer lives on there.

So, some of the things at the moment that have been really popular is breathwork because I do a breathwork session on there for healthcare workers. And it's a really simple tool to use, to reduce stress and anxiety. And I find that for a lot of healthcare workers it can be an amazing thing just to learn some really simple techniques that they can take into the clinical environment.

And at the moment I'm pulling together a course which will be based on more of those breathwork techniques, but going into it in much more detail. So, I'm hoping to be able to launch that in the next month or so, and share that with my community. Those are my sort of main ways of reaching out to people. And then within the website that I have, you can find my podcast, which I really loved doing because I spoke to lots of other women who are in medicine who have found their way of balance, whatever that looks like to them. So, there are a few people who are coaches, a few people who've explored lifestyle medicine, another couple of yogis, people who have stepped out completely of medicine and are now doing other things. So yeah, that was really fun to do. You can find all of those on my website as well as the other podcasting channels. But like speaking to you today, I really enjoy that interaction one to one. I think it is really nice on a podcast and listening to a podcast. It's a really nice way to hear more about somebody.

John: So, what's the name of the podcast?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: My podcast is called Authentic Tea.

John: Authentic?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Tea. Like a cup of tea. The idea is we're having a chat, a cup of tea and being our authentic selves. Yeah.

John: All right. They can probably find that on any podcast app, but they go to your website and obviously get access to it as well. Okay, that's good to know. I'll put that in the show notes. So, it sounds like even with the public health side, it is consulting, it's flexible. And so, you kind of match it and if you have to cut back on the meditation and yoga, because you have an intense consultation for a while, that's fine, but then the next one might be a little less intense and then you can ramp up the other. It sounds like you've found a pretty good balance career wise and hopefully in the rest of your life. But in terms of what you're doing to help others, it sounds pretty awesome.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Thank you. Yeah, it is really nice to have balances. And one of the reasons I was able to do my teacher training was because I've realized that with my public health contracts, there would be sometimes months where I wouldn't have so much coming through just because of the nature of the work. Sometimes it's very busy at the beginning of the year. Anyone who's worked as an external consultant will know that a lot of these consultant roles come through from funding. So, people's funding periods finish and then they don't have any funding anymore.

So, there is a cyclical element to working like that independently and that can be a bit uncertain and can add in a different sense of stability. But what it allowed me to do was to explore something else. It gave me that space to do my yoga teacher training. And like you say now, it gives me that time. If I have less, I do more in my yoga business. If I have more going on in my yoga business and I have more clients coming in, then I don't look for another public health contract until later on in the year. So, I really like the variety of it that it's allowed me to do. And I think maybe that was something I've always really enjoyed. I quite like it if my weeks don't look the same. I'm quite happy with that. Some people aren't, but I quite like that.

John: Yes. All right. Well, in the past I've usually tried to do... Someone's doing a hospital management or UM job or something and I'm like, "Okay, well, how satisfied are you with that?" I'm going to put it to you. Doing everything you're doing now on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is Nirvana perfection, and 1 is like living in hell. Where do you feel like you're fitting right now with respect to your life and your work and the integration of all those things?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yeah. That's a nice question. I would say nine. It's close to a 10. I think the other thing that working as I do, which has allowed me to do is to explore living in a different way. So, we do live in the mountains here. We have a space outside, which I could call an eco-farm. We have lots of low energy solutions, lots of environmentally friendly things going on outside. We try to live really consciously about everything we're doing. And so, I know that my work and how my work is allows me to live this life here. So, there's not much that could be better about that.

John: It all sounds very intentional. There's a lot of physicians who live lives that they're just going along with it. They're being pushed by some other force. They're not really doing what they want to do. They don't necessarily wake up in the morning actually thinking "I'm looking forward to my day." And as far as the eco-friendly, I think in the US, there's something called homesteading where you sort of grow your own food and you use less energy and it sounds very similar to that. And you're kind of out in the country. Yeah. That I think is healthy and it's good for us. So, this has been very inspirational. I think it's going to be a good message for other physicians who think that, "Well, we don't have control. We can't really decide what we're going to do and how we're going to do it." And so, that's been very instructive. Let's see. I think we spoke before briefly at one point and you have something that you think the listeners might find helpful. It's a guide to... Is it Morning Yoga?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Yeah. Morning Yoga. Yeah. I think you are right about the intentionality of things. I think in a Yogi world, we talk about being and doing. So, I think in medicine, a lot of the time we're doing, doing, doing, and we can create our lives to be so busy that we have so little time to actually take care of ourselves. And that's what I find with a lot of my clients is that they're often so busy giving to other people that they've stopped actually looking after themselves.

I think when you're trying to add in techniques like yoga meditation, the key thing is to keep them so simple. And that's how I started my practice. I added it in five minutes. Five minutes in the morning. And I always say to my clients, if you can just make that extra five minutes in the morning, it will set your day up to be completely different.

This morning's guide to yoga is a really simple practice. It won't take very long and it's based on six movements of the spine. You can do it right in your pajamas next to your bed. The first thing you do when you wake up. And it's just a really nice outline that someone can get started with. And I think that that's what I like to try and do with people is just to give really simple things that you can add in. And who knows where that may build onto, but I think we have a danger sometimes as medics to want to overperform. And I've definitely done this in the past where I think this week, I'm going to do a two hours yoga class.

John: Yeah. Right.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: But I think actually we have to start small. We have to start small, and add it in. So yeah, this is a really nice outline of a yoga practice. And if you go to my website, you can find the link there, but I'll share that with you as well, John.

John: Okay. Excellent. For those that don't want to listen or go to the show notes or go to your site, just so they know, it's at They'll be on your website when they go for that, because it's got that URL in there. But I'll put that in the show notes. And listeners, please send me a note and tell me if you find that useful. Well, I'll look it up myself too. So, I'll make my own distinctions.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Thank you.

John: All right. Rachel, I think we're pretty much out of time here, at least the goal that we set. So, I really appreciate you for being here and telling us. And again, I think it's been very inspirational. Hopefully people will listen and think "Maybe I can make a change and achieve a life where it's a little more balanced and in keeping with my values and my health." Any last advice for our listeners before I let you go?

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Oh, well, it's been an absolute pleasure speaking to you. And so, I would just say to the listeners out there, I think it is really important to be able to take a little bit of time to think about, like you say, your values and to reflect and to know that you can be yourself. I think that the most important lesson I've learned is that you will find something where you can feel yourself. And if you're not feeling yourself in what you're doing, then that's the moment to take a bit of reflection.

John: Very good. All right, Rachel, thank you very much. And hopefully we'll catch up again sometime down the road. And with that, I'll say goodbye.

Dr. Rachel Beanland: Thank you, John. Thanks everyone. It's been wonderful having you.


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