IT SEEMS a bit of a contradiction to talk about the importance of balance in your life and then to have a hectic career from early morning till late in the evening!

However, yoga teacher and former ballet dancer Katy Appleton seems to manage it.

Her work involves travelling widely, writing books, making DVDs, and teaching yoga classes . . . including oneto-ones with celebrities .

"I do lead a busy lifestyle, but I practice what I preach.

I do my own yoga practice on a daily basis early in the morning, and by tapping into myself, I can plug into what my needs are . . . and that might be on a physical level, to stretch my body out, or on a mental level.

"If I had a really busy day the day before and my mind is still a bit buzzy from it, then I might need to meditate to help calm and balance my mind.

"I use the practice of yoga to balance what I am doing in my own life and by doing that I wouldn't class my life as 'hectic'.

"Yes I do a lot, and I teach a lot, but I always feel I am walking rather than running. It's quite rare that I would have to play 'catch-up.

"The knock-on effect of yoga, isn't just for the hour or so in the morning when I am on my yoga mat, it's for the entire day."

Appleton's first encounter with yoga was before she was born . . . in that her mother practiced it while pregnant.

Appleton also joined in mum's classes as a toddler . . . "I used to think 'what is this?

This is a bit odd!'."

Later when she was a professional ballet dancer she encountered it again.

"You can only imagine the physical stress you put on your body as a ballet dancer and also the mental and emotional stress. It "It's beautiful to observe and it's wonderful when you are in the flow of dancing, but it can be very nitty gritty and tiring.

"I remember needing to find a balance of physical to quiet time." Appleton used to take 10 to 30 minutes to just sit quietly, close her eyes, and breath. "At that stage I wasn't really into yoga, I didn't really know what it was, I just knew that this was working."

Someone then took her to a yoga class.

"I was used to using my body, being a dancer, and I thought 'interesting let's see what this does', and I came out of that class absolutely flying. I was on a complete high.

"I felt fantastic, I felt clear and balanced. This was something I was doing for myself.

"I was a dancer because I loved it and I was passionate about it but also as a dancer you share, because you are performing, but this was something I could keep for myself. It was a complete discovery.

"A ballet dancer's life demands your attention from very early on. At the age of nine I committed to being a dancer, at the age of 11 I left home to go to the Royal Ballet School, and I started professional dancing when I was about 17, and then at about 25 or 26 I felt 'I've really given a lot of my life to one profession.'

"I wondered would I be able to share the benefits that I had gained from the practice of yoga?

"So I took nine months off, for the first time in my career, and did a teacher training course and then gave a small amount of classes." Appleton loved dancing and was determined not to change careers until she knew she was not only good at practicing yoga but also at teaching it.

She knew that getting the message across, was as important as being able to hold the poses. She is now teacher to a number of celebrities and there are long waiting lists for her classes.

"Strange things happen. . .

I never intended to. It's not something I had on my wish list: 'Oh I'd like to be yoga teacher to the stars'.

I did it for the reasons I have spoken about, and also I wanted to bring something a bit calmer in my life, and do something a little more holistic for my bones and joints, and bring balance into my body.

"I opened up my evening group classes in my area in London and one of the girls asked me did I do one-to-one classes. So I said, 'yes I do' and of course it happened to be Geri Halliwell."

Halliwell, it seems, found exactly what she was looking for in yoga and she became a regular client. "At that stage in her life, people were going 'oh she's lost so much weight, how has she done it!' and all this sort of stuff. Along with that we did a couple of videos together." Geri Yoga came out in 2001 and Geri body Yoga, in 2002 . . . in which, despite the title, Katy Appleton is the instructor. Did Halliwell attribute her weight loss to yoga?

"I can't really talk on her behalf. But I can say yoga brings balance to your system, " she says enigmatically.

The Duchess of York is also one of her regular clients. She has said of Appleton: "Katy is unique in her ability to make yoga so enjoyable."

Appleton doesn't court famous clients.

"It's word of mouth or people read articles or books and it has knock-on effect, that's the way it happens. If they are ready they'll come and if they are not, they are not."

If you feel you might be 'ready, ' Appleton is teaching yoga and leading a retreat at a special weekend, The Power of Three, in Kenmare Park Hotel the first weekend in November. "I am doing it in conjunction with a Russian energy healer, Alla Svirinskaya, we are combining our practices and bringing people together in a three-day retreat.

"We find our practices fused together promote an enormous healing process on many different levels.

"Over a period of two to three days people see a huge amount of positive changes on all different levels, physical or emotional, or mental.

"It promotes balance and well being. Basically our system being body, mind and spirit, we really need to keep everything in balance.

"Most of the time for a lot of people it's out of balance, not necessarily extremely out of balance but it has a knock-on effect into our day to day lives.

"So a three-day intensive retreat is like an overhaul for the whole of our being, bringing it back to balance. It's great for people who have acute things going on, but it's also great for people who just want some time out for themselves - bringing themselves back into a clear space."

For details about 'The Power of Three' retreat 5, 6 & 7 November, at Park Hotel, Kenmare, tel: 064 41200.

www.Appleyoga. com MY GLITTERING CAREER. . .

"I DON'Tmiss dance. . .I had got it out of my system. I was very fortunate, though I worked very hard to get where I got, I did some wonderful roles, I danced with amazing companies, I was with the English National Ballet, I was dancing solo roles. I really set out and did what I wanted to do, so I can't say I miss that side of it.

However, I can say I miss being on stage. . ."