After discovering a gem of a class at a local gym and practicing for a couple of years, I liked the sense of calm, peace and focus yoga gave my very distractible mind. I also enjoyed less aches and pains as a result of my body becoming steadier and stronger.
I'm certainly not super bendy or acrobatic and started yoga after working many years as a postman and graphic designer before that. So I consider myself to have a fairly regular body reflecting a regular working life!
I traveled to Kerala, South India to 'deepen my practice' (as they all say!) and enjoyed my teacher training course. I really loved my experience in the Ashram and knew yoga was going to stay a big part of my life.
With a genuine desire to help others share in the benefits of a regular yoga practice, I began to teach part time and continue to learn. In 2017 after 10 years at Royal Mail I left to become full time self employed as a yoga teacher.
People often ask in my class, what type of yoga is this? There isn't really a definitive answer. You could call it a 'Modern, breath centered, post lineage, postural movement practice.'
I originally trained with a 'traditional' or 'classical' yoga school - the lineage was Sivananda, known as 'Hatha' which in general is slower in pace with more time spent in postures (asanas) and doing breathing exercises (pranayama). Some element of the teaching and structure of class I still find useful but I don't subscribe to any of the 'Guru' led teaching.
Most classes I have attended over the years have been focused on Vinyasa, which has more flow and changes from one posture to the next - sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly and dynamically. I take some influence from these enjoyable movement practices.
Quite a few of my teachers have been influenced by the work of Desikachar. His approach was much more breath centered and more individually tailored to the students. To me that feels more modern, allowing for autonomy, creativity and self expression.
My training as a Somatic movement education coach totally changed the way I practiced and my approach to teaching.
I take a lot of my cues from this training and other workshops I've done finding ways of releasing tension in the body and to enjoy more range and ease in movement without forcing, strengthening without over striving or harming.
My approach now is much more about self enquiry. You will hear me in class asking quite a few questions to which only you can know the answer. You might not know the answer today, and that is where the learning comes. Some things might take minutes and some things a whole lifetime. Often we find the answer by just trying things out - Of course, I will offer some suggestions from my own experiences but these will be from my felt sense and will not necessarily work for you. This is where we can get creative and sometimes discover something new.
This all might start to sound a bit complicated and 'heady' but essentially I'll offer a fairly simple regular practice adding in new stuff now and again to keep it interesting.
One thing I like about a simple routine is, that for my highly distractible (monkey) mind, I can find some 'quiet' and use the practice like a moving meditation.
I won't offer any spiritual guidance. I think that is your business and if you find you do get curious about this side of yoga I can suggest a few books. I really enjoyed the spiritual side to my time in an ashram and I still enjoy what is known as bhakti and kirtan but I don't feel it's my place or in anyway qualified to offer any teaching on this.
I also will use very little sanskrit in class. My teaching experience in the here and now finds that people relate better to imagery of animals and nature for example, rather than, respectfully, a beautiful but rather abstract and rarely spoken 4000 year old liturgical language. Personally speaking, in classes I have attended I find it to be a bit 'exclusive' and inaccessible to use as a teaching tool for movement and learning about ourselves.
I continue to be influenced by the work of my teachers, and my teachers' teachers.
MY TEACHING, TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE
I qualified in June 2018 as a Somatic Exercise Coach having trained with Lisa Petersen Living yoga. This line of enquiry changed my own practice, my teaching practice and approach and I really like how the practice teaches others to help themselves.
I have now lead yoga asana classes with pranayama and more mindful movement in Manchester for over 6 years and have gained over 1000 hours of teaching experience at my classes at leisure centres, community centres, an inner city school, college and university, private offices, covering at Bodywise in Manchester Buddhist Centre and on-line on Zoom.
In the busy leisure centre environment my creativity and ability to adapt and change has proved essential. In these popular fully rounded classes I like to create a non-competitive, peaceful, light-hearted, atmosphere combining the energy of group practice with individual focus. I try to allow time for people to absorb what they do, move more mindfully and encourage a peaceful practice which hopefully enables folk to continue their day with a sense of well-being.
Believing in continuing personal development I continue to attend workshops and further training. The most recent listed first:
During Lockdown 2020 I've had the opportunity to learn with some of my teachers teachers and explore other areas of body work:
Restorative Yoga with Adelene Cheong
Laban / Barteneiff fundamentals with Alexandra Baybutt
Body Mind Centering with the STEM/Embody-Move teachers and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen.
and before lockdown in person:
Intelligent Yoga: A CPD weekend with Peter Blackaby (March 2020)
The Embryology of Communication: Cells, Blood and Fluid Movements with Amy Matthews (Nov 2019)
Somatics CPD: Pelvis, pelvic floor, psoas, sacrum and jaw theme Lisa Petersen. (Sept 2019).
Coming Back to the Senses with Donna Farhi (June 2019)
Gentle is the New Advanced with J Brown at Triyoga, London. (Jan 2019)
Breath Centered Yoga with Leslie Kaminoff at Triyoga, London. (June 2018)
Moving from Centre with Gaby Porter.
Somatic Movement Education with Lisa Petersen, Gaby Porter & Maggie Peasewood.
Embodied Yoga with Amanda Latchmore,
Yoga with Christine Howitt,
Core stability CPD with GLL and Kirtan.
Yoga Teacher Training 200hr Alliance RYS Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre. (Jan 2015)
I regularly attend Bhakti yoga sessions because I love the music and I often go to a classes in person and more recently on-line which inspires and informs my own practice.
With a background in graphic design, the arts, and occupational therapy, there’s a lot of other stuff I can also bring to the table!