This month features the very lovely Kate Tittley who teaches at our weekly Tuesday Cheadle Hulme Session and also Yoga Express in the city centre on Mondays.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Rising Appalachia and Ocean Wisdom around the house – polar opposites but both lyrical genius.

In the car I’m between an old Gatecrasher mix that I found in a box at my Mom’s (which includes As The Rush Comes and Spin Spin Sugar – invoking memories of sweaty dancefloors and trying to literally mount the speaker in the early 2000s) and Rage Against The Machine (alas, Know Your Enemy doesn’t quite have the same impact coming out of a rusty civic going 20mph around Fallowfield).

Class will always have a solid mix of Glitterbox, Hip Hop and Hippy.  Current fave is Lloyd Carner – polished with a bit of rough, perfect to iron out the creases in Sun Sals.

Where would you be teleported to?

Right, either Sunset Strip in the 80’s so I could live my Motley Crue glam rock dream (very thankful that yoga pants come in shiny materials so I can pretend they’re leather and that I’m in a band) or Paris in the 1920s, as Lost Generation literature is my favourite and I definitely would have given Hemingway something to write about.


Where do you buy your clothes from?

I invest in Yoga pants because I live in them (Sweaty Betty unitards are my fave, Lulu and Liquido for high waists although I’ve got a mega long body so you’ll always see my belly button).   Souvenir t-shirts from holidays, training and gigs. Non-yoga things are pretty much anything with sequins, on wherever that may come from. I do a lot of clothes swapping with friends which is pretty sweet as I’m trying not to be so throw-away with regard to what I wear.


What does a regular practice look like for you?

A regular practice is something that honours how you’re feeling and meets you where you are to explore that – it is not about punishment or atoning for the sins of a heavy weekend or a slice of pizza.  For me it always starts with the body. I take a led class twice a week and do my own thing over 4 days. This isn’t necessarily asana; I take dance classes, I run and weight lift. In my opinion the body holds the secrets of the mind and movement can help you explore all these cool little caverns you never knew you had.  I’ve been dancing since I was child and it is just in my nature to make shapes; it’s how I communicate with others and how I check my internal weather.

My daily pranayama practice is super important to me.  We really do underestimate the power of the breath and I am the first to admit that I did for the first few years of practice I hated the ‘breathy bit’.  Now I do an exercise daily, only for about 10 minutes, and I find it so profound. I’m hoping to do some training later this year with my teacher as I’d love to share more of this in class.

And of course – one full rest day, whatever rest looks like for you.  For me it’s a big old steam and sauna or bath if one doesn’t want to leave the house – lovely stuff.


Any advice to a yoga beginner?

Come along and have a go, and then do it again with someone else, and someone else and someone else etc… I think it’s so important to find a class you really vibe with as that’s what will keep you coming back and help you build a habit.

Rome was not built in a day – you don’t run a marathon on your first light jog, so don’t expect to nail every posture in class on day 1.  It is a practice, the clue is in the name.  The more you do, the better it will feel.  Coz ultimately it’s not what it looks like, it’s what it feels like.  Oh and you are so allowed to enjoy it!

Only a few days left to go until Santa arrives and just in case you need a couple of stocking fillers we’ve come up with 12 different ideas for the perfect Yoga gift for friends and family.



Well what could be a better way to kick off the new year (and decade)  than with a 10 or 20 class pass for all Yoga Manchester and Yoga Express classes . Click here to purchase.


We all know a Yogi with sore knees – Matt Ryan’s genius invention –  nee-ji – the knee guru will provide the perfect support for the knees during yoga & meditation. Info and purchases here.


Who needs to detox after the excesses of the festive season! I’m sure there’s a few hands in the air to this question ( my own too!!)Book onto our New Year New Body New Mind detox programme for 2020 – more details here.


KINO ! Miss Kino MacGregor – one of the world’s leading lights in Yoga will be in Manchester for a 3 day bank holiday bonanza workshop August 2020 – click here for bookings and info.


As a regular yoga student it’s always hard to convince our friends and family just how good yoga can make you feel , so we are making things a little easier for you by allowing you to bring them along to try a class for FREE. More details on our Friends come Free scheme here.


For all the Manchester City Centre Yogis who either live or work (or both) in the middle of town a 5&10 class pass to our Yoga Express classes would be the perfect gift! Info here.


A ticket to experience the genius of Anatomy Guru Leslie Kaminoff at his workshop in Manchester in May 2020 will bring the biggest smile to all Yoga folk. Info and bookings here.


What self-respecting Yoga teacher could be without the best guide to setting up a Yoga class. Purchase Matt Ryan’s witty irreverent but extremely useful ‘The Idiots guide to setting up a yoga class’ book here.


Need something for a super cool yoga dude / dudette ? The LA Ganesha Ashtanga Crew tee is the perfect fit ( excuse the pun!) Profits from the sales of this tee ( and vest) will go to the Operation-Shanti charity. Info here.


A year long class pass to Yoga Manchester and Yoga Express classes. We are doing very , very special deals for students wanting to buy an annual pass. Contact us for more details.


A very special treat – a private one on one Yoga session with any of the Yoga Manchester teachers. Contact us to organise.


A Christmas gift for your office perhaps.? We now provide a corporate class scheme for one of our teachers to come into your place of work to lead a lunchtime /post or pre work yoga session. Details here.

This month’s ‘Your teacher answers back’ features the wonderful Liam Browne – Liam has just released his autobiography ‘From Dealer to Healer’. Click here to grab yourself a free copy!

Liam has also recorded a podcast with Yoga Manchester’s Matt Ryan – click here to have a listen.

What are you listening to at the moment?

My Spotify weekly is usually pretty banging. Trevor Hall is always on and a guy i love called Sir Was! His abum blew me away. Also small talk-fout tet remix. And a tune called Alfa by Mop Mop, I love a hang drum! At the moment tho mainly my own voice as I’m editing my audio book. This is a dry experience but it should sound great when it’s done.


Where would you be teleported to?

Probably to a different dimension so I could chill with crazy aliens see how more advanced species live and how there societies work. On earth Om Beach near Gokarna in India. Its paradise. I want to spend more time there.


Where do you buy your clothes from?

Mainly charity shops I also like a couple of Oz brands called Afends and Ghanda. My favourite piece of clothing is a typical Munich Ladies Walking jacket. It has a scene embroidered on the side of a man outside his cabin chopping wood. The roof of the house is made with red velvet and people love to stroke it when I’m out and about.


What does a regular practice look like for you?

Wake up shake and warm my body then either the Sivananda sequence, the 5 Tibetian Rites or the Jiva Magic 10. I let my body tell me what it wants. Then meditate and a shower where the last 2 minutes are cold to wake me up and make me alert for the day.


Any advice to a yoga beginner?

Dont be a fanny keep coming back, seek out teacher who resonate with you and poke at the uncomfortable parts of you. Dont go to teacher who make you feel good but ones that make you want to be better!!!!


This month’s Yoga Manchester People features Dave Weston who is a regular student at Thursday evening classes at Withington with Paul Jones.

Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself (tell us some things about where you’re from, where you live, hobbies, family and pets, what you do for a living)

Born and raised in Wolverhampton (part of the Black Country), lived in Hereford, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Manchester. I moved to Manchester in 1988 and have lived here ever since so on the basis I have lived in Manchester longer than I lived in Wolverhampton

I am an honorary Manc. Three children and three stepchildren all of whom live away. Two in Sheffield, one in Leeds, one in Australia, one in Edinburgh and one in Manchester. Living with me is the family pet Heidi the mongrel who I inherited from my youngest. She’s Seventeen years old! Hobbies include gardening, cycling, motorcycling, reading and making theatre with the Royal Exchange Elders company. And of course looking after an elderly dog. Retired after working in the NHS for 40+ years as a microbiologist. Black belt Kendo.

Q2. What are you currently listening to? Tell us about it (What’s in your CD player, on Spotify or who’s your favourite musician/band, perhaps your current, favourite radio station or the sound coming from someone’s phone on the back of the 86 bus?)

Spotify: Thea Gilmore – Small World Turning; Richard Thompson- Acoustic Classics; Sean Stibe – softLOUD; Frank Turner – No Man’s Land; Rosalia – El Mal Querer; Dudu Tassa – El Hajar; Sleater-Kinney – The Centre Won’t Hold; Stile Antico – In a Strange Land; Rhiannon Giddens (with Francesco Turrisi) – there is no Other.

Favourite Musicians too many to list but Richard Thompson has been a constant companion since the early ’80’s both on vinyl, CD, streaming and live. Last seen at Gawsworth Hall August 2019.

Q3. What brought you to yoga and how long have you been practising? (Tell us about your first class, or what brought you to it, or how your practice has changed)

This is the hard bit. Ursula, my first wife was in remission following extensive chemo and radiotherapy and wanted to return to some sort of fitness and normality when she spotted a notice saying there was a yoga class in Heaton Moor in the hall next to the GP surgery. Feeling self-conscious she asked me to go along with her. I enjoyed it so much, thank you Matt for the nickname, I carried on going. Ursula loved it but after three years in remission the cancer returned. She carried on during more chemo and radiotherapy until the night she rolled up from her mat and left a large clump of hair behind. She died eighteen months later. Finding yoga gave me peace from the anxiety of grief and I continued regular practise with weekends in the Lake District, Wales and mysore practice in the Studio. Through I met Susan and we married a year later. For a variety of reasons my attendance at regular classes fell away until I had stopped going altogether. Then history repeated itself. Susan was diagnosed with cancer and died at home January 2019. A few months later a friend asked me to come with her to yoga at the church hall in Withington, why? that’s her story. So here I am practising regularly three times a week less flexible than I was(two knee operations to correct motorcycle injuries from when I was younger mean postures involving the knees are almost impossible). How has my practise changed? I guess it’s now more about my breathing than striving for the posture.

Q4. What is your yoga super power? (Tell us about a posture or feature of your yoga practice that you’re really good at, or that you enjoy the most)

Superpower – Definitely breathing. Really good at savasana and enjoy the journey getting there.

Q5. If you could be a character in a well-known film, who would you be and why? (You might need to give a brief explanation of what the film is about, if it’s an obscure one)

Spiderman – comics from my teenage years. Who wouldn’t want to be a web slinging, wise cracking, villain thwarting superhero.

Q6. Where in Manchester (or where in the world) is heaven? (This might be a museum or park you like to visit, a restaurant you frequent, an area of the city that has fond memories or Leo’s Fish Bar at 2am on a Saturday morning)

Heaven is any Bank’s pub in the Black Country circa 1972 (this is the rose tinted spectacle effect). The Royal Exchange and the original Indian Tiffin rooms in Cheadle.

Q7. If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?

If I could go back in time I would change nothing but I would quite liked to seen the Sex Pistols gig in Wolverhampton. We had queued up after finding out they were on only to be told the venue was full just three THREE from the door.

This month’s Yoga Manchester People features Yasmin who is a regular student at Thursday evening classes at Withington with Paul Jones.

Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself (tell us some things about where you’re from, where you live, hobbies, family and pets, what you do for a living)

My name is Yasmine and I’m from a village in Norfolk called Ormesby, I grew up surrounded by fields and spent my childhood loving nature, playing in straw bales, picking fresh peas and coming home when the sun went down.

I now live in Didsbury and have two beautiful daughters Isabel (15) and Penelope (3) and a hairy son Simon (3) the Cocker Spaniel.

I am a Florist but due to having another baby and so having much less time I am continuing with my Career in Property Management currently working at Philip James on Burton Road in Didsbury.

My personal interests/hobbies are Environmental matters, Animal welfare, Yoga, Quality time with my family meaning Simon too, Floristry, Gardening, Travelling, Music and 1930/1940 Musicals.


Q2. What are you currently listening to? Tell us about it (What’s in your CD player, on Spotify or who’s your favourite musician/band, perhaps your current, favourite radio station or the sound coming from someone’s phone on the back of the 86 bus?)

Ha well in my car at the minute I have a random mixture;

Suzanne Vega, The Police, Stevie Wonder, Childrens French (which I’m learning with Penny) KT Tunstall, New Order and a Meditation CD.

My other half is a Guitarist for Peter Hook and the light which I really enjoy as I have always love Joy Division and go to see them play whenever possible.

Fleetwood Mac, Suzanne Vega, The Vere, The Police are some of my favourites that have kept me company since I was in high School.


Q3. What brought you to yoga and how long have you been practising? (Tell us about your first class, or what brought you to it, or how your practice has changed)

I have been practicing Yoga on and off for 17 years.

My first taste of Yoga was actually a DVD by Penelope who used to be on breakfast TV, I remember feeling such a sense of calm for once that I became addicted to the DVD and used the same one for a few years. My first actual class was around 3 years later and it was in a cold damp room in a church in Salford I only went a handful of times as it didn’t quite fit with me.

My main Yoga practice over the years has been at home and I started to use a different DVD Jane Middleton which I again became addicted to and it worked well for me.

I then Stumbled upon Paul Jones at Withington Church around 6 years ago and I can honestly say it changed me both physically and mentally for the better.  After Paul left I went back to my trusted DVD’s but then tried a class at Cavendish School which was taught my Ethna and again I was blown away and literally wanted to cry during the first class as she is just so good and welcoming, sadly she left and again I felt like the search was on again and then as if by magic a friend through the class advised she was going to a class by Paul at Withington Church, when I realised it was Paul Jones I returned and can’t express how please I am to have such a great Instructor back into my life!

I practised Pregnancy Yoga with Janine at Chorlton Irish Club for my entire second pregnancy and can honestly say I do not know how I would have got through without it! Not to mention what an amazing teach Janine is, I have her to thank for some amazing new friends for both me and Penny and through using meditation I had Penny with no drugs and refused being induced and actually went home to walk my lovely dog as I had belief in me and Penny that I was strong enough and that she was healthy enough to come when she was ready. I’m going on a bit here but just to add my waters broke to Break Out by Swing Out Sister! Ha!

I would say I found yoga because in my early 20’s I just felt like there was not enough meaning to well anything really and being in love with nature I just needed a deeper connection to everything and to be able to allow myself head space to relax and to get to know my body.

Q4. What is your yoga super power? (Tell us about a posture or feature of your yoga practice that you’re really good at, or that you enjoy the most)

At the moment I would say my only super power is ensuring I arrive and push myself at each class!

Q5. If you could be a character in a well-known film, who would you be and why? (You might need to give a brief explanation of what the film is about, if it’s an obscure one)

Marie Anntoinette from the film Marie Anntoinette in 2006

Why, well I feel she was misunderstood in reality as she was young and unaware of the damage she caused but then also an amazing mum who just wanted the simple things in life.

I have visited her private estate in Versailles which is the most beautiful country cottage and surrounding out houses for her chickens etc… that still has the orginal walls so you can envision how quaint it once was. Marie chose to live in her own separate modest farm on the outskirts of the Palace grounds to try and live simply and peacefully with her daughter.

I have a great love for Paris.

Q6. Where in Manchester (or where in the world) is heaven? (This might be a museum or park you like to visit, a restaurant you frequent, an area of the city that has fond memories or Leo’s Fish Bar at 2am on a Saturday morning)

Marie Anntoinettes Estate in Versailles



Q7. If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?

I would want to change inhumane farming and testing on all animals.

Thanks for reading and asking!



2019 is going to be a Triptych cracker ! It will be a year of firsts for Yoga Manchester as we host Tim Feldmann , Doug Swenson & The Ashtanga elder statesman Eddie Stern for what will be their first ever workshops for Yoga Manchester.


Tim Feldmann 8-10 Feb

Tim is the director of Miami Life Center, the yoga shala he founded with his wife Kino MacGregor and Matt Tashjian. He was set on the yoga path by his first teacher Lino Miele and is Authorized to teach directly by the founder of the Ashtanga Yoga Method, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and his grandson, R. Sharath Jois. A practitioner of the Advanced A series Tim is dedicated to Ashtanga Yoga’s traditional method.

To book yourself on Tim’s workshop please click here.

Doug Swenson 17-19 May

Doug Swenson the older & wiser ; ) brother of David will be in Manchester in May 2019. Doug began his study of yoga in 1969. He has had the fortune of studying with many great teachers including Dr. Ernest Wood, K. Pattabhi Jois, David Williams, Nancy Gilgoff, Ramanand Patel, and others.Doug is a master yoga practitioner, philosopher, poet and dedicated health advocate. He has incorporated influences from several different yoga systems along with his passion for nutrition and the environment to develop his unique approach.

To book yourself on Doug’s workshop please click here.


Eddie Stern 27-29 Sep

Finally we have our man! After a few years of trying to get him to sunny Manchester , Yoga Manchester are thrilled to announce details of a weekend workshop with the inimitable Ashtanga Yoga authority Eddie Stern. Eddie will be in Manchester to teach a weekend workshop and to promote his forthcoming book ‘One Simple Thing: A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life’.

Eddie Stern is an Ashtanga Yoga teacher, author, and lecturer from New York City. He is the co-founder of Brooklyn Yoga Club, Ashtanga Yoga New York, Broome Street Temple, Namarupa Magazine, the Urban Yogis, and Breathe, Move, Rest, Inc. He studied Ashtanga Yoga under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois from 1991 until his passing in 2009, and continues to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’s grandson and successor, Paramaguru R. Sharath Jois.

To book yourself on Eddie’s workshop please click here.


Recently a few people have mentioned how they don’t feel inspired by the name of Power Yoga for a class. Wonder what they would say if I told them that the founder of the original style of Power Yoga, Beryl [back] Bender Birch, set up the Hard and Soft Institute from which she now teaches. Are people surprised the original term and style was headed by a woman? Also isn’t it brilliant to learn her truly sensational name?
Power Yoga has evolved from its 1970s roots and even beyond Ashtanga, the system it was originally based on. Beryl’s second offering was Beyond Power Yoga giving people an insight into the more subtle elements of yoga practices and philosophy. And these Power Yoga Manchester classes are based on an evolved version of the pure Ashtanga sequence to make it more accessible to those wishing to try yoga but live a modern lifestyle of lots of sitting while at work or traveling.
Perhaps the idea of it conjures up a room full of competitive athletic types and weightlifters but that couldn’t be further from the reality. The intention of the use of the word power in this case, is intended as the individual’s power to change. Yes it involves a bit of core but anyone can do it, and the boon is that you can choose your own level to work to. One of the greatest benefits of a practice is being able to modify, and knowing how best to modify after chalking up a bit of experience. There are machines which cost ten of thousands that offer resistance training which measure isokinetic movements and provide the relevant pressure depending on what point of a stretch you’re at. You see, your muscles aren’t the same strength at every length, it varies. Knowing how to do this (and it’s extremely simple) is the most all round effective way to condition muscles, and it doesn’t take raising your heart rate (though you may still get a bit sweaty). Well, that’s a pretty powerful thing.
But what is it about the term power that makes people so uneasy about yoga? Or doesn’t it? Do you like Power Yoga? Have you ever tried? Would you? And if so, why (or why not)?
Has the term become synonymous with abuses of power, corruption or does it imply a battle of some description? Have we forgotten about powerful art, powerful moments like individuals who exercise their power without a crossed word to effect positive change? Let’s not forget the energetic element of electrical power, or the gravity and magnetism that compose our body energy to keep us alive. The classical term for this is prana, which we cultivate and direct through movement of the blood and muscles and feedback of the nervous system. The intelligent practice of Yoga has a very powerful effect on our energy levels depending on what we do with it during practice. We can be super tired or hugely energised when we’ve exercised our own power to make it what it is.
So what is it that makes power such a hot button? Would love to hear your powerful thoughts on it.

Hi my name is Matt Ryan and I’ve been teaching and practicing yoga all over the world now for the past 22 years.  As a beginner once myself I know how hard it can be not only trying to find the right class but being able to stick at it to turn that first class into a regular yoga practice.Yoga is a life long programme and we will get most benefit from it if we are able to do a little as often as we can. I have created the Couch to Yogi programme to not only start you on your own yoga journey but to help give you the support and encouragement you will need to transform your mind and body through a regular yoga practice into a better you. I have taught this programme to everyone from movie stars to my very own mum – with amazing results it’s a tried and tested formula that I’m sure you’re going to love – and it’s completely FREE. To access this course please click here.

Yoga Manchester’s  Stefan Podolczuk discusses the connection between the art of yoga, music and mindful living. Stef opens up to tell us how he evolved and shares The Sound of Yoga’s 3 Secrets to Pure Bliss.

Sound and the Bliss of Being Present

In a number of ancient cultural traditions it’s said that the first thing in existence was sound and that all known things came from it. Yes, this sounds a bit flowery and to some just plain weird, but why has this idea been so captivating to the billions that have followed such beliefs in search of wellbeing?

Could it be that there’s some mysterious yet attainable life hack to contentment halfway between our experience of everyday sounds and the other many forces that drive us about our lives?

Eastern philosophies tell us bliss is here in the present moment, when we are in that ‘flow state’ or ‘in the zone’ as we may relate to it. What can everyday sounds teach us and support in guiding towards feeling more often this sense of bliss, moving beyond just the intellectual understanding of it, and getting into that flow state at will?

The Link between Yoga, Sound and Music

As a yoga instructor and music graduate, it’s natural for me to see a strong link between music and sound. Everyone feels the importance of the soundtrack whether or not we noticed it. Usually we will because it was sticking out like a sore thumb, but on the other hand it may have helped you to find that perfect place for whatever activity it is the music accompanies. And you’ll know how powerfully a yoga session can move you (if you’ll pardon the pun) and how music can have a similar evocative effect.

Yoga translates into the connecting principles of the universe in which we exist. What entrances me so much about it as a practice, lifestyle and philosophy is that like a soundtrack, it can bind so many moments, places and experiences into this immediate sense of familiarity. It has connected my love of music to a career in which at first seemed to have no parallel other than being instinctively drawn to both activities.

The day I signed up for college, my parents sent me off with reasonable academic grades to go register for math, science and English a-levels. By the end of the day I’d left the building as a member of the popular music course after having walked straight past the academia sign ups to register last minute as a music student.

Mum and Dad had learnt to be miraculously forgiving and supportive of my sporadic tendencies by this point and bless them, my bold move eventually won them over and encouraged them to fund and transport me to extracurricular guitar lessons in addition, thanks again! Before the point of getting a great guitar mentor, I was just roughly playing by ear to my favourite teenage guitar tunes, I seemed to have a natural ability to pick up a tune, which kept me captivated and it was enough to inspire others to enjoy. I quite liked that it both sounded pleasant to my ear and delighted others too. I really enjoyed the practice, moving through the challenges for little rewards moment by moment.

Sound of Yoga’s 1st Secret to Pure Bliss

The first secret captivates a performer and the observer, and in the process of being captivated, we can learn to present and content, to go with the flow.

With this new life path of music being officially undertaken and having it (despite with initial reluctance) encouraged by my parents, I had plenty to be grateful for.

Yet, as many teenagers undoubtedly feel troubled, so was I. Struggling with hormones all over the place and still trying to work out where I fit in when I felt so often out of place. I can see now looking back, music was actually a form of therapy with this ability to quiet the noise of the troubled thoughts and instead let my attention rest on way more harmonious themes than over-thinking. Even if some of the music I played was pretty angst filled, it was normalising and venting that curious indecipherable backwash of emotions underneath the teenage skin I was in.

Two years later it was time to look at university with good grades and feeling a real draw towards composing music. I’d somehow wangled my way onto a bachelor course for contemporary music composition and technology in a somewhat prestigious conservatoire, the Royal Welsh college of music (& drama) in Cardiff. All that after having basically bluffed my way through a bunch of music sight reading and being enthusiastic without trying to hide it. Does that sound as familiar to you about someone becoming obsessed with yoga practice?

Moral of the story I was content to follow the musical rabbit down it’s hole and again, if there’s something we’re undeniably drawn to which pleases others too, it makes sense to give this thing plenty of our attention. See the 1st secret.

So what’s going on within to bring about this sometimes-euphoric state when we experience great music or great moments in a yoga practice?

When we practice the physical poses, we’re in this process of connecting the body in new unexpected, challenging and often delightful ways. Connecting just the breath and movement can lead to these otherworldly experiences for some individuals. Though for some, it simply gets them out of their head for some precious time. Perhaps like others, you’ve felt indescribable moments in yoga, like an experience of something that seems so immediate, infinite or real; like you just came home to your body or felt you’d noticed something completely fresh and new about it. As any self-respecting yoga teacher can attest, these moments are unique one offs for each individual and I personally would call them moments of bliss.

In practicing a musical instrument or yoga, we may try to conjure something like this sense over and over again from a specified and echoed set of posture routines, but like everything else we come across in life, these techniques are really symbols and sign posts, and the finding of that sense of something so real we can’t explain, is not quite so easily catchable. I feel it is found in being very present in that perfect finite moment, experiencing our pure unadulterated self. An irony being, if we chase them, they seem even more unattainable.

Yeah, I know, that might sound totally airy fairy, but all these years studying physics through yoga, sound and music got me into some clear feeling which I’ll share with you about what this present moment is like through dedicated practice.

So the poses help bring that connective sense for the most part, they certainly did for me. More advanced practice doesn’t mean doing a handstand or making your body resemble a pretzel, more aiding in removing the gross outer boundaries and layers that prevent us truly connecting to the feelings of our own physical body, the breath, one’s self, friends, family and others. When the practice becomes more refined we understand that that which connects us internally reflects externally, as a yoga practice requires clear inward communication, so society benefits from conscious and conscientious speech. Importance is affected not always on what we say but how we say it. This kind of external talk reflects inwardly and the more harmonious we can be within ourselves in a yoga practice, the easier it is to express that outwardly. Weaving poses and tunes together binds evolving experiences along one-time frame into one entity.

Entering, exiting and experiencing yoga sequences link our physical awareness from one minute to the next. At times you can feel like no time has passed, time flies when you’re having fun as they say. That’s another of the big boons of both music and yoga as tools of contentment. The fact they take us out of our ordinary timeline where we have responsibility, inevitability, unfortunate imaginative thoughts which go off in all directions.

Sound of Yoga’s 2nd Secret to Pure Bliss

When we are absorbed in the process, we drop our own sense of time, our concerns and discover entrances to a moment of flow state.

Which brings us to the effect of music binding our experience from one moment to the next. Taking it back to that basic level of noticing inappropriate music in a yoga class, you can tell when it’s not “resonating”. Filmmakers use this technique a lot, making the music become something of a feature through it’s clash or harmony with the action on screen. It cuts you out of the flow before you even know it. I notice it a lot in classes. People move slower when there’s droning ambient music playing out of the speakers similarly high energy gym classes pump up their favourite drum and bass rhythms to juice up the high-octane exercises and lift the energy.

With the understanding sound is physically a wave, moving air pressure from one place to another, actually a shift of physical energy, things start to connect in a big way. Sound touches us, in a real sense. Maybe this is why such ‘musical’ terms are favourable among your more expressive and unashamedly ‘new age’ friends, the language of musical terms, echo, resonate, harmony. Music is a language which every person understands but not everyone speaks. However you don’t need to know what language a wolf speaks when it growls, you just know what it means. In advanced yoga practice, we breathe in a more lyrical and musical way, developing that sense of just being aware of the vibrations physically moving through the body.

The repetition of traditions like yoga or even the shift of cultures from era to era behaves like one big wave, echoing through the ages. And when we consciously enter into it like practising moving the body in these ways that have been practiced by people through many different cultures since humans became bipeds, it’s like we’re joining the chorus of the ancients, and singing along with them. We step outside of our language limitations too and vibrate ourselves in a way which goes way beyond the individual’s ‘stuff’. We get a taste of that experience beyond the limits of the flesh, we lose all our worries and concerns for a moment which can seem like an eternity, whether we know it or not at the time, and if we’ve been consciously practicing music and yoga link 1 & 2, these moments will start to become the norm.

What struck me when I began researching my dissertation topic (use of music and sound to create emotional response in motion pictures), was how much understanding the scientific community lacks when it comes to the arousal of emotions. Struggling to find anything scientific about the link, I recall looking for some numbers and I found an interesting study which compared the senses to computational power. Rather than put a time on how the nervous system and brain “compute” or “cognise” senses, this study showed how much problem-solving power the brain did to recognise the difference between the five basic senses. These numbers stayed roughly in my memory even if the location of the experiment didn’t (if you are desperately interested to know, get in touch and I can dig that old paper out of the University libraries and check the source material in the index).

Anyway, to my recollection and subsequent repetition, the ratio went like this:
Sight: 1,000,000,000
Hearing: 10,000,000
Smell: 10,000,000
Taste: 100,000
Touch: 1,000

What struck me about these numbers at first was, sound and smell! Pretty similar. I immediately recalled how nostalgia can be so quickly summoned by these two senses, a fragrance or song do tend to have this remarkable power over the other senses to ‘transport’ us to a sometimes long forgotten experience, if not simply a distant memory. I noted also how the simpler senses of taste and touch seem to agree with these findings, we react to these even quicker than we can imagine, it’s like they’re so ingrained they’re almost a psychic power compared to our intellectual process. For instance, you don’t have your hand on a hot plate and think about how hot it is before moving away do you? These senses are living a different life to us, at the stern of the ship steering us away from icebergs while we enjoy the banquet down in the galley.

The next point I took away was, wow, how much energy we use on deciphering the visual world around us! This brought together how subject to reinterpretation the visual sense is, how difficult it is for us to localise ourselves to the environment with this sense. It seems with simpler senses of touch and taste we literally get a real feel of the deeper layers of being, the more immediate senses bring us closer to experience this illusive ‘moment’ which they promise contains pure bliss.

So recall, this is how much processing power the brain uses to start to understand our sources of stimulation. There’s many ways to interpret this complex and considered scientific academic endeavour of an experiment. However, we are not all academics, and just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so is knowledge in the belief of the inspired. Stick with it because this might seem daunting, but it’s actually what led me to one of the most inspiring realisations of my life.

It mentioned in the study how due to the work these senses are doing alone in EVERY moment, what is it like when they’re combined!? It leads to an absolute delay of our total experience of around half a second on average. That means that everything you can see, hear, smell, taste, touch has already gone into the past.

Spoiler alert, WE WILL NEVER be in the ‘moment’ (not in a human body anyway). On top of these basic senses are all the other human senses that get so little attention, awareness of space, position, temperature, etc.

They all act in a chaotic combination as the guards to the entrance of bliss in the seemingly unreachable ‘moment’.

When you look at a wave it is constantly moving up down with intensity, but as this is its character, it always the same the constant of change. When we vibrate our bodies with choosing to listen and sing along with music we love or lifting and lowering the arms in a sun salutation or tapping feet and clapping hands to a catchy piece of music, we’re connecting so many layers of ourselves to that connected rhythm of life. What’s more, we are practicing being in this huge backwash of mental effort that comes with simply existing as a human being, with those smells, sounds and all to be dealing with. This is before we have even begun to consider how much work it takes for us to package this down into how we’ve felt about and responded or ignored similar stimulation throughout our lives.

It’s no wonder that when we get into a peaceful ambient space with the subtle fragrances we either instantly feel a sense of calm, or conversely, unease at the fact we’re in the unusual position of not having the full on sensory attack of experiences that is day to day life.

Sound of Yoga’s 3rd Secret to Pure Bliss

In practice, we quieten a noisy fluctuating awareness of the senses.

Looking at these pure bliss secrets, and the similarities amongst music and yoga, it’s no wonder variations of both have been practised alongside community bonding in numerous societies throughout the ages. It seems to be our natural go to that we go out and socialise, dance and that these movements and appreciations of sound and space go hand in hand. Because as we established in this brief article, our awareness of sound, makes up a large portion of localising ourselves in our own and shared space.

Entering into trance by chanting or heading down to your local dance hall or gig venue are traditions old as humans have walked the earth. These non-dogmatic practices from many traditions have many benefits for the sense of well-being by highlighting and allowing a way to remove the layers of thought which unconsciously disturb that sense of stillness and peace with the 3 aforementioned bliss secrets. Most of these unconscious thoughts and sensory reactions are necessary for survival and have been alongside our evolution but we find ourselves in a world of saturation where it’s a blessing to find these moments of peace.

Just to speak briefly on I was reading from @simonsynergy on Instagram the other day about how all the humming actually shows many electro-chemical benefits in the body such as increasing circulation and immune function, and how it can even improve neurological function.

So why not stick on your favourite album, hum and or sing along maybe even giving your funky thing a little groovy, “trancy” flow along to it right now, let’s test the theory.

Photo by Camilla Mendes

My first taste of yoga was at the very first Yoga Express in Manchester, with our very own Matt.  I started practising very occasionally after that and once the addiction took hold (!), have been practicing regularly for about four years.

A few months into my practice, Matt said to me after one class that it was important to recognise your body’s limitations.  This comment threw me a bit if I’m honest, as I took it to mean that he was saying to me, that I will never get very far with this and I should just accept that.  It was a little disheartening.  I mentioned this to another yoga instructor a few months later and their response was that yoga should also be about challenging yourself and trying to push your own boundaries.  However, in the past couple of months, I think I have finally realised what Matt actually meant.

I call myself a bit of a yoga groupie – I’ll practice yoga anywhere, with anyone (!!!) just for the experience and to get my yoga fix!  I’ve tried loads of different classes with different instructors, all over the place and usually come away with something new.  I have been to classes where most of the other participants were miles better than I am and have come away a little disheartened and feeling inadequate.  I try to tell myself that yoga isn’t a competition and that I shouldn’t compare myself – but then I am only human.

I used to get that yoga buzz when I felt that I had made a few millimeters of progress or that I had managed to hold a posture for a bit longer or a bit deeper than before; but at the same time, I would beat myself up because I wasn’t in progressing as quickly as I wanted to, or I wasn’t able to manage postures that other people did.

I turned 53 a few weeks ago and I am now picking up some of those aches and pains that are (apparently) to be expected at my age!  I am very thankful however, that I am not on any medication and consider myself pretty active.  I’ve had some issues, something known as yoga-bum (!?) which meant that for a while, my practice was a bit restricted – but with a bit of physio and exercises at home, I was able to overcome this!  Yaaay!

I’ve also had a troublesome left knee for a few years now but I have been managing it with strengthening exercises and of course yoga.  It meant that I could never get my left foot high enough for the standing half-lotus but my right foot was starting to get there.  Also, I could just about manage to get my right foot under the ‘vegetables’ in Ardha Badha Padma Paschimottasana and was also getting to the point that I could almost do the roll-over and jump back in the vinyasas.  However, in recent months, my right knee has begun to trouble me and now it is more restricted than my left.  It means that I cannot crouch down completely and even find child’s pose quite painful.  Rolling over my knees and jumping back with my legs crossed is now pretty much impossible.  It might improve with time but it might not.

For a while, I found this pretty heart-breaking but persevered in the hope that it might get better, even though these postures caused me actual pain.  I don’t consider myself very flexible as it is and I just feel that this has set me further back and limited me even more!

When I mentioned this to Marie a couple of months ago, she told me just to modify my practice to suit what I can do.  But I must confess that for a while, I did find myself thinking ‘what is the point, I am never going to get anywhere with this and might as well give up’.

However, I have rediscovered my yoga-mojo following a holiday and have realised that persisting with moves that cause me pain is stupid and just emphasises what I can’t do.  I have since given up trying to do the roll-overs and jump backs and instead swivel myself around (breakdancing stylee!) so that I can get back into chaturanga without any pain and not too gracelessly!  It also means that I end up doing lots of Janu Sirsasana A’s rather than the B’s and C’s!

The big revelation has been that by physically avoiding postures that cause pain or restriction, has meant that my practice has become something positive again both physically and mentally.  By acknowledging that I cannot do certain things and may never be able to do them, has actually lead to a feeling of liberation.  Since I have picked up my practice again (although I never completely stopped!) I am finding it so much more rewarding.  Maybe after all, this is what yoga is about and what Matt meant all that time ago!