Traditional Ashtanga Yoga – Courses & Workshops

Ashtanga Yoga School is a space for learning, personal development & empowerment.

Ashtanga Yoga School has been set up by Mysore (Sharath Jois) Authorised Level 2 teachers Matt Ryan and Donna Southwell. Our aim is to support your Ashtanga Yoga Journey both on and off the mat.

Yoga as a practice and a philosophy is infinite, and one can dedicate a lifetime to its boundless endlessly rewarding study. The Ashtanga Yoga School philosophy is to help you create your own foundation of a strong and sturdy personal practice which is the bedrock of the journey of the yogi.

Join the Ashtanga Yoga School community.

Click here for more information.

A very warm welcome to our brand new Sale teacher Patricia Cowan.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Right now (and probably most other times) I am listening to the new love in my life AKA Julia Jacklin. I can’t help but get lost in the deep and beautiful lyrics this fabulous Aussie girl has managed to create. She expresses so much through her words and I feel honoured to get to enjoy them.

Where would you be teleported to?

Anytime between the 1920s-1940s for the sole reason of getting to dance in a swing club with a live jazz band💃🏻💃🏻

Where do you buy your clothes from?

I have to admit I do have a guilty pleasure for the vintage/ second hand shops on Oldham street in city centre…. but generally if I’m going to buy myself something new or something I’ve wanted for a while, I first off double check I don’t have it already (which a lot of the time I do ha!) and then secondly I save over a set period of time for it, scrimping on a few luxuries and then reward myself with it. Aside from that, I mostly just wait around for my gorgeous friends Molly or Aine to have a wardrobe clear out…. one man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all…

What does a regular practice look like for you?

I usually do most of my practice after I’ve just taught a class. I find that my practice usually reflects the energy of the preceding class. I do also wake up extra early at least 3 mornings of the week to squeeze in a nice easy mobility/ free flow/ restorative flow- I just follow what my body is telling me it wants on that particular morning.

Any advice to a yoga beginner?

Don’t be afraid of not being ‘flexible’ and not wanting to look inexperienced in a class- to be honest we all look silly sometimes anyway so who cares!! Go to a class where you feel at ease and supported and try to member yoga is supposed to be fun, it doesn’t have to be so serious all the time!

This month’s Yoga Manchester People features Amie Davies 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)


Hi I’m Amie,

I live in Manchester but grew up in Cheshire where my parents still live. I’m an actor and writer, but also work at the Lowry, teach writing classes at Oldham Coliseum and do various other jobs here and there too!

My hobbies mostly involve art, drama and music. I’m currently learning to play the flute and practice aerial hoop.

I have a cat called Murphy, after Murphy’s Law — where ‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong’! He’s 4 and incredibly friendly and loyal to me.


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?)


I’m enjoying the new Vampire Weekend album, but have been reminiscing recently and got in to Spotify’s 90’s playlists.


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 don’t remember my first yoga class because my mum introduced me to yoga when I was little. She was a yoga teacher and trained with BKS Iyengar so yoga has always been part of my life and is used as a tool in my acting career.

At the end of 2017 I challenged myself to do some yoga everyday. I did this for a whole year and found the mindfulness aspects were most beneficial.

At the start of this year I felt a bit lost and decided to visit a teacher training open day. I found it fascinating and applied for the course there and then. I started at the beginning of March. Since then I’ve tried to step up and visit more classes each week.


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)


I really like a good Trikonasana!

I enjoy this posture because it stretches the sides of my body. I started doing this type of stretch as an actor because I’m sure it improves the quality of my voice.


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)


Easy! I would be Marty McFly from Back to the Future so that I could have a very cool car and go back in time and have adventures!


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)

Ideally my heaven needs to have sun, sea and sand but if I just wanted to get away from everything to relax and find some peace I’d go to my parents and spend some time in their garden.

In Manchester, any indiscriminate beer garden when the sun is out will do…


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


I’d go back to the Dark Ages to see the Druids and Vikings, mostly to check out the jewellery.

I wouldn’t change anything because I don’t want to mess with history and risk not existing anymore!


Q8. Where do you want to be in 5 years.

I don’t have a 5 year plan right now. I’ve recently made some changes in my life, undertaking yoga teacher training being one of them, so any plans are out the window and I’m just seeing where life takes me. Maybe ask me again in 5 years…

A very Happy New Year to ALL Yoga Manchester students – I do hope everyone has had a fabulous holiday season and wishing everyone all the best for 2017. And what a year 2017 is going to be….

All Yoga Manchester classes will resume from Thursday 5th January and Yoga Express classes from Monday 9th January – looking forward to seeing you all on the mat , and please no  ‘I’ve not done any yoga since last year ‘  jokes . I copyrighted that one years ago : )

We have lots of fun things planned for 2017 including workshops , new classes and our very first Teacher Training Programme for all you budding yoga teachers out there.

Saturday Yoga Sessions

The Saturday Yoga Sessions are our new last Saturday of the month Yoga classes in Withington 10 am – 12pm featuring different teachers and themes. Kicking these new classes off will be Charlene McAuley on Saturday 29th January with her Yoga Motion ‘Awaken Deep Strength’ class. Details of this class here.

For all details of future Saturday Yoga Sessions please click here.

David Williams – the King of Ashtanga Yoga

Yoga Manchester are thrilled to host a weekend workshop with the amazing Ashtanga Yogi David Williams. David Williams is probably the most important (Western) Ashtanga Yoga teacher alive today. He was one of the first Western students to study directly with the Guru of Ashtanga Yoga Pattabhi Jois in Mysore India  and he is singularly responsible for bringing Guruji  and his teachings to the West in the early seventies. The rest they say is history! David will be here in July – full details here.


Yoga Manchester Teacher Training

We are very , very excited to be launching our very first Yoga Teacher Training in 2017. The YMTT is a comprehensive 200 hour teacher-training course with an internationally acclaimed faculty fully accredited with The Independent Yoga Network. The course will start on April 1st 2017 with an eight day intensive and continue with six weekend sessions over a total period of seven months. Full details of the course here.



We have a full itinerary of exciting workshops planned for 2017 including one day meditation workshops , a handstand master class and workshops to revitalise and restore energy – exciting stuff! For all forthcoming workshops please click here.
The holidays are over and now it’s time to get back on the mat – and always remember ..







Ok I’ll ‘fess up here. I’ve written about this subject before many times, but it’s a theme that crops up again and again in both my yoga & meditation practices. My crazy Zen teacher Brad Warner wrote about it very eloquently in a recent blog post which made me want to reiterate the point–more for myself than anyone else. I guess the ‘theme’ can be boiled down to one word.. ..Expectations. What is the criteria that fulfils our expectations from practice? Be it to become strong fit and flexible from yoga asana or perhaps we use meditation to become more mindful, chilled out or even to achieve enlightenment whatever the hell that is, we all start or continue with these disciplines for a reason. My own reasons for starting yoga (and meditation) were all mind based but I did have expectations that these practices were going to ‘fix’ my mind. And just for the record here I continue to have expectations as much as the next person.

But as I mentioned in a previous blog what the hell happens when your practices aint ticking your expectation boxes?  Where do you go from there? Do you pack it in? Do you keep going until your donkey & carrot expectations are fulfilled in a never ending chasing your tail ‘kinda way?

I guess for myself I only truly understood about expectations when I started to do this Zazen thang (Zazen is the ‘Zen’ Buddhist form of meditation). There are actually a few different methods of ‘Zazen’, and the one I practice is called shikantaza (pronounced she-can-tar-za) which literally means ‘just sitting’. In shikantaza all we are doing is just sitting up straight on a ‘zafu’ (meditation cushion) in full lotus, half-lotus or with cross legs with eyes open looking at a wall (I’ll elaborate the wall thing in another blog) . So there’s no counting breaths or reciting mantras or any other similar methods that one would do in other meditation practices. When one does shikantaza you’re not trying to get anywhere or achieve anything which is probably the complete antithesis of everything you’ve been taught and begs the question ‘why on earth would you want to sit and stare at a wall for 40 minutes a day if it’s not actually doing anything’? And believe you me that particular question does crop up a bazillion times when I’m sitting. When I ask Brad how to deal with this endless questioning by my mind his answer is always the same. ‘Just sit Matt’ he says. ‘Ah ok, thanks’ I would reply. End of lesson. Just sit!

Now in Yoga asana there are obvious tangible benefits when you start practicing. After a while maybe you can touch your toes (or even see your toes), your shoulders and hips feel looser and usually there is a general feeling of well-being after your yoga practice. But in my own experience these benefits start to become less obvious after a while, I mean I’m fairly flexible now and there’s a chunk of yoga postures in the Ashtanga practice that I can’t do and probably never will be able to , and sometimes my mind is as messy as it was before I had practiced that day. So rather than beat myself up about it I heed Brad’s words about sitting and apply it to yoga – I just practice. There’s something very powerful in the ability to do something ‘just for the sake of doing it’, to achieve nothing in particular, without any grand mental or physical expectations. Nothing (or the northern colloquialism ‘Nowt’) is where it’s at, man!

There is a fly in this expectation less ointment though. How can you stop the mind expecting? And here’s the secret answer that I am giving you for FREE that other Yoga/Meditation snake charmers might charge you the earth for. You can’t. Really it’s that simple. As I mentioned before your mind literally has a mind of its own. Its job is to think. What it thinks you have absolutely no control over what’s so ever and therein lies the problem, we think we can control the mind but the reality is we can’t – so why bother trying! What we can do is not react to our endless cycle of mundane incessant questions the mind conjures up. My body is still stiff and I’ve been practicing yoga for 5 and a half weeks now  , I can’t get my leg(s) behind my head , my practice doesn’t feel as good as it did last week and on and on it goes. So rather than have answers for these questions or even trying to fulfill the expectations you just carry on doing your practice and accept that it’s just the mind carrying on with itself. As Brad says ‘A big part of doing shikantaza practice is learning how to be OK with your thoughts being completely out of control’. And it’s the same with Yoga asana too. Both these practices for me are the same thing – as Yoga teacher David Williams says ‘Yoga & Meditation are synonyms’.

So next time you come to one of my classes and you ask me why you can’t get your leg behind your head or why you can’t touch your toes I’ll most likely tell you to not worry too much and ‘just practice’.