LIVE ONLINE YOGA SESSIONS

With Matt Ryan

From Monday 23Rd March Yoga Manchester's chief Yogi  Matt Ryan will be teaching live Yoga classes online via Zoom. The 45 minute classes will be every weekday – Monday to Friday at 7pm prompt, and will be open to ALL levels.The classes will have an Ashtanga Vinyasa base but with lots of variations given.There will be a 'hardcore' Wednesday hour long session every Wednesday which will be a more in-depth deep dive into Ashtanga  and a 'Freestyle Friday' session which will include all kinds of weird and wonderful yoga postures (please feel free to email in your yoga posture requests)  every Friday. For in depth class descriptions please click here.

To book a class please click here

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.
To some people the idea of a whole weekend of Yoga with a super star Yogi like David Swenson can be quite daunting! Would a class Friday night, three times on Saturday and three times Sunday be too much? The answer to this is it wasn’t enough! It was a perfect balance of Yoga Asana with pearls of wisdom you only have after 50 years of Yoga. David wasn’t what I was expecting, I have David’s practice manual and in his book he looks so serious. Wow I was wrong. He was hilarious. I was laughing so much, proper belly laughing. He has so many anecdotes. Some relate to things we have all thought whilst practising but we don't want to say out loud. One of my favourites was when he explained how when you step on the mat you know how the practice is going to go from the first lift of your arms. Some days it’s gonna be a breeze, others it feels like your arms are lead weights! And I’ve had plenty of those! He said how Pattabhi Jois (the creator of Ashtanga Yoga) would say that you only have to do 3 x Surya namaskar A (sun salutation A) and 3 Surya namaskar B (sun salutation B) and the final 3 postures if you were having a busy or tired day. He tied this in with the first session on the Friday evening which was about how to have a manageable practice for the lives many of us lead rushing from A to B. Perfect for Friday night as most people had finished work and driven to Manchester. His individual sessions were exactly what they say on the tin. We had one class that was the entire Primary series. As a yoga teacher I liked to watch him adjust people in the class. He was open to questions and always gave great explanations along with more stories. He passed on his experience practising with Pattabhi Jois, it was a relief to hear as both a practitioner and teacher that Pattabhi Jois would not be so critical of exactly where every limb would go, allowing me to go with the flow a little more and just breathe. Another one of my favourite stories was where prasarita padatonasana D and E went. He said Pattabhi Jois said they were not removed but students forgetting!... maybe i'll just forget Navasana … just joking, I love boat pose ;) . My favourite tip of the weekend: in uttita hasta padangustasana (you stand on one leg and straighten your other leg out in front of you holding your toe) actively curly your toe around your fingers OMG!!!!!! I can stand straighter and my toe doesn’t fall out of my sweaty grip. The weekend was absolutely magic and I will be going to the next weekend he does with Yoga Manchester … and the full week he teaches afterwards. Between each class he also hung about for everyone to talk to him, ask questions, get a book signed and even have a selfies with him. I tried to play it cool but as soon as the selfie trend started I totally got in there! I have to say David has made me fall in love with Ashtanga again, as a Vinyasa flow teacher, my self practice is Vinyasa flow. However, Ashtanga will definitely be sneaking into my self practice. Sneaky little Ashtanga!
So I have been teaching for 6 months now (and practising for nearly 10 years).  I am a beginner in the world of teaching. But I have been thinking about how much I enjoy teaching yoga beginners and why. I thought I would try and throw a short blog together to explain why it is awesome. Don’t get me wrong. It is fun to teach avid yogis. It’s a different experience though. A different vibe (cosmic, man). It’s sort of like going to a gig of your favourite band and everyone else is on-board. They all love the band too and you are all having a good time. Its great to be with your peers and experience the yoga and all be into it. I don’t talk about energy that much, especially with beginners, but it is there and it can be ace. For beginners it is more like getting someone into a band you like for the first time. Like you are that annoying person that loves that album, and says “OMG you have to hear it, it will change your life”. The other person is like “yeah whatever”. But they come back to you and they are like dude that album is sick, Rush are the greatest! (I have stopped short of playing Rush records in my classes so far, but watch this space for Prog-rock Yoga). Its such a great feeling to introduce someone to something cool. You know, for all the talk of acceptance, energy and togetherness in yoga, the community has its share of cliques and elitism. Some of the culture is pretty annoying to be honest. With all the inspirational memes. The opaque waffling about the supernatural and parroting of esoteric philosophy. The marketing, aspirational designer yoga pants, and perfectly curated lives on social media (goats and beer??!). Not to mention tribalism between different schools of yoga. It gets a bit tiresome. You have to roll your eyes sometimes. This is coming from someone who is into yoga and has been doing it for years. Even I get put off by it. I remember Matt Ryan once telling me about his experiences in Mysore India and how dull it is to sit around listening to people talk about their practice and their Chakras, and how he would rather be out playing cricket in the street with the kids. I get that. You need a bit of a break or risk your head disappearing up your asana. I’m not your typical yoga teacher though. I am not that bendy. I am tall and kind of heavy. You aren’t going to see me on instagram in a bikini with washboard abs (nobody wants to see that). More likely to find me watching horror films and playing boardgames… I’m a nerd basically. I remember my first yoga class and being scared. Thinking it would be stupid. Thinking I would look stupid. Thinking that I won’t be bendy enough (are we ever bendy enough? How bendy do you need to be?). I still remember being that guy, you know. In a lot of ways I still am and feel like a bit of an outsider. I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel that way. Or rather, I would want people to feel ok about it! If that makes sense. Thankfully I had an awesome teacher back in the day that blew my mind and made me feel welcome. Just a regular dude who does yoga. I love trying to pass that feeling on. Teaching the yoga as it was taught to me. In a down to earth, humorous way. Free of the crap and elitism that might put regular people off of coming to a class. It is really refreshing to be in an environment that is back to basics, with beginners that have no idea and just want to do a bit of a yoga. It’s nice to get out of the yoga bubble and feel what it is really about. I think it makes you a better teacher. Keeps you grounded in reality, “keeping it real” as Matt would say. It encourages you to make the teachings relatable and accessible to normal people in their every day lives. There is a big difference between what you learn on teacher training and what you do in practice (much like anything I suppose). Especially if you did a teacher training on a fancy retreat in Thailand, and come back to teach on the damp streets of Manchester. For one, beginners make you more aware of the language you are using and have you rely less on cues like “between two panes of glass”. I think sometimes yoga is a bit of an impenetrable wall of clichés and abstract phrases. There are so many yoga cues and slogans that just sound ridiculous when you say them to a room of people who have never done yoga before. You get some pretty confused looks. Teaching beginners makes you try harder to make more relatable cues and show people how it is applicable to them and examples of how it will make them feel better. When you try to creep in some of the more subtle philosophy and mediation elements it is important to keep it real and not get too abstract, I think. It has to make sense to people’s daily life and be approachable. I am inspired by the teachings of Zen Buddhist Brad Warner and his brand of grass roots DIY Punk Rock Zen. At the end of the day Zen is a very egalitarian practice of ‘just sitting’. A reformation of Buddhism and stripping back of the rituals, but is no less meaningful. It can be a challenge to get people to just sit and breathe. It is difficult to just sit without a goal or instructions (hey, its a challenge for me as well. Kind of the point I guess). But I love it because of how accessible and real it is. Without its reliance on music and mantras or what you believe in. It’s all about getting back to basics with people. It helps me personally see and feel the effects in myself. A practical way-out of the often esoteric and abstract world of the avid yogi. You get into the swing of things when you have a group of regulars each week. You have fun and feel that vibe when you are on the same page. But when someone new walks in you have to shift into a different gear and make sure what you are saying and doing makes sense again. It helps you build those student teacher relationships. It ends up teaching you to tailor the yoga to the audience and really shows how it isn’t one size fits all. It is so inspirational to have people coming back the next week and surprise you and themselves. I want to break their preconceptions like they were broken for me. It is totally the best thing about doing it. It is awesome to see people getting into it and feeling accepted and like they can be themselves. You didn’t put someone off for life. Someone thought you knew what you were talking about and enjoyed what you were on about. Week on week they start to have a bit of a laugh. They are less anxious and awkward and trying new things and walk out feeling better than they did when they came in. Even if it is just a little bit better. It feels great to pass that on to other people. So if you are a beginner who has never been to a class before! Come along. I know I am not the only one that loves blowing minds and having my mind blown. It will most definitely help bring us as teachers back down to earth and try that bit harder. But it is the most rewarding thing about teaching. Barry Norton is teaching Yoga for Runners (Wednesdays in Didsbury) & Yoga for Cyclists (Mondays in Chorlton).
New Yoga Manchester teacher on the block Stefan Podolczuk gives us the low down on his musical tastes, his fashion tips and a little advice for new teachers.  

What are you listening to at the moment?

I'll listen to something based on enhancing a mood I already feel, recently Earth, wind and fire or other funk to fly around on a bike. A bit of deep house, trance or the ambient Indian style yoga playlists on occasion of wanting to space out fully. There's a guy called Craig Pruess who wrote some beautiful stuff, or Jon Hopkins immunity asleep version is great for relaxation post classes when I teach at the gym.
 

Where would you be teleported to?

On the back of a surfboard on the front of a big empty wave in Hawaii, Indonesia or Australia.
 

Where do you buy your clothes from?

Oxfam. Or gifted. Got a few clothes from brothers and friends. They mean more and I don't like the idea of cheap manufactured clothes or waste.
 

What does a regular practice look like for you?

Daily pranayama meditation and asana. Usually 3 hours worth. I sleep 5/6 hours to fit it in, correct asana practice lets you run on this throughout the day without fatigue. It's usually Ashtanga Primary but occasionally mix it up with a bit of Jivamukti, Hot yoga or Yin usually on a moon day. One or two days of the month I'll take a lie in.
 

Any advice to a yoga beginner?

Be patient. It's not about "doing the poses". It's about always finding a new place to develop breath and bodily awareness.  If you think you've finished a pose and looking for new ones to satisfy... you don't get it.Tight bodies are the best playground.If you are naturally flexible you will be really challenged because it's tougher for you to keep the energy in the pose and build strength, especially if you are hyper-extensive.If your teacher doesn't offer cues that help you find some new way of feeling the pose, find a better teacher.Main advice, keep practising!
This month’s Yoga Manchester People blog features Kieron James. Kieron has been a Yoga Manchester regular for over 10 years, he has just set up Wonderful.org– for more info see below .. 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)
I'm Kieron. I grew up in Glossop, travelled a bit, married a Spaniard, travelled a bit more, had three children (whilst travelling) and for the last dozen or so years, we've made our home in South Manchester. Though I guess many would make the same claim, I'm the luckiest husband and father alive. I'm indebted to Elisa, my wife, for putting up with me for almost thirty years and immensely proud of our three grown up children, Carmen, Gabi and Dan. We also have a thirteen year old bearded collie who has the energy and vitality of a pup (I'm not bitter at all).
  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?)
Deep house. That may be a massive yawn for some people, but as a hobbyist producer with a handful of signed releases and as a bedroom DJ, deep house music is what I really enjoy creating and mixing. This means I find myself listening to a lot of deep stuff for inspiration, because I love the talent of the genre's producers. That said, I do try to make sure that firing up iTunes, SoundCloud or Mixcloud doesn't always feel like a busman's holiday, so I'll often mix things up with some 80s classics - invariably electronic though.
  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)
A conversation across a checkout conveyor belt. Really. A guy I'd got chatting with when picking up my lunch from the supermarket suggested going to his yoga class when I mentioned I was running at the weekend. He thought it'd be good for tight hamstrings. I thought it'd be a breeze. Guess who was right. Completely beaten up after 45 minutes, I was sold. After a few weeks, I attended my first workshop (with equal naivety and enthusiasm) - a weekend with Danny Paradise hosted by Yoga Manchester. Whilst the whole thing was pretty ludicrous for someone with my (in)ability, I was astonished at how welcoming and patient everybody was - both with my silly questions and unyielding joints. Undeterred, I've continued ever since and practice five times a week (mostly) and find that yoga offers a lovely contrast and complement to running and gym.
  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 love headstands to the point of boring people to death with highly predictable Instagram posts accompanied by asinine comments like "sirsasana on the beach," or "upside down you turn me." Well, it's more fun than packing a teddy to snap in exotic locations - at least for me. The irony of reading all that stuff about the calming benefits of inversions when I was spending so much time crashing to the floor is not lost on me. I also love utpluthih - as long as I've been using the nee-jis Matt supplied beforehand.
  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)
I'd love to be Top Cat, but the truth is, I'm much more Benny the Ball (or even Officer Dibble). Undoubtedly my favourite cartoon series, I will hold a very deep grudge against the building society which has hijacked my childhood [I'm rolling out my mat and taking 10 deep breaths after acknowledging this].
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)
Verona. We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary there and have been back every year since. We even stay in the same hotel room. We do love to travel further afield, but this holiday is a constant we're unlikely to give up. There's something immediately comforting about arriving at the same place, visiting the same restaurant, being welcomed by the same people. The old part of the city is beautiful and though we tramp a few familiar streets year in, year out, we simply love it.
Q7. If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?
"Despacito" - There you go, by the time I'd typed the last syllable, it's rattling around in my head with a promise not to leave until the day's out. And now it's in yours too. (You're welcome.) I've absolutely nothing against the 5 billion streams, or Luis Fonsa, but I dearly wish I could unhear that song.
 
Wonderful.org
When I hit the wonderful 50, I thought it was about time I did something useful. With access to some amazing people and IT infrastructure, we set about building an online fundraising platform which would operate as a non-profit and cover all the charges associated with raising cash for charities. Having taken part in a few running events over the years, I was frustrated (read 'fuming') to learn that JustGiving had deducted 5% to cover its own costs (read 'generate enough revenue and profit to attract a £95m acquisition') from family, friends and colleagues who had supported those fundraising runs. Their generosity was, of course, intended for the charities I was running for, rather than a profit-making intermediary. So we created Wonderful.org. All fees associated with raising money for worthy causes are covered by our Corporate Sponsors so that charities receive every penny from donations, including Gift Aid. Nobody at Wonderful gets paid and we're very proud to be announcing our inaugural Wonderful Week (wonderfulweek.org) with the support of footballing legend, Phil Neville, his Duracell-powered wife (she won't mind me saying that), Julie and amazing children, Harvey and Isabella, who are running, cycling and swimming 100 miles to support their chosen charity, The Good Life Orphanage. The Wonderful Week takes place from 2nd-10th September and the James family is also taking part (of course!) in support of The Christie.
David Williams is perhaps in a unique position to offer a workshop on "Ashtanga Yoga for Life", as he has literally spent his whole adult life dedicated to the practice. He opened with a colourful account of his introduction to Yoga at a sixties rock festival, and his subsequent journey via the "Magic Bus" to India, where he eventually came across Manju Jois practicing Ashtanga Yoga on a beach. After promising to bring Manju to America (somehow one day!) David went on to meet Manju's teacher, his dad Pattabhi Jois, in Mysore around 1970 (along with Nancy Gilgoff), and became the first Western student to eventually master the entire series. Later he did manage to get Patthabi Jois to California, along with Manju, who never went back! I guess this planted the seed which eventually led to Pattabhi Jois's version of Ashtanga Yoga now being one of the primary forms of Yoga practiced in the West. David moved on to Hawaii, and after one final visit to Mysore to finish learning the last series, he realised he didn't really want to teach, but to practice. So he passed his classes on to his student, David Swenson, and spent the next 18 years living in a shack by the beach concentrating on his practice. Thanks to another one time student, Danny Paradise, he has had various celebrity students, including touring with Pavarotti, which no doubt has helped keep the wolves from the door. He is now something of a celebrity himself, and his (literally) original views are very instructive and refreshing, opening up a whole new insight into to the practice. Along with his own biography, David gave a detailed account of the story of Krishnamacharya, including eight years in a cave on Mt Kailash in Tibet learning from a reclusive Nepalese master, and the legendary Yoga Kurunta text, said to be hidden in Calcutta library. The tale went on to detail the life of Pattabhi Jois and also the interesting links with BKS Iyengar - almost an archetypal "Grand Narrative" guaranteed to inspire future generations of students. The first two evening practice sessions were a relaxed run through elements of primary series, exactly as David initially learnt them, e.g. no standing balances. Saturday morning's practice put all the primary series together, and in the afternoon we ran through the Ashtanga pranayama series. The final session on Sunday morning was an equally relaxed look at second series, which David emphasised contained many postures which were no more difficult than primary series postures, just different, with more emphasis on back bending rather than forward bending. I thought David did a great job of "demystifying" Ashtanga Yoga, pointing out that many of the changes introduced later were really for "class management" as numbers grew, rather than any deep esoteric reason. I was particularly impressed by David being brave enough to say that strong adjustments in Ashtanga Yoga are counterproductive, and Pattabhi Jois was wrong to use them, as they may cause injury without any great positive benefit. Personally I completely agree, and was encouraged to see David making this point so strongly. In my view there have been far too many people injured by teachers slavishly following a flawed approach, or, as David put it, "an experiment that went wrong". He also made the point that Yoga insurance does not cover "hands on" malpractice! The whole tone of David's workshop was to focus on the joy of practice, getting into the feeling of how good it is to stretch and work the body in a relaxed and open way without getting hung up on how "good" the postures are. He emphasised the importance of daily practice, provided it was a happy relaxed approach which the body looked forward to. Also, he said a practice at a bare minimum was six sun salutations, three A, three B, Yoga mudra, deep breathing and tolasana, which would take less than thirty minutes. Overall I found the workshop to be light-hearted, informative and highly enjoyable, and I got the impression most participants felt the same. Having worked with many Ashtanga teachers over the years, for me David Williams, together with Danny Paradise and David Swenson, are the most fun to work with and really embody the joy of the practice. On a more serious note, I think David’s message cuts to the heart of a polarity of approach which any student would do well to recognise as early as possible, arising from the fundamental question, “why  practice Yoga”? On one hand, Yoga may be used as a method of physical and mental cultivation and control. The techniques work, and many people enjoy great benefit from this approach. The risk in my view is that this approach may easily become ego-driven, and if you practice because you feel you “should”, and the goal is always to get “better” eventually your unconscious impulses (which really runs the show) will rebel and the practice will fade; or the ego will dominate and the body will eventually get injured or burn out. Ego domination can lead to a serious, heavy practice, a narrowing of attitudes and eventually a brittle foundation prone to life denying misery. Teachers and teaching styles following this approach are likely to be pedantic, dominating and unsupportive, as David says, sadistic teachers with masochistic students - no pain no gain! On the other hand, Yoga may be used as a vehicle for self inquiry. I think the original purpose of Hatha Yoga is as a preparation for meditation and a natural starting point for self inquiry. Interestingly David seems to consider Ashtanga Yoga to be a complete meditation form in its own right, generating a continuous meditative state, with no need therefore for sitting meditation or other practices. I might beg to differ, noting that Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga as developed in the Yoga Sutras has little emphasis on Hatha Yoga, with asanas being just one of the eight limbs of practice, but this is a discussion for another time. The main point is the development of an approach with an emphasis on inquiry and nurturing spontaneity, not cultivation and punitive control. The hallmark of such an approach is lightness and humour - after all, this stuff is far too important to be taken seriously! The ego is unmasked as being just one element of the totality of being, and humility and surrender can lead to an expansive joyful dissolution of ego control, and a relaxed and life affirming practice. With surrender, the practice is allowed to take you wherever it leads, enjoying the trip (the downs as well as the ups) and trusting that however unexpected, this is where you need to go. In my view, Yoga is to be enjoyed, not endured, if it is to be Yoga for life. I have been practicing on and off for a long time now, being even older than David, and as Nancy Gilgoff once said, I’m terrified of what would happen if I stop! I have been fortunate enough to have had “fun” teachers, and their legacy is simple: if it’s fun, you’ll do it!      
I started practicing Ashtanga yoga 15 years ago, in fact, I was one of the students at Matt Ryan's very first class in Heaton Moor, Stockport.  I'd always enjoyed running, badminton and cycling to keep fit, so I didn't expect I'd get hooked on yoga, but from that first class I absolutely loved the practice. For many years I attended Matt's weekly classes as part of my weekly exercise regime, but over time something changed in me which I completely put down to my yoga practice. I wasn't particularly aware of this during the class, (strangely, it was when I reflected on how I felt after class), but the Ashtanga practice concentrated my mind more sharply, I began to 'feel' my body much more mindfully than ever before, and it was only when I took a break from my yoga practice that I realised how much it had grounded me as a person and enabled me to deal with stress and difficulties in a significantly more productive way. Over the last two years I returned to Matt's classes, and fell I love with Ashtanga yoga all over again, yet this time I developed a much deeper love of the practice. I began developing a home practice alongside the Yoga Manchester classes. I heard about the Yoga Manchester monthly Mysore classes, but I've got to be honest, I felt quite intimidated attending these classes. The thought of walking into a class that wasn't led filled me with dread! I was reasonably familiar with the asanas up to Navasana, but had only 'played' with the second part of the primary series, I did not confidently know the order of the remaining asanas. I had visions of reaching a part of the series and not having a clue what to do next! So I decided to book onto a workshop Marie Harris was running at the beginning of this year. It was to help people develop their practice, to look at the whole primary series as a group and give you the tools to help you remember the order of the sequence, it was an excellent workshop. There was a bonus...there was also a free pass to attend a Mysore class! Well...I had no excuse not to give it a go! So now the only challenge was to get up super early (I'm most definitely NOT a morning person!), but I had a little word with myself and took the plunge! I've got to say, it was truly liberating! Since that day I've consistently attended the monthly Mysore classes, and without exaggeration, I've not looked back! Its given me the opportunity to get the extra help and instruction I've needed in my practice. There were some asanas that I was scared of and thought my body would never be open enough to move into, but a regular practice and with the commitment to Mysore I've felt a real development in my practice. By attending the extra classes before Mysore - the mediation and pranayama classes, it's also given me a greater insight into these practices and to feel the advantages of these. After all, if I'm getting up super early anyway, why not make the most of the whole experience! Despite initially dreading the early mornings, it might be hard to believe but I now look forward to them! The early morning practice invigorates me and I feel ready to deal with anything the day brings! It just requires a bit of adjusting in the evenings to get to bed a bit earlier, but I certainly don't complain about that! If your reading this and don't quite believe what I'm saying, all I can suggest is...give it a go! Commit to Mysore, one week a month for 4-6 months. If it doesn't work for you, fair enough...but I bet it will!!   For more information on Matt Ryan's Monthly Mysore Intensives click here  
Ok so it’s definitely not War & Peace, nor is it one of those really dry academic Yoga text books that naval gaze its way into whether or not Yoga is 5000 years old ( and you always , always need both a dictionary and a thesaurus to understand some of the words these books use ) ( I mean why do they have to write that way) (ok enough of the brackets). But my book ‘An idiot’s guide to setting up a Yoga class’ has definitely got it’s own place on the bookshelf as I’m pretty sure no-one has attempted to write (yet)( arrgh more brackets) anything like it. I chose the title ‘An idiot’s guide’ for obvious reasons, yes it was written by Idiot #1 ! If you’ve read any of my blogs on the Yoga Manchester site you will have ascertained 2 things:
  • I’m definitely not a natural when it comes to writing
  • There’s always at least one funny joke *
So the book is like one long blog – not that long mind you ,  I think it’s only 80 pages long and we’ve stuck a few photos and used large fonts to pad it out a bit (jus jokin - it's all killer no filler). But if you are a self-employed Yoga teacher the cheap at twice the price cost of the book , £7 , I promise will be a very reasonable return for your money. It’s full of neat little ideas that you can use to help establish yourself in this ever growing market of yoga teachers. And even if you’re not a Yoga teacher the book will give you a bit of an insight to how I went about creating Yoga Manchester – the highs and the lows and the stupid mistakes I made along the way. It’s like a box of Quality Street - there’s something for everyone in it. I would like to say the book wouldn’t have been possible without the help of two Yoga Manchester students Dani Abalhawa and Rachel Clements. These two lovely ladies took it upon themselves to edit the book from an incoherent rambling mess (see any of my blogs) to the rather reasonably  coherent and readable end product.  Enjoy !. To purchase a copy of the book please click here. P.s. If I get enough requests I'll even do a 'Shameless' style Manc audio version : ) *my wife will beg to differ here of course, she doesn’t think any of my jokes are funny – not that she reads any of my blogs.