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


Just last week I hooked up with an old mate from my nightclubbing days – he too is now living in London and like me has been through his fair share of ‘dark nights of the soul’ Anyways we decided we would meet up to ‘do lunch’ which is what forty year blokes do these days and we met up in some hip veggie restaurant in Covent Garden (darling!) It was one of those food gaffs that make you pay by the weight of your food and because it’s London it seems the scales default setting is £expensive – I never knew lettuce leaves weighed so much.

So as we were sitting down to talk about the good/bad old days a lady friend of my pal called us over to say hello. We were all introduced, my mate took it upon himself to introduce me as Yoga Matt – like I’ve not heard that one a bazillion times, but he thought it was hilarious. The lady friend was also a Yoga teacher and asked me what type of Yoga was it I taught. Now anyone who teaches Yoga knows this kinda question ‘What type of Yoga do you teach’ is always going to be a loaded one – usually because the enquirer won’t be teaching the same style as you and of course they always have an opinion about your particular brand of Yoga. And my friend’s lady friend didn’t disappoint.

‘I’m an Ashtanga teacher’ I said with a big smile on my face. After all I owe Ashtanga a huge debt for putting some light into my own dark nights of the soul, so teaching it gives me nothing but joy.

‘Ah Ashtanga – the injury Yoga’ came the reply, which was met by own stunned silence. I actually thought she may have been pulling my leg and she was some kind of comic whose genius lies in the ability to pause for a few awkward moments before they utter the punch line. But there was no punch line forth coming and the stunned silence turned into an awkward one , so I hit her with the social cliché  that one utters in these uncomfortable moments  ‘well it was lovely to meet you’ and went and sat down to eat my expensive lettuce leaves before I lost my appetite.

My mate and I laughed about the irony that we were ‘doing lunch’ rather than ‘doing’ more nefarious substances like we had done in our sordid pasts. I tried to let the Ashtanga Injury Yoga comment go , but I couldn’t. I really wanted to finish up my lunch and nip back over to my fellow Yogi’s table and explain that Ashtanga Yoga doesn’t injure anybody , but in fact it’s the practitioner’s ego that’s the main problem. The ego that says ‘yes I can get into that posture’ or ‘no I don’t need to modify this one’ – you get my point no ? People do not like to admit this to themselves and don’t want to take responsibility for their actions – so if an injury occurs whilst practicing Ashtanga (or any other form of Yoga )  the fault is of course nothing to do with the practitioner and everything to do with the Yoga practice – which is of course absolutely ridiculous.

I mean I know Ashtanga Yoga has been (wrongly) tagged as ‘the strong yoga’ sometimes I get comments from students like ‘isn’t that the fast one that Madonna does, I don’t fancy that it looks too hard’. I actually blame whoever came up with the term ‘Power Yoga’, which Ashtanga Yoga got rebranded with in the eighties. Let me just say this Ashtanga will not give you an injury if you practice it correctly – only you or perhaps only your ego will make that injury happen. Ashtanga isn’t power yoga – if you want to practice the sequence ‘powerfully’ without paying attention to appropriate variations for your own body shape then you must take responsibility for whatever happens.

I think the root of the problem lies in the macrocosm of what most of us (me included) do in our lives, where we don’t engage directly with the world but engage only with our thoughts about the world. And similarly in the microcosm of a Yoga practice we are not engaging with practice but our thoughts (ego) about the practice. The thoughts that say ‘of course I can get my leg behind my head….SNAP!’

My Zen teacher Brad Warner says that a good Zen teacher will not accept any student trying to give them their responsibility – or be responsible for the student’s actions. If the Zen teacher is worth their salt they will throw that responsibility back at the student (in a ‘Zen’ kind of way of course). In some ways I like to think I adapt a similar attitude when I’m teaching. When a student comes into my class we both enter into a relationship based on an open ongoing dialogue – I am responsible for ensuring the student ‘taking practice’ in the appropriate manner, advising, adjusting when and where appropriate making sure the student’s ego never pushes into injury. I am responsible for Ashtanga, the student is responsible for themselves.

PS Apologies for the rather crap ‘photo-shopped’ graphic image –  I don’t actually have Photo Shop so I use this online software package that is free so it’s always going to look a bit bogus – but I thought it looked that bad it was actually funny 🙂


Matt Ryan teaches at his studio Yoga London Club in North London.

Following my ‘how to jump back‘ video a few weeks back , I now teach you how to jump-though with straight legs in my latest ‘Back Yard Yoga’ videos series. These short 2 minute videos will feature tips and advice on technique and also how to improve your Ashtanga Yoga form.

The straight leg jump through from downward dog to Dandasana in Ashtanga Yoga is an eloquent movement and can take some time to perfect.It will take a combination of a good forward bend which is important for keeping the legs straight when you are able to jump through.Strong legs to give you the power to lift the hips high enough to keep the legs straight And strong flexible shoulders which will provide the pivot for the body to move from the back of the mat to the front.

Enjoy your practice !


After the overwhelmingly positive response to my “Open Letter to the NHS” earlier this year, I have some exciting news. You shared my message far and wide and it got both local and national attention in the press. After the Guardian article  I was invited to speak at an All Party Parliamentary Group in the Houses of Parliament on Monday 27th June for an “Early Day Motion“.

The motion is “That this House celebrates the 2nd International Day of Yoga, on 21 June 2016, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015; … recommends yoga to be included as part of mindfulness and well-being initiatives for NHS staff and for yoga to be integrated within treatment for patients; and urges the Department for Education to introduce yoga in the school physical education curriculum.”

Quite rightly there is growing interest in the benefits of yoga as a healthcare intervention. Many of us have personally experienced the physical and psychological benefits of our yoga practice. Now there is an opportunity to spread this message yet more widely and bring this idea to mainstream debate. Where better to do this than the mothership of debate, the Houses of Parliament.

So on Monday afternoon, I fought my way through the frenzy of tourists, protesters and journalists in Parliament Square. My resolve did waiver from time to time but thankfully I brought the well informed and tenacious Charlie Taylor-Rugman, one of the UK’s leading Ashtanga teachers, with me for support. As we crossed the Central Lobby, Lords to to the right and Commons to the left, the frenetic activity of Parliamentarians responding to a Labour leadership crisis and the fall out of the EU referendum made me wonder whether anyone would be interested in hearing about yoga.


Dr Matt Joslin Yoga Houses of ParliamentOur allocated space for debate was to be the oak panelled, green-leather cushioned Committee Room 10, upstairs overlooking the Thames. It holds about 100 people and to my surprise it was packed. The mood was celebratory. After all this was a coming together of individuals and teams across the world who are passionate about yoga and health care. The event took the opportunity to mark the second International day of Yoga. MPs sat shoulder to shoulder with yoga researchers, practitioners and therapists. Presiding was High Commissioner of India Shri Sarna. After introductions and an opening mediation, we had presentations about yoga in healthcare systems in India and Sweden. Data on pilot studies and some health economics was shared. One energetic and articulate young man emotively shared his story of cancer survival and passion for yoga practice.


Matt Joslin Yoga Houses of ParliamentMy time in the spotlight was brief, but hopefully memorable. I had been asked to talk about prescribing yoga as a GP. So proudly representing our great city of Manchester I stood up, cracked a joke or two and realised that my allocated five minutes was nearly up! My key message was simply that an endorsement of yoga by a health care professional under the banner of the NHS is a powerful message to patients. Patients trust their GPs, practice nurses and physiotherapists and the more of us healthcare providers there are who  can confidently signpost to quality yoga classes, the more effectively we can roll out the benefits of yoga in the NHS.

This meeting is a first but very significant step on a path towards closer integration of yoga into NHS healthcare. Let us see where this network takes us.It has been such an honour to represent Yoga Manchester and the wider UK yoga community at this event. I will continue to do my best for you.

Dr.Matt Joslin













Yoga Manchester are very excited to announce details of an annual sponsor a child link with the amazing Operation Shanti charity in Mysore, South India.

As many of you know Yoga Manchester’s chief Yogi Matt Ryan has worked with Operation Shanti over the past 10 years or so – raising money via charity events and also helping out at the charity’s H.Q. Karunya Mane Orphanage when he makes his annual pilgrimages to Mysore to study at the KPJAYI. In 2014 Matt received ambassador status at the charity – he called this honour  ‘the single most important achievement I’ve ever made in my life ‘ .


prajwal operation shanti charity

So for the next 12 months Yoga Manchester will be sponsoring 12 year old break-dancing genius Prajwal. The money  will help to pay for the his educational needs, basic daily living, and medical expenses.

Read Prajwal’s letter to Matt below.

For more information on Operation Shanti please click here to go to their website.


prajwal operation shanti charityprajwal operation shanti charity

prajwal operation shanti charity

So I’m walking round my local neighbourhood of the Venice Beach area of LA trying to get my bearings and also get a feel for the place – and for the people, when as luck would have it I stumble across a yoga studio. Well to be honest there was no luck involved – yoga studios are two a penny here, it seems there’s one literally on every street corner. Anyway I thought I’d go in say hello and make some ‘connections’ with my fellow yogis. The owner / founder bloke was sat on his tod in reception – let’s call him Dave for now. I introduced myself to Dave told him I was new to the area and that I taught Ashtanga Yoga – have done for over 15 years and that I’d been to Mysore a bunch of times.

‘Oh no-one is interested in Ashtanga anymore buddy’ Dave informed me. ‘I mean I practice Ashtanga myself but it’s all about the Vinyasa Flow now – check this out’ to which he hands me his studio’s timetable. A quick scan of his timetable tells me that it IS all about the Vinyasa Flow for his studio – no shit! There were no other classes other than Vinyasa Flow on there! I wanted to make a sarky comment about him saying that he practiced Ashtanga, and then I doubted whether he could SEE his toes let alone touch them , but I held my tongue and tumbled back out onto the street feeling completely bewildered my mind all in a tiz – has Ashtanga really bitten the dust I thought to myself. Is it time for me to go with the (vinyasa) flow and do some new fad yoga 200 hours teacher training programme*. Have things gotten that bad that I’ll have to start teaching Boxing Yoga™ ** or maybe even much much worse … the dreaded Hot Yoga. I could see the headlines now ‘Yoga teacher who never had anything good to say about Hot Yoga now teaching Hot Yoga’ I nearly collapsed at the thought.

The next day I decided I was going to ‘take practice’ at the local Ashtanga Yoga studio up the road– usually I just practice at home (as this means I can do it in my (under) pants and can break wind anytime I bloody well want to without fear of offending anyone). I’d not been to this studio before but if Vinyasa Dave was correct I guess I’d be there on my own with a couple of tumble weeds blowing round the studio. I got there nice and early and parked up the motor and then proceeded to walk into a jam packed studio full of Ashtangis – my heart leapt with joy – ok maybe that’s a little poetic for a sarcastic Mancunian let’s just say I was reet happy ! I felt like running round and high fiving every one – I actually felt like taking a short video and messaging it to Vinyasa Dave with a caption saying ‘Ashtanga’s not dead, BUDDY’ but didn’t.

After class I’m driving home with that lovely post Ashtanga buzz with a big smile on my face. It’s almost like smoking a medicinal herbal cigarette but without the paranoia and halitosis. I’ve mentioned this countless times before but to me practicing Ashtanga makes me feel great, it’s a no brainer – why wouldn’t anyone want to feel like this. It makes life that little bit sweeter, and easier to navigate. Yes it’s hard to get up in the morning especially when it’s cold wet and damp but boy oh boy oh boy it is worth it – try it for yourself. You might just might start to like your boss – or even accept his/her terrible witticisms.

So just a heads up to Vinyasa Dave , Ashtanga Yoga is alive and kicking – and has been for hundreds ( if not thousands) of years my dim-witted friend. It has an ultra-rich history ,  heritage and tradition that other ‘Johnny come lately’ yoga traditions can only dream of.( I must say it does feel good to know that this practice that I am dedicating my life to was borne out of a want to improve the self and not the self’s bank balance). Ashtanga Yoga will still be going strong when you’ve turned your studio into a Cage-Fighting Yoga emporium or any other completely whack form of physical practice that the money men have paired up with Yoga.


* Can I just say for the record that God only knows who or what team of imbeciles / con men came up with the magic number of 200 hours as an appropriate length of time to deem someone capable and competent to teach yoga. Meh!

** if the person that teaches Boxing Yoga In Manchester is reading this please please please stop emailing me about hosting a Yoga Boxing workshop – I have no interest what so ever about the ridiculous money making scheme of pairing yoga and boxing and even less interest in supporting a workshop. Many thanks – have a lovely day!

I received an email a few months back from an old student of mine who had moved away from Manchester and although this student doesn’t get to class anymore we still keep in touch about various aspects of their practice.

The email went something like this ..

Hi Matt – I saw a short demo by Sharath Jois online recently and I just wondered if you knew anything about the way he places his feet in upward dog. Is this a new method or just something specific to Sharath


So I tracked down the video in question and checked out just what Sharath was doing with his feet in upward dog. See screen shot below.

Sharath Jois upward dog

Now I must say it was a bit of a quandary for me as I guess I wasn’t sure why Sharath was using this rather particular method of lifting onto his toes. It certainly wasn’t the way I was taught – which is to come onto the top of the foot – see photo of Guruji in upward dog below. I did actually try doing the posture Sharath’s way but it did feel pretty odd and uncomfortable.

Sri K Pattbhi Jois upward dog

I emailed back to my student and said to leave it with me and I’ll ask a few people to see if anyone had any further information. I then set about sending emails out to various Ashtanga friends and acquaintances around the globe to see if anyone could help me out.

Within a few weeks I got back some rather intriguing verdicts and opinions which make for interesting reading. I have chosen not to disclose the identity of the people who gave me the information below, this was my own decision and not theirs.

Verdict 1
The person (who gave me this info) has got this from their teacher who spoke to Sharath directly about the foot thing. Here’s the conversation which (allegedly) took place between this person’s teacher and Sharath..

Teacher: Sharath why is it you lift onto your toes in upward dog and not the top of the feet – is this a new method?

Sharath: No this is not a new method. I do this because I suffered from polio as a child which resulted in me being unable to flex my ankles properly, so I’m unable to roll over the toes onto the top of the feet.

Teacher: Oh I didn’t know that. Are you aware that there are some students who are copying your method? What should I say to them?

Sharath: They are stupid.


Verdict 2

This opinion came from a student who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the body. This person told me that they did know about the foot thing and had discussed it with other yoga students. Their verdict was this. Some years ago Sharath damaged his lower back on a car journey from Mysore to Bangalore. Anyone who has ever taken this journey before the new road was laid will know the old road was full of pot holes and a potential disaster area for cars and passengers. Sharath had been in a car that had hit a pot hole which resulted in a rather nasty lower back injury. So the reason for the upward dog feet thing was to help with the rehabilitation of the back injury as lifting just onto the toes was a less intensive (on the lower back) variation than lifting onto the top of the feet.


So there you go two rather contrasting verdicts and whilst both of them seem quite plausible I have no idea if either of them are correct. When I next go to Mysore I’ll ask Sharath about this and then I’ll know 100 % which verdict (if any) is correct. I’ll keep you posted.

One thing that this does flag up is that this gives any students who are using this method because they have seen Sharath doing it (without qualifying if it’s actually the right method for them or not) some food for thought.




Where’s your head at ?

‘Samastitihiii’ Guruji would bellow from the depths of his soul at the start of class, this mountainous sound reverberating around the shala in Mysore and into our hearts and minds. Just remembering being witness to this instruction from the Ashtanga Yoga Guru makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. For me Guruji’s whole personality & teachings are embodied in this simple Sanskrit phrase.

The word samastitihi just means same or equal (sama) standing (stitihi) but it goes much deeper than standing up straight on your mat. I can remember going to my first couple of yoga classes and the teacher regularly castigating me for not having my feet perfectly (big toes and heels touching) together. At the time I thought he was just being a little bit anal retentive and boy oh boy I so wanted to tell him to take the bug out of his ass and leave me alone. But thankfully I never did and it was only when I started teaching yoga myself did I truly understand exactly what he meant. These days when I’m teaching I can be far, far more tetchy than my first teacher ever was with me when I see regular offenders with their feet apart. (So beware if you ever come to my class – I’ll be on your feet.)

When teaching a ‘led’ class the samastitihi instruction is used plenty of times, it’s usually the first thing an Ashtanga teacher would announce –even before the opening chant. And as mentioned above the meaning goes way deeper than the physical.

Once the body is in samastitihi we can then move into the realms of the mind by allowing both the inhale and exhale to express the instruction. The resonance of the inhale becoming equal to the exhale, even permitting for the pauses at the ends of the breath to do the same. When a student first comes into the class room their minds can be jumping around buzzing with thoughts about what they’ve been up to that day or what to have for dinner after class and if there’s nothing in place to for them to help drop these ‘fluctuations of the mind’ their practice becomes unfocussed from the word go. Once the body and breath are equal, all is good we are ready for practice.

At the end of each sun salutation and also at the finish of each standing posture the student returns to samastitihi, making sure each time that the feet are together and the breath is equal. Sometimes in class I like to make a comparison between the cosmic mudra (the positioning of the hands) in zazen (the Zen form of meditation) and samastitihi. When sitting zazen the student places the left hand in the right hand and allows for the tips of the thumbs to touch to make an oval shape – see photo.

cosmic mudra zazen zen ashtanga yoga If the thumbs ever become separate from each other it’s a good indication that the mind has drifted off into dreamland territory. Similarly if a student ever steps back to samastitihi with their feet apart to me it’s a sign that their focus has drifted off somewhere else.

I remember reading about a Zen monk asking his teacher what the essence of the (zazen) practice was. ‘Attention’ came the terse reply from the teacher. Again the student asks the same question expecting perhaps a slightly more informed answer, this time the teacher ferociously repeats the same word three times ‘ATTENTION ATTENTION ATTENTION’!

I.M.H.O. (yep I’m down with the social media acronyms kids) samastitihi is the yoga version of attention. The whole practice can be contained within its simplicity: the asanas are the physical expression, the breath the mind counterpart. Samastitihi is attention to a steady body, a steady breath, a steady gaze. Once we get these 3 working in union with each other we can hope for a steadier mind. A steady mind means an open mind and if you want me to get really cosmic (man) , the mind and body are mirrors for each other , so an open mind is an open heart.


Read Matt’s other Experiments with Ashtanga Yoga

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly after Indian Prime Minister, addressed the United Nations General Assembly last year.  What’s App Doc ponders the potential impact of this intervention.  Casually surfing through calendars of national events reveals a perplexing mix of days to be celebrated. For instance Diabetes week and National Picnic Week take place in the run up to our inaugural International Yoga Day on the summer Solstice, which is shared with Fathers’ Day. Following this we have Wrong Trousers Day. So much to enthuse about here but I will try not to lose focus.

What interests me is that India is embracing yoga again in a way that celebrates and promotes it in a social and holistic manner. “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being”, says Narendra Modi when addressing the UN.  Shripad Yesso Naik has become India’s first minister for yoga, with plans to reclaim the practice as “India’s gift to the West”. Indian officials plan to reintroduce yoga into all facets of civic life, including more than 600,000 schools, thousands of hospitals and police training centres. This demonstrates that yoga is so much more than just a physical practice and has potential to improve well-being at a societal and population level as well as for individuals.

Sometimes the old solutions are the best and most elegant. Our current technological revolution purports to enhance our lives in so many ways, but let’s look a little more closely at that assumption. Tablet computers, smart phones, internet TVs and now watches facilitate instant gratification. We can shop, chat, watch movies and work on the hoof twenty four hours a day. Agreed this is convenient, but does it make us happier and healthier? In my professional experience this is not the case; many people come through my consulting room struggling with the demands of modern living. They experience stress, anxiety, insomnia and physical ill health as a result of technological advances rather than these advances offering solutions. The ancient practice of Yoga is arguably a perfect counter balance to the intensity and pace of the silicon age. It encourages us to slow down, be mindful and seek grounding and balance. The goals are the journey itself and will be achieved over a lifetime of practice rather than at the click of a mouse.

I am no Luddite. I embrace smartphones, Apps and internet shopping. But Yoga helps me find a balance so that I am not overwhelmed by the pressure to move to 24 hour access to everything. I value the rhythm of the days, weeks, months and years. Yoga is my companion through these cycles.

So I for one will celebrate International Yoga day. For time management purposes I will have a healthy picnic on hand and dedicate my sun salutations to all yoga dads. I may need to borrow Matt Ryan’s fabulous trousers to cover all bases.


Matt Joslin

I am proud to be a GP settled in Manchester city centre after having trained and worked in Cambridge, London and Brussels. Being a family doctor is one of the best and most varied jobs. The world with all its problems can walk through my office door and I am invited to collaborate in helping out. In recent years yoga has become an increasingly significant feature of my life. As well as getting me in the best physical shape it has helped me through stresses and depression. I attend several Yoga Manchester classes on a weekly basis. More and more I share my experience of yoga with colleagues and patients. It has become a lifelong friend.




When I got the email from Operation Shanti letting me know I was being put forward as an Ambassador for them I was completely bowled over. I’ve not achieved too much in my crazy life but this went straight to the top of the list.

I’d met Tracy, the lady responsible for setting up OpSha, in Mysore around 2003. I’d bumped into her a couple of times at Swami Jamanagiri’s Shiva Cave Temple on Chamundi Hill. We’d sit silently and watch Swamiji do his daily puja routine, then after all three of us would have chai and chat.

Tracy likes to keep out of the limelight but she is an incredible person – to of set up Operation Shanti pretty much single-handed in a male dominated country like India is nothing short of a miracle. She is now Godmother to my daughter Agnes Boo.

So fast forward a couple of years to 2006, I was helping OpSha out on a regular basis. I guess my main job was playing with the children, which being a big kid myself was as you could imagine simply brilliant. I’d show them a bit of Yoga then they would ‘wupp my ass’ at cricket – before I would run rings round them with my silky footballing skills (I like all males my age still think I could play professionally).

A few years later the ‘big move’ happened which involved the kids being taken off the street and into the Karunya Mane home on the other side of the city. Not only did the kids get a new home they also got to go to school for the first time in their lives. Being able to witness this incredible transformation of the children was awe inspiring. There was a little down side to the move for me: my mates were at school and I only got to see them on Sundays – I was billy no mates during the week!

In 2011, the OpSha kids were ‘guests of honour’ at my ‘Hindu Style’ wedding at the Shiva Cave Temple. What an amazing day to have all my best mates attend my wedding – the video is priceless.

Each time I go back to Karunya Mane,  I see their faces light up when I walk through the door and this is worth going to Mysore for. To be able to watch them grow up over the years has been both an honour and a privilege.

For more information on Operation Shanti, its  history , mission and how to donate please go to the website www.operation-shanti.org