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.
Yoga London Club Yoga London Club website Well after the best part of 20 years I've finally managed to open my own Yoga Studio that's dedicated to the practice and principles of Ashtanga Yoga and boy oh boy am I a very happy bunny! Yoga London Club will be compact and bijou , and is situated in the heart of North London in West Hamstead and will be fully functional on Monday 27th February - so please shout it from the rooftops and go tell all your friends family and colleagues who live darn sarf to come and look me up. I started to practice Ashtanga Yoga  many moons ago - is it almost 20 years ? Yikes ! To be honest I had no idea what 'brand of yoga 'I was practicing  until after about 6 months  when someone told me it was called Ashtanga. I was completely oblivious to the fact there were different types of yoga or what yoga actually was. I think at the time my only (mis)understanding of yoga was that it was some weird cult like exercise for old ladies in lycra practiced behind closed (Church Hall) doors. And then of course all that changed  over the following few months when this incredible transformative mind/body holistic system pulled me out of the very big hole I was stuck in. After 6 months of practice I said goodbye to nightclubs and excess as I flew to Mysore South India to study with the late great Guru of Ashtanga Yoga Guruji Sri K Pattabhi Jois  and immersed myself completely in all things Ashtanga. The rest as they say is history. So here we are nearly 20 years on from then. I've set up Yoga Manchester and Yoga Express with it has to be said some big big help from a few amazing people I've had the very good fortune to get to know over the years. I even created my very own unique yoga prop - Nee-ji - the safe knee support for yoga & meditation. In April this year the inaugural Yoga Manchester Teacher Training Programme will be launched which I'm also reet proud of. And now the icing on the cake for me personally is my very own Ashtanga Yoga studio in the form of Yoga London Club (YLC). YLC will have both Mysore Style Self-Practice sessions and counted vinyasa led classes , I've even thrown in a couple of Ashtanga short form Yoga Express classes for good measure - I like to accommodate. The very lovely Paul Jones who has been teaching the weekly Thursday class in Withington for the last 10 years is going to be joining me at YLC - he just couldn't bear to be without me - well that's a large fib to be honest , he's moving to London for work but I'm extremely please he is and he has agreed to teach some classes at the new studio.   Save Save Save Save Save Save
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 ! Save
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
Want to be a yoga teacher? Be careful what you wish for… Back in 2009 I was a quivering wreck of insecurities, substance abuse and depression. If you’d asked me at that time to get up in front of a room of strangers and teach them yoga I would have laughed in your face then crawled back under the duvet. That year I’d just started practicing yoga and was so inept at coordination that I made Bambi on ice look graceful. It didn’t deter me – my stress levels were momentarily reduced as I practiced and so I kept practicing every day to stave off the demons, to maintain that post-yoga calmness for a little while longer until finally one night I could sleep. I was traveling the world back then and it became time for me to move on and say goodbye to the luxury of a studio space in Sydney. Suddenly I was alone in my practice and it soon eventuated I hadn’t a clue what on earth I’d been doing to my body in those led classes in that plush harbourside studio. However, I continued to practice on my own wherever I could but my memory was terrible and my levels of procrastination could easily outdo that of a stoned philosopher. Needless to say much time was spent on the mat scratching my head, falling over and enjoying VERY long savasanas. Yet still, I persisted. My new temporary abode found me surrounded by fellow travellers who found my “practice” fascinating, disciplined and inspiring even though I felt like a fish out of water flailing about on my mat (still do, by the way). I was keen to get them involved, picking their brains at what they’d learnt in yoga classes, mimicking poses and looking things up online whenever we got bored lazing about on the beach. Fast forward a year or so of awkward practice, feeling my depression lift and sitting on my arse for ten days in Auckland’s Vipassana Centre, I had this gut instinct to go to India to learn yoga, to do my yoga teacher training. Yeh, I’m another one of those who went to India alone to find her spiritual side, buy the mala beads and bust out some bendy moves. How very clichéd of me. I’d apologise but that trip changed (read: saved) my life and has consequently helped steer others in a better direction too. I was drawn to the Ashtanga yoga method to stave off procrastination and inertia that the depressed, indecisive side of me loved to wallow in. Here was a pre-determined sequence that I needed to memorise and simply get on with in good faith and understanding that the sequence was well thought through, methodical, and safe. I liked the no-nonsense approach of Ashtanga; it spoke to the practical side of me and the way it illuminated change, progression, regression, laziness, strength and refinement all at once. For someone who suffers depression, it’s important to recognise the constant state of flux in nature, that the here and now is not the be all and end all. I never went to my yoga teacher training course to be a teacher, I went to delve deep into a technique, a skill I could apply and use on a daily basis. I found it to be my daily dose of medicine – all those pills I’d stashed away got thrown in the gutter. A new, healthy habit had formed on my mat. The information I learnt on my training course has been invaluable as a practitioner and the moment I got back to the UK, I found myself sharing the knowledge so as not to let it fade – I have to do things in order for my brain to memorise it. I found people encouraging me to spread the knowledge by teaching a class but the idea got me nervous and my guts felt as if they were trying to do their own version of Marichyasana D. But, a big but, they say you’re a product of your environment and I’d ended up surrounded by some pretty wonderful and supportive folk who wouldn’t let me have my passion and knowledge go to waste.  It was all a bit of a haze (as things usually are in transformative stages of life) as I went through the process of setting up a class. My first ever class had two people in it – my then boyfriends mum and a lady recovering from a slipped disc. No pressure then… And so, it began. The eye opening world of being a yoga teacher, being exposed to the things they don’t really tell you on those training courses. So far, this is what I’ve learnt being a teacher: When two people show up to class, don’t be dismayed – most people love the opportunity of having your undivided attention and support. It’ll be these two students who will spread the word and no amounts of money can buy word of mouth recommendations. People seem to think that yoga teachers’ knowledge of the body and all its ailments is up there with a specialist doctor’s knowledge. All I know is that if you have cracked ribs (you know who you are!) – you should stay at home and read up on the word ahimsa.  Same to the student who turned up to class with TWO BROKEN FEET!!!  (Honest to the divine being above, you can’t make this stuff up) I am no doctor, physio or osteopath, I am simply a suggestion box of poses and variations thereof and offer up support should you need it.  Please take responsibility with your practice and body - treat it respectfully. As a teacher you have to accept that some is going to fart in your face and you have to try and NOT laugh. The day I schedule to go out and post leaflets advertising my yoga class, it will be sideways rain/sleet/snow. Guaranteed, every time. It’s important to not teach what you don’t know or don’t practice. How could someone teach guitar if they never played? It’s the same with asana. Your student will respect your modesty and it may encourage you to explore some deeper learning. Nothing should get in the way of self-practice. Nothing. Whether it’s two sun salutations, two hours of deep work or a two week retreat, it needs to be done. Before now I’ve practiced in a corridor, a changing room and a cramped bedroom. Discipline doesn’t care about location, time or place. Not only am I a teacher, I’m an agony aunt, a shoulder to cry on, a friend, a confidante and the bitch you give evil looks to when I keep making you repeat Chaturanga until you get it right (it’s out of loving compassion, honest) The learning is endless. Whether it’s anatomy, movement theory, self-practice, new variations of a pose, new techniques, philosophy, a new chant… There is so much scope that, just like the practice itself, it is infinite and I feel I know less and less each day. The training and retreats you see us on have probably been years in the making by scrimping together the couple of quid each class makes us after room hire, insurance, transport, rent, food etc. I never knew drawing stickmen would be such an intricate art form. You laugh, but try drawing one in Gomukhasana or Marichyasana D. If we have 10 hour long classes a week, that doesn’t mean we have a 10 hour week. That’s like saying teachers in our education system only work a few months a year… How smug I was at the vision of someone I knew start to build up their own yoga classes who once thought I never did any “real” work as a yoga teacher. They soon found themselves exhausted at sequencing, preparing rooms, marketing, driving to and fro, maintaining another job that actually pays the bills and being all smiley and happy at the front of the class. When I’ve been through heartache, arguments, financial woes and depression the last thing I want to do is teach but actually, teaching is just as uplifting as the practice itself… Many a time my mood has done a U-turn  for the better within 5minutes of teaching a class. Screw green smoothies; when you’re on your 5th class of the day and have no idea what left and right is any more the only thing that really helps you get through it is chocolate. Cake and coffee are the staple diets of most yoga teachers I know. Whenever we meet to swap notes, ideas and post-class/practice sweaty hugs, 99.99% of the time it is accompanied by a strong coffee and a sugar laden cake. Don’t be fooled by the green smoothie photos on social media. I reckon most of us practice asana to justify a wodge of cake a day. That really, teachers are themselves dedicated students and are simply passing on a message from a long lineage of knowledge. We’re learning with you, we understand the sweat, tears, effort and courage it takes to get on your mat and try something new. In that sense, to see you at work is deeply inspiring and humbling to us. You’re our teachers. So before you decide to become a yoga teacher think about whether you can afford a drastic pay cut, if you have the strength and determination to build your class up from nothing, that coffee and cake could be a staple part of your diet and that you’re willing to take a hit on your self-practice time (most teachers will profess they probably practice less once starting out teaching than they did as a student). It’s not an easy, green smoothie, practicing handstands on a tropical beach kind of lifestyle – it’s hard graft but when you see students work through a major physical/emotional barrier it is definitely worth all those hours of leafleting in the rain.                                    
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!
What are you listening to at the moment? Type O Negative (I know, sounds very yogic!) with classics like Everything Dies, Creepy Green Light and My Girlfriend's Girlfriend why not!  I like earthy, doom sounds with plenty of gain...  also there's a tongue in cheek theatrical side to the band that's really fun - they are not as dark as they appear (more of a creepy green). They've done a great cover of 'Angry Inch' from the musical 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' which is based on a fictional (and fabulous!) glam rock band. Where would you teleport to? Well, as seen as you've got me onto music... my 'little' bro (the guy with makeup on in the pic) and I were brought up on rock/metal so it's quite close to our hearts. I'd love to see bands like Faith No More, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Kyuss and Metallica around the mid-late 80s/early 90s.  So I'd teleport to the USA and go on a gig tour, be a fly on the wall during jam sessions and definitely see Cliff Burton (Metallica) play a base solo. While I'm in that era I could travel to Mysore and and practice with Pattabhi Jois, experience the magic of the old shala and hopefully repair the whiplash sustained from all of that head-banging. Where do you buy your yoga clothes? I'm easily pleased, as long as it's black. So TK Maxx tends to be an easy win.  I don't want to be distracted by clothing while I'm practicing and teaching, so I look for simple clothes with no dangly bits that could get caught on a student/components could dig in during dhanurasana. If possible I get stuff that's made with natural fibres and I'll wear it and repair it until it dies - then it becomes a cleaning rag for the bikes. What does a regular practice look like for you? Ideally it's six days a week and I always start with some pranayama.  My practice is sometimes the Ashtanga Primary series, sometimes Intermediate series, sometimes a mix of both.  I don't always have two hours to practice so if I'm short of time it can be anything from 10/15mins. If I'm ill I tend to roll about on the floor, do some modified sun salutations, stick my legs up the wall and feel sorry for myself. I'll always do something. A few times a week I supplement my Ashtanga practice with a short 15-20min session that's got more of a structural/functional focus.  I'd call this 'research' more than my practice - it could be research for my own biomechanics in relation yoga/cycling or research for a class or student. Any advice to a yoga beginner? Keep going, it's worth it.
1 - I was so worried about waking up early and getting up at 5am that I didn’t sleep at all the night before. I kept tossing and turning and checking the time to make sure I didn’t over sleep. By the time the damn clock actually went off, I was exhausted and in a deep comatose state. The alarm didn’t even register on my consciousness. 2- Even after a coffee, nauli and good 10 minutes doing Pashasana practice on the throne I just couldn't get my digestive system going. No pooping, no bandha , no practice. 3 - I put all my things out for Mysore the night before (so I could have an extra five minutes snoozing). It was all ready to go: yoga kit, change of clothes, towels, hair gel , keys, breakfast snack, coconut water etc etc. Well, during the night the cat must have found the interesting pile of goodies. He wreaked havoc and spread all my stuff around the apartment. It took me 2 hours to find my car keys which were eventually located behind the cat litter tray. 4 - I heard that the shala in Mysore used to be closed on a Saturday because that's the day that Pattabhi Jois and his wife would go shopping. Well I know it's Tuesday but I need to go to the Trafford Centre later and I don't want to mess with tradition. 5 - In my dreamlike state at stupid o’clock this morning I switched on the kettle which was empty. It boiled dry causing it to explode, setting off the fire alarm and fusing the whole house. I am still waiting for the electrician to arrive. 6 - I have a terrible cold. It is not the feeling unwell that’s the problem. I always try and do a little gentle practice (honest) when I am under the weather. Rather I was worried about doing pranayama whilst having such a snotty nose. I tried to do some alternate nostril breathing and I nearly suffocated myself. 7 - My new tattoo is a bit weepy and sticking to my vest top. It’s really sore reaching up to do sun salutations. I asked my tattoo artist and they advised me not to come. 8 - During the last session I sweated so much that my mat got really slippery. I accidentally dropped into Hanumanasana much further than I intended. My groins haven’t recovered yet. 9 - I need to work on my hip flexibility, open my upper back and build up a relationship with my psoas. So I decided to warm up with a few exercises I found on YouTube before coming to practice. I started at 5am with a few inspirational demos from Kino to get me in the mood, then I came across 'Pets interrupting yoga' (hilarious!) and before I knew it I was watching a cat dressed as Princess Jasmine riding a Roomba disguised as a flying carpet and then it was time to go to work. I just don't think I have time for Mysore. 10 - Last time I forgot to bring work clothes to change in to after Mysore. Immediately afterwards I had a very important meeting and presentation to give that I could not miss under any circumstances. Much to my embarrassment I had no choice but to attend in funky yoga attire. I am now suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 11 - Saturn is moving into my moon sign (I can tell because the M56 was in gridlock again and my pitta imbalance created tension in my upper trapezius). I thought it would be too dangerous to come to yoga so I went to CrossFit instead. 12 - I’ve made it to Mysore three days in a row and now all my yoga kit is sweaty and smelly. I have been so tired that I haven’t had a chance to wash it. 13 - I ate a cheese burger yesterday and now my Yamas are all in a twist. 14 - I did my first drop back yesterday and I think I've awakened the Kundalini so I don't need to come to yoga anymore. 15 - My body feels much stiffer when I practise in the morning, in comparison to the flexibility I have later in the day. I was worried that if I did intense practice too early I would overstretch and injure myself. 16 -  Yesterday in the Mysore room I saw a woman doubled over and waddling down the mat as she looked at her lady bits. It was so bizarre, I asked the teacher what she was doing and they said Titty-assana These people are taking the piss, I'm not going anymore. 17 -  My chitta vritti's were all over the place yesterday. I need to go on a retreat, somewhere warm where I can get more flexible and drink fair-trade coconuts. Then I'll be ready to come back to practice. 18 - I’m practising jump backs and jump throughs right now. Mysore made me so tired that I can’t lift up any more, so I thought I’d have a day off to recuperate. 19 -  I'm trying to balance my gunas. I just couldn't bind in Mari D yesterday and I've been able to do it for three weeks solid. What's wrong with me? I felt so rajas. When my alarm went off this morning I felt that it was best to meditate upon my current tamasic state. I think that if I balance my energies in this way I'll be feeling more sattvic by the end of Friday. 20 - Sorry teach my heart was feeling rajastic but the nerve fibres in my buttocks were in a perpetual state of tamas. My Physio did say my gluteus medius muscles were under-active. I've been on a Sanskrit course and it looks like I’ve got a severe case of Tamassic buttocks ( which loosely translates as " I can't get my arse out of bed" )   Thanks to Matt Joslin and Marie Harris.      
I’m not a big fan of cliches and spiritual cliches are less welcome then a cup of cold sick in my house. But the one about a thirsty person digging a metaphorical shallow hole looking for water and never digging deep enough to find it ,analogous to a spiritual seeker trying all kinds of practices and never sticking to one (and thus never getting any benefit from any of them) is one of the better ones so I’m going to use it. So you get my drift and I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Variety might be the spice of life but once you start mixing and matching your yoga practices I think you’ll struggle to quench your thirst (break out the sick bags!). I believe somewhere in The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (a classical text describing Hatha Yoga) it says that after 12 years of continued practice , one can consider oneself a ‘beginner’ (obvs not in that plummy English tone of voice) The Ashtanga teacher David Williams reinvented that phrase for a modern audience to
“Just try it out for ten years and see if you like it. If you haven't decided, try another ten more.”
Just a quick google search will lead you to all kinds of blogs, stories, and Facebook entries about how their authors have had enough of Ashtanga and gone off in search of something else usually a less intensive practice, and usually entitled ‘Dear Ashtanga’. Let’s get this straight, and I’ve said similar things before Ashtanga Yoga is not too intense or too hard, those are self-created impositions i.e. you’ve made it too intense yourself , buddy! I totally agree that there are Ashtanga teachers who teach the practice likes it’s a military style workout and bark the out the postures like a sergeant major. If this is happening to you don’t be disheartened, don’t give up and certainly don’t be tempted to go over to the dark side of hot yoga. Just find another teacher and begin again. One of the many great things about Ashtanga Yoga is that it’s a sequence you can learn, so eventually you can do it at home on your Jack Jones. You start off at a beginner’s class then after a while you feel confident enough for the intermediate sessions and eventually you are ready for the rocket fuel of Ashtanga Yoga – the Mysore Practice. The Mysore self-practice method will transform your mind and body BUT ONLY IF YOU STICK AT IT. Yes it’s hard work getting up in the morning but get a load of this .. im not telling you ashtanga yoga And then some. I’d also like to let you into a secret … when you practice on your own you can miss out a jump back* or two. Don’t believe everything you hear about how Ashtanga Yoga is a dogmatic practice and you have to religiously follow all its codes and practices. These so called codes and practices are not static – they are quite fluid and change from teacher to teacher. One of the first western students in Mysore Nancy Gilgoff has said that Guruji had her doing the jump backs every three or four postures. In fact you will find that lots of the ‘old-school’ Ashtangis like Richard Freeman, David Williams and David Swenson will all have a story about how they’ve been taught the same Ashtanga practice by Guruji differently. As Guruji famously once said
"There are many variations of Trikonasana."
There is only one Ashtanga Yoga, but this will take on many forms depending on the student. Stay with it. * A jump back is sometimes referred to as a ‘vinyasa’ and is the sequence of up dog down dog postures that link the seated postures of Ashtanga Yoga.