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



To watch the video tutorial please click on the play button (in the middle of the screen) on the box immediately above.

I have no idea why but when I first started to practice the handstand, I never used to have any fear of falling over as I always confident I could twist around and land on my feet –maybe I was a cat in a previous life : )

When I first started Yoga I remember going to a class and watching in awe as my teacher placed his on the floor and floated up into a handstand from a standing position with straight legs. It was pretty darn cool and I always thought I’d like to be able to do that. And remember folks these were the days before online you tube tutorials – it was all trial and error – mainly error on my part and lots of laughing at how useless I was.

I’m not sure when the penny dropped but eventually it did – and maybe it was my Dad (RIP) who mentioned the main drawbacks of the kicking up one leg at a time method I was using to try and master the handstand. This was having to find the balance point twice (one for each leg!) so I sussed out that if I could find a way of jumping up both legs at the same time I might have cracked the handstand code.

And like all buildings needing a solid foundation, the handstand was no different and also working on the premise that if I was able to do a full handstand surely I need to be able to do the half handstand ie have the legs bent rather than straight. And slowly – very slowly things started to happen. I kicked up both legs bent hold for a breath then come down , 1 breath turned to 2 then to 5 and so until I got to half a minute balancing on my hands with knees bent. A solid foundation was created so that I could slowly start to straighten the leg and remain steady and secure without falling over.

It was very simple but very effective – no nonsense. I have watched online tutorials on handstand but found them to be too long winded, to over descriptive. I find this method  to be much more straight to the point – hope you enjoy it – have fun and remember Guruji’s famous  words ‘Yoga is 99% practice 1% theory’ (and I like to think this handstand method most definitely fits into that category).