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.
Mysore-style may sound like some kind of youth slang, but it’s been getting me up very early in the morning to practice yoga, so it must be good. It’s the traditional way that Ashtanga yoga is taught, and it’s called Mysore-style because Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, who developed the Ashtanga sequence, was based in Mysore, India, and people from all over the world still go to his shala there – which is now mostly run by his grandson Sharath Jois– to practice in this particular way.
What happens in a Mysore-style class is that everyone starts their practice and works in their own time. So, unlike a normal class where the teacher calls out the postures, you just work your way through the sequence at your own pace. The teacher comes round and adjusts you in your postures, either helping you with your alignment, or to go deeper with a particular pose. It’s a bit like a one-on-one class in a group setting, because you get a personal engagement with the teacher, but you also reap the benefits of being in a group with other people, which really spurs you on. If you don’t know which postures comes next or you get stuck, you can just wait and the teacher will come over and help you. It’s a really nice, relaxed way to practice.
I've been practising yoga for about three years now – I’m still very much a beginner really, but I was bitten by the Ashtanga bug, so when I found out about the early morning classes Matt was running, I was keen to try them out. I can remember asking Matt whether he thought I’d be good enough to go along to them – I thought of it as something for more advanced students, but I soon realised that anyone can go regardless of how long you've been practising; it’s actually a really good way of learning the Ashtanga sequence and getting more deeply into your practice, regardless of whether you can reach your toe in trikonasana, or if you can bind in marichyasana D (which I really can’t!).
We start early – 6.00am, and do some breathing exercises, and then we go into the practice until about 7.45am, but I promise you, it’s worth it! Afterwards you feel so good and ready to take on anything. There have been lots of days where I’ve done the Mysore-style practice and then gone straight on to work. When you get to a meeting at 9.00am and everyone else looks half asleep, but you’ve been stretching since six, it really makes you feel like you can take on the world, and any difficult queries your boss or a client has got for you.
For details of the next Mysore-style intensive, click here
Watch the video below to see a Yoga Manchester Mysore Class in action