This month’s Yoga Manchester People features Dave Weston who is a regular student at Thursday evening classes at Withington with Paul Jones.

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)

Born and raised in Wolverhampton (part of the Black Country), lived in Hereford, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Manchester. I moved to Manchester in 1988 and have lived here ever since so on the basis I have lived in Manchester longer than I lived in Wolverhampton I am an honorary Manc. Three children and three stepchildren all of whom live away. Two in Sheffield, one in Leeds, one in Australia, one in Edinburgh and one in Manchester. Living with me is the family pet Heidi the mongrel who I inherited from my youngest. She’s Seventeen years old! Hobbies include gardening, cycling, motorcycling, reading and making theatre with the Royal Exchange Elders company. And of course looking after an elderly dog. Retired after working in the NHS for 40+ years as a microbiologist. Black belt Kendo.

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?)

Spotify: Thea Gilmore - Small World Turning; Richard Thompson- Acoustic Classics; Sean Stibe - softLOUD; Frank Turner - No Man’s Land; Rosalia - El Mal Querer; Dudu Tassa - El Hajar; Sleater-Kinney - The Centre Won’t Hold; Stile Antico - In a Strange Land; Rhiannon Giddens (with Francesco Turrisi) - there is no Other. Favourite Musicians too many to list but Richard Thompson has been a constant companion since the early ’80’s both on vinyl, CD, streaming and live. Last seen at Gawsworth Hall August 2019.

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)

This is the hard bit. Ursula, my first wife was in remission following extensive chemo and radiotherapy and wanted to return to some sort of fitness and normality when she spotted a notice saying there was a yoga class in Heaton Moor in the hall next to the GP surgery. Feeling self-conscious she asked me to go along with her. I enjoyed it so much, thank you Matt for the nickname, I carried on going. Ursula loved it but after three years in remission the cancer returned. She carried on during more chemo and radiotherapy until the night she rolled up from her mat and left a large clump of hair behind. She died eighteen months later. Finding yoga gave me peace from the anxiety of grief and I continued regular practise with weekends in the Lake District, Wales and mysore practice in the Studio. Through Match.com I met Susan and we married a year later. For a variety of reasons my attendance at regular classes fell away until I had stopped going altogether. Then history repeated itself. Susan was diagnosed with cancer and died at home January 2019. A few months later a friend asked me to come with her to yoga at the church hall in Withington, why? that’s her story. So here I am practising regularly three times a week less flexible than I was(two knee operations to correct motorcycle injuries from when I was younger mean postures involving the knees are almost impossible). How has my practise changed? I guess it’s now more about my breathing than striving for the posture.

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)

Superpower - Definitely breathing. Really good at savasana and enjoy the journey getting there.

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)

Spiderman - comics from my teenage years. Who wouldn’t want to be a web slinging, wise cracking, villain thwarting superhero.

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)

Heaven is any Bank’s pub in the Black Country circa 1972 (this is the rose tinted spectacle effect). The Royal Exchange and the original Indian Tiffin rooms in Cheadle.

Q7. If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?

If I could go back in time I would change nothing but I would quite liked to seen the Sex Pistols gig in Wolverhampton. We had queued up after finding out they were on only to be told the venue was full just three THREE from the door.
This month's Yoga Manchester People features Amie Davies who is a regular student at Thursday evening classes at Withington with Paul Jones.  

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)

 
Hi I’m Amie, I live in Manchester but grew up in Cheshire where my parents still live. I’m an actor and writer, but also work at the Lowry, teach writing classes at Oldham Coliseum and do various other jobs here and there too! My hobbies mostly involve art, drama and music. I’m currently learning to play the flute and practice aerial hoop. I have a cat called Murphy, after Murphy’s Law — where ‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong’! He’s 4 and incredibly friendly and loyal to me.
 

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?)

 
I’m enjoying the new Vampire Weekend album, but have been reminiscing recently and got in to Spotify’s 90’s playlists.
 

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)

 
I don’t remember my first yoga class because my mum introduced me to yoga when I was little. She was a yoga teacher and trained with BKS Iyengar so yoga has always been part of my life and is used as a tool in my acting career. At the end of 2017 I challenged myself to do some yoga everyday. I did this for a whole year and found the mindfulness aspects were most beneficial. At the start of this year I felt a bit lost and decided to visit a teacher training open day. I found it fascinating and applied for the course there and then. I started at the beginning of March. Since then I’ve tried to step up and visit more classes each week.
 

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 really like a good Trikonasana! I enjoy this posture because it stretches the sides of my body. I started doing this type of stretch as an actor because I’m sure it improves the quality of my voice.  

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)

 
Easy! I would be Marty McFly from Back to the Future so that I could have a very cool car and go back in time and have adventures!
 

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)

Ideally my heaven needs to have sun, sea and sand but if I just wanted to get away from everything to relax and find some peace I’d go to my parents and spend some time in their garden. In Manchester, any indiscriminate beer garden when the sun is out will do…  

Q7. If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?

 
I’d go back to the Dark Ages to see the Druids and Vikings, mostly to check out the jewellery. I wouldn’t change anything because I don’t want to mess with history and risk not existing anymore!  

Q8. Where do you want to be in 5 years.

I don’t have a 5 year plan right now. I’ve recently made some changes in my life, undertaking yoga teacher training being one of them, so any plans are out the window and I’m just seeing where life takes me. Maybe ask me again in 5 years…
Step forward the wonderful Lynn Sbaih who is the August Manchester Yoga People . Lynn is a regular at many Yoga Manchester classes and workshops. Enjoy a small insight into Lynn's world - and remember to leave any of your thoughts in the comments section beneath the blog.

Lynne Sbaih yoga manchester people

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Liverpool but have never actually lived there. I have lived and worked all over the UK and the Middle East and so have, until recently always considered myself a bit of a nomad. However I have lived in Stockport for the last ten years and so now see myself as being from Stockport … sort of. I’m a nurse by trade, and worked in the NHS, all my working life, up to late last year when I took the brave step to leave and start my own business. I have worked mostly in Accident and Emergency Units in a number of hospitals both in this country and the Middle East, and have also done some work in Intensive Care Units. In addition to this I have worked at Manchester University, for The World Health Organisation and the Department of Health. Having left school at 16 years, I have also completed a Bsc (Hons), MPhil and Phd, all part time, along the way. Having started my life as a nurse I left as a senior operational manager and am the owner of Bluebird Care (Tameside). I have a growing team of care workers who provide home care services for anyone who needs support to remain independent in their own home. I have always had sport or activity related hobbies, the gym, swimming, running basically anything that meant I did not have to sit down so to now to love doing yoga is quite a mindset change for me … but more about that later…

What are you currently listening to?

I only listen to music with other people. Usually in public places! This means I like anything I can dance to, usually with other people. Quite a few years ago I discovered salsa and became quite an addict … again another activity that stopped me sitting down and I love the music. My tastes in music are many as long as it has a tune and I am particularly into anything from the 60s at the moment… but that could change at any time. My favorite radio station is Key 103 for leisure and Radio 4 The Morning Programme when I need to catch up with current affairs.

What brought you to yoga and how long have you been practising?

I got into yoga by accident. I was getting fed up of the gym and thought I would try something different. There were some of us at work who got some access to funding to pay for some exercise so I thought I would try yoga. There were some classes on at the gym which I tried and did not really like and so I thought I would go to Kirstin’s Saturday class. Wow did I work hard.. trying to work out what to do, hold postures and breathe! I have now been practicing for two years. I go to two classes a week, three if I can manage and do a ten-minute self-practice six days a week. In addition to this I also now do meditation each day after attending a fantastic workshop with Brad Warner. My next yoga goal is to attend an early morning Mysore week.

What is your yoga super power?

My favorite posture at the moment is the forward bend. This is a posture that I have achieved over a period of time and so it has gone from one that I found hard to one I now enjoy. I always have the intention to focus and challenge myself before each class and mostly achieve this. I enjoy the relaxation at the end of each class as I still get a sense of having accomplished completing a class and taking myself just that little bit further into some of the postures. I am now much more flexible but still have tight shoulders. My ambition is to be able to headstand and when achieve this I am going to throw a big party!

If you could be a character in a well-known film, who would you be and why?

If I had to describe myself in terms of a character in a cartoon it would be the Road Runner; the character that is seen running, at top speed, along winding roads followed by a stream of dust. The Road Runner sums up the speed of movement of thoughts in my head at any one time, on many occasions. Luckily both yoga and meditation have got me to slow down and focus, particularly on my breathing but my head is still able to accommodate several hundred thoughts all wizzing round in a second.

Where in Manchester is heaven?

I enjoy cycling in Manchester and particular love to cycle in on a Sunday morning, through the empty streets, to Café Nero for coffee. Most Sunday mornings the Curry Mile is full of the smells of cooking from late Saturday night and by the time I cycle back will be full of the smells of Sunday lunch cooking. I also have fond memories of driving home in the early hours of Sunday morning, listening to Key 103, after a night of salsa dancing at Cocacobaba.

If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?

There are a few times and places I would like to go if I was able to go back in time. Firstly I would like to go back to the court of Henry the 8th and observe all the political intrigue of the time. I would like to meet his first two wives and have tea with them both and get to know what they were really like. Then I would like to meet Elizabeth the 1st for tea and cake and ask her what scared her most about being in charge of the country. From there I would like to jump forward to the French Revolution and meet Marie Antoinette. Then I would jump forward again to spend some time with Emmeline Pankhurst during her fight for the right for women to vote. I would be keen to talk to her about her achievements and whether there was anything she would have done differently. I would finish my historical tour by joining the men as they landed on the moon.  
This month's Yoga Manchester People blog features on Mysore Intensive student Simon Liddiard. Enjoy Simon's answers and don't forget to write your comments in the comments section at the bottom of the blog.

Yoga Manchester people simon liddiard ashtanga yoga

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I hail from Porstmouth, land of (relative) sun, sailors and bad clubs. I was lured to Manchester in late 2007 by a Siren in black - the grass was visibly greener on the other side of the Watford Gap, possibly due to the rain. After regularly visiting the city for a couple of years it was inevitable that I'd make it my home. Since putting down some fairly deep roots here – even as far as buying a house (with said Siren) – I've shifted my career from shirt'n'tie planner to jeans'n'tshirt photographer, a move that has been rewarding and challenging in dynamic measure. Beyond the day-to-day pleasures of living in a major city I enjoy a fair amount of reading, riding around on my bike like a teenager and the odd tipple (usually in partnership with the bike riding). Oh, don't forget the yoga.  

What are you currently listening to? Tell us about it...

Well, my rather large musical bag is almost completely filled by Spotify right now. I unashamedly pay the £10 monthly subscription and in return I have universal access to a massive amount of tunage. Sponsorship cheque in the post yet, Spotify? I have mostly been enjoying a diverse mix of everything, as befits any musically-interested 21st century dweller. I tend to lean towards the heavier end of the aural spectrum but I'm also partial to most things instrumental/ambient/experimental. Right at this moment I'm listening to Weezer. I don't where that compulsion came from. Anyone interested in plumbing the depths of my collection can search for Simon Liddiard.

What brought you to yoga and how long have you been practising?

I was tuned to yoga by my Taekwondo teacher K.Y. Suh as a way to focus the mind and increase flexibility. He knew what he was talking about, having taught the Pan-American Olympic team and the Paraguayan National Guard, but I short sightedly didn't follow his recommendation. Nevertheless I was intuitively aware of the importance of a holistic approach to physical fitness and I always combined training sessions with a home-grown series of stretches, many of which I now realise were based on yoga asanas. Coincidentally when I met the Siren in black (2007) she had a regular hatha practice. Fast-forward a bit and we started attending Yoga-Manchester classes and workshops together. In fact, I now benefit from a live in yoga teacher, not that this encourages me to practice any more regularly. When I started practicing I had been though a few years of exercise-desert and too much dessert. I find the yoga learning curve is steep but progressive. I believe yoga helps correct some of the imbalances of a leisure-based existence and the body responds quickly to the good stuff! I do need to keep reminding myself that yoga is not competitive though.

What is your yoga super power?

I've always enjoyed relatively good upper body strength and an ok sense of balance so I always look forward to the handstand towards the end of the Ashtanga primary series (everyone should try this sequence at least once to get an idea of the sweat-inducing properties of Ashtanga). Another reason why I like this posture is because it looks cool and I want to be able to show off.

If you could be a character in a well-known film, who would you be and why?

I've always wanted to be a bit like James Bond but more freelance. The party-political bureaucracy of working for M16 would do my head in.

Where in Manchester is heaven?

I would have to say the closest place to heaven in Manchester is probably the top of Beetham Tower. I'm being sarcastically literal because I can't think of any one place I enjoy over the others - I'm easily pleased.

If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?

When time travel becomes possible I will flit around the centuries armed with the knowledge needed to make some clever investments. I would also buy a load of art work from struggling, yet-to-be-dead/famous artists. I might also be persuaded to tinker with various bad historical decisions but then who am I to decide right from wrong? One must always be aware of the Grandfather Paradox.      
Welcome to our fabulous new section of the Yoga Manchester blog site. Yoga Manchester People-light on our students turns the spotlight onto the members of the Yoga Manchester community. Each month we will feature a different Yoga Manchester student (this could be you very soon!). The featured student will answer our questionnaire and give the rest of us an insight into their unique on and off the mat life  experiences. Enjoy !

Introducing Miss Rebecca Daw

Yoga Manchester people light on our students rebecca daw

Tell us a bit about yourself....

I’m originally from Cornwall. I moved to Manchester about 7 years ago just as I was approaching my 30th birthday. Since the move my life has totally changed. It’s a bit like I was sleeping before I got here! As you can imagine, waking up after almost 30 years is practically unimaginable! A combination of excitement, joy, terror, disorientation! Since that time I haven’t stopped exploring! I love to eat, drink, laugh, travel, talk and I absolutely love film! I loathe chit chat so tend to be a bit fussy about the company I keep and sometimes I’m not sure if this is more of a hindrance than a help! I’m not big on family so friends are important to me. I work as a therapist in a local primary school. I never intended to work with children but I’m a strong believer in pushing yourself towards something that feels uncomfortable. The chances are, you’re going to learn something important and I have. Working with children forces you to use all sorts of creative techniques to help them express themselves and feel understood. So now I’m exploring creativity and this has been wonderful!

What are you currently listening to? Tell us about it....

At the moment I’m obsessed with the new James Blake album: Overgrown. It is absolutely phenomenal! The man couldn’t do anything other than make music. It just seems to pour from him like it’s no bother! I enjoy this kind of music most, music from true artists. I want blood and guts from them! They have to mean it! Each track on this album is very different. He seems to use a bit of everything. At times Bjork, then Massive Attack and then Hercules and The Love Affair! Meanwhile all sorts of responses are happening: Potential panic attack, needing sex, crying, sweating, laughing! Told you it was phenomenal! I swear to God…You have to listen to this album! Oh God…I've just done an album review!

What brought you to yoga and how long have you been practising?

People use the word “lazy” when they talk about not wanting to do exercise but I’m not sure about this. Sometimes I think it’s got more to do with self-neglect or ambivalence. Well, this is how it felt to me. I wasn’t willing to give my body this good thing that made me feel fantastic. My partner got me thinking seriously about it. She recommended Yoga For Sport. This was 2 years ago. After a year I changed to Ashtanga. At this point something changed and I knew I would always do yoga. Work can be taxing and yoga became one of the only things that would help to ground me. I also have a double curvature in my spine that causes me alot of discomfort. Yoga helped to release the pain and tension. It’s strange really because each class is different. Sometimes I’ll be aware of getting angry during a class. I still have no idea why! Then sometimes I’ll feel more connected to my body then I have ever experienced in my whole life and I can’t believe it cost me less than a tenner! It helped to find a yoga teacher who seemed like a refreshing change from joss sticks and balloon pants, so nice one Matt! : )

What is your yoga super power?

Turned out I was flexible! You’ll find me sometimes collapsing during downward dog due to hardly any upper body strength but with a little assistance, I can literally become a human knot during Marichyasana! Doing this pose feels a bit like someone is pouring warm honey over your head, shoulders and back!

If you could be a character in a well-known film, who would you be and why?

I couldn't think of an answer for this one and considering I love films that seems quite odd. I asked for help and quite rightly decided on Rita from Educating Rita. She’s doesn't quite fit in and knows she wants something different and to better herself.

Where in Manchester is heaven?

My God that’s difficult! Dimitri’s restaurant will always be a special place. It’s where my partner and I had our first date 7 years ago. It’s also where I met my birth Mum after never seeing her for over 30 years but I love to play cards at the bar in the Mal Maison, eat their food and drink their extensive wine list. It’s even worth the horror when the bill arrives!

 If you could go back in time to see something or change something, what would it be?

I’d have seen the light and moved to Manchester in the 90’s. I’d most likely be sectioned or even dead by now but I still can’t help wishing!