So I recently completed the Yoga Manchester 200 hour teacher training program and taught my first class for Yoga Manchester. I was pretty chuffed about it and Yogi in Chief Matt Ryan asked me to write another blog about my experiences as a student, a feel good story of coming full circle. I wasn’t quite sure what to say. It could be a book at the end of the day. So I will try not to bore you to tears with my life story but try to summarize my Yoga Manchester journey, in the hope it might inspire some other people, either to come to a class or maybe consider becoming a teacher. Anyway, where to begin… I guess I can start at my first ever yoga class. Yoga for sports at Cavendish Primary School with Matt Ryan, way back when, around 2009. A work mate was a runner and convinced me to come along. I was suffering from knee pain from running and a physiotherapist had also suggested I try some yoga. Being a 6ft tall hairy dude who couldn’t touch his toes, yoga sounded like a kind of scary prospect. The class really wasn’t what I expected. No music. No incense. No whale sounds. Just a little school cafeteria that smelled faintly of school dinners. The class was mostly men and I remember a picture of Ryan Giggs on the flyer. I think yoga was and still is perceived as quite a girly thing to do, for bendy women on beaches and so on. But at the time Ryan Giggs and Andy Murray were popularizing it with blokes and sporty types. It was really cool to come to such an accessible class that showed how anyone can do it. Even stiff beardy blokes like me. I especially enjoyed Matt’s down to earth, no nonsense approach and great sense of humour. He is a proper manc, a normal guy, but had a wisdom about him too. He was very approachable. Even back then he was someone I respected and looked up to. Looking back on it he is still a role model and inspiration for my current path in life. I have a lot to thank him for (so cheers, Matt. Having me write these awkward blogs for you, we are square now yeah?). I used the yoga for sports to supplement my other training for a while. I was into running , weight-lifting and swimming. I found that the Yoga for Sports sequence was really helpful for rehabilitating injuries and building strength and flexibility. As well as a whole body awareness. It was also really fun and deceptively challenging. After a couple of months Matt came to me after class with a bit of paper and said “next step, Bazza!”. It was a flier for an Ashtanga yoga full vinyasa primary series led class that Sunday. People who practice Ashtanga are probably smiling to themselves at the idea of a relative newbie wandering into a full vinyasa class. I had no idea what I was in for. But I was enjoying the yoga and keen to explore it more. The venue was a place called Didsbury Village Hall. It doesn’t exist anymore but it was basically a converted extension behind a house on Palatine Road. It was all wooden inside with big windows, mirrors and a Buddha statue. It definitely looked more legit than the school cafeteria I was used to. The class itself was insane! I remember having to sit loads of it out. Mostly watching and muddling along. I was out of my depth. I was in awe of all the people, men and women, hopping and jumping. Flowing and breathing. Sweat dripping from everyone and the sun beating down through the windows. It was like poetry in motion and there was just something magical about it. It also looked really cool! I had to know more about this mystical Ashtanga. It was very impressive and I wanted to get good and learn the whole thing. I was bitten by the yoga bug that day. Well and truly. I had realised that I only had my toe in the water until then. I had been in the deep-end that day and I liked it. I started going to Matt’s early morning Mysore style classes. This involved one week every month I would get up at 5am and go to St Clement's Church in Chorlton, to muddle my way through my Ashtanga Practice (wearily) with others. The idea is that everyone progresses at their own pace and learns the postures one at a time. Everyone does their practice and Matt walks around giving adjustments and teaching new postures. It was very intense sometimes but a really nice environment. Kind of like a weird cult (in a good way). It is like a mixture between a yoga class and a workshop. With freedom to explore and practice on your own but with the benefit of more one-to-one attention from the teacher than you would get in a regular class. It was fun times and a great way to develop a self practice, allowing you to learn the sequence and do yoga at home. At first I was drawn by the physicality of the practice as an exercise, and method of recovering from injury. Eventually it became something more than just a way to get fit and look cool doing it (or a bizarre reason to get up at 5am with other weirdos). I started to appreciate the psychological and philosophical aspects of yoga, and the difference they make to managing anxiety and depression. Yoga totally changed my life and is still changing it. It might not even be an exaggeration to say it saved my life. While it can’t promise a perfect life and clear mind free of troubles, it certainly makes a difference to my mental health. Even if some days it is only a little difference. It is better than nothing. Better than I would have been with my anxieties and previous tendency for self destruction. Yoga subtly permeates your being. It changes the way you react to things on and off the mat. The way you think and the way you interact with people. It isn’t all magic and mysticism. In many ways it is very mundane, connecting to the breath and the movement and a simpler way of being. A state that is innate to you. But even these little changes and the mundane bits can still be a revelation and highly applicable to your day-to-day life. The changes for me where a domino effect. I quit drinking, became vegan and got interested in Zen Buddhism. I even met author and Buddhist priest Brad Warner through Matt and Yoga Manchester. Going to interesting talks and meditation workshops has really helped me a whole bunch. After practice for several years I wanted to pass these benefits on. I thought it had been such a great help that I wanted to help others. I had toyed with the idea of doing teacher training for a while and for various reasons didn’t follow it through. Whether it was due to work commitments, lack of money, the courses falling through, or other excuses. However, eventually the stars aligned and I completed the David Swenson Ashtanga Teacher Training 2016 and got my first taste for teaching. It was a 40 hour course and an intense immersion into teaching. I met some lovely people on that course (waves to those concerned). David is a legend and an international yoga celebrity. A really wonderful guy to learn from. He is also really relatable, funny and wise, and a real down-to-earth dude (there is a pattern forming here). If you get a chance to practice with David I highly recommend it. After a brief stint of teaching Ashtanga I wanted to learn more and become a better teacher. So I was thrilled to learn Matt was starting a 200 hour teacher training program with full certification. It was a scary and exciting prospect to clear out my bank account and commit to such a massive course. But onwards and upwards, “first day of the rest of your life”, Matt assured me. A couple of weeks before the course was due to start my mum died suddenly. Which was awful. The course started with a week-long intensive program the day after my mum’s funeral. My head was in pieces. I am not sure how I kept it together, in many ways I didn’t. But it was such a lovely space to be in and to work all that stuff out. In a weird way there was no better place to be. I can’t even imagine what would have happened or how I would have been if I didn’t have the practice and the space. I was in a lovely studio, with supportive people and amazing teachers. Getting to practice yoga everyday, while learning and studying did take my mind off everything else. Looking back on that first week I thank everyone there so much for putting up with me and just being there, even if they didn’t know what was going on at the time. It felt like finding a missing piece of the jigsaw, that was there all along. It was really helpful to expand my yoga practice into disciplines outside of Ashtanga and it really opened my mind to new ways of moving. As for coming full circle. I was asked by Yoga Manchester’s Josh Wright to cover one of his Yoga for Cyclists classes at the last minute. I nervously accepted. The class was in a massive school sports hall. There ended up being 22 people there. My usual classes were 6 - 10 people in a cosy little studio. So it was a bit of a trial by fire. Every time another person walked through the door my heart beat faster. We ran out of mats and people started to improvise with the crash-mats in the gym. Sharing them like they were about to do some kind of yoga Judo. Highly unorthodox but I thought it went pretty well.  I found myself channelling my inner Matt Ryan and remembering my first ever yoga class back in the day. Visualizing that school cafeteria (I could almost smell the school dinners). I hope that I was as down to earth as Matt was back then and that I made the class as accessible and fun as I had found them. It was a tremendous honour to stand there front and centre and deliver the class I started in. I hope I did Marie and Matt proud, you know. Writing this and thinking back to where I began, the person I was and who I am now, it is all intertwined with Yoga and people I met along the way. The Yoga Manchester family and community looked after me all these years, here and there, in one way or another and kept me on a relatively even keel. I have met awesome people, famous teachers and celebrities and made friends for life. Coming full circle from scruffy bearded manc in a yoga class, to scruffy bearded manc teaching a yoga class. A riveting rags to riches tail of love, loss and redemption, I am sure. It is hard to think of it turning out any other way. So here’s to many more years of Yoga in Manchester and welcoming more people to the family. It is a total honour to be a part of it. There really is a class out there for everyone and amazing, experienced and compassionate teachers. Yoga Manchester’s motto is “Yoga for everyone” and it is true. So beginner or advanced, get yourself out there and get on a mat. Whether that is in a sports hall, gym, church or studio. We all start somewhere and there is sure to be a class, workshop, talk or course for you.
A very Happy New Year to ALL Yoga Manchester students - I do hope everyone has had a fabulous holiday season and wishing everyone all the best for 2017. And what a year 2017 is going to be.... All Yoga Manchester classes will resume from Thursday 5th January and Yoga Express classes from Monday 9th January - looking forward to seeing you all on the mat , and please no  'I've not done any yoga since last year '  jokes . I copyrighted that one years ago : ) We have lots of fun things planned for 2017 including workshops , new classes and our very first Teacher Training Programme for all you budding yoga teachers out there.

Saturday Yoga Sessions

The Saturday Yoga Sessions are our new last Saturday of the month Yoga classes in Withington 10 am - 12pm featuring different teachers and themes. Kicking these new classes off will be Charlene McAuley on Saturday 29th January with her Yoga Motion 'Awaken Deep Strength' class. Details of this class here. For all details of future Saturday Yoga Sessions please click here.

David Williams - the King of Ashtanga Yoga

Yoga Manchester are thrilled to host a weekend workshop with the amazing Ashtanga Yogi David Williams. David Williams is probably the most important (Western) Ashtanga Yoga teacher alive today. He was one of the first Western students to study directly with the Guru of Ashtanga Yoga Pattabhi Jois in Mysore India  and he is singularly responsible for bringing Guruji  and his teachings to the West in the early seventies. The rest they say is history! David will be here in July - full details here.  

Yoga Manchester Teacher Training

We are very , very excited to be launching our very first Yoga Teacher Training in 2017. The YMTT is a comprehensive 200 hour teacher-training course with an internationally acclaimed faculty fully accredited with The Independent Yoga Network. The course will start on April 1st 2017 with an eight day intensive and continue with six weekend sessions over a total period of seven months. Full details of the course here.  

Workshops

We have a full itinerary of exciting workshops planned for 2017 including one day meditation workshops , a handstand master class and workshops to revitalise and restore energy - exciting stuff! For all forthcoming workshops please click here. The holidays are over and now it's time to get back on the mat - and always remember .. yoga-mat-in-the-bin-web-shot       Save Save
Teaching anything well takes limitless passion, commitment to continual professional growth, and meeting students where they are. It’s easy to bring to mind those school teachers who sparkled with knowledge, integrity, and faith that gently coaxed us to achieve what we thought was an impossible maths equation, see the underlying message in a novel, or simply be inspired to be better. At school I talked too much to be an achiever, grades were average and I bumbled along. There were a few good teachers with whom I connected with, but one stood out. Mr Bourke was my PSRE teacher at various phases, but it was in the last two years I appreciated his warmth and willingness to transmit religious studies through his experience in Ireland. Captivated, I'd listen to every word, and when I queried, he'd meet my questions with passionate responses. When I struggled to understand concepts, he'd patiently explain, and if I still didn't get it, he'd say with the utmost compassion "you'll figure it out". And I did. My RE grades went from C to A through being encouraged and inspired by my teacher's warmth and interpersonal skills. And this is a similar scenario with yoga. There’s a teacher who communicates in such a way that the essence of yoga is felt as the arms raise and gently their presence and our breathing helps to peel away the mind stuff and we receive a glimmer of quietude and connection that isn’t merely serotonin-induced but is this ineffable feeling of something greater. Just like the inspiring school teacher, the yoga teacher isn’t there to scare us into submission nor smother us with charm; rather, our teacher is there to share, understand, relate, and guide us on a path that is entirely ours. Not theirs, but ours. This is, in a nutshell, the fundamental philosophy of Yoga Manchester Teacher Training. When Matt asked me to take part in YMTT, I was honoured and humbled as Yoga Manchester is where it all began for me 10 years ago (I actually asked Matt about teacher training!), and to be teaching alongside an internationally acclaimed teacher faculty including  Marie, Christoph and Matthew Remski, people who are first and foremost committed to their own journey, is just wonderful. Teaching the asana component on the course, I’ll be sharing the principles behind YogaMotion, an approach developed to take into account the physical and emotion needs of the student. The yoga world knows more now than it ever has about the physical effect of asana thanks to the accelerating biomechanics research, which puts us in an interesting place as we have to grow with these new gleanings. Likewise, we aren't emotionally static beings. What makes us human is the continual flux of life, the good and bad days, with yoga providing the tools to garner non-reactivity and non-attachment. This is why YogaMotion is an approach characterised by an ‘umbrella’ sequence as opposed to a set sequence: it has to be wide enough to allow growth and change, yet structured enough to foster regularity and familiarity with a firm grounding in beginning where we are I never set out to develop YogaMotion, it simply happened through my own experience on the mat and teaching people from all walks of life. I wanted to peel away the filter, the attachment, and let go of this or that posture to meet myself where I am, and therefore meeting students where they are right now. Yoga Manchester Teacher Training is for those people who have an intense interest in yoga and want to know more about this ancient yet adaptive science. Over five years in the making, the programme provides the tools necessary for trainees to delve deeper and develop their teaching abilities whilst harnessing their passion. We know what it’s like to feel so passionate about something that you’re actually nervous about sharing it, but this shows just how committed we are to our ever-evolving journey and how lovingly we hold yoga in our hearts. This course is about cultivating your passion so that you can seed the passion in others or simply understand the science of yoga and its application to you. Charlene McAuley will be teaching the Asana module on the forthcoming Yoga Manchester Teacher Training
David Swenson - the 'Godfather' of modern day Ashtanga Yoga returns to Manchester in July 2018 to lead his famous week long Yoga Teacher Training / Yoga Immersion programme. Full details of the training can be found here. Please see below for student testimonials from David's previous courses in Manchester.    
David's approach to teacher training is much like his personality: fun, compassionate, and above all, approachable. Set in a context of four decades of teaching, David has a magic about him that is infectious, and provides a much needed light-heartedness to Ashtanga yet there is an undeniable richness in his teaching and guidance. With adjustments and variations provided for all the postures of the Primary Series, David encourages an intuitive rather than overly technical approach to teaching Ashtanga, and after the 40 hours I left feeling more empowered and inspired.
Charlene McAuley
I attended David's course to inform my own practice, I wasn't even thinking about getting into teaching. This didn't last long though, I was buzzing at the end of each day - David's enthusiasm for Ashtanga yoga is infectious!
He really is an inspirational teacher with a great sense of humour. David presents the postures, anatomy, philosophy, history, culture and personal anecdotes in an accessible way often wrapped up in a compelling and memorable story. He encourages students to think about what the postures are doing and how to break them down in order to make variations suitable for different bodies. We were provided with the tools to help us decide when to adjust a student and how to adjust safely and effectively. The course was a great investment for both my practice and teaching career. Several years on there are many things I learned that week that I still apply today.
Marie Harris
   
To experience a whole week with David Swenson, the living legend of Ashtanga, is one joy, but to add a packed week of communal yoga and a complete journey through the Primary Series, learning his personalised and practical adjustments takes the senses to a whole new level. David takes us step by step through the postures, interweaving his nicknames for the recommended adjustments ( "..Drive By, anyone,...?!),adding anecdotes and sharing memories of his Beloved Guruji, shining his open, inspirational heart on a practice he loves and respects passionately. He encourages us to teach the series in 90 minutes, so this is relevant not only for teachers but those who want to absorb the Grandmaster's innate warmth, wisdom and practical, no nonsense outlook to a lifetime of yoga.
Teresa Dennison    
David is a wonderful man who approaches his teacher training in the same way he approaches his Ashtanga yoga life as a whole. Seriously committed, but full of fun. He told us a yogi is someone who leaves a place a little better than when he arrived. And so David did. He built our confidence from day one to deliver teaching of the primary series safely, and precisely as he had learned. His teaching was richly enhanced by tales from Mysore and a sense of humour I will never forget. Yet he was as humble as could be.  I believe also that we all made a really good friend that week.
Barbara Hastings-Asatourian    
We attended the David Swenson 40 hour Teacher Training immersion course in Manchester in May 2014. David Swenson presented the yoga in a fun accessible way and we loved it.David Swenson is a brilliant yoga genius who kept things flowing and really interesting. It has helped with our approach to yoga teaching and inspires us still.
Claire & Dave Hatchell      
A comprehensive 200 hour teacher-training course with an internationally acclaimed faculty fully accredited with The Independent Yoga Network. The course will start on Saturday 26th Jan 2019 with an eight day intensive and continue with six weekend sessions over a total period of seven months. Increase your knowledge of yoga with some of Europe's leading yoga practitioners and academics. The course involves in depth study of yoga asana , pranayama, meditation , yoga philosophy, yoga anatomy and also the skills needed to launch your career as a yoga teacher. The Yoga Manchester Teacher Training programme has been developed whether you want to become a yoga teacher or not. It will allow you to deepen into your own practice and understanding of yoga, providing you with all the necessary tools to become an ever-evolving student and teacher. To visit the Yoga Manchester Teacher Training website click here