This month features the very lovely Kate Tittley who teaches at our weekly Tuesday Cheadle Hulme Session and also Yoga Express in the city centre on Mondays.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Rising Appalachia and Ocean Wisdom around the house - polar opposites but both lyrical genius.

In the car I’m between an old Gatecrasher mix that I found in a box at my Mom’s (which includes As The Rush Comes and Spin Spin Sugar - invoking memories of sweaty dancefloors and trying to literally mount the speaker in the early 2000s) and Rage Against The Machine (alas, Know Your Enemy doesn’t quite have the same impact coming out of a rusty civic going 20mph around Fallowfield).

Class will always have a solid mix of Glitterbox, Hip Hop and Hippy.  Current fave is Lloyd Carner - polished with a bit of rough, perfect to iron out the creases in Sun Sals.

Where would you be teleported to?

Right, either Sunset Strip in the 80’s so I could live my Motley Crue glam rock dream (very thankful that yoga pants come in shiny materials so I can pretend they’re leather and that I’m in a band) or Paris in the 1920s, as Lost Generation literature is my favourite and I definitely would have given Hemingway something to write about.

 

Where do you buy your clothes from?

I invest in Yoga pants because I live in them (Sweaty Betty unitards are my fave, Lulu and Liquido for high waists although I’ve got a mega long body so you’ll always see my belly button).   Souvenir t-shirts from holidays, training and gigs. Non-yoga things are pretty much anything with sequins, on wherever that may come from. I do a lot of clothes swapping with friends which is pretty sweet as I’m trying not to be so throw-away with regard to what I wear.

 

What does a regular practice look like for you?

A regular practice is something that honours how you’re feeling and meets you where you are to explore that - it is not about punishment or atoning for the sins of a heavy weekend or a slice of pizza.  For me it always starts with the body. I take a led class twice a week and do my own thing over 4 days. This isn’t necessarily asana; I take dance classes, I run and weight lift. In my opinion the body holds the secrets of the mind and movement can help you explore all these cool little caverns you never knew you had.  I’ve been dancing since I was child and it is just in my nature to make shapes; it’s how I communicate with others and how I check my internal weather.

My daily pranayama practice is super important to me.  We really do underestimate the power of the breath and I am the first to admit that I did for the first few years of practice I hated the ‘breathy bit’.  Now I do an exercise daily, only for about 10 minutes, and I find it so profound. I’m hoping to do some training later this year with my teacher as I’d love to share more of this in class.

And of course - one full rest day, whatever rest looks like for you.  For me it’s a big old steam and sauna or bath if one doesn’t want to leave the house - lovely stuff.

 

Any advice to a yoga beginner?

Come along and have a go, and then do it again with someone else, and someone else and someone else etc… I think it’s so important to find a class you really vibe with as that’s what will keep you coming back and help you build a habit.

Rome was not built in a day - you don’t run a marathon on your first light jog, so don’t expect to nail every posture in class on day 1.  It is a practice, the clue is in the name.  The more you do, the better it will feel.  Coz ultimately it’s not what it looks like, it’s what it feels like.  Oh and you are so allowed to enjoy it!

A very warm welcome to our brand new Sale teacher Patricia Cowan.

What are you listening to at the moment?

Right now (and probably most other times) I am listening to the new love in my life AKA Julia Jacklin. I can’t help but get lost in the deep and beautiful lyrics this fabulous Aussie girl has managed to create. She expresses so much through her words and I feel honoured to get to enjoy them.

Where would you be teleported to?

Anytime between the 1920s-1940s for the sole reason of getting to dance in a swing club with a live jazz band💃🏻💃🏻

Where do you buy your clothes from?

I have to admit I do have a guilty pleasure for the vintage/ second hand shops on Oldham street in city centre.... but generally if I’m going to buy myself something new or something I’ve wanted for a while, I first off double check I don’t have it already (which a lot of the time I do ha!) and then secondly I save over a set period of time for it, scrimping on a few luxuries and then reward myself with it. Aside from that, I mostly just wait around for my gorgeous friends Molly or Aine to have a wardrobe clear out.... one man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all...

What does a regular practice look like for you?

I usually do most of my practice after I’ve just taught a class. I find that my practice usually reflects the energy of the preceding class. I do also wake up extra early at least 3 mornings of the week to squeeze in a nice easy mobility/ free flow/ restorative flow- I just follow what my body is telling me it wants on that particular morning.

Any advice to a yoga beginner?

Don’t be afraid of not being ‘flexible’ and not wanting to look inexperienced in a class- to be honest we all look silly sometimes anyway so who cares!! Go to a class where you feel at ease and supported and try to member yoga is supposed to be fun, it doesn’t have to be so serious all the time!
New Yoga Manchester teacher on the block Stefan Podolczuk gives us the low down on his musical tastes, his fashion tips and a little advice for new teachers.  

What are you listening to at the moment?

I'll listen to something based on enhancing a mood I already feel, recently Earth, wind and fire or other funk to fly around on a bike. A bit of deep house, trance or the ambient Indian style yoga playlists on occasion of wanting to space out fully. There's a guy called Craig Pruess who wrote some beautiful stuff, or Jon Hopkins immunity asleep version is great for relaxation post classes when I teach at the gym.
 

Where would you be teleported to?

On the back of a surfboard on the front of a big empty wave in Hawaii, Indonesia or Australia.
 

Where do you buy your clothes from?

Oxfam. Or gifted. Got a few clothes from brothers and friends. They mean more and I don't like the idea of cheap manufactured clothes or waste.
 

What does a regular practice look like for you?

Daily pranayama meditation and asana. Usually 3 hours worth. I sleep 5/6 hours to fit it in, correct asana practice lets you run on this throughout the day without fatigue. It's usually Ashtanga Primary but occasionally mix it up with a bit of Jivamukti, Hot yoga or Yin usually on a moon day. One or two days of the month I'll take a lie in.
 

Any advice to a yoga beginner?

Be patient. It's not about "doing the poses". It's about always finding a new place to develop breath and bodily awareness.  If you think you've finished a pose and looking for new ones to satisfy... you don't get it.Tight bodies are the best playground.If you are naturally flexible you will be really challenged because it's tougher for you to keep the energy in the pose and build strength, especially if you are hyper-extensive.If your teacher doesn't offer cues that help you find some new way of feeling the pose, find a better teacher.Main advice, keep practising!
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
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.                                    
What are you listening to at the moment? It really varies depending on what I’m doing. But here’s a snapshot of the last week.. To dance around the living room with my daughter it has been Led Zeppelin and The Doors. I’ve been listening to Brian Eno and Harold Budd whilst doing my practice. I have also been decorating so have felt the need to transport myself somewhere else (not very mindful I know), so I’ve been reminiscing whilst listening to old 80’s Madonna songs. Where would you be teleported to? I’d head to New York in the late 60’s early 70’s. I’d check in to the Chelsea Hotel and hang out with Dylan, Patti Smith and Hendrix amongst others and try to absorb some of their philosophical and artistic genius. Where do you buy your clothes from? I’ve recently discovered TKMax for leggings, which are comfortable and reasonably priced. I choose comfort over style, which is why I am currently sporting bright pink leggings (I don’t really wear bright colours and I’ve never liked pink). Other than that I don’t buy anything from anywhere in particular and have no clue about yoga clothing brands. What does a regular practice look like for you? It depends on how much time I have. It has definitely become a greater challenge making time for practice since having a baby. Most mornings it is 45/60mins before I get my daughter up. When I have more time I will do 90mins. I usually do the Primary Series but sometimes I will do a vinyasa flow. I have recently been incorporating 10mins meditation at the end of my asana practice. Any advice to a yoga beginner? Try to leave your ego at the door. Be patient. Breathe. Enjoy.          
What are you listening to at the moment? A lot of Bon Iver. I go through phases of having an ‘artist of the moment’, in the last year these have included Zola Jesus (Skin), S Carey (Alpenglow), Daughter (Shallows), Ben Howard (Promise), and Jon Hopkins (Immunity). Bon Iver is perfect at the moment, with Holocene one of my all time favourites.   Where would you teleport to? The moon. I’ve always been fascinated and soothed by the sight of the moon, its craters, and white surface, and like many people, am also affected by the cycles. If I were to teleport to the moon I would try to roll down a crater (I don’t know how difficult this would be without gravity), and bask in all the mooniness of the moon.   Where do you buy your yoga clothes? Gosh, I can’t remember the last time I bought yoga clothes, which I think students can probably see! I suppose I go to anywhere that gives a teacher discount such as Sweaty Betty and Manuka as these are good quality and functional. That said, I wear old clothes for teaching and practising too, just anything that keeps me warm and allows my skin to breathe.   What does a regular practice look like for you? It very much depends on my energy levels and how creative I’m feeling. I like to practice between 90 mins and two hours, but this isn’t always possible and as long as I’m on the mat five to six days a week I’m fine with fluctuating duration. I am increasingly less dictated by what I think I should practice and try to honour what is appropriate in the moment.   Any advice to a yoga beginner? Keep trying to return your focus to the breath, find a good teacher and learn what you can, remain open yet committed to what makes you feel well.
I do my practice and it sustains me. Initially I needed lots of guidance, tips, hints and reassurance that I was doing my practice correctly (whatever that means), even someone to mirror or a level of achievement to aspire to. Over time these aspects of the teacher-student axis have become less important to me and I do more self-practice. However I don’t manage so well when I am completely with out a teacher. I won’t say that I cannot or could not enjoy my yoga as a solitary pursuit, but perhaps rather that I choose not to because a good teacher does bring something very special to the practice. I have reflected here a little as to what that might be. The more I think about it, the more I realize that these teacher attributes are difficult to pin down, nebulous and intangible, perhaps even a little mystical, which may raise a smile. So my yoga teacher has made it clear that I get out of my yoga practice what I put in. If I commit one hundred percent then I get one hundred percent support back. Furthermore I am coming to accept the message that simply the doing of the practice is what it is all about. No aspirations or expectations. Turn up to your mat do the needful and experience whatever comes. This no nonsense pared down student teacher relationship works for me but has taken some time in its cultivation. I’ve been around the yoga block, having practiced on and off for more years than I care to mention. During that time many yoga teachers from many disciplines have crossed my path. I have to say that all of them have helped me, some in small ways and some profoundly. The yoga itself is a vehicle for personal development, but the human element is very important to me as well. So that communication with the teacher can be just as important as the style of yoga. Here is what I have distilled to be my essential yoga teacher attributes: I need to be challenged. Granted challenging yourself is part of the deal here; each posture has its variations and it is easy to let yourself off the hook and modify a pose or its intensity. But once a teacher knows you, subtle encouragement can help to work past the resistance, to let go and relax deeper. Have you noticed that in some classes you work harder than in others? Just the presence of a great teacher is enough for you to adopt a mindset of commitment and set your intention to do the best you can do on that day. An experienced teacher will often recognize sooner than me that my body actually has the ability to align better, flex further or create length and find space. This may just mean a better triangle pose or it may be a whole new asana. Not accepting that my body has reached its limits is something I need to feel from my teacher. As I get older this concept is more and more important to me. I want my teacher to be no nonsense, straight talking, to tell it like it is. I don’t need platitudes. Questions often crop up about how to progress and improve and it is human nature to seek out short cuts and work arounds. Sometimes I have found myself asking my teacher of the time, “is there a passive stretch that will help me develop such and such a posture….?” …….Disdainful Silence……. I have learned this means go away do your practice and there is no bypass for the hard work required. It helps if the message is sugared with a sense of humour ‘cause that can be a difficult message to swallow. We all come to yoga for a reason. This may just be curiosity and a means to keep well in mind and body. Some of us may be a bit more physically and metaphorically bruised. I don’t expect or need my yoga teacher to be my shrink or physiotherapist or anatomist or life coach or nutritionist but I do need to feel that there is some communication that transcends the aforementioned disciplines. I now find myself smiling again as I return to the theme of the mystic element of what makes a great yoga teacher. I think what I am looking for is some sign of compassion and acknowledgement of the many reasons why students come to class. Different teachers may express this understanding in different ways but I look for quiet empathy to soften the message of get on and do your practice and have no expectations. After all we are just people trying to get by and an acknowledgement of that human aspect is very important. A good teacher is a motivating force. A drive to move from where my practice is at to where the teacher sits has always been a force to move me onwards. It is not so much the physicality of what a teacher can do more the economy of work that they may demonstrate that inspires me. An ability to perform simple postures or more advanced ones is not the issue; it is more the effortless effort utilized by a good teacher that shows me the way forward. Finally coming back to my indefinable mysticism, there is a certain composure exhibited by great teachers, which inspires. (Clearly yoga teachers are not super heroes and composure is allowed to slip from time to time. My testament to this is observing Matt Ryan in a car at traffic lights behind a dithering learner driver. Let’s just say his equanimity slipped momentarily…) I have a sense that this ethereal composure stems from more than just the asana practice, which is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to yoga than its physical aspects. I seek teachers who show glimpses of the way forward to their students, taking the practice away from the mat, rolling out their composure into day-to-day life, moment to moment. So having reflected on what I am looking for in my yoga teacher, I have realized this is a very tough gig. To summarize a no nonsense challenging unostentatious empath with a sense of humour who can motivate with a composed air of indefinable mysticism. Well this may seem like a pie-in-the-sky wish list and I haven’t even mentioned that they need to know their yoga! However I have been blessed with great teachers some of whom really do have these attributes and skills. It takes years of dedication perseverance and talent to achieve these abilities. Thank you to all the teachers who have taught me for sharing their knowledge and showing glimpses of the way ahead.