Josh Wright has been teaching for Yoga Manchester for a couple of weeks now – he’s a top rock climber as well as an amazing yoga teacher.


What are you listening to at the moment?

My brother bought me an Audible subscription for my birthday so I’ve started listening to the classic Ulysses, it’s the only way I’ll ever get to the end of that colossus. Music-wise, the last two albums I listened to were Quarters by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (Australian psych-rock band) and Meditation by Naseer Shamma (Iraqi Oud virtuoso).

Where would you be teleported to?

To the top of Monte Fitz Roy in Patagonia to bask in the true beauty of the world we live in. Actually, to the bottom of it, then I could climb to the top and do the aforementioned. 

Where do you buy your clothes from?

My normal clothes are second hand or hand-me-downs from friends/family. I usually buy my climbing stuff from either Arc’Teryx or Prana, they make really good stuff and care about their relationship with the world. The only yoga clothes I have are two pairs of shorts from BAM, bamboo fabric and really long lasting.

What does a regular practice look like for you?

That depends on where I wake up, most mornings involve nondescript rolling around to loosen up followed by some pranayama and/or meditation. When I can find a space to practice, I’ll practice either Ashtanga (primary, intermediate and a little third series) or Vinyasa Krama depending on my energy, what my body is asking for and what else is going on during the day. Discipline is important, but not to the extent that it clouds what your body really needs.

Any advice to a yoga beginner?

Everybody passes wind at some point, don’t worry.

So I’m walking round my local neighbourhood of the Venice Beach area of LA trying to get my bearings and also get a feel for the place – and for the people, when as luck would have it I stumble across a yoga studio. Well to be honest there was no luck involved – yoga studios are two a penny here, it seems there’s one literally on every street corner. Anyway I thought I’d go in say hello and make some ‘connections’ with my fellow yogis. The owner / founder bloke was sat on his tod in reception – let’s call him Dave for now. I introduced myself to Dave told him I was new to the area and that I taught Ashtanga Yoga – have done for over 15 years and that I’d been to Mysore a bunch of times.

‘Oh no-one is interested in Ashtanga anymore buddy’ Dave informed me. ‘I mean I practice Ashtanga myself but it’s all about the Vinyasa Flow now – check this out’ to which he hands me his studio’s timetable. A quick scan of his timetable tells me that it IS all about the Vinyasa Flow for his studio – no shit! There were no other classes other than Vinyasa Flow on there! I wanted to make a sarky comment about him saying that he practiced Ashtanga, and then I doubted whether he could SEE his toes let alone touch them , but I held my tongue and tumbled back out onto the street feeling completely bewildered my mind all in a tiz – has Ashtanga really bitten the dust I thought to myself. Is it time for me to go with the (vinyasa) flow and do some new fad yoga 200 hours teacher training programme*. Have things gotten that bad that I’ll have to start teaching Boxing Yoga™ ** or maybe even much much worse … the dreaded Hot Yoga. I could see the headlines now ‘Yoga teacher who never had anything good to say about Hot Yoga now teaching Hot Yoga’ I nearly collapsed at the thought.

The next day I decided I was going to ‘take practice’ at the local Ashtanga Yoga studio up the road– usually I just practice at home (as this means I can do it in my (under) pants and can break wind anytime I bloody well want to without fear of offending anyone). I’d not been to this studio before but if Vinyasa Dave was correct I guess I’d be there on my own with a couple of tumble weeds blowing round the studio. I got there nice and early and parked up the motor and then proceeded to walk into a jam packed studio full of Ashtangis – my heart leapt with joy – ok maybe that’s a little poetic for a sarcastic Mancunian let’s just say I was reet happy ! I felt like running round and high fiving every one – I actually felt like taking a short video and messaging it to Vinyasa Dave with a caption saying ‘Ashtanga’s not dead, BUDDY’ but didn’t.

After class I’m driving home with that lovely post Ashtanga buzz with a big smile on my face. It’s almost like smoking a medicinal herbal cigarette but without the paranoia and halitosis. I’ve mentioned this countless times before but to me practicing Ashtanga makes me feel great, it’s a no brainer – why wouldn’t anyone want to feel like this. It makes life that little bit sweeter, and easier to navigate. Yes it’s hard to get up in the morning especially when it’s cold wet and damp but boy oh boy oh boy it is worth it – try it for yourself. You might just might start to like your boss – or even accept his/her terrible witticisms.

So just a heads up to Vinyasa Dave , Ashtanga Yoga is alive and kicking – and has been for hundreds ( if not thousands) of years my dim-witted friend. It has an ultra-rich history ,  heritage and tradition that other ‘Johnny come lately’ yoga traditions can only dream of.( I must say it does feel good to know that this practice that I am dedicating my life to was borne out of a want to improve the self and not the self’s bank balance). Ashtanga Yoga will still be going strong when you’ve turned your studio into a Cage-Fighting Yoga emporium or any other completely whack form of physical practice that the money men have paired up with Yoga.


* Can I just say for the record that God only knows who or what team of imbeciles / con men came up with the magic number of 200 hours as an appropriate length of time to deem someone capable and competent to teach yoga. Meh!

** if the person that teaches Boxing Yoga In Manchester is reading this please please please stop emailing me about hosting a Yoga Boxing workshop – I have no interest what so ever about the ridiculous money making scheme of pairing yoga and boxing and even less interest in supporting a workshop. Many thanks – have a lovely day!

I’m not a big fan of cliches and spiritual cliches are less welcome then a cup of cold sick in my house. But the one about a thirsty person digging a metaphorical shallow hole looking for water and never digging deep enough to find it ,analogous to a spiritual seeker trying all kinds of practices and never sticking to one (and thus never getting any benefit from any of them) is one of the better ones so I’m going to use it.

So you get my drift and I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Variety might be the spice of life but once you start mixing and matching your yoga practices I think you’ll struggle to quench your thirst (break out the sick bags!).

I believe somewhere in The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (a classical text describing Hatha Yoga) it says that after 12 years of continued practice , one can consider oneself a ‘beginner’ (obvs not in that plummy English tone of voice) The Ashtanga teacher David Williams reinvented that phrase for a modern audience to

“Just try it out for ten years and see if you like it. If you haven’t decided, try another ten more.”

Just a quick google search will lead you to all kinds of blogs, stories, and Facebook entries about how their authors have had enough of Ashtanga and gone off in search of something else usually a less intensive practice, and usually entitled ‘Dear Ashtanga’. Let’s get this straight, and I’ve said similar things before Ashtanga Yoga is not too intense or too hard, those are self-created impositions i.e. you’ve made it too intense yourself , buddy! I totally agree that there are Ashtanga teachers who teach the practice likes it’s a military style workout and bark the out the postures like a sergeant major. If this is happening to you don’t be disheartened, don’t give up and certainly don’t be tempted to go over to the dark side of hot yoga. Just find another teacher and begin again. One of the many great things about Ashtanga Yoga is that it’s a sequence you can learn, so eventually you can do it at home on your Jack Jones. You start off at a beginner’s class then after a while you feel confident enough for the intermediate sessions and eventually you are ready for the rocket fuel of Ashtanga Yoga – the Mysore Practice. The Mysore self-practice method will transform your mind and body BUT ONLY IF YOU STICK AT IT. Yes it’s hard work getting up in the morning but get a load of this ..

im not telling you ashtanga yoga

And then some.

I’d also like to let you into a secret … when you practice on your own you can miss out a jump back* or two. Don’t believe everything you hear about how Ashtanga Yoga is a dogmatic practice and you have to religiously follow all its codes and practices. These so called codes and practices are not static – they are quite fluid and change from teacher to teacher. One of the first western students in Mysore Nancy Gilgoff has said that Guruji had her doing the jump backs every three or four postures. In fact you will find that lots of the ‘old-school’ Ashtangis like Richard Freeman, David Williams and David Swenson will all have a story about how they’ve been taught the same Ashtanga practice by Guruji differently. As Guruji famously once said

“There are many variations of Trikonasana.”

There is only one Ashtanga Yoga, but this will take on many forms depending on the student. Stay with it.

* A jump back is sometimes referred to as a ‘vinyasa’ and is the sequence of up dog down dog postures that link the seated postures of Ashtanga Yoga.