I am going to find it hard to limit my thinking to only 5 reasons for why you should go to a yoga class today. The more yoga I do, the more benefits I recognise. But for the sake of simplicity and for those new to the idea of yoga I’ll stick to some headlines. Hopefully if you are curious, these ideas may get you on a mat to experience the benefits for yourself. If you have an established but lapsed practice, may be this will encourage you to get back in the groove. One of the main reasons for being a doctor surely is to help people feel better. To feel better physically, emotionally, psychologically, in whatever dimension you care to evaluate. No matter what the condition, problem, illness or lifestyle we are considering here, if you can make someone feel better, that has to be a result right? So I want to shout if from the rooftops. Get to a yoga class today! And here’s why:  
  1. It just makes you feel good
Who doesn’t feel better after a yoga class? … … … … Deafening silence. After one only class, there is pretty much a cast iron guarantee that you will feel great when the session is over. Getting to class on time may be tough. You are pushed for time, shoulders and back are tight after being hunched over a desk all day. Worries about the day gone and tomorrow’s challenges are buffeting your bruised mind. Get through class and without knowing how, all these problems are dissipated. Limbs glow comfortably from the physical work and your mind sits on a cushion of calm deep steady breath. Quite rightly you can feel smug about what you have achieved. Yoga just makes you feel good.  
  1. Anyone can do yoga.
No matter your age, size, fitness level, mobility or ability; there is a Yoga Manchester class for you. You monitor your own progress at your own pace. It doesn’t matter if the person in front can get their leg behind their head. I certainly can’t. There is no goal other than your personal journey of wellbeing.  
  1. Yoga is exercise and so much more
We all know exercise is good for us right. We all know we should be doing a little more than we manage every week. Well if you can commit to more than the one class that made you feel good, then you can build on the benefits of yoga. The exercise element itself has research behind it demonstrating it to be one of the most effective ways to treat low back pain and other musculoskeletal problems. It will also help reduce weight, and to decrease your risk for heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and more. Guys, I can also tell you with confidence it reduces the incidence of erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer. That’s just the beginning of the list. For the more psychologically minded, yoga is a powerful tool to help with symptoms of anxiety and depression.  
  1. There are no excuses
Other than a mat, and arguably you don’t even need one of them, very little equipment is needed. You can do yoga Martini style: “any time, any place, anywhere” (apologies to those not old enough to remember that reference). If you need some structure and motivation to get you to class then make some friends with fellow yogis. We are a welcoming crowd. The social aspect is a really important element to keep you on track.  
  1. The physical practice is a gateway to so much more.
If you get into the rhythm of working your body through the sequence of postures, changes start to happen. Self-awareness comes to the body and the breath. This may open your thinking to a more mindful perspective. Yoga can be a 100 year practice: its influence and impact grows with you. It may become a lifelong companion to help with whatever challenges cross our paths. So Yoga is an all-rounder, no-brainer amazing activity to boost your wellbeing. If you were to design a new treatment for any medical condition, physical or psychological, yoga ticks so many of the boxes. It brings exercise together with a mindful and social approach that is accessible to all. What’s not to like? Get on a mat and give it a go today.   Matt Joslin
I am proud to be a GP settled in Manchester city centre after having trained and worked in Cambridge, London and Brussels. Being a family doctor is one of the best and most varied jobs. The world with all its problems can walk through my office door and I am invited to collaborate in helping out. In recent years yoga has become an increasingly significant feature of my life. As well as getting me in the best physical shape it has helped me through stresses and depression. I attend several Yoga Manchester classes on a weekly basis. More and more I share my experience of yoga with colleagues and patients. It has become a lifelong friend.

Class : Vinyasa Flow Fallowfield Every Monday 7pm-8.15pm

Teacher : Lianne Daly

 

The Class

This class is held in the Holy Innocents Church in Fallowfield every Monday. Usually when a class is advertised as ‘in a church’ it’s located within a back room or side building. This class however is actually held within the church, pews moved aside, smack bang in front of the alter. As you can probably imagine it’s a huge space; with high ceilings and ornate stained glass windows. It’s grand, calming and visually stunning. yoga fallowfield manchester We began the Vinyasa class in relaxation; lying back on our mats, opening our hips and connecting with the breath. As ‘Vinyasa’ translates to ‘connection’ this relaxation period helps us all connect with our bodies, breath and mind, setting us up for what will be a very fluid class. Music plays throughout the class to ensure we remain in sync with one another and, more importantly, ourselves.  

The Teacher

Lianne sits at the front of the class as her students enter. She’s surrounded by candles and wears an inviting smile. She’s softly spoken and has a calming influence over the room. She’s already arranged people’s mats in a semi-circle around the stage to ensure all her students can see her. She stands on the small stage and draws everyone’s attention towards her as the class begins. She takes us through the warm up sequence, all the while making sure we remain connected to our breath. She wanders round the large room to ensure we are all in our most beneficial postures -yes, what’s right for me probably won’t be right for you! The class isn’t too fast-paced but as it’s all about the fluidity of your movements it’s worthwhile intently listening to Lianne’s instructions. She announces each movement in descriptive detail so you don’t have to come out of postures to find out what the heck’s going on.  

The Ambience

As this class is held in Fallowfield my first thought was it would be filled to the brim with uni students (it is Manchester’s student centre after all). However the array of attendees varied; there were advanced yogis rolling out mats next to complete beginners, students next to pensioners and men next to women. As everyman and his dog are in some mad rush to get nowhere faster nowadays it’s not unusual to see people from all walks of life turning to the yoga mat to find a 60 minute air pocket of stress free bliss, and this class is no different. Everyone wants to learn how to reconnect with themselves again, to learn how to take those deep breaths into the boardroom and learn how to not lose your mind during exam season or when the kids are on an e-number induced rampage. That’s what the feel of this yoga room was - a mixed group of people learning how to be the best possible version of themselves off the mat.

The Challenge

This is the first Vinyasa flow class I’ve done in about 8 years so I’m not preaching from a place of yogic superiority when talking about this class. I’ll happily own up to having no knowledge of this sequence, I’m basically a beginner! However, I can happily say this sequence is easy to follow. If you’re new to yoga this is the ideal introduction to an ancient tradition. You’ll learn some challenging postures partnered perfectly with relaxing pauses and calming sounds. If, like me, you’re coming to Vinyasa flow from a particular style of yoga (Ashtanga, Iyengar, Yin etc.) then you’ll find yourself at home on the mat whilst still experiencing new and challenging asanas. Ashtangis’ especially will be familiar with these postures but the sequence will not be what you’re used to. It’s useful to remember that if you want to explore different aspects of your mind then you need to challenge your body to do something different. This class is the perfect place to start.        

A mind & body practice

I read a blog last year by some Ashtanga dude who was admitting that he was getting too old to practice the advanced series postures. At the time I kind of laughed to myself thinking I’ve got plenty left in the tank to keep busting through the postures of 3rd and 4th series. Literally a year later and after a 2 month cold ( I kid you not) at the start of this year that was bordering on a serious bout of man flu which meant my practice consisted of blowing my nose and a very heavy dose of lying down, I was ready to throw in the advanced posture towel too. I’m 46 now and over the last sixteen or so years of practicing Ashtanga Yoga I’ve had my fair share of physical & mental ups and downs. A tweaked hamstring here and a sore shoulder there – my injury roll call is quite an impressive list. Added to the physical aspect of practice I also still suffer daily with a complaining/mithering mind – usually when I’m watching football or driving. I always joked that if any of my students saw me at a football match they would never come to one of my classes again. (So I stopped going to matches just in case!) One thought that continually bugs me is ‘why is my mind so crazy when I do all this yoga & meditation’. I’d like to highlight the plight of the mind and body journey with two (real) stories – both featuring the wit and wisdom of the East.
 ‘As long as you have a body Matthew…’ Dr.Su
A few years back a friend recommended I go see a Chinese acupuncturist called Dr.Su after I was complaining about a tight hamstring. My friend had told me that the footballer Ryan Giggs had credited Dr.Su with sorting out his own hamstring problem that had plagued him for most of his career. So I booked an appointment and off I went to Dr.Su’s tiny office / treatment room in Nothenden in South Manchester. It was the start of a beautiful relationship. After a couple of visits the hamstring problem had cleared up and he was now treating me for my sore wrist. Each time I went I was always complaining about one physical problem or another and Dr.Su would smile at me and offer the most simple but powerful advice on the body that I’ve ever had… ’As long as you have a body Matthew, you will always have problems’ There endeth the lesson. So get this boyfriend /girlfriend if you’ve got a body then something will go wrong at some point. The main problem is that we set up in our minds about the level of practice we need to maintain to make the whole thing worthwhile and if we get an injury of some sort which means we can’t stick to the same level of practice then that somehow invalidates what we do. Which if you sit down and think about it, is just (mind) bullshit. However we practice whether it’s all singing all dancing 10th series or maybe it’s just one measly 1 sun salutation (because your body is knackered) it’s all good, it’s all valid, it’s all practice.  
‘I see , I see , I see’ Dalai Lama  
This is my favourite ever true Dalai Lama story, and maybe I’m a little biased because it happened to a mate of mine. Once upon a time in the seventies Albert (name changed to protect identity) was enjoying the good life a little too much. Both legal and illegal substances were being taken on a daily basis which resulted in the good life turning into well, not so good. Determined to sort himself out, Albert ( a practicing Buddhist) decided he would make a pilgrimage to Dharamsala in Northern India where the 14th Dalai Lama was living. Now in the 70’s Mr.D.L. was not as famous as he is now and a personal appointment with him was not outside the realms of possibility. So our friend Albert rocked up at Mr D’s gaff and asked if he could organise a private audience with the top man. After a 3 day wait he got his chance and was ushered into Mr. D’s front room. For the next hour or so Albert went into explicit detail about how messed up he was and how his life was a complete mess. Each time he finished a sentence the Dalai Lama would comment ‘I see , I see , I see’ . Finally after a couple of hours young Albert finished his tales of woe and sat back slumped in his chair, the Dalai Lama looked straight at him and said ‘ You know , my mind is crazy too’. KER BOOM – how’s about that for a curve ball of an answer. In that moment Albert realised that he was not alone in feeling crazy , granted the illegal stuff hadn’t helped but the fact that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama also had a ‘crazy mind’ made him feel ok. I love this story, I tell it a lot in class. We think sometimes our mind is out of control and maybe sometimes it is but the mind certainly has a mind of its own – there’s no on or off switch. Put it this way the heart beats, the lungs breathe and the mind ‘thinks’. We would think that the Dalai Lama would have a mind that was completely peaceful and serene but this isn’t the case – his mind is crazy too. And so is mine and so is yours. But I find that when I do my Ashtanga practice my mind feels a little less crazy so I practice most days so I can enjoy being a little less bananas - it’s a no brainer. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so one day I decided I would do my practice first and then watch football after to see what happened – a little experiment on myself. And do you know what, I managed to get through the whole game without annoying anyone least myself. Read the other parts of Matt Ryan's Experiments with Ashtanga Yoga .. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly after Indian Prime Minister, addressed the United Nations General Assembly last year.  What’s App Doc ponders the potential impact of this intervention.  Casually surfing through calendars of national events reveals a perplexing mix of days to be celebrated. For instance Diabetes week and National Picnic Week take place in the run up to our inaugural International Yoga Day on the summer Solstice, which is shared with Fathers’ Day. Following this we have Wrong Trousers Day. So much to enthuse about here but I will try not to lose focus. What interests me is that India is embracing yoga again in a way that celebrates and promotes it in a social and holistic manner. "Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being", says Narendra Modi when addressing the UN.  Shripad Yesso Naik has become India's first minister for yoga, with plans to reclaim the practice as "India's gift to the West". Indian officials plan to reintroduce yoga into all facets of civic life, including more than 600,000 schools, thousands of hospitals and police training centres. This demonstrates that yoga is so much more than just a physical practice and has potential to improve well-being at a societal and population level as well as for individuals. Sometimes the old solutions are the best and most elegant. Our current technological revolution purports to enhance our lives in so many ways, but let’s look a little more closely at that assumption. Tablet computers, smart phones, internet TVs and now watches facilitate instant gratification. We can shop, chat, watch movies and work on the hoof twenty four hours a day. Agreed this is convenient, but does it make us happier and healthier? In my professional experience this is not the case; many people come through my consulting room struggling with the demands of modern living. They experience stress, anxiety, insomnia and physical ill health as a result of technological advances rather than these advances offering solutions. The ancient practice of Yoga is arguably a perfect counter balance to the intensity and pace of the silicon age. It encourages us to slow down, be mindful and seek grounding and balance. The goals are the journey itself and will be achieved over a lifetime of practice rather than at the click of a mouse. I am no Luddite. I embrace smartphones, Apps and internet shopping. But Yoga helps me find a balance so that I am not overwhelmed by the pressure to move to 24 hour access to everything. I value the rhythm of the days, weeks, months and years. Yoga is my companion through these cycles. So I for one will celebrate International Yoga day. For time management purposes I will have a healthy picnic on hand and dedicate my sun salutations to all yoga dads. I may need to borrow Matt Ryan’s fabulous trousers to cover all bases.   Matt Joslin
I am proud to be a GP settled in Manchester city centre after having trained and worked in Cambridge, London and Brussels. Being a family doctor is one of the best and most varied jobs. The world with all its problems can walk through my office door and I am invited to collaborate in helping out. In recent years yoga has become an increasingly significant feature of my life. As well as getting me in the best physical shape it has helped me through stresses and depression. I attend several Yoga Manchester classes on a weekly basis. More and more I share my experience of yoga with colleagues and patients. It has become a lifelong friend.
     

Class : Heaton Mersey every Saturday 10am - 11.15am

Teacher : Teresa Dennison

 

The Class

The class is held in St John’s community centre in Heaton Mersey. As I drove down the tiny street towards the community centre the blossoms were blooming, I had woken later than 6:30am and there was a free parking space right outside. I knew today was going to be a good day! The class venue is not dissimilar to my usual yoga classroom (a school hall) and it’s a nice size, with old wooden flooring and a big stage at the back. Teresa arrives early and sets out her mat so there’s no confusion as to which is the front. Usually when I attend a yoga class I notice a few familiar faces. This class however was a totally new scene. It’s a Saturday morning so everyone’s got that relaxed weekend glow about them. There are a few first time yogis confessing ‘I can’t even touch my toes’; Teresa playfully warns them they won’t be able to feel their thighs in the morning so it won’t matter anyway.

The Teacher

Teresa is one of the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever had the pleasure of practicing with. She makes every person feel like you’ve been friends with her for years, even if she’s never laid eyes on you before. She sits on her mat at the front of class as people queue to pay for the lesson. She speaks to every single person attending the class, whilst also involving those already sat on their mats. She’ll ask your name and if she doesn’t recognise you she’ll ask if you’ve ever done yoga before. She’s serious about this practice but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Every person needs a yoga instructor with a sense of humour; it makes those long Navasanas a lot more bearable, trust me!

 The Ambience

The class starts with an opening mantra, prayer, chant, however you want to label it. This generally takes place at the beginning of any Ashtanga class to open the practice, to honour tradition, to shift consciousness and to bring you closer to your own higher self (yes you do have one, somewhere). It’s chanted in Sanskrit, which can be daunting for beginners but do not fear, you don’t have to join in and nobody can tell whether you’re chanting or not. Just enjoy the words. The ambience of the class isn’t all chanting and incense, don’t be mislead by the calming start, you will have to work hard. All postures are called in Sanskrit with Teresa giving demonstrations at the front of class. Two options are provided so choose whichever you feel comfortable with; choose the one that feels the best! As you hold the posture Teresa may or may not count the breaths, she likes to mix it up and give students time to just ‘be’ in the posture.

 The Challenge

This is a level 1 class which indicates beginners will feel comfortable taking the class, will understand the postures and will be given the support they need. This isn’t to say experienced yogis can’t benefit from the class. I’ve been practicing yoga for a little over a year now and given the choice between practising alone and practicing in a class I would always choose the class environment. I may be the first yogi to admit this (we’re all suppose to be spiritual, self-starters, aren’t we?) but sometimes its nice to roll out your mat next to another person, doing the same asana and counting the same breaths. To give a slight indication of how challenging the class was we did some intermediate backbending and the first time yogis did it too! Yes, it’s challenging but it’s also doable. Teresa reminds you throughout the practice to overcome that little voice in your head telling you not to hold that asana, that little voice that tells you to be fearful of something or that you wouldn’t be able to do it, ‘so why bother trying?’ Overcoming that little voice telling you ‘you can’t’ will gradually begin to transfer into your everyday life, until you eventually realise ‘you can!’     Review by Sarah Later I was 19 years old when I took my very first yoga class – not only because I wanted to be uber fit and bendy but because I was anxious and stressed about everything I could find to be anxious and stressed about. For a little over a year now I’ve been a student of Matt’s and each day I grow a little more obsessed with this practice. So, I obviously jumped at the chance to practice with every Yoga Manchester teacher and then write about my experiences with each. I hope one of these reviews ignites enough curiosity in you to try a class; maybe you’ll fall in love too.

Class : Withington every Thursday 7.30pm- 9pm

Teacher : Paul Jones

 

The Class

I’ve been a Yoga Manchester student for 12 months yet Paul’s Thursday class in Withington was new territory for me. It’s held weekly at the Methodist Church on Wilmslow Road, this could not be in a more prevalent location yet I still drove past it three times as I waited for my Sat Nav to catch up, geography isn’t my strong suit! There is a car park for the church just down the road on Edgerton Crescent. As I did absolutely no research before arriving I was unaware of this and parked across the street. I guess I make these errors so you don’t have too! The Methodist Church is like no other I’ve practiced in, it’s really modern, and as you walk in you’re faced with office doors and notice boards in place of pews and alters. The entrance is actually an extension onto the original church so the pews and alters do still exist, phew! The room for the yoga class is upstairs and it is so beautiful! I was the first to arrive so got to see the space in all its glory. Two huge windows either side of the room allow the rare Manchester sunlight to beam through. If it wasn’t for the original stained glass windows and 4ft cross this room could easily be mistaken for the latest trendy yoga studio. Paul lit incense and played calming music as I got myself ready for practice before the others arrived.

The Teacher

Paul said the class wouldn’t get too busy so I rolled out my mat at the front, another first for me as I generally practice at the back of a class (force of habit) and waited for the other students to arrive. Now I’m not sure if this was a one off or whether Paul’s and my ‘not very busy’ differ greatly, but a continuous stream of people began to flow through the door. I moved my mat three times so others could practice comfortably. This class is definitely popular with the locals, however that doesn’t mean lack of teacher attention; Paul easily makes his way around the room; adjusting people, asking if they’re okay, pushing those who want to go deeper and helping those that want a rest.

The Ambience

The array of yoga students differed greatly; from older women in jazzy yoga leggings to sporty university students in grey joggers and football shirts. I noticed a few level two class students as well, so although Paul’s class is level one that’s not to say the diehard Ashtangi’s will be left twiddling their thumbs! Far from it! It’s a relaxed environment and it’s clear everyone has the same aim: to unwind, stretch, breathe, relax and learn something new.

The Challenge

It’s a full Primary series class with traditional terminology used to call the postures (Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, anyone?) Do not let this put you off if you’re new to Ashtanga, Paul gives full demonstrations at the front of class.  As we moved our way through the sequence the heat began to rise and the sweat began to drip. This is a real workout but Paul continues to remind us to focus on our breath. He didn’t count the asanas (generally held for 5 breaths), which was new for me. Everyone’s five breath count is different and I find when I’m practicing alone my five breaths are someone else’s three. In Mysore classes you’re left to count your own breath so Paul’s class really helped me to understand how I should be breathing in my personal practice. In this class you can push yourself as far as your body and mind want to go. One of the hardest things to learn (at least for me and my big ego) when starting your yoga journey, is to hold back in postures. You see the flexible folk around you contorting themselves into pretzel like positions and you want to do that too. It’s better to listen to your body and feel good than copy someone else and feel pain. You will get there eventually, and you’ll have learnt patience in the process. Win/win! This is the perfect class if you’re looking for a new challenge; you’ll learn the asanas of the Ashtanga Primary Series and you’ll gain great foundations to develop your own practice in your own time. Just enjoy the journey!   Review by Sarah Later I was 19 years old when I took my very first yoga class - not only because I wanted to be uber fit and bendy but because I was anxious and stressed about everything I could find to be anxious and stressed about. For a little over a year now I’ve been a student of Matt’s and each day I grow a little more obsessed with this practice. So, I obviously jumped at the chance to practice with every Yoga Manchester teacher and then write about my experiences with each. I hope one of these reviews ignites enough curiosity in you to try a class; maybe you’ll fall in love too.
We have now got the Kino MacGregor endorsed Wonderful yoga mat now in stock. The highly durable Wonderful yoga mat is for students committed to a regular yoga practice. The mat is 180 cm x 60 cm and 4mm thick. A mat of this quality usually retails for over £60 , but we are making this mat available to Yoga Manchester students for just £40. Drop us on email on info@yoga-manchester.co.uk if you want more information or how to purchase. Having a top quality yoga mat like this can really help support your yoga practice.A proper mat provides comfort between the body and floor, cushioning hips, elbows, and knees when flowing through the poses.

Competition

To celebrate the launch of our fantastic new website we are giving away 10 of our YoManc  Limited Edition T-shirt (men) / Vests (woman). The tees and vests are 100% cotton and have a silver 'YoManc' print - YoManc is an acronym for Yoga Manchester (of course!) Check out top models from Yoga Manchester teachers Matt Ryan and Charlene McAuley showing off the shirts above.

YoManc t-shirt Yoga Manchester close up

All you need to do to win yourself one of these fabulous shirts is to sign into the 'leave a reply' section below and answer the following question.. 'I do Yoga because.........' Students with the most imaginative answers will win the shirts .Good luck ! Closing date for the competition is 03.06.13  

Welcome to the new site

Finally it's here- our brand new fabulous Yoga Manchester website. We and long-time YM web developer, Ajom, have spent lots of time, effort and energy getting it right-trying to make it as accessible as possible for all our Yoga students-we've even made it smart phone friendly so you can check all your class and workshop information on your mobile phone.

Comments

Let us know what you think about the site in the comments section below.

Classes

The new classes section is now in a much easier format as sessions are listed by day rather than by area-so all you have to do is click on the class you are interested in and all relevant info will be displayed -easy eh! New Yoga for Sports class in Chorlton Check out our new weekly Yoga for Sports class in Chorlton -every Monday from June 3rd-this first class will be a freebie for all Yoga Manchester students who turn up for the 1st session.Just drop us an email to let us know you are coming down that first night.

Workshops

The workshop section of the new site sees some very very exciting teachers coming to Manchester including first time visits to the Holy City of the North West for Ashtanga Royalty Tim Miller (July 12-14) -we have extended the early bird price of £120 for Tim's workshop until June 1st, the first lady of Ashtanga Yoga Miss Kino Macgregor (Aug 13) and the amazing Canadian teacher Michael Stone (Oct 11-13) Contemporary Buddhist teacher and writer Stephen Batchelor will be here in December for an In Conversation event (Dec 13) alongside After Buddhism - A day’s workshop to explore the implications of a secularised Buddhism as a way of life in the 21st century (Dec 14) Everybody's favourite the world famous David Swenson is back in Manchester in May 2014 to lead a weekend workshop and also a week long Teacher Training programme -so amazing that David is coming back to Manchester -he does love it here.

Beginners

New to the Yoga Manchester schedule will be our one day introduction to Yoga workshops -the first one is on Saturday September 14.These workshops are specifically for students with little or no experience of Yoga and will be a perfect introduction to the practice-please pass the information on to anyone who might be interested. Signups to the course get a brand new Yoga Manchester Yoga Mat and a 5 class pass to any Yoga Manchester Yoga class.

Videos

Also new to Yoga Manchester is our fabulous video section- check out the amazing back garden demos by Matt Ryan. Matt has also recorded a short yoga sequence that everyone can practice along to at home –perfect to keep your yoga practice going outside of the classroom.

Shop

We have also set up a little shop selling Yoga mats and meditation cushions – more stock to follow over the coming months.. Let us know what you think about the new site in the comments section below...