When did you start yoga?
About 15 years ago I think. I really should be a lot bendier than I am!
What is your profession?
“Manager”. So I spend most of my time either at a desk in front of a screen or in a conference room.
Age bracket? I’m 56. Deal with it.
What is your favourite aspect of yoga? The way it requires balance – not just in tree pose – but in one’s attitude. I like to challenge myself a little, to find the edge of what I can do (which isn’t that sharp an edge, to be honest) but it’s just as important to recognise that point where yoga stops being a healing practice. It’s not a competition!
What are your favourite poses? Other than savasana? Pigeon for how it opens up my hips, Crow for the mix of balance and strength it needs. Handstand for fun! I can’t do it without a wall and even with a wall, it’s a one-in-three thing but being upside down for even a few seconds always makes me feel good.
What benefits have you had from practicing?
Improved flexibility - actually, being flexible in any way shape or form. Also, as I get older, the load-bearing aspects of inversions and balances are getting more important. I always sleep well after a class.
How does yoga support or enhance other sports or activities that you do?
I don’t do any other kind of sport - I don’t like sport, to be honest. But I’m currently learning piano and yoga feeds into that in some unexpected ways, in terms of stamina (all those downward facing dogs are great for strengthening fingers and wrists) and posture.
What are your favourite classes? Why? Gingi was the first male teacher I had. I don’t think I’d have been in it for the long haul without his encouragement and down-to-earth approach. I also like the opportunity in the present day Shala to try out different teachers and benefit from different approaches. My ‘core’ classes at the moment are Ellie Steel's Dynamic Level 2 - they’re challenging and never less than anaerobic but very down-to-earth. Ellie is wonderfully aware of that balancing point between pushing your boundaries a little but never going beyond what’s good for you. She’s also very tuned in to how the location of that point is not only unique for every individual but changes from moment to moment.
What words would you choose to describe the Shala?
Positive, down-to-earth, #SouthLondon, community, accessible, welcoming, diverse…
What would you say to encourage more men to take up yoga?
In my own experience, yoga offers many of the benefits associated with conventional gym classes, bootcamp training and meditation. It’ll teach you a lot about who you are and what you can do. In a frantic, driven world, it’s a kind of still centre - an eye in the hurricane one always carries with one. It’s a practice that promotes both commitment and maturity and the sense of adventure and lightness of a child. Plus, you get toned ;-)
Anything else you would like to add?
When people ask me why I like the Shala, I always come back to the teachers. Ella and Gingi are great yoga curators and have gradually built up a group of distinctive, grounded professionals who all have at least one thing in common - they are all very, very good teachers.