I have always been fascinated by and attracted to yoga. Whether it was the serenity that surrounded the people I watched of seen in magazines and online, whether it was the look of their amazingly-sculpted bodies, or whether it was the flow of energy that exuded from their expressions and smiles at the end of their session. Yoga is one of those eastern traditions that I just keep dipping into and wanting more and more of.
My yoga journey began some 15 years ago, when I lived with a friend who was practicing yoga daily. Although he was not religious, the precision of his ritual and the consistency in his practice made yoga look like he could not live without it. He had developed his routing and it didn’t take me long for me to start edging in and asking him to show me the ropes. The unfortunate thing was that he was most definitely not a teacher and didn’t have the time to spare to teach me what he had learned, but he did however point me in the direction of some good books and websites. Within a few months, I managed to teach myself a few positions and had enough basic knowledge to try and follow what my friend was doing. But I was lacking commitment and time.
Time has always been an issue for me: time flies way to quick and there’s always so much to do. I have always been a busy boy, but time became even more scarce when I was a busy and workaholic CEO of a charity working long hours, spreading myself way too thin and failing to look after myself. In fact, I would say that more than a lack of time, it was just that the timing was wrong and although I did continue to try my poses from time to time and joined the odd class here and here, my approach had no consistency or commitment.
Fast-forwarding a few years and with yoga teachers and studios sprouting up all over the UK, yoga seemed to become trendier and generally more available everywhere. Though my issue by this point was still the lack of time and commuting for work, which made it impossible for me to sign up to a local class. However, I did sign up to FitStart Yoga – a mobile app - that provided a guided routine as and when I could actually do some yoga.
Finally armed with my mat, towel, water bottle, and mobile and the guidance that I needed to develop a routing and some confidence in my practice, I started practicing more regularly in the early hours of the morning when the rest of my family was still asleep. This also made me think about the need for me to rethink my routine, especially going to bed a lot earlier that I was.
I have been practicing yoga more regularly and I have also joined a gym which provides yoga classes within their membership. This allowed me to start comparing myself to others by being in the same class with other people practicing yoga for the first time. As much as I enjoyed the sessions, the practice seemed quite schematic and rigid, but I also felt I was neither being guided or corrected.
By now, I had also started to re-evaluate my direction in life and as I started my Naturopathic Nutrition course and began to consider other changes to my person and to my career, I decided to become a teacher of yoga. So part of my exploration lead me to trying different classes and styles with different teachers coming from different backgrounds.
I realised very quickly that something was missing. My practice, both at home or at the gym, lacked some spirit. The type of yoga that I had been practicing was very fitness-focussed, whereas the classes I attended had a soul, through the breathing techniques, the “Om”-ing, the chanting, the relaxation, and the more powerful and intense movements.
Suddenly it all started making sense, suddenly the time is right!
I have started researching teacher training courses and reduced my options down to a few schools. I then went onto trying classes: Gitananda yoga, Power yoga, and Kundalini yoga.
This type of yoga is Swamiji's codification of the ancient teachings in a modern scientific manner. His Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga tradition is a gentle, yet powerful technique which is not so much about contorting your body and pushing yourself to the limit, but rather tuning your body and your breath into poses that enhance your soul. My experience of this class was such a positive one that it inspired me to do my teacher training in this very traditional style.
This is most definitely the most active and athletic style of yoga I tried.
It was originally adapted from the traditional ashtanga system in the late 1980s to appeal to aerobic-crazed Westerners. Power yoga doesn’t stick to the same sequence of poses each time like ashtanga does, so the style varies depending on the teacher. However, they are always intense and yet satisfying. Expect to sweat and be pushed to the point of wanting to end the session, but also expect HUGE satisfaction for sticking with it and not walking out! This is the class that inspires me to push myself and try to achieve more, but not every day.
The practice of kundalini yoga features constantly moving, invigorating poses. The fluidity of the practice is intended to release the kundalini (serpent) energy in your body working your way through the shakras and opening your mind to new vibes and the cosmic divine. I found this type of yoga very spiritual whilst it was also very energetic and hard at times, not as hard as power yoga though. It is definitely a practice to try and keep in touch with, because of its very rich spiritual content.