Who Am I
Basically, I am a Yogi. I practise yoga asana every day, and I try to practise yoga in my life. My passion and the focus of my teaching is Power Yoga, but I also practise and teach Yin Yoga, which I find to be an excellent balance to the dynamic Power style.
The Power style I teach is Power Living Yoga, which is derived from a merging of Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga. Ashtanga, smooth flowing vinyasa practise with each new pose held for 5 breaths and Iyengar, precise biomechanical alignments of the body with long holds. The lineage is ironic, the founders of these two styles K. Pattabhi Jois, and B.K.S. Iyengar, both had the same teacher, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.
Joining the Army at a very young age (15), the lifestyle and physical training methods proved to be unsuited to my body (took 14 years to learn and accept that though), with constant injuries and a lack of sufficient recovery causing mounting health and wellbeing issues. Leaving the army to give myself time to recover and repair, I found that the new less active lifestyle was causing it’s own problems, weight issues and loss of strength and endurance. I tried out many different styles of exercise looking for one that would suit me, until finally a friend dragged me kicking and screaming to a Yoga class, swearing that it would help with the back pain caused by sitting in front of computers to much. During that first class starting, the instructor told us to “rest” in downdog, and here was me, with sweat pouring off me, my arms and legs shaking and unable to catch my breath, astounded at the concept of “resting” in this torture position.
Needless to say, I was hooked immediately. For me, this was perfect, an incredibly intense workout with no impact, which was not likely to aggravate any of the niggling injuries I carried. Trying a few different styles, I found that I didn’t like the softer styles, and that I really didn’t like the “hippy” talk from some teachers and styles. I found the right instructors for me, teaching physical classes with a minimum of “hippy”, and I was good to go! Fast forward from that point, and over time I came to the realisation that I was getting more than just a workout.
Old injuries began to recover, not just recovering, but becoming better as well. I started to gain good flexibility (going from hardly being able to touch my knees, to being able to touch the toes!) and found that the greater range of motion was making all other activities easier as well. I noticed that my strength was increasing as well, which for me was astounding, as I have spent alot of time doing various methods of training in the military and outside for recreation, and here yoga was making me stronger than I had ever been before. Then the most telling one, I started to notice that “I” was changing, my reactions to things were different, in fact my whole outlook on life was changing. This really surprised me, as I had steered away from any classes that delved in to that kind of thing, and just practised “physical” yoga. With more understanding (research from books, videos, and talking to teachers), I found that the physical practise of yoga naturally leads to self inquiry, to this greater understanding of yourself, without the need to specifically chase those results.
I had not even considered teaching yoga until I had several different instructors recommend that I do it, and even then it took a while to bite the bullet and go ahead and do it. My first teacher training was a 6 month course with Health and Harmony Colleges (Yoga Teachers Diploma), mentoring with 3 different local instructors whilst doing this, doing 2 classes on most days. Since then I have done teacher trainings with Baron Baptiste (Baptiste Power Yoga Institute, Level 1) and Duncan Peak (Power Living, Level 1, 2 and 3), as well as classes and workshops with fantastic instructors from all around the world (John Friend, Matthew Sweeney, Rodney Yee, Bryan Kest, Steve Ross, the list just keeps going!).
Something I get asked all the time, so I thought I would include here, is “what injuries?”. Well, I have had heaps! I was never very careful with my body, never looked after it health wise, and the military taught me to train in a method that I now consider to be over training, which just compounded all the other issues.
Fibia and Tibia snapped
In an accident during my first year of school I managed to snap both bones in the lower right leg. Being the stubborn pain I was, I refused to use crutches and hobbled around on the cast. When it came time to take the cast off, the doctors discovered I had managed to misalign (bent at the break) the bone by doing that, and both bones had to be rebroken and reset.
Right Shoulder Dislocated
Martial arts accident where I was counteracting a shoulder throw using my body weight but hadn’t set the arm properly. Most of the ligaments and tendons in the right shoulder were torn.
Collapsed Arches, Pronation and Bunions
Partially genetic, partially from the army. The pre-disposition I had for it was compounded by the years of lots of running in poor shoes, and in boots, with weight on the back. The arches collapsed, which caused the pronation, which caused the bunions (bone spurs), and all of those caused bad alignment though the legs which damaged the knees and hips.
A motorbike accident where all the bones in the left elbow were severely fractured, requiring pins and wires to hold the bones together for 6 months while they healed, and at the same time, completely sheared the ligaments and tendons in the right elbow, the lower arm only being attached by the skin.
Put on large amounts of weight at various times. Recovery from injuries where I couldn’t excersize, lifestyle changes like leaving the army, periods of high stress. I have been up to 40kg over my target weight, and have always had to work at keeping weight under control (I love to eat)
If it can be torn, I have probably done my best to tear it at some point. Many times in the army, and more recently doing yoga. The training methods instilled in me by the military are to push 110% all the time, but in yoga, this leads to injuries, usually over stretching of muscles and tearing them. It has been challenging here for me to learn to back off.