R'N'B DJ. CORPORATE RUN-AWAY. AUSSIE BACKPACKER. YOGI.
What’s your story? Born and raised in the hills of the Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne, I grew up riding mountain bikes and playing football at the weekend. When I was old enough to sneak into nightclubs and pool halls, I started DJ’ing at house parties and shortly after playing gigs at venues across the East coast of Australia.
Growing up I wasn't much of an academic, so decided to leave high school at the age of 17 to chase a career in hospitality. After spending the best part of three years working in and out of kitchens, bars and restaurants I traded my apron for a corporate briefcase and juggled two jobs whilst I saved to go backpacking at the age of 22. Soon after, I arrived in London, alone, with no job and limited savings. I saw it as an opportunity to test my comfort zone. Like many Aussies, I picked up a live-in job pulling beers in a SoHo pub before taking off around Europe with my backpack for about 6 months, in search of new cultures, interesting people and summer house beats. Despite spending everything I owned and coming back to London in a right state, I had the time of my life meeting incredible people, some of which are my best mates today.
When I returned home to Melbourne I spent the next few years climbing the corporate ladder, working for the man. When I realised white picket fences and quiet country towns were not for me, I decided to take a different direction and move to the beautiful beaches of Bondi, Sydney. After another 4 years in a high-pressure corporate job, my partner and I decided to trade it all in to once again travel the world for a year, with nothing more than a backpack and a few essentials. Call it a mid-30s adventure (or crisis) if you like, but it gave me the chance to focus on what matters most in life. We were fortunate enough to travel to over 50 cities in the world, seeing all walks of life and cultures. With no ambition to go back into the corporate world, we returned home and decided to open the first ever yoga retreat in Sydney, Bondi Yoga House. I'm always a believer in making dreams become reality, and we are truly living the dream.
What did you want to be growing up? A Pilot. I actually got to live this dream a couple of years ago when I flew a small plane around Sydney. It was absolutely epic.
How would you describe yourself? Passionate, competitive, open minded and often way too optimistic.
How would others describe you? Patient, socialite, networker.
How would your mother describe you? Determined, honest and dependable.
What do you most value in others? Integrity is a big one for me. Being true to yourself, following your beliefs and taking responsibility for your actions.
When did you last cry? What was it over? Cry? Never… I’ve never cried during a lame rom-com… at all... I’m a sensitive guy lets leave it at that!
Is there anything you preach but don’t practice? Nah, not really. I’m not perfect, but saying something and doing it is a value I pride myself on.
We’ve all done a few things we aren’t too proud of, care to share one? I’ve been known to sleep walk occasionally -strangely enough, it tends to happen when I’m staying at hotels. Once, I woke up to find myself urinating in the stairwell of a hotel, having locked myself out of my room. I had to go to reception in my underwear and ask the very concerned concierge for another room key.
Favourite meal? Wood-fired pizza. Having spent a lot of time in Italy, I love the opportunity to down a pizza and glass of red wine.
Favourite drink? Keeping with the red wine theme, I would have to say a nice bottle of Brunello from Tuscany. Nothing beats a good Italian red wine!
Favourite book? Start Something That Matters - The Toms Story’ by Blake Mycoskie. Being an avid traveller, I absolutely love the journey mission that Blake has achieved. Truly inspired by his story.
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? When my girlfriend and I started dating, she asked me to come along to her local class on the beach. I was obviously acting all cool and thought it would be easy. I couldn’t touch my toes and I remember feeling like a 90 year old man. But at the end of the class I had this incredible refreshing feeling that I hadn’t experienced with other physical activity. Since then I have never looked back.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing? Judgement. I was so critical of myself. How I looked practicing yoga, how I felt in my own skin, disappointed with my own ability. Being such a competitive person, it was only recently that I learnt to let go.
Why do you keep coming back? Focus, clarity, and setting an intention. No day seems complete without stepping onto my yoga mat. Any important decisions that I need to make personally or professionally generally start with my yoga practice.
What would make you skip practice? Oh man, it would have to be a hangover for sure. I’ve tried yoga with a heavy head before and it is not the best experience being upside down in any inversions in that state.
Do you teach? Yeah. I only recently started to teach. I love the time and space to share my individual teaching style with different walks of life. I can’t wait to expand my teaching experience and learning from incredible teachers around me.
Other than yoga, what keeps you busy? Running a business. My partner and I recently launched a Yoga Retreat in Bondi Beach, Sydney - Bondi Yoga House. It’s been an incredible learning curve so far and I am constantly finding out new things. It can be challenging but doing something you love every day is so rewarding.
What advice would you give to someone stepping onto the mat for the first time? Live in the moment. No judgement, no expectations. Use the opportunity to learn more about who you are - physically, mentally and spiritually.
Tell us about a time your yoga practice came into play off the mat? Every day, without a doubt! It makes me far more patient and open to others. There are still times I see it slip though; I recently met someone in person who I’d previously known only by reputation and photographs and, I’ll admit, I had them down as a certain type. And it wasn’t positive! When we met I realised I’d made assumptions about them that were completely wrong. For me, that was a reminder to let go of expectations, and never judge someone or something until you have experience first hand - that’s yoga.
What challenges or issues have you experienced being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? One of the biggest challenges I have struggled with is my flexibility. I am such a believer of “practice what you teach, teach what you practice” but there are some physical limitations I struggle to overcome because of my skeletal structure. Dealing with that and coming to terms with those limitations is difficult.
What does the BOYS OF YOGA project mean to you? From the moment I heard about the project I was instantly inspired by the vision, the intention and the stories from the boys. I’m personally really passionate about breaking down the egotistical barriers blokes have when it comes to yoga. There are so many benefits men can gain from yoga, they just need to feel it.
If you could spend some time hanging out with some of the other BOYS, who would it be, and why? Man this is a tough one - they all look like total legends.
Michael - of course I’d love to hang out with the creator BOYS, the man who lives his mantra everyday.
Anwar - I really love his energy. The fact he gets his inspiration from his clients and the persistence he’s taken to achieve goals, that’s effing awesome.
Octavio - fellow Melbourne boy who moved to Asia and never looked back… coffee drinker, cool cat - enough said.
What’s your favourite pose? I have a recent love for transitions into handstands. Getting that feeling of hang time, upside down, can sometimes feel wonderfully endless once you’re up there. In particular, I am trying to perfect pike handstands.
What pose do you fucking hate? Oh shit, standing splits and most deep hip openers. I have a lack of rotation in my hip joints and find myself continuously ignoring it and pushing myself. I’m often cursing on the inside during these asanas.
Yoga is... my way of life - it has been an integral part of understanding who I am.
Your quote or mantra: "Live your dream everyday”- people tell me from time to time that I am lucky. This is bullshit. You create your own luck; you just have to be prepared to make the right decisions, no matter how hard that can be.
Interviewed: April 26th, 2016
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA LLC