Yoga practice style:  FORREST YOGA
Website:  jamboyoga.com                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Instagram:  @jambodragon

What's your story?  I was born in Wales, moved to Durham in my late teens and partied and travelled until I was I was ready to go to uni at 22. I studied Integrated Health: Complementary Medicine. I’ve always had some interest in spiritual practices because I was brought up as a Taoist-Buddhist. But living in the Western world meant I also got conflicting messages at home about traditions and ‘ideal’ jobs so being a yoga teacher wasn’t always exactly in my plan!

How would you describe yourself?  Is this a dating profile?!
I’m a guy who’s trained himself to take a breath before he speaks. I’m happiest when I have time to see the world, focus on my yoga practices, and indulge in simple pleasures. I like to live with the attitude of a traveller. Open-minded. It keeps me grounded.

How would others describe you?  Facebook is gathering that info! 

How would your mother describe you?  Hard-working, healthy & stubborn. She’d also say I eat a lot, request weird shopping items when she travels and am never available enough for her!

We’ve all got a few stories that we aren’t the most proud of, care to share one? When I was a kid I was being mentored by this pharmacist because I wanted to go into dispensing medicine. One day at his chemist I decided to steal something, I look up and there was a camera right on me. I turned around, walked out and never went back again. I still think of his kindness today.

What’s the best & worst job you’ve ever had?  Travelling as a teacher and body worker is definitely the best job for me! I love meeting new people and the big buzz comes when I get to share my knowledge and experiences with wider communities. 

As for the worst... I worked in this awful gay bar when I was at University. I was treated like a piece of meat - the management even groped their employees! But I made it work… I let the customers know I was studying massage as part of my sports therapy training at the time and a load of them booked in for a session. Of course, many of them did NOT get exactly what they wanted but I am pleased to say many booked in for another treatment!

Favourite meal:  I try to stick to Paleo stuff: meat, fish, vegetables. Done well, it's tasty and makes me mega-energetic! I love sushi, sashimi and all kinds of seaweed salads, too - I think I was Japanese in a past life!

Favourite drink:  Bulletproof coffee - a filtered coffee with a tablespoon of butter whisked up every morning. Sounds weird, but it trains the body to use the correct reserves for energy, and you get all the benefits of coffee without the jitters!

What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you?  I’m quite a hermit; if I don't have to do anything then I prefer to spend most of my time alone. 

If you could do it all again, what would you change?  I would have convinced myself that I was a good enough human being a loooooooong time ago!!

Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it?  I first tried it out in my teens when I was trying to find an identity for myself. It starting with the chanting & meditation we did at home. Then, when I developed chronic sciatica which had me laid up in bed for a few months - it was a combination of daily yoga, reflexology and Reiki that helped me recover very quickly. The physical yoga practice helped me find the body I felt I should have, too; for years I ran to maintain my shape then I started practicing more. After a week of power yoga, I noticed a difference immediately. Before long, I wouldn’t leave the house until I had practiced first!

Do you teach? What’s that like?  Yes. It's busy! I have regular classes and team trainings in Newcastle, and I’m also on the road a lot, teaching workshops on asana, bodywork, shamanism or anatomy. 

What was the biggest challenge when you first started?  Learning to use my breath to lead the movement. After Power Yoga I did Ashtanga for 8 years and wasted A LOT of time not realising it was all about moving within the capacity of my breath. 

Why do you keep coming back?  Initially, it was the shape it was offering my body. Then it was symptom management for sciatica and uni stress. These days it's to make sure I spend some time checking in with myself - with that voice inside that tells me how I really want to live!

Best yoga story?  Disclosure: I’m REALLY going to blow my own trumpet here...

After the recession, I was working with people going through post-treatment care for addictions. Instead of fighting for funding at such a tight time, I created a scholarship program, aptly named The Jambo Yoga scholarship program! It combines Forrest Yoga, bio-mechanical medicine and community contribution and to enroll, you have to come to regular weekly classes and stay clean. I noticed this yogic rehab setting really worked for sustained recovery from addiction so I opened up the scheme to work with eating disorders, chronic pain trauma and sexual abuse, too. At the end of the program, the aim is to have attended regular classes, improved your lifestyle choices, and achieved some personal goals set at the beginning. If that happens, you are invited to join the Jambo Yoga Champions. Champions mentor our new scholarship students and can apply to be part of my teaching team, where I provide training to become a self-employed well-being practitioner.

Yoga is about so much more than doing fancy poses on a mat. By learning to enjoy breathing deeply together whilst we are working through intense poses, we can learn to breathe deeply together through tough situations in our lives.

Most embarrassing one?  Being in the front of the class and getting cocky with straddle splits.... My trousers tore from the crotch all the way down the legs!

What’s the biggest challenge or issue being a guy who teaches/practices yoga?  People assume you are competitive and approach you with that attitude. I hate that! It’s challenging enough working on my own self-judgements without having to deal with someone else’s - I just want to breathe!! 
Also, I don't have the ‘typical’ yoga body. In fact, I don’t really like to show my body if I can help it! But that’s all part of the practice..!  

What’s your favourite pose?  Handstand waving lotus.

What pose do you fucking hate?  Wheel walkovers!

Yoga is:  the safe arena of which I can dip into every day to recognise who I am and practise who I choose to be.  I don't know any other system quite like it. Forrest Yoga weaves in the dynamic poses that I need, the anatomical intelligence that makes sense to me and the space to create what I didn't know I could do! 

Your quote or mantra:  Risk being great.


Interviewed: March 5th, 2015

Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.