DJ . PHILOSOPHER . BLACK BELT NINJA . YOGI
What's your story? I'm from South London. My parents made me, then music took over… listening, playing, then producing. I was a DJ and in a band (The Loose Cannons). I got paid to travel the world and make people happy simply by playing music. I loved it, and we were damn good at it.
How did you get into yoga? I was injured from football combined with overzealous, under-the-influence and outta-control jumping (up and down, and into crowds). My guru Lolo Lam got me to try yoga for rehabilitation. I got hooked and it slowly took over my life.
How has yoga changed your life? My Philosophy degree got me to question everything. Yoga got me to look closer at the answers. In everything I’ve ever done I have failed as often as I have succeeded, and the one always leads to the other, however circuitously. Not being able to do some of the simplest yoga poses that all the girls can do made me realize what yoga is actually about, rather than what it looks like it is about. I feel blessed to have gotten to where I am without wishing I’d done it any other way. I’ve missed some boats but caught some flights. Life is good.
How do you like being a yoga teacher? I love it a lot more than I thought I ever would, because I was never the front man in the band—always the guitarist, or behind the decks. There is definitely an aspect to teaching where you are like the lead singer—stage-front, having to command attention and faces in a room, faces of people you may not know—and then you have to bring it down to a place where everyone feels like it’s just you, telling them where to go and how to breathe.
I guess it’s really more like being a conductor—the students are the orchestra making the sweet sound, I'm simply keeping them together. I think that’s why I NEED music in my classes to accompany and keep the tempo and vibe. I mix all my sets to the nerdiest degree so that the intro is the right tempo and the tracks all mix and flow, so you don’t break the meditation. The music has to ride the ebb and flow of the class. It’s about controlling and moving that energy. And just like with live music, sometimes it is magical and sometimes it isn’t. Accepting whatever comes—that’s yoga.
Do you have an embarrassing yoga story? There’s definitely fear involved with teaching a big class…but actual embarrassment? I’ve ripped my trousers in a wide-leg split attempt (cliché and funny rather than embarrassing); I’ve forgotten names of people, poses, where I’m going, what I’ve done, but that’s standard. Embarrassment is for kids whose parents dance funny. Good thing that these days I do the dancing.
What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you? I’m a certified Black Belt Ninja. Don’t turn the lights out.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? The older I get, the less I would actually change. Really it is all part of the journey, and if I had taken shortcuts, who is to know if I’d have really made it at all.
What is your personal mantra? Keep your spine long and your breath strong, the rest is practice.
Interviewed: September 19th, 2014
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA LLC