GUINNESS MAN . ACTOR . EX-STEAK-LOVER . YOGI.
Name: CHRIS MAGEE
Hometown: BELFAST, IRELAND, UK
Current City: LONDON, UK
Whatʼs your story? I was born and raised in Northern Ireland. As a kid, I was always very active and creative, practicing martial arts and playing team sports from around 6 or 7. I enjoyed learning, so I liked school and got along pretty well in everything I tried.
In my teens I continued to be heavily involved in sports, primarily rugby, and with that came a lot of weight training. By the time I was 18 I had a long list of injuries; my body was battered! Trapped nerves, muscle tears, dislocations; you name it, I probably had it!
I did drama from an early age and studied it all the way through school. When I was 15, I auditioned for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and got in. After completing my course and taking part in several productions with them over the following years, I was totally hooked and couldn’t imagine studying anything else but acting. After school I moved to London to train to become a professional actor. It was at drama school that I found yoga. It was my method of rehabilitation; a great way to help ease unnecessary physical tension. I found the pranayama closely matched acting breath techniques, too.
As an actor, work can be very sporadic, so, needing a ‘day job’ I decided to pursue my other passion and started working in the fitness industry. I quickly built up a hectic workload of classes and clients and it began to take its toll on my body. My practice had fallen to the wayside, and I needed to get it back, so, I decided to do my teacher training. After that it never left me. I rebalanced my workload, leaning more towards yoga and holistic training, as the mental and physical benefits I felt from it surpassed everything I had been doing up to that point.
And thats what Iʼm still doing right now!
What did you want to be growing up? An actor. I wanted to be a lawyer for a bit, too, until I realised I wasn't really interested in law, I just liked the lawyers on tv!
How would you describe yourself? Dedicated, passionate, all-or-nothing.
How would others describe you? Confident, precise, gregarious (adjectives courtesy of my housemate, Joe).
How would your mother describe you? I asked her and she said, “handsome, hard-working and ambitious; a go-getter. But, sure, mothers are always biased!”
What do you most value in others and why? Honesty. We live in a world of false appearances - social media personas and artificial communications. To meet someone and interact openly and honestly is a rare and wonderful thing.
When did you last cry? I have a little cry every now and then over relatively small stuff… the last big one would have been at my grandmaʼs funeral.
Is there anything you preach but donʼt practice? No. I always use myself as a test subject first so if its something I donʼt do, then it is obviously something I donʼt believe in. If I were to ʻpreachʼ to someone else and not do it myself, I would be full of shit! Thats not the person I want to be.
Weʼve all done a few things we arenʼt too proud of, care to share one? One night, when I was younger, I got really drunk and peed on the door of a police station... not my brightest moment!
Favourite Meal? I love really good Japanese food. And Mexican! I’m down to give most stuff a go and try something new.
Favourite drink? Pub - itʼs a Guinness. Coffee shop - itʼs a black Americano… or maybe a Chai latte, if Iʼve already had too much coffee that day!
Favourite Book? Hard to pin down a favourite. I love Shakespeare, and any plays by Martin McDonagh, he’s a genus writer. I’m currently reading Brian O’Driscolls autobiography and that is great. Also ‘I Am That’ by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. I tend to end up reading a lot of stuff about training, performance and nutrition. Whatever it is, I just love to keep learning new stuff.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing yoga? I found a fair few; my injuries and physical imbalances didn’t help, and then there was my ego always getting in the way! I kept trying to win by pushing and forcing, like it was sport.
Why do you keep coming back? It has become much more of a mental practice for me. Time to clear the mind, and bring focus and awareness to myself that I can then take into life off the mat. That, and itʼs really fun! I get a great workout and I can play around making crazy shapes and doing handstands!
What advice would you give to someone stepping onto the mat for the first time? Try and let it just happen, without being forceful - itʼs all yoga!
Tell us about a time your yoga practice came into play off the mat? I was a bit of a hot head when I was younger and got into a few scraps. As time progressed that anger manifested itself into other forms, like road rage (or for Londoners - tube rage “stand on the right!”) etc. It was always seemingly small stuff that used to set me off big time. My yoga practice comes into play off the mat every day when a scenario like this arises, and I can let that shit go!
What would make you skip practice? Back in the day I would miss practice occasionally due to a bad hangover, or if one of my injuries was playing up. Nowadays I never skip practice, even if I can only fit in a quick 5-10 minutes flowing around, or meditating - something is always better than nothing.
Do you teach? Yes. It’s fun, challenging, expressive and philosophical. You deal with people from all walks of life, not just athletes or gym goers. It connects you to part of a fantastic community of like-minded people. Even when you are teaching, you are still a student - still always learning, from every class, and every participant.
Other than yoga, what keeps you busy? I still work in fitness and I still act. So if Iʼm not in the studio, I will more than likely be in a gym or rehearsal space somewhere!
What challenges or issues have you experienced being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? Some of my older friends from school and sports teams found it a bit odd initially, but they would all admit they wanted to try it! There has been so much positive publicity of yoga in recent years I think it holds less stigma than it once did.
What does the BOYS OF YOGA project mean to you? A great way to spread the love and joy of yoga with the men of the world who practice, or are yet to join us on the mat!
If you could hang out with any one of the other BOYS crew this weekend, who would it be? I would have to say Mike Aidala. After reading his story he seems like a cool guy and I think we would have a lot to chat about! Plus I LOVE New York so it would be great to make more friends out there incase I’m ever visiting!
Whatʼs your favourite pose? I’m playing around with a hollowback pincha at the moment and liking that! I donʼt think I have an all-time fave, though; it just depends on what my body is telling me it needs on any given day. For the same reason, I donʼt have a least favourite either!
Yoga is… your way in.
Your quote or mantra: Life is all about balance.
Interviewed: November 6th, 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.