PRO FOOTBALLER . THERAPIST . PERSONAL TRAINER . YOGI.
Name: MARC HATVANI
Hometown: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Current City: KENSINGTON, LONDON, UK
What's your story? I would like to say I was a dream child, but that wouldn't be true. I wasn't the smartest by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I was kept down a year at school early on because I couldn't keep up with the rest. The only things I excelled in at school were biology, engineering (taking after my grandfather, who was an engineer) and sports. I kicked my first football aged 4. I knew immediately I wanted to be a professional, dedicating every hour I could. For the next ten years of my life, I even skipped school to play football, getting into all kinds of trouble.
I wasn't a stereotypical teenager either. I wanted to be a professional footballer so badly that I led a disciplined life in pursuit of my dream; I sacrificed going out with friends, kept to a strict diet and missed birthdays to kick the ball in the park by myself. I become very good at a young age and turned professional early on, using that as leverage at school. Football remains one of my true loves in life, even after finishing with the game altogether. I left Australia to play professionally, and travelled all over Europe (Germany, France, Spain, England, Malta). When this part of my life ended, I knew I needed a new frontier, a new passion. I knew I couldn't sit behind a desk, so I became a personal trainer and rehab specialist. This eventually led to training as yoga teacher, which has become my new dream. To pursue how far our bodies can be pushed, to explore the relationship between mind, body and soul. I knew instantly that I had found my second calling and passion in life in yoga. This is the path for me.
How would you describe yourself? A jack of all, master of all; egotistical but modest; mass of contradictions. Big heart, big dreams. I see myself as strong, self-reliant, motivated, committed and sensitive.
How would others describe you? I guess confident, cocky, clueless and reliable.
How would your mother describe you? I thought I'd let her do the talking on this one, so straight from the horse's mouth: “great sense of adventure, determined - sometimes a little too determined, devoting all his energy to one thing. Tunnel vision, forgetting everything around him in the process of achieving his dreams and aspirations in life (typical man) but he always puts 110% into everything he does. I am so proud of what he has become. But he isn't a boaster, he is more of a quiet achiever. He is very respectful and can eat like a horse."
We’ve all got a few stories that we aren’t the most proud of, care to share one? I went to a very strict, conventional, Christian boys school. We had to go to mass three times a week, which I despised. One morning I sneaked into the chapel like a devious mouse and drank all of the ceremonial wine. I made a meal of it by devouring the host (the body of Christ) too, and left nothing for mass.
What’s the best relationship you've ever had? The best relationship in my life is with my sister. She is my best friend, role model and hero. She knows things about me that no one else will EVER know.
And the worst? My worst relationship has been with myself. It has been a long and arduous journey, which I finally feel has led me to a place of peace. I spent many years hiding in my own shadow, trying to disguise myself and live as someone else. Yoga has given me the tools to recognise that we are all the way we are meant to be.
Favourite meal: Grandma’s cooking - all of it is heaven on earth.
Favourite drink: As a yogi- juice me up. As a diva- Dirty Martini.
What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you? As a young kid I had a flesh and bone eating disease that could have killed me. I was spared, but it took 30% of my hearing.
Best yoga story? After my first lesson back in London just after I’d completed my teacher training, my friends and fellow students bowed their heads in reverence to me. It was at that moment that I truly realised that I was a part of something more important. Something more than bending on a mat. Words can't simply describe the feeling. Everything just feel into place then, and I knew this was the path I was meant to be on.
Most embarrassing one? I did my yoga teacher training in Costa Rica. I arrived overexcited and crazy with anticipation only to discover that not one of my suitcases had arrived with me. I was left to practise in nothing but super short shorts and a ratty singlet. These were the only clothes I had for seven days, practising three times a day in soaring heat. On day three, I decided to go skinny dipping with my room mate and a female yogi. Whilst submerged, my nether regions were stung by a particularly vindictive jelly fish. I frantically returned to shore, only to discover that my precious shorts had been claimed by the waves. After pleading with my roommate to let me borrow his trousers to return to the room, and being met by refusal and laughter, I convinced the female yogi to let me wear her Tshirt as a skirt.
I think it's safe to say that after those first three days, every person in that training group knew who Marc Hatvani was - particularly after seeing me propped up at the bar with ice cubes between my legs.
What’s the biggest challenge or issue being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? The ignorance of those that both think that boys practicing yoga is emasculating, rather than empowering. Yoga is about uniting people. It's frustrating to be met by so much derision. Times will change - and are changing.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? I would spare myself the years of self-criticism. I would replace it with kindness and understanding towards myself. I would give the knowledge I have now to myself ten years ago.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing? Looking in the mirror and realising that my reflection didn't define me. I spent the vast majority of my life using my appearance as a commodity, and as a result my self-worth was limited to the way I felt I looked. It was a challenge to look beyond my rock hard abs and chiselled features and realise that there was some work to done that couldn't be remedied by deadlifting and drinking protein shakes.
Why do you keep coming back? Yoga is like a drug I can't get enough of it! It has become a way of life for me. It sounds super-cheesy but yoga is everywhere for me, in every avenue of life. I don't keep coming back per se; I can't escape it.
What’s your favourite pose? Handstand. It is my first, my last, my everything. This has to be my favourite because it took a lot of my time everyday for 6 months to even get up, helping me challenge a lot of my inner demons along the way. I like to think I'm stronger mentally and physically because of it.
What pose do you fucking hate? I have a love/hate relationship with full wheel. My brain wants to do it, but my body doesn't want to listen. I can be in a good mood or a bad mood and still find it hard, this pose mentally, physically and emotionally challenges me every time.
Yoga is… the light, the colour, the breath, the movement. It's what happens in between waking and sleeping. It's life. It both enhances and challenges me in every way I am.
Your quote or mantra: I stole it from the great Alan Watts. "There is never anything but the present, and if one cannot live there, one cannot live anywhere."
Interviewed: November 22nd, 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.