COFFEE DRINKER . TATTOO ENTHUSIAST . MOTORCYCLE COLLECTOR . YOGI
What's your story? Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. After 10 years in India and south-east Asia, I now call The Island of the Gods -Bali- home. As a teenager I studied Psychology at university. They were the most boring years of my life. I knew there was better way for me to serve my purpose. I just needed to find it. So, naturally, I went to India and I basically never came home.
How would you describe yourself? Intense, passionate, difficult, confident, mildly arrogant, purpose-driven, capable, sunny and infectiously positive - when I'm in a good mood... When I'm not: some kind of raging dinosaur with sharp teeth and thumbs. And that's why I practice yoga.
How would your mother describe you? My Mum was always incapable of seeing anything but love. So she thought I was the bee's knees. She was my best friend. She passed away. Cancer. I miss her like crazy, but i know she's still around, keeping an eye on me, and loving me through her heart shaped glasses, from out there somewhere. I feel her.
Ever done anything you're not proud of? Shit. A lot. As i said, I'm a creature driven by purpose; like a bull to a red flag. My red flag is yoga. This seems an inherently positive purpose but I've often lost sight of the necessity to also nourish my personal relationships. I've broken a lot of hearts and hurt a lot of people with my single-mindedness. It's never intentional, but that's hardly the point. It's easy to feel like focus and drive are ever-admirable expressions of passion; the reality is that we are here to take care of each other and act in ways that are harmonious for all... and i don't always do that. I'm not proud of that.
What's your favourite drink? Coffee and red wine. I can't tell you if I actually like these things or if I'm just rebelling against the bullshit stereotypes of what it means to be spiritual and yogic. Actually, that's a lie. I fucking love coffee and red wine. Guilty.
What's your favourite food? Pasta. I think inside i really want to be Italian - then all my yelling and acting over the top would be a cultural thing!
Tell us a fact that other people don't know about you. Yesterday i spent four hours teaching myself how to play 'Halo' by Beyonce on the guitar. And I gotta say, I pretty much nailed it.
If you had your time again would you change anything? No. Life is amazing, even the imperfections. Did you know that even the Sri Yantra has imperfections? There are several places where the lines of the interlacing triangles don't perfectly intersect. If the Sri Yantra can exist as the symbol of cosmic unity and still have flaws, then I can accept life exactly as it is without needing to fix it.
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? I first found yoga through the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda's 'Self Realization Fellowship'. After reading Yogananda's autobiography as a kid, I signed up for his Kriya yoga correspondence course that came by mail (actual mail!) every 2 weeks. The experiences that I had doing the exercises really shook my sense of reality and awakened me to the possibility that there was a LOT more going on that what I'd been told. I remember practicing the pranic charging exercises in my garden and blacking out completely. I woke up in the bushes, 20 meters from where I'd started, blown backwards by some invisible force!
After several years of these home practices (and many wild, inexplicable moments like that one) I packed my bags, frustrated by the sterile approach of western psychology, and went looking for answers.
Do you teach? Tell us about it. I'm currently building a space to accommodate the continuation of this dedicated practice. THE PRACTICE - BALI is a center where wholehearted yogis can come and experience teachings from the Kriya lineage and be trained to share it if they have the calling to do so. Don't panic, there will be daily Vinyasa practice and probably Biggie Smalls banging on the stereo from time to time! I like the new-school ways too. But the heart of this practice is timeless; it's about honouring the past and, above all, upholding the integrity of Yoga as we move forward.
Have you faced many challenges along the way? Honestly, choosing this path has meant that I have had to sacrifice being close to my family. I put on a brave face but it's very challenging, and always has been. Now that my dad is getting older and my nieces are growing up, I find my thoughts drifting to them a lot, and its usually with a tinge of sadness in my heart.
Other than that... being a stiff, white male has been pretty challenging! Hahaha! And I'm not talking about my hamstrings! I try to get to every backbends workshop on Bali - I call it 'ego management'. My mantra is: "bridge pose is beautiful, bridge pose is beautiful...".
Most embarrassing yoga moment? During the Kriya yoga initiation with Swami Shankarananda, my lungi was apparently not tied to his satisfaction - that, or he could see i had a big ego! So, in front of a temple full of initiates and teachers, surrounded by paintings and statues of the great masters, I was personally summoned to the stage, undressed down to my underwear and then redressed properly. I felt like a four-year-old kid on the first day of school with his trousers on backwards. Very humbling! Which, of course, was perfect. I'll never forget that!
Favourite poses? These days I love the seated stuff: half-bound twists, lotus work, stuff like that. I burned myself out on arm balances and vinyasas over the last fifteen years. I like going slower and deeper these days, using asana to work towards energetic states. Having said that, my partner and I still solve a lot of our disputes through handstand competitions! She's a bit of a bad-ass yogini, so it's usually a pretty good show.
Yoga is: the greatest way to refine my authenticity, to discover who I am, and to reveal all of my triggers, while simultaneously giving me the tools required to deal with them. For me it is the ultimate battleground, not a place for the weak of heart; its far too confronting for that.
Your mantra? My favorite Sutra reads: "for those who practice wholeheartedly, realisation is near". I believe Yoga is for the wholehearted - the fearless of heart.
Interviewed: April, 2015.
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.