DESIGNER . TRAVELLER . BAD TEMPERED . YOGI
What's your story? I’m a worldwide traveller. The only places I have not stepped foot on are The North and South Pole. I have visited and lived just about everywhere. Born and bred in Africa, I found myself moving around a lot in my mid-twenties: The Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia & The US. I have been back in London, on a semi-permanent basis, for 10 years now and definitely call Parsons Green, in South West London, home. The fact that I have lived on every side of the green attests to that!
How would you describe yourself? A work in progress. I have definitely come a long way but there is still more work to be done.
How would others describe you? My wife would tell you I have more OCD tendencies than I think I do. My friends would tell you that I am loyal, caring and considerate, because I notice the little things that mean a lot to people.
They would also most likely say that I can be complete arse.
How would your mother describe you? Caring, enthusiastic, dependable, independent. Mum said that she’s seen quite a noticeable shift in my way of being since I started practicing yoga. So much so, that she started practicing herself last year.
We’ve all got a few stories that we aren’t the most proud of, care to share one? I have always had a bad temper and I am not a great person to be around when it shows up. I’ve smashed up a couple of phones in moments of rage! Thankfully though, those days are few and far between now. My practice has made me realise that I can be a witness to the events around me without actually having to react to them.
What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had and why? Until a few years ago I worked as an architect, building luxury hotels and resorts around the world. It remains the job I’ve held for the longest while - and the one that is both the best and worst at the same time. I had some incredible experiences, and it provided wonderful opportunities to explore the world, but it took an immense toll on my physical and mental wellbeing. It was always a ridiculously fast-paced job and that lifestyle is not sustainable in any way.
What’s the best and worst relationship you’ve ever had? My Relationship with my dad has been the worst and the best. Growing up, he was away with the army, so my mum brought my sister and me up. It was not a great start to our relationship and as I morphed into a moody teenager things didn't get easier.
Saying that, we’ve had some great times, too. Most of those have happened more recently, as it's in the last few years that we’ve really had a chance to get to know one another properly. Last year, we hung out every day; we had some very real, authentic discussions and I learnt things about him that I’ve never had the chance to before. It was incredible. I know that it never could’ve happened prior to me practicing yoga and becoming a yoga teacher. I never would’ve taken the time.
Favorite meal? Right now, baked eggs with leftover chilli. I recently discovered this little gem in a local cafe and will be forever thankful!
Favorite drink? My take on a power-breakfast smoothie - or as I like to call it, Breakfast In A Mug: banana, peanut butter, almond milk, agave syrup, blueberries and two shots of espresso.
What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you? I was once an International Ice Hockey Referee.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? Nothing. Even though it hasn't been an easy ride getting here, here is where I am and I wouldn't change it for anything or anyone.
Any regrets? A few. Who hasn’t got some?
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? Years spent hunched over a desk, slumped on airplanes, and working crazy hours in foreign countries finally took their toll and I ended up at the physiotherapist -to fix my body- and the psychologist - to fix my mind. The physiotherapist suggested I try yoga as a preventative measure. I thought about it for a while but didn’t quite get around to it. Finally my girlfriend (now wife) convinced me to go to a class with her. After the first class my body was in shock, but I went back - again and again. I was hooked.
Do you teach? What’s that like? Yes, I teach. It’s incredible; yoga has transformed my life. I never thought about teaching but here I am, showing up to every day. I find so much joy, and so much humility, in sharing my experience and helping others transform their lives. The physical side of yoga is the gateway into the whole practice for many people and the benefits of that alone are clear to see, but yoga is so much more....
What else keeps you busy? I still like to keep a foot in the hospitality world. My wife runs her own design practice and I help her with a number of projects as well as working on a few of my own.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing? There were a few, all equally as challenging to overcome: my weight, my lack of flexibility, my hectic, unhealthy lifestyle. Years of spending far too much time flying around the world, eating terrible business class food, had taken their toll. I have my teachers (Ari & Elina Iso-Rautio, Baron Baptiste and Andy Page) to thank for getting me through those early, difficult years.
Why do you keep coming back? Yoga has changed my life. It keeps me sane and focused, and has helped me overcome so many obstacles. I truly believe it’s a way of life - and it has certainly become my way of life.
Also, the sense of community within the yoga world is unbeatable. No matter where I practice, all around the world, there is always this brilliant, inclusive sense of community.
Best yoga story? My entire yoga journey is my greatest story: the transformation of my entire life, and the incredible achievements I have accomplished since I started practicing. It’s a story I’m pretty proud of.
Most embarrassing one? I was once assisting someone in half pigeon and as I moved my hand up her spine, another person's mobile phone (which happened to be right next to me) let out a massive sigh which sounded like it came from me. To this day, that person still thinks it was me. No mobile phones in class!
What’s the biggest challenge or issue being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? Apart from being the only guy in a room full of girls (awkward), learning to listen to your body. Most guys I know all come from that same background of ignoring aches and pains; of not going to see a doctor and carrying on with everything, regardless of the pain. I have actually seen a guy with a broken ankle strap it up with duct tape so that he could finish playing an ice hockey game.
Yoga challenges us to confront that mentality; to start to listen to what our bodies are telling us.
What’s your favorite pose? Astavakrasana (Eight-Angle Pose) - it’s easier than it looks.
What pose do you fucking hate? Triangle- I don't know why, I just do!
Yoga is.... Transformation. Through practice, inquiry and meditation. I am a living, breathing example that, in that respect, this practice works...
Your quote or mantra: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” - Marianne Williamson
Interviewed: March 6th, 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.