Hometown:  LONDON, UK
Current town:  LONDON, UK & MIAMI, FL

Yoga practice style:  Yoga (one style and no style!), Budokon & Yogic Arts
Facebook:  Ryan CM

What's your story?  I was born and raised in London - in Tottenham, around the time of the first Tottenham riots. I grew up in an area known for crime and drugs - generally a rough neighbourhood. The family put me and my brother into Martial arts at the age of 6 years old, I loved it then and I still do! At a young age we travelled to the Caribbean and the States to visit family, which I think opened my eyes to the possibilities we all have in our lives. I was a big dreamer and I still am! I was called cheeky (I was just very honest), but at the same time a well-mannered young man, modelling myself off Michael J Fox, and Van Damme!!  I got involved in as many sports as i could: football, tennis, badminton, swimming, BMX, skateboarding, snooker - and loved dance and drama. I was very physical and found it hard to study most of the time! I was also in a Rap group and then an RnB duo.

As a teenager I gave up the martial arts for a while to pursue the night life scene and everything that it seemed to offer through not-so-sober eyes! I managed to get caught up with a crowd that ultimately could only have a pretty narrow outcome. I had many jobs including being a lifeguard, i started limousine company and was a barman in Soho… but I knew deep down I’d only ever be happy in the physical and performing arts. 16 years ago I returned to martial arts, found yoga, and have been enjoying the ride ever since: I now spend my time doing yoga, martial arts and private fitness training around London - and once or twice a year in Los Angeles. I also run retreats and teacher trainings globally. 

How would you describe yourself?  Lion- lazy, eagle- eyes and heart, bull-ish temper, wolf - love and universal connection, chimpanzee - youthful living ! 
Artist, stargazer, father, love warrior…human - for now! 

How would others describe you?  I don’t know! Depending on who you ask I might be angry, super-polite, aggressive, funny, quiet, extrovert, introvert, hot stuff, not my type, huge biceps, super skinny, old soul, child… They could all be right!!

How would your mother describe you?  I asked her, she said ‘determined, focused’… clearly she was saying what she thought might be the ‘right’ answer! 
But she has said to me before ‘I knew you would be the one to give me trouble and a headache’!  And I have heard her say to her friends, ‘the middle son, he does the Martial arts, the Yoga thingy, you know’!

What’s the best job you’ve ever had?  Being a lifeguard was simultaneously the best and worst job. Standing tall, chest high on the poolside to guard another human life, diving in and being the hero to make the rescue…. but then once you were dry it was all emptying bins, checking toilets and sweeping floors!! 

What’s your favourite meal?  I love too many types of food! Dim Sum is one of my favourites though. I love the variety, eating with chopsticks makes me happy and the social setting is perfect for sharing and catching up with friends. 

And your favourite drink?  Craft beers, I think I was an old man at some stage in history. I love drinking from an old traditional British tankard beer glass!
Though at present, ironically, my favourite light beer is Kirin Ichiban.

As always though, we mustn't forget the importance of a cup of Tea and Cake & Custard!!

What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you?  I was offered a part on CSI Miami but turned it down to be in London for the birth of my daughter. 

If you could do it all again, what would you change?  I would change all the times I felt a gut feeling or sense and went with the opposite of that internal pull! 

Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it?  I began to notice Yoga after a few years of training in Qi Gong and Tai Chi. I have always been interested in the maximum potential of the human body and initially I was intrigued by the control I saw Yoga teachers embody in their movements - floating transitions, arm balances, handstands. I thought to myself, “I want that control!”

 As I ventured into Yoga to learn my fancy physical moves, I noticed straight away the similarities in yogic and martial arts philosophies - and realised there was also so much to learn there. It helped still my mind, and although I feel this with Qi gong, Yoga makes my body feel healed and nurtured in a unique way.

Early on in my Yoga studies, I met Cameron Shayne, the celebrity personal trainer. We spoke, ate pizza and sparred. Next thing, I was invited to live in Los Angeles to train and teach Budokon / Ashtanga / Iyengar Yoga. This was an incredibly positive time in my life - it helped me make the transition away from certain groups and habits that were dragging me back, and opened me up to meet so many like-minded people. As a younger man I had started to wonder if like-minded people existed anymore.

How do you like teaching?  For me teaching Yoga is a huge privilege and honour. It can be tremendous fun and can be done with a light heart, of course, but I do view it as a way to pass on something deeply special in this universe and I enjoy that immensely. Ive been teaching now for 10 years and so much has changed for me over that time. I’ve learned to have patience and compassion with each person in front of me. 

I have traveled worldwide teaching Yoga and Martial arts and still do that today, but I also remain a student in these practices. I'll always take the time to return to my own training in the ways I did as a youngster - with a beginner's mind. 

What was the biggest challenge when you first started?   Self-belief; I doubted that I should be someone who should teach such an art, even after years of study. 

Why do you keep coming back?  For me, in Yoga or Martial arts there is no coming back...there is do or don’t. This practice is life, it is fundamental to me - to us - being the best people we can be, and is key to me being someone of service to the world.

What’s the biggest challenge or issue being a guy who teaches/practices yoga?  As a teacher, I've come up against many of the stereotypical challenges, such as; ‘you’re a guy, you can’t teach Yoga’ ; ‘you don’t look like a Yogi’  -that kinda thing. I have actually had people assume a few times that the pretty girl with the tight pants next to me was my teacher when in fact they had been my student!

So often the media portrays an image that a strong man should be aggressive, moody, have massive muscles, treat others like crap and so many more damaging images. Today in London you see stifled young men (and women), acting tough, with bad posture, unable to smile or talk openly because they think it makes them weak.  This needs to change. Yoga and Martial arts make a stronger, more aware, open and happy human! We must hold on to the core values but perhaps with a new image and portrayal we can reach and express the benefits to all men and women.

What’s your favourite pose?  Revolved Cresent Lunge

What pose do you fucking hate?  Full Lotus    

Yoga is… Toughness, Compassion, Unity and Awakening

Your quote or mantra:  Eat desert and never grow old!


Interviewed: March 6th, 2015

Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.