When my grandfather first taught me breathing techniques and simple postures, I didn’t realise it would lead to a life dedicated to yoga practice and teaching. Nor did I realise he was following the Indian oral tradition, and imparting wisdom that goes back 7000 years to a unitary concept of life.
The ancients conceived the physical and non-physical realms as different constituents of one universe, a pattern that is reflected in each person having physical and non-physical constituents, physical and psychological, or often called body, mind, and spirit. Ancient yogic practices that bring into balance physical and non-physical parts are embedded in Indian history and culture, and woven into everyday life, which I took for granted growing up.
When I came to England at the age of 18 and found out that yoga didn’t exist here, it was a bit of a culture shock. I came to study engineering, a profession highly respected by my family, and although I worked in engineering for a while, yoga was always a much stronger calling. There was nowhere and no one I could go to, so I practiced alone, experimenting, and developing disciplines, especially breathing, with increasingly beneficial effects that intrigued me.
In the Indian tradition, breathing techniques with awareness train the mind. Practice increasingly clarifies and purifies the mind, ultimately leading to self-awareness. In a state of awareness, a person can be conscious of what they are thinking as well as be aware of their feelings, emotions, etc.
I had experienced this psychological state first-hand through my close relationship with my grandfather, who was a living example of these principles in practice, and also through my own practise, but I was intrigued to know more about the incredible physical benefits I was feeling. So, I set off on a journey to find out what the latest scientific and medical knowledge could tell me about ancient yoga disciplines.
This is a never-ending journey, but back in the 1980s biology, anatomy and physiology were all new to me and although by then I could see yoga being advertised, I was so absorbed in learning that it took me by surprise when an acquaintance suggested I should apply for a position as a yoga teacher. With no experience of teaching – or expectations, I went along to the interview and was even more surprised when I was offered a job I never thought of doing. And yet teaching came so naturally, from the very first session I knew it was a job I was meant to be doing.
For the past 30 years, teaching has always been more than a job. In countless public classes and private sessions, I’ve had the privilege of teaching people from all walks of life, often dealing with difficult issues. It is a great joy to guide ‘students’ who want to be teachers themselves and I cherish all the positive results people experience because yoga feels like a gift that guides my way of life, and teaching is a key aspect because knowledge has no value unless it is shared.
To share the knowledge I have progressively incorporated into practice, I have created for clients a unique programme based on ancient and original ideas. There is a strong focus on yogic first principles of bringing together and balancing our physical and non-physical aspects, beginning with breath awareness and control through self-reflection, mental clarity, and self-awareness.
At the same time, I introduce complementary postures and movements to maximise energy flows, especially of lymphatic fluids, which boosts the immune system and the cerebral-spinal fluid for maintaining organ health including the brain. The effects of balancing are often immediate, so clients feel calmer and more centred and may, for example, experience pain reduction. Longer-term effects are sustained higher levels of physical and mental fitness. When clients tell me about the positive difference yoga is making in their lives, yoga feels so rewarding, like the gift that keeps giving.
“In any problem of health, prime consideration must be given to the breath. Because breath is the very root of our existence.”