My first blog – An introduction to the who and the how.
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Just a quick hello, who am I, where I came from and what I’ve been up to. So that’s me just there, Matt and it’s a pleasure to meet you.
Where did it all begin?
History records my birth as a reasonably unspectacular event in 1979 in the Medway Towns in Kent, UK. I was born into a working class, hard working and loving family. Shortly after I turned 11 my Dad joined the rest of the family in becoming a Christian, Mum had been so all of her life and us 3 boys, of which I’m the youngest, were taken to church every Sunday while also attending Boys Brigade. It was a good upbringing, stable and secure though financially challenging for my parents but we always had what we needed one way or another. It was most definitely a great foothold to step out from.
I left school, moved away from the Church as I think most young people do nowadays with the constant external stimulation going on, women, drink and drugs, so much more fun to be had at the weekends then spending it in a church, I guess was the feeling at the time at least. I tried college, got high and left college. Went to work to pay for the pub, for bills and for parties with weekends starting Thursday night and at times finishing Tuesday morning where I’d find myself going straight to work from a weekend of London clubbing, squat parties, illegal raves in random woods around the country and some truly amazing trips, which may have been my first real sense of connection to any sort of Godhead or greater source, something that somehow felt like home, that I’d felt along the journey so far.
As much fun as it was there was always the emptiness that followed, feeling out of place and a lack of belonging. A feeling that there was something more out there to become a part of, was it flashbacks or was it real? I didn’t know but I’d felt it all my life.
That niggling voice that just won’t shut up!
I’d remembered thinking back to when I used to sit in church reading the big bold writing above the pasters head ‘I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. No one comes to the father except through ME.’ When I look back at the words ‘I’ and ‘me’ along with texts like ‘Be still and know that I am God’, and there it was again the ‘I’ there seems to be a whole lot of ‘I’ and ‘me’ like if you want to believe in God you do all of the work…why not cut out the middle man and trust in yourself? Thats not to say God isn’t in us all but that’s a whole different blog, or several!
Over the years I started making changes, eased off the partying, changed jobs and dabbled in going to the gym to run and swim but nothing stuck and still that nagging feeling like something was missing. My jobs weren’t great, women came and women went and a lot of time was spent in pubs surrounded by people but still that feeling of isolation and separation.
The birth of my son came along and I knew something had to change, I couldn’t carry on on this path or I wouldn’t see him grow up and if I did I’d be in no fit state to do anything with him. I’d been toying with the idea of Yoga for quite a while but being ‘over weight’ and a man how out of place would I look. I knew people like Ryan Giggs were doing it but that was for football and injury purposes but something was dragging me to the gym none the less. I created the story that if I were to start Yoga I’d need to be slim at least before walking into any class because everyone who does Yoga is slim…right?
One day I decided to avoid the shocking experience of running in front of a mirror, honestly it was like a horrifyingly bad trailer for BayWatch, and found another treadmill where I was able to look out of the window and it was on this occasion I saw someone I knew, someone who I thought was living in Dubai but it was her alright! The next time I was down the local I saw her brother who told me she’s a Yoga teacher! Now what are the chances, could this be a break, a way in? For some reason it felt a little easier knowing that I not only knew someone there but she was the teacher as well! So of course I waited another month to pluck up the courage to step through the door, even putting my hand on the handle several times only to bottle it and walk away but the seed had been planted and one day I ventured out to the astroturf pitch on a hot October evening in 2014 to my first Yoga class.
I was probably a bit annoying to start, fear, awkwardness call it what you will but some of the things Alex was asking us to do I just laughed, loudly, but I tried and I observed and noticed it wasn’t at all like I’d imagined, oh what we imagine eh! How different real life is to our anxiety and fear. Everyone was welcoming, it was mixed level, mixed gender, mixed body type just nice free and open. You do what you can do and enjoy the feeling of being free to explore and play. It doesn’t have to be serious, you don’t have to do everything or anything for that matter, just be.
I went for physicality, which of course improved, but it was the side effects that got me. Greater confidence, greater awareness, the fear and anxiety were slipping away, that sense of isolation started to go I began to feel connected and at ease in myself. My eating habits began to change (still on that journey mind) but I was aware of what I was putting in and how it made me feel, energy levels went up and a new desire and hunger for life was found. I well and truly had the bug!
After a big break up I went hell for leather for 18 months practicing twice a day, one home practice and a group class, 6-7 times a week, mixing up teachers, reading literature trying to learn as much as I could. It came home with me, it walked off my mat with me into every day life, work prospects improved moving from maintenance rolls to supervisory and onto to management and of course more money came in as a result. It was like a weight had truly been lifted from my shoulders.
A couple of teachers had mentioned teaching to me, ‘when are you doing your training, blah blah blah’. No way! Many a time I’ve stood up in front of even a handful of people to talk and had a complete seizure, dry mouth, throat locks up, the sweats, can barely breathe! No way am I standing up and teaching a class with all attention on me! Anyway who am I to tell anyone what to do? Why would anyone want to listen to me?
I attending, under duress, a 50hr foundation yoga course and at one point 3 of us had to stand up to teach a short flow starting with classical Surya Namaskar. We all stood up and walked to the top of the class and against all my best efforts I was standing at the front all eyes on me when the teacher said, ‘and now we Yoga’. I taught the flow with ease, no stutters, no dryness and zero fear…it simply flowed as Yoga does.
Then I woke up in India!
Haha, it was about a year later I guess, I’m still not entirely sure how it happened but there I was on a 300hr 5 week intensive in Mysuru, the home of Ashtanga Yoga. Just to iterate the point of not quite knowing how I got there when I arrived at Bangaluru airport I had no way of getting to Mysuru and once I got there I had nowhere to stay for the 3 days before the course started! I wasn’t well travelled, it was the furthest away from home I’d ever been, it was the longest I’d have been away from home in my life and I was totally on my own! I totally loved it! The moment I was on the bus I felt completely at home!
One of my teachers, Kate Ashley, was, at the time, transitioning from teaching to teacher training and was surrendering classes so while I was out in India I received the news that once I returned home I was to have a class just 4 days after landing! There really was nowhere to run or to hide! It turned out to be the best thing for me, it gave me no time to rest on my laurels or let the anxiety, doubt silly monkey mind get the better of me and talk myself out of teaching. The ‘who am I’ story, the ‘I’m not good enough’ story, the ‘I don’t have time’ story, they do go on don’t they those damn monkeys in the mind!
I was home, I was teaching and I apologise now to the students in my first few months of teaching as, man, it was rapid! Nerves were rushing through me! It was more like circuit training. No sooner were they thrown into a pose were they dragged out of it, it was intense I’m not going to lie but it flowed. One thing I discovered is the only way to truly learn anything is to do, so do is what I did and I continue to do. I continue to teach amazing people who continue to teach me so much each and every day and for that I am eternally grateful. I am grateful that that little voice in my head kept plugging away at me until I listened and I got up and I did!
Maybe next time I’ll share a little about that voice, about the philosophy and how science is catching up after thousands of years to what these ancient teachings, not just Indian culture but many others too, have to offer and how that ties into the ‘I’ of which I was referring to earlier…
But for now thanks so much for your time, it may not be real but I know it’s precious and for that I am grateful you spent it with me.