Who is Yoga For?

These days, Yoga is for everyone. In the 1920s and 30s, certain great Indian teachers, including Prof T Krishnamacharya, decided they could and should teach people of all social classes, including women and even foreigners. It has largely been through their students, who like Krishnamacharya’s son TKV Desikachar became great teachers themselves, that Yoga has spread throughout the world. Mr Desikachar taught both the very fit and the unwell, the old as well as the young, anyone he could help through Yoga. My role is to spread the yoga that Mr Desikachar bequeathed to us, to spread it to everyone..

Where Do I Fit In?

I have been practising Yoga for over 40 years and teaching for neary 40 years. My first qualification in 1986 was a Teacher’s Diploma from the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) www.bwy.org.uk, the largest Yoga organisation in Great Britain. From 1987-90, I underwent further training with Sri Desikachar’s then representative in the UK, Paul Harvey, and ran a number of his ‘Stage One’ introductory courses for keen students. I went on to run Foundation Courses for BWY, meanwhile training and becoming certified with BWY as a DCT (Teacher Trainer) in 2007. During this time, I continued to study with Sri Desikachar and other senior KYM teachers on many occasions, including four courses of continued professional development at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram www.kym.org. Between 2007 to 2014, I ran two BWY Teacher’s Diploma courses, the second with a provisional DCT, Fiona Wells. In 2011, following recommendation by my mentor, Gillian Lloyd, and stringent examination, I was certified by Sri Desikachar as a Teacher-Trainer. I was the BWY representative on the teaching faculty at the European Yoga Union Congress in Switzerland in 2010. I taught Pranayama at the 2017 World Yoga Festival and have been invited back to teach at the 2018, 2019 and 2021 World Festivals. I continue to work within the Society of Yoga Practitioners www.tsyp.org, whose aim is to offer teaching, therapy and training in the lineage of T.Krishnamacharya and his son, T.K.V.Desikachar, throughout the U.K. In 2023, I was elected to serve for three years as Chair of BCYT.

Why Two Birds?

The teachings of Yoga reveal that we have a dual nature. An ancient story likens this to two birds in a tree. At most times, we experience ourselves as a person, subject to the ups and downs of life. In the story, this is the lower bird, that tastes the sweet and bitter fruits of this embodied life. Yet it is possible, like an identical bird perched in the same tree, to also look down on this ‘suffering self’ with understanding and compassion. The twin aims of Yoga practice are to reduce our suffering and to increase our understanding.

My Current Focus

Learning to work with our breath is pivotal to these aims and, within our tradition, my main expertise is Breathwork and Pranayama. These practices, involving the breath and subtle locks and points of concentration in the body, have the effect of stilling the mind and bringing it into the quiet state necessary for meditation. They are also reputed to ensure optimum health. This is why I wrote ‘Breath for Health’ (O Books, December 2023) with the aim of bringing these beneficial practices to a much wider readership. There is much that is widely understood about the breath, pranayama and yoga inversions and how best to work with these practices and I continue with my study, practice and research. My article ‘Headstand Day by Day’ was published in the Spring 2011 edition of BWY’s journal, Spectrum. In this research, I was much aided by my expertise in Physics (I am a Fellow of the UK Institute of Physics) and by consultations with a researcher at Imperial College, London, Emeritus Professor Kim Parker.

The picture shows me in 2016 beside the Bay of Bengal; the sea behind me represents the great ocean of truth that is to be found in Yoga.