Meet Adam and Richard, two of our loyal and dedicated yogi’s who took some time to chat to us after a mid-morning class with Senior Yoga Teacher Angela Sykes. We learnt more about their yoga journeys, their experience as men who practice yoga, and the impact that this practice has had on their lives.

How long have you been practicing yoga, and was yoga a part of your life before joining Yoga Kula?

Adam: Only for a few months now.  In the past I had been to one/two yoga classes many years ago but it has never been a consistent part of my life, like it is now.  I first started coming to Kula in September 2019, whilst going through quite a stressful period in my life.  Now I have a yoga mat at home and I use it regularly.

Richard: Well… I started my yoga journey 20 years ago, when I was aged 20 (I’ll let you do the maths!). I used to train and compete in Taekwondo at university, so yoga really helped with strength / flexibility, and mindset.

Which classes do you attend – and why?

Adam: My favourite classes to attend are: yin, hatha and hot yoga.  I first developed a liking for yin yoga in Amanda’s classes.  I liked how postures were held for prolonged periods of time, sometimes with significant discomfort.  After deciding that you’re going to stick with the discomfort and breathe through it, it becomes quite liberating and empowering.  I often don’t think I can stick with it but then a few minutes later I realise I could and I love that feeling.  Hatha for similar reasons, there’s more time to get into a posture and really feel it, more so than the more flowing types of yoga.

Richard: I attend Angela’s Hatha class on Wednesday mornings. After a long break from practising Yoga I feel it’s a great reintroduction. I find the gentle physical postures, breathing focus and the mindful nature of the class a nice balance, which seems to be just right, for me.

What first attracted you to practicing yoga?

A: I was going through a really tough time in my personal life with work stresses and a family bereavement, so I was looking for a little escape and some spiritual calm.  I definitely got both, and much more!

R: Initially… aching muscles and the need to stretch them I guess!

What do you think is the biggest misconception men have about taking a yoga class? Do you feel we’ve changed this at Yoga Kula?

A: I have been surprised by the all-round physical-psychological approach that is taken by many teachers at Kula.  It seems that classes are not just about your physical body but your mind-set in tackling everyday problems in life too.  This has been a major learning point for me.

R: That it’s all about getting into extreme and uncomfortable positions… which I find it’s actually the opposite!  I can say that Yoga Kula has definitely challenged and changed that point of view.

Flow + Breathe

What impact do you feel your yoga practice has had on your life?

A: Empowerment.  Those great feelings that empower you on the mat (sticking with a deep and uncomfortable yin pose) have helped build my confidence off the mat too.  It shows you that you can bear uncomfortable situations elsewhere, even if part of you thought you couldn’t. My flexibility and balance is better than it ever has been.  I’ve done martial arts all my life but never been so supple as I am now after practising yoga for a few months.  This makes me physically more capable, mentally more at ease, and I’m sure is improving my progression in other aspects of life, and then the connection with my own feelings.  Many men are probably similar to me, but I sometimes struggle to connect with my feelings and succumb to thought instead.  Yoga has been great in tackling this.  It has given me greater awareness of physical sensations inside my own body, and this is powerful because I think physical sensations are often linked to our underlying psychological issues.

R: Let’s just say it’s positively impacted me a physical level and I’ve never left a yoga class in a bad mood!

What advice would you give to other men considering starting their yoga journey?

A: If you want to be stronger, more supple, happier, more authentic to yourself, more relaxed then get started as soon as possible! It’s definitely a practice more men need in their lives.

R: Try a few different classes and types of yoga to get a balance (excuse the pun!) and see which ones you like best.

How do you spend your time off the yoga mat?

A: I spend lots of time on another type of mat: the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu mat.  BJJ can leave you with tight hips and shoulders due to the flexing of the core that is inherent in many of the techniques.  Yoga is a fantastic counter-balance to this, for example up dog, cobra, superman and heart/chest opening moves.  I feel more physically well-balanced with yoga in my life, rather than becoming tense and tight in certain areas.  I also like bouldering, running and play guitar.  Yoga has honestly enhanced all of these other aspects of my life in ways I didn’t expect.  It’s interesting what you can achieve when you feel more and you’re at ease.

R: Well for some reason I seem to be attracted to physical activities which involve wearing some kind of head/ body protection and/ or a helmet! I also like reading books, watching films, salsa dancing and learning to play the piano, so that balances things out a bit.

How was your class with Angela on Wednesday morning? You’re both regulars at this class, and we’d love to share your experience with our community!

A: Angela’s classes are always great, she’s a very skilled teacher and manages to communicate the nature of each posture clearly.  I always feel that I understand what I’m doing a little bit more after her classes.  What I also quite like about Angela’s classes is how she explains the anatomy of each pose, as human anatomy is one of my interests!

R: Angela’s class was really enjoyable. There was quiet relaxation, purposeful movement, and also some nice incense and music. I always leave feeling happy!

What would your dream yoga class involve?

A: My dream class would involve lots of deep/uncomfortable postures held for longer periods of time with a nice Shavasana and relaxing music/scents to wrap things up.  Then the obligatory chocolate and tea!

R:  Some mobility exercises, deep stretches, balance work a mindfulness exercise, and some relaxation.

If you could sum up your experience at Yoga Kula in 3 words, what would they be?

A: Calming, empowering, challenging.

R: Authentic Welcoming Experience