Yoga practice feels good. Life is more difficult without yoga, I have found... This is why I do yoga.
I find that yoga is better than anything else I am aware of to support me through life’s difficulties. With yoga I feel I am able to cope better with the mental, physical and emotional suffering that life brings. Yoga gives me some valuable distance from my problems: Yoga affords a more accurate perspective on things. I believe that when I practice yoga I see reality more clearly. My mind appears to be far more stable with yoga practice, energies are maintained steadier, at higher levels of functioning. My efforts are conserved for what I consider to be more important. I am less distracted. I am much more likely to be healthy, happy and much more efficient in what I do. I feel I set off in the right direction after my yoga practice. On the good foot! I think I tend to make much better life choices and I find that am better at executing when I practice yoga regularly. I would like to help others to share the benefits of regular yoga practice too.
I have studied yoga since 1990, and began teaching in 1998. I was taught to meditate by my uncle Edwin Coppard from the age of five. I did many martial arts, some gymnastics and sports as I grew up. I read Philosophy (PPE) at Oriel College Oxford, and then went on to train and work professionally as a contemporary dancer. The Philosophy training I received has been invaluable to understanding yoga as a philosophy, and as psychology.
I spontaneously started "yoga": -doing a routine of daily stretching and breathing to repair the damage of high impact martial arts and dance training, followed by meditation. This self discovery of yoga went on for more than ten years. In 1993 I began following practices from B.K.S. Iyengar's seminal book "Light on Yoga", and in 1994 I began attending yoga classes.
I studied with many wonderful teachers. As an artist and dancer, I tried to learn everything! From Capoeira to Kalarippayattu! As many dance styles and martial arts techniques as possible! My first yoga teachers were primarily from the lineage taught by Vanda Scaravelli and Mary Stewart (who helped set up the first Iyengar Center in London). My first teacher was Giovanni Felicioni, who encouraged me to start teaching in 1998. At this time my main focus was contemporary dance.
Steadily, yoga became my main practice. Curious to study some popular "styles" of yoga, I took teacher trainings in Dynamic yoga (a variant of Ashtanga Vinyasa) with Godfrey Devereux and Sivananda yoga with Nirayni. Learning more of yoga, I wanted to get closer access to the teachings of the great Yogi T. Krishnamacharya, and of his son T.K.V Desikachar. At the time called "Viniyoga": I met my wife and it happened that she was studying with one of Desikachar's student's students. So I too began to study with my wife's teacher Sylviane Gianina, for six years until she moved to France in 2008.
I have attended a great many workshops and classes: eg. with T.K.V Desikachar, his son Kaustaub, Richard Freeman, Tias Little... not to mention martial arts masters, and dancers and choreographers. But I am happy to have now settled with a system of teachings. These brilliant teachings are of great sophistication, richness, rigour and beauty, and I believe they originate with Krishnamacharya. They now come to me via T.K.V. Desikachar, through his student Paul Harvey, who is my teacher. Particular ideas which I might share with my students will often spring from a personal event. Some originate in an experience of the martial arts or something from an experience of contemporary dance. However, I find that everything I teach as yoga is informed by and filtered through what I understand as the system yoga as taught by Krishnamacharya. (That is what I understand it to be, based on what I have learned from Paul Harvey and many others who are trained extensively in this rich tradition.)
Doing something to perfection requires that we enter a state of yoga. One classical definition of yoga is "skillfulness in actions" -Bhagavad Gita.
Many excellent teachers of other subjects have helped me enormously: for example in martial arts and dance, particularly Charles Renault, (a choreographer and exponant of Pentjak Silat); the brilliant staff at the Rambert School; and not least school teachers and university dons.
Yoga is essentially for the mind. Modern psychotherapy is a great interest and addition to yoga and of great interest to me: and this is a subject I am studying. The anciet psychotherapy that is yoga has lifted me into healthier, happier states of mind. At times I suffered from sadness and deep depressions. I lived with painful beliefs about the world, with misconceptions concerning my own nature, my relationships, and the nature of others. I have felt lost, broken, angry, and insecure at times. I am not bothered by depression these days. I can appreciate depression as something of value. Sadness is not so bad! It has a special beauty and holds a vital place. Perhaps it is like the colours grey and black. We are diminished without these. Also, suffering is what brings most people to yoga, and suffering was certainly my primary motivation to study yoga. Yoga practice has always made me feel better! I have never done a yoga practice and felt worse afterwards. I cannot say this of any other activity!
I continue to study yoga in it's various guises: recently by pursuing knowledge of healing, nutrition, and particularly Ayurveda. My neighbours and friends turned out to be Ayurvedic practitioners, and have set up the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association. I have followed their excellent advice for some years, and that of their guru, Dr. Pankash Naram. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga. They share the same goals, but Ayurveda uses herbs, foods and lifestyle changes as the primary method. Yoga and Ayurveda are excellent compliments to one another.
I still love to dance and to practice martial arts, especially Tai-Chi. I was taught by a wonderful teacher Ting Thong Nouygen. An amazing person, a Buddhist monk and Chinese Traditional Medicine practitioner. I've engaged at times in Buddhist practice and practised Christian Meditation with some seriousness. I was treated with great generosity and kindness by Father Lawrence Freemen and the community at the London Centre for Christian meditation. I enjoyed living with them for a time and followed their practices. I was enriched, educated and greatly supported there. I revere and respect the authentic teachings of all religions. I practice yoga daily and this includes asana, meditation and always pranayama.
I aspire to be in association with the teachings and in the presence of authentic gurus and amazing spirits like H.H. the Dalai Lama. He made a great impression on me. Other influences are Sri Ramana Maharshi and Krishnamurti, who I did not have the pleasure of meeting. Fr. Laurence Freeman, Sri Muji, and Bernado (Satyananda) have been indispensable guides, supports, and a great inspiration. There are no words to express my debt and gratitude. They have helped me to see that the self is awareness. Integrating this truth I believe to be a transcendent goal of yoga. These teachings on the self and methods of transcendence (sometimes labelled "Advaita") are the very heart of my life and my approach to yoga.
I feel a most heartfelt gratitude, a joyful thanks to these people: to all my teachers friends, family, and especially my wife Ruth and our two children.
Please contact Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org