Yoga… Something for everyone
More and more people are taking up yoga to enjoy the physical benefits and for so much more (both during times of illness and health). Connecting with Matt Julian (who practices and teaches yoga around the world) gave us an even deeper insight and understanding as to what is possible with yoga practice…
It was just recently we reconnected with Matt (having worked together many years ago in the fitness industry) to discover he had made a significant change… moving from his management role in one of the biggest and busiest gyms in London, to spending more time refining his practice and teaching his love and passion… yoga. We felt there was no greater role model than someone like Matt – who walks the talk and enjoys the fruits of his commitment.
Thanks Matt for sharing your wisdom around this sacred practice… We look forward to hearing more about where you are heading in the future and what you have to offer others…
|Your Name||Matt Julian|
|City of Residence||London, England|
|Occupation or Experience||Yoga teacher|
|A favourite quote||‘Breathe as if your life depends on it. It does. Move as if your life depends on it. It does.Practice yoga as if your life depends on it. It does.’Mark Whitwell|
How did you get started with yoga and what has inspired you to continue?
I realized the power of yoga and decided to dive deeper into my practice many years ago, when I was both the General Manager and Head of Fitness at the same time of one of London’s biggest and busiest Health Clubs. Funnily enough (or maybe it was the universe at play?) it was one of our yoga teachers who inspired me to dive deeper into my practice… but it was not inspiration in the usual way… the teacher and I had an argument over something trivial that soon turned into a yelling match, and it was then I realized that I wasn’t coping with the stress of doing two big jobs at once, and something had to be done. Something made me go home and do some yoga, and I instantly felt better – calmer, more at peace.
Until then yoga was something I only dabbled in as a means of stretching and moving, but this time I realized there was a lot more to it… so I got up the next morning and did some more. As I continued practicing I felt more grounded, more spacious, and more free!
My regular practice made such a profound difference to my life that I ended up becoming a teacher, and I have been teaching classes and private sessions for the past six years in London, at festivals around the UK, and on retreats internationally.
I can’t imagine my life now without my yoga practice – which in addition to the physical practice (asana) also includes meditation and pranayama (working with the breath). These practices help breath through the layers and mind ‘stuff’ that can prevent us from connecting with our true self!
What type of yoga do you practice and what other types are there?
I primarily teach and practice a broad category of yoga known as Vinyasa Flow. ‘Vinyasa’ means to link with breath, and it is this connection of the breath with the flowing movement that I believe makes this style of yoga so beneficial. If the mind is focused on the breath, and the breath is linked with the movement, then this practice encourages the complete union of mind, body, and even spirit! During these moments the nagging worries and stresses that tend to dominate our thinking patterns simply fall away…
The postures (asana) have their roots in Ashtanga yoga, and my teachers were also trained in Iyengar and Anusara lineages, so there are elements of these traditions within my teaching and practice too.
There are many styles and lineages of yoga, and all of them vary in their approach to asana (the physical postures), pranayama (breath), and meditation, but the thing they all have in common is their connection to the present moment, and to the wisdom we all have within.
The most important thing is to find a style that feels right and resonates deeply within!
How do you maintain and grow your knowledge and expertise in yoga?
Yoga is such a vast field, and even though the practice of yoga is thousands of years old, it has evolved and continues to do so to respond to the demands of the modern world, so we are always learning, always students!
I have studied and continue to study with my teachers in London, Canada, Bali and Iceland… and I now make my way back home to Adelaide to continue teaching, practicing and learning.
The most learning however happens during our own practice, when everything else is shut out, and the mind takes a break from the usual stream of thoughts – that’s when we tap into our true wisdom!
How has yoga impacted on your wellbeing and life in general?
Yoga has had a profound impact on my life – I think mostly it creates space – in body and in mind.
Physically my body is so much more open and free – I was a typical guy who played sport and lifted weights, so I had the usual tight and weak spots, and a number of injuries to go with them. Now I feel so much lighter and freer with a much greater range of movement.
As for the mind, meditation and the mindful nature of yoga creates periods of stillness in the mind and freedom from the usual continuous flow of thoughts.
How would you recommend someone get started with yoga and at what age do they start?
There is an old Chinese proverb, ‘the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’
And so it is with yoga, regardless of how old you are, if you haven’t already started, the best time to start is today!
Usually in the West when we think of yoga, we think of the physical practice – the asana – and the way most of us access yoga is through a class, but it doesn’t have to be so. Sitting still and focusing on the breath moving through the body is practicing yoga. Moving and stretching the body mindfully is practicing yoga. At some stage though, having a teacher show the proper technique for the postures, for breathing, and for meditation will be beneficial, and studios and teachers usually offer beginner’s classes or sessions.
The best thing to do is find a teacher or studio, or a quiet place on your own, and just begin!
Is yoga suitable for those with physical challenges, illness or low fitness levels?
Not only is it suitable, but it can be hugely beneficial and is recommended! There is much evidence of the positive impact a regular yoga practice can have on those with illness, including cancer, and there are so many styles of yoga that there is a suitable approach for all levels of physical challenges and fitness levels.
Do you have an inspirational story / message throughout your own personal travels?
The world is filled with inspirational stories on how yoga has healed and changed lives, in a physical and in a deeper sense.
The message I always come back to and am inspired by is the following quote by Mark Whitwell (a very wise yogi!) – those who have practiced in a class with me have heard me use this repeatedly…
‘Breathe as if your life depends on it. It does.
Move as if your life depends on it. It does.
Practice yoga as if your life depends on it. It does.’
The life of health and vitality I want to lead does depend on breathing, moving, and practicing mindfully.