interviewed by Calum Donoghue, 3 March 2015
A new breed of men are discovering the benefits of more physically challenging yoga, including hot and power yoga, with sporting stars and the celebrity elite following suit. QH spent some time in the studio with yoga instructor, Stewart Heffernan...
Do you find the reasons for men to start yoga differ from women?
I think, generally speaking, they are the same sort of reasons - lose weight, get fit, become more flexible or they may have been recommended by their doctor or physio to treat an injury or ailment.
Do you find it harder to teach men?
No difference really. It depends a lot on body awareness; if people are coming to yoga without having done much movement/exercise before, whether male or female, the challenge is the same. Trying to get them to move their body in a certain way that is new to them, can sometimes be difficult.
How did you get into teaching yoga?
I'd been practicing the physical yoga for a while and grew more and more interested in the other elements of yoga - particularly the breathing and meditation. I guess I experienced the huge effect it had on my own life in all aspects, that I felt drawn to pass that on. I was practicing and working at a hot yoga studio in London at the time (yogahaven.co.uk) and was inspired by the teachers there. So I naturally wanted to have the same training that they had.
Are more men practising yoga?
Definitely. It seems over the past few years, there has been a lot more men practicing (and teaching) which is great!
What yoga position do you enjoy most?
There are 2!
Savasana - Corpse Pose. If I can spend 5-10 minutes at the end of a practice in Savasana, it completely changes my day. I feel more focused, calm, rested and energised. It's a hard pose to master: staying physically still whilst training the mind to find stillness.
The pose that I'm having the most fun working on at the moment is Ardho Mukha Vrksasana - Handstand!
For those who work at a desk, any advice on how to keep a good posture at work?
Post-it note on your PC/laptop/workspace that says 'Posture?' Just to remind yourself! Every half hour do a few chair exercises: twist, side stretch and arch the back in a backbend. Or, balance a heavy book on your head!
What are the best things to eat before and after a yoga session?
Try not to eat for up to 2 hours before practice. Practicing deep twists and forward bends on a full stomach doesn't feel so good! Fruit, salad, nuts, veggies etc. - nothing heavy. Afterwards: same sort of thing; food that will nourish you rather that make you feel bloated and tired.