I began yoga in the 1970s when I was a student at Exeter University.
I left there in 1973 with a degree in French, lived in France for two years and then went to Portugal and a teaching job in Porto. I practised yoga postures from a book every day and surfed whenever I could. Salazar was in charge of Portugal at the time and I left in the middle of the Carnation Revolution, heading south past Coimbra to Lisbon, seeing flowers in the end of rifle barrels as Portugal underwent profound change.
I headed to Morocco where I lived for a few years, then moved on to Senegal and Gambia, played music with local musicians and wrote songs which, when I eventually returned to the UK, led to me putting a band together in London.
Back to London
This worked out pretty well: we played in venues like the Marquee, a single got into the independent London charts and I got signed by a music publisher. But as time went on it all became overly serious, so I parted company with the publishers and with no money at all began to sell recycled clothes in Camden market; a beginning on my own, away from the band.
This business mushroomed and over time led to designing clothes, and a base in Kensington Market. I also sold a whole collection to Bloomingdales in New York and flew over to see it in the store, but I felt like an observer to the whole process and the experience left me cold.
Bloomingdales put me in mind of Andy Warhol, who said in his autobiography he liked shopping there, and David Bowie's song Andy Warhol kept going through my head - a big question mark around rock n' roll, sex, drugs and fashion. The worlds of music and fashion really have a place and I met some lovely (and not so lovely) people, but by now my life was moving in a different direction.
Thailand & Glastonbury
Returning from Africa I'd begun martial arts training in London, and after twelve years gained a black belt and first dan in Kyushindo karate. I was foolish enough to ignore my teacher's advice to take up yoga again and instead began full contact Muay Thai, learning from an ex-professional Thai boxer who'd set up a gym in the East End.
This interest took me to Thailand itself, where I was drawn to the Buddhist temple of my teacher and the monks. My best friend had died dramatically some time earlier and being with them put my mind - and his spirit - to rest. The monks were equanimous about death, seeing it as a transition of the soul; this resonated with my own thoughts and limited experience of life and its purpose. What was I doing here? What is this all about?
Returning to England I left London, moved to the south west near Glastonbury and began yoga again. I spent five years working on a one-to-one basis with Ranju Roy, who was teaching the yoga passed on to him from T.K.V. Desikachar, and after five years studying, and working with Ranju,I changed to a different approach with Jenny Beeken who was teaching yoga she'd learnt originally from BKS Iyengar in India. Jenny increasingly modified her approach as she became influenced by Vanda Scaravelli and Diane Long.
My own Practice
During my five years with Jenny (two as a Trustee of the Inner Yoga Trust) I completed the full British Wheel of Yoga teacher training. Over the following years I began putting together what I’d learnt and taught, also incorporating aspects of Celtic shamanic practices transmitted to me by the late Jane Dagger and other teachings around the energy body. Ultimately everything threads back to one source.