Paul first began a consistent yoga practice in January in 2017. Like many, he was hooked from the first class and would attend classes at Stretch almost daily. After a while a friend suggested he looked in to teacher training. That day he Googled it and Stretch Teacher Training was one of the first results, it was the first intake of Teacher Training that Stretch Yoga had ever conducted so he took it as a sign!
He now balances corporate work with yoga teaching. We sat down with our Stretch Academy Graduate and now Stretch Teacher Paul, and asked him about his yoga.
I did maybe 5 classes sporadically about 12 years ago but really only started consistently in January 2017. I started because my life was getting to routine; I needed to do something new and I enjoy being physically active.
What has helped you stick with it?
I love it so much it wasn’t hard for me to stick with it! My first class was a Simple Stretch class and at the end the teacher said there was Deep Stretch afterwards. I stayed for that and then came to every other evening class for the rest of the week and possibly the month. Originally what kept me there was how I felt physically afterwards. I sit at a desk a lot during the day and do a lot of weight training; both of these things contract the muscles in the body. Yoga is the perfect way to stretch them out again. After a regular practice, the mental and emotional benefits of yoga also began to show.
Which pose is your favourite and why?
So many favourites! If I had to pick one I would say wheel pose. My chest and shoulders tend to get tight, so physically this feels amazing for me as it opens them up. I like that you can’t really see what your body is doing, so it increases the mind/body connection as your mind tries to figure out what’s going without being able to see the body. It’s also very energising and plus it’s fun to be able to do things that you used to be able to do as a kid.
What is the biggest lesson you have taken from your practice?
I love that in each class you have someone telling you that whatever you can do, it’s enough. It’s no problem if you can’t touch your toes even if everyone around you is casually wrapped up like a pretzel. It’s no problem if you can’t stand on your head, even if everyone around you is balancing on their cranium as if they do this every day at the bus stop. Just do what you can, but do it mindfully and with intent. This has translated to my off-the-mat life; and I’m less bothered by what other people can do, and I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. Since I’ve stopped comparing myself to others, I’m able to redirect that energy back to me and I’ve noticed improvements in all aspects of my life, work, exercise and my relationship with others (and myself!).
Would you say that yoga has changed your life?
Definitely! For all the reasons above, but also I used to be in such a rush to do anything. I would hate travelling because I just wanted to get to the destination and couldn’t bear to sit still for hours on end with no way out. I’d rush through work projects because I’d want to get them done and start on the next one. Even when catching up with friends I was always thinking about what I needed to do next. Yoga has taught me to slow right down. Once you do this, you realise all the gems you were missing when you were rushing through life. Now I love sitting on a plane for a couple of hours because I get to relax and do nothing!
What is your favourite thing about teaching at Stretch?
I love how beginner friendly Stretch is. I’ve only been doing yoga consistently for a year and a half now so consider myself very much a beginner still, especially as a teacher. I’m not sure I would have stuck around as a student if there weren’t so many beginner friendly options. Of course the other reason is the amazing teachers that work there; everyone is so welcoming and ready to share their knowledge and none of us take yoga too seriously.
What 3 poses would you recommend a beginner to do daily?
I recommend everyone do at least a few minutes of cat/cow every morning. This is a great way to wake up the spine for the day. Ragdoll is another good one for the back body. I’m also going to say tree pose because balancing (or attempting to balance) can really help connect the mind with the body.