He’s shared his life for the last 30 years with his partner Rose Boyle, an example of commitment and union if there ever was one.
Peter says he’s in his ‘third or fourth career’ life. He first trained as a research biochemist; specialising in protein chemistry and how human immune responses are regulated.
Then he was posted overseas as a Trade Commissioner, helping exporters find new markets and grow their business offshore. During this time he and Rose lived and worked in Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and the US.
He’s also done part-time business consulting, contract writing and web development work and is now into organic farming and yoga teaching.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I don’t have a fixed or formal lineage-based teaching style and usually describe my classes as Integral Yoga-based drawing on a range of Hatha-Yoga techniques.
I feel I’m slowly moving towards – being drawn to? – the Satyananda tradition, however.
I structure my classes around the needs of my students – whether this is relaxation, simple flexibility and body-awareness, or more structured asana work.
Teaching in a small town means students are of mixed ages (20s to late 70s), gender, experience, and aspiration. My primary aim is to encourage students to develop their awareness of Self and extend their own physical and Yogic boundaries. I’m just the person providing the venue, some guidance and motivation. Having fun is a must.
I recently launched a men’s Yoga class to try and encourage other men to see if Yoga has a potential role in their lives too.
I teach at two venues in Levin – a dance studio and an historic home owned by a community trust. Prior to the demise of Community Education programmes in 2009 I taught classes through Horowhenua College too.
2. How did you come to yoga?
I initially attended classes in the hope of improving my flexibility and strength as the back injury I had sustained still plagued my life with constant ‘high volume’ pain.
I tired of going to the gym and was making little progress with my rehabilitation. The first year of Yoga some times felt like ‘hell on earth’ but I persisted as I slowly started appreciating that Yoga was beginning to awaken more than my physical body.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
I have a strong intellectual curiosity and am a structured learner so after a couple of years of being an ‘asana student’ began exploring the Yogic literature and attended yoga aotearoa (IYTA) branch workshops in addition to Yoga classes.
In more Yogic terms – I was becoming increasingly aware that Yoga was working at more than the annamaya (physical, matter) and pranamaya (physiological, vital energy) kosha levels within me.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
About 4 years ago I accepted that Yoga was driving a physical, emotional and spiritual transformation that I wanted to explore further.
My back problems haven’t been cured but Yoga has become an important part to living in the present moment with back problems.
These understandings led me, in part, to enrol on IYTA’s teaching training course.
I also volunteered to be IYTA’s website administrator and recently finished three years of Karma Yoga in this role, and as National Secretary helping with the ‘business’ things Incorporated Societies and Registered Charities need to get done these days.
5. What is your home practice like?
Morning meditation is now the foundation of my home practice. A period of dawn reflection is usually followed by some breathing exercises and simple flexibilities before I head out to feed the chooks, let the kune kune pigs into the orchards and start my day as an organic farmer.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
I generally try and avoid this question! Yoga is a deeply personal practice that may be a ‘structured workout’ for some through to a life and lifestyle transforming practice for others.
I do, however, always try and put Yoga in its context as a holistic set of lifestyle and spiritual practices that go back about 5000 years. This encompasses addressing fundamental views on life and a recognition of one’s own place in the world.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
Most of my classes start with relaxation to clear the mind and settle the body. Flexibilities and body/self awareness work follows; then more physical asanas or vinyasa sequences that relate to the theme of the class. Pranayama or balance work is then used to bring the mind, body and prana flows back to a more settled and balanced state. Classes end with a period of guided relaxation or mediation.
I frequently use music as a tool too.
I always have a Yogic theme and physiological basis to a class. How, and the level to which I describe this ‘underpinning’ to students depends on their receptivity and apparent needs on the day.
I follow the general programme outline but the detail varies as the class unfolds. I cannot at this stage of my teaching see myself as leading a class that doesn’t have a basic structure prepared in advance. I feel going into a class ‘cold’ could lead to me changing the focus to my needs and not those of the students.
These are probably the words many new teachers use but are a reflection of a personal awareness that Yoga has a strong, and demonstrable, physiological basis as well as being a deeply personal spiritual practice.
This is one of the reasons why my teacher training dissertation aimed at providing a bridge between traditional Eastern experiential knowledge and Western experimental understandings of human biology. The exploration of how the practice of Yoga can help strengthen and sustain the immune system seemed to close a 20 year circle for me as I returned to my science roots.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
Students and their varying responses to a class. If only one student ever got the benefits I feel I have derived from my commitment to a Yogic lifestyle that would sustain me when I ultimately cease teaching.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
Yoga is out there waiting to be used, embraced and acted upon. Make what you want of your time on the mat, but please take time to let Yoga grow on you.
Try to learn what the ‘discipline of yoga’ really means and be realistic about the physical or healing aspects of Yoga. Yoga is not a running race!
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
Personal awareness and spiritual development are creators of change whether in your own life, or in society as a whole. Individuals combine and interact to form societies. Trying to adopt the yamas and niyamas in a culturally-relevant way seems a good starting point.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
It would be a wonderful day, and the world would change, if more kiwi blokes gave Yoga a sensible try for a year.
12. And finally, how do people find you?
They can visit my website More Yoga for details.