He’s just brought his family to New Zealand from the UK – a home-coming for the Kiwi-born Greg, but a big adventure for his English wife and son.
Like many people, a bad back got Greg into yoga and the impact it had on his mind and emotions got him hooked.
The former self-professed tech geek is now a Sivananda-trained teacher. You can catch his classes in Seatoun every Saturday morning.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I like to practice intuitively so I can enjoy and explore Asanas, sometimes in stillness but often with slow controlled movement and breath. I love the synergy when the mind, body and breath come together, that sense of oneness when the mind is still and there’s nothing but pure awareness of this moment and a profound sense of the self. I guess that’s why I called my practice “Body Mind Integration”.
As I’ve just arrived back in Wellington, I’m teaching one class in St George’s Hall, Ferry Street, Seatoun at 10am on Saturday mornings. I hope to start a weekday one there soon. I’ll soon be teaching at Freyburg Leisure Centre, so look out for my classes there. Also Monday and Friday lunchtimes at “Aspire” Lambton Quay.
2. How did you come to yoga?
Well, I think like many people I came to yoga with a physical ailment and mine was a bad back.I had suffered for many years with back pain and a good friend of mine suggested that her yoga class might help. I remember it well. it was an Iyengar class taught by a well known Wellington Yoga teacher in Courtney Place 15 years ago. Although initially I found it daunting being one of the only males in the class and having very little flexibility I continued. It wasn’t until the end of the class that I noticed something was different. I felt as if something had shifted within me and the next day I felt a little sore but my back felt great!
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
A long time ago, I used to be an Electronics technician. I ran my own business in Wellington. I guess I was a tech geek, very much about being in my head and my work. It played havoc on my back – all that stooping in to the back of televisions, stereos etc.
Around the time I first started practicing yoga I was also interested in personal development. I think the key was a hunger to learn more about things I knew nothing about instead of the things I knew a lot about, especially my emotional world or the whole left brain aspect of things. For me Yoga opened a door within me. Each class I went to gave me a stronger connection with something deeper and more profound about myself as well as others.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
It happened in the UK. In 1999 I traveled to London to study computer programming. Although I loved my yoga and practiced 3 times a week, I never thought of yoga as a career choice. Luckily for me the universe had other ideas and it came in the form of my Business partner who told me:
I just can’t see you sitting in front of a computer all day
That single sentence made me doubt the future I had mapped out for myself. I was in a quandary . As a way of seeking clarity I decided to go to India and do the Sivananda Teacher Training, not because at the time I thought I would teach, but I sensed that by doing something completely different I would be able to see clearly the way forward.
After practicing Asanas, Pranayama, philosophy, Bakti yoga, Karma yoga for 4 weeks solid, I was clear that I didn’t want to do anything but teach yoga!
When I was really clear about what I wanted to do, it all happened quite quickly and I began teaching classes in leisure centres, corporate classes, fitness clubs and personal tuition. I was teaching everyday and I just loved it, nothing had ever felt so right! My life further transformed when I met my lovely English wife through yoga and we now have a fantastic 5 year old boy.
5. What is your home practice like?
I start by acknowledging exactly how I feel, physically, mentally, energetically and move from there. Usually I start by deepening my breath and then moving slowly so that I can outwardly move but inwardly listen.
Once I’m fully in my body I like to explore moving intuitively into patterns of asanas. I quite often don’t know how my practice will look. I quite like to smile when I practice as way of checking in with any sense of pushing. Sometimes we all feel lethargic or a bit creaky and find getting to the mat the hardest part of our practice. On those days I might work with a yoga podcast or video of another teacher and look for new ideas. Although some days are a struggle, I never regret my practice.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
I usually tell them the literal translation of Yoga means Union or Yoking. I think that this answer is wonderfully obtuse, creating more questions than answers. To me Yoga is attaining that sense of ‘oneness’. It’s those moments in life when you find yourself in a state of grace. I also think of yoga as the path back to yourself beyond the mind, connecting with the body’s intelligence.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
They can expect to find space for themselves and a way to find their own rhythm. They will explore the movement of their own body and challenge themselves only as and when they are ready. I focus on the flow of movement and the breath and my students find a deep sense of relaxation from their practice.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
I love the opportunity to share and connect with people of all backgrounds. I enjoy leading students to water without forcing them to drink!
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
How much more than exercise it is, that it truly is life changing if you allow it to be.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
I believe that yoga has a beautiful all encompassing aspect to it, and it is that which allows us to connect more with each other and our environment. I see yoga as force against any form of a ‘them and us’ mentality. I would love to see more yoga taught in schools.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
Just that my family and I have embarked on a big adventure giving up our established life in London. I look forward to connecting with yoga practitioners, teachers and all those who are new to yoga but keen to know more. Please feel free to be in touch or attend my classes.
12. And finally, how do people find you?
04 977 8669
0210 230 4658