THE BLOG
03/11/2013 18:22 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Last Night a Headstand Saved My Life - From the Slipmat to the Yoga Mat

While my journey from Haçienda DJ to Matt the Yoga Teacher may be unusual, the need that started it all off - wanting to feel normal - is something every man and woman on the street can identify with and it is Yoga that provides an ideal prescription for this.

Some years back, if you would have told the 2000 or so disciples of dance* at Manchester's world famous Haçienda nightclub that the DJ spinning the hot wax would turn out to be a yoga teacher, I'm pretty sure they would have accused you of twisting their melon (man). But, hey ho, here I stand with head in headstand; I turn my gaze to the wall... okay enough already of the Beatles references.

Without realising it at the time, my journey to Samadhi started on the wheels of steel of the Technics 1200s. Little did I know that the complete absorption (intense concentration) needed to perfectly beat-match two 12 inchers together would bear fruit in my later life when I exchanged the slip mats for a yoga mat.

I often get asked about how I became a yoga teacher, and you can imagine there are a few raised eyebrows when I tell people it all started on the dance floor. I also get asked quite often what it takes to become a teacher, and what type of person becomes one. I'm guessing that my story is pretty different to a lot of other people who became yoga teachers. For me there was no grand design to become a Yoga teacher - there was no smooth nightclub to navasana transition, just a lot of marichyasana C twists!

My extracurricular activities as a DJ (Ok, I was no Keith Richards but I wasn't exactly on the 'just say no' campaign either) were creating internal tensions and a friend recommended yoga before I signed up for the N.A. Ok, I hold my hands up here; I was one of those people who thought yoga was for old ladies in church halls dressed in Lycra. Still, my own grandma was a pretty cool ol' lady, so "what the hell!", I thought, and I decided to give it a go. Hell really is the appropriate word here, as after a couple of sun salutations that's exactly where I thought I was. This, I thought at the time, was going to be two classes in one - my first and last.

Within three months of that first class, I'd hung up my headphones and booked a plane ticket to Mysore, India - such is the power of yoga. Now, I'm not advocating everyone gives up their jobs and hops on a plane, but for me it was the best decision I've ever made in my life. My night club friends would refer to this moment as "when Matt got cosmic", but for me it was the moment I started feeling normal again.

As abnormal as putting both legs behind your head looks to an outsider, the irony is, is that it actually helps you to feel more normal. In fact, that might be my USP: 'normal guy offering Yoga lessons to help you feel normal'. Hey! I might even copyright the 'Normal Sequence' (That's a joke Mr.Chowdhury).

This is how I wound up teaching: wanting to make yoga accessible to everyone, and to teach a practice that had and continues to have a profound effect on me. Since teaching my first class 15 years ago, students from all walks of life and experiences have rolled out the mat. Like me, some come to Yoga jaded by their hedonistic lifestyles, but most need to use their physical bodies to keep their often stressed-out minds grounded.

While my journey from Haçienda DJ to Matt the Yoga Teacher may be unusual, the need that started it all off - wanting to feel normal - is something every man and woman on the street can identify with and it is Yoga that provides an ideal prescription for this.

*OK, so, I'm really dressing that one up - they were good ol' fashioned ravers, baby, but 'ravers' sounded a bit naff and disciples of dance sounded 'edgy'.