Badd Karma is all about promoting inclusion and celebrating diversity on the yoga mat. After all, pretty much any human being (and maybe animals, but that's another blog post altogether...) can benefit from yoga. And that's why we're so delighted to welcome Simon Norcutt to the Badd Karma Baddassador family. He told us what yoga means to him:
Simon, tell us a bit about your yoga story – when did you start and why?
I had tried yoga a couple of times, more as a fitness challenge than anything else, but I’d never really embraced it. Last year that changed. I was struggling with the breakdown of a long term relationship and the death of my father and during one of my many walks I stumbled upon The House of Yoga in Putney. I paused, considered where I was in life and thought, “maybe this will help”. I walked through the door and was greeted by Eva, who was to become my main Yoga teacher. She explained to me that even as a beginner I was welcome in all the classes and that this was about not only about physical wellbeing, but could help with the stresses of life – and boy did I have a tonne of those right at that moment. So I took the plunge and signed up there and then.
Was yoga what you thought it would be? Or did it surprise you?
Bearing in mind that the studio was in Putney I was envisaging a room full of well-heeled ladies, who were experienced yogis who would baulk at this uncoordinated fella crashing their class. But I was completely wrong. I was met by a diverse group of varying experience levels who were just as welcoming as Eva.
What’s your yoga life like now? When and where and how do you practice?
Whilst I may not participate in organised classes every day, yoga is part of my daily life. I incorporate aspects of yoga into my other fitness training and try to get to a class at least once a week. I mainly practice hot yoga, joining in the fundamentals and yin classes. Vinyasa yoga suits my needs, connecting breath and movement to bring mental and physical balance, which along with a heated studio makes me a happy yogi.
What’s been your best yoga moment?
The moment that I truly realised how my body reacted to outside mental stresses was one of my biggest yoga epiphanies. The moment I started to feel my back tighten up having had a stressful confrontation at work, I realised that the body reacts to different situations in different ways. Yoga helped me be more open to this concept, of linking the physical and mental wellbeing of oneself and without it I think I would still be blaming training injuries for all my bodily aches and pains
What has yoga done for you? How does it support your life?
Yoga has made me a better person. It has given me space to breathe, space to be open to different ways of thinking and has given me space to be me. Yoga has not only helped with my physical health, but it has helped me manage my mental wellness too. Yoga has truly helped me manage not only my work stresses, but has also helped me with my personal struggles. I have learned to pause, breathe, recognise how I am reacting to stress. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from being perfect, but the realisation that you’re not perfect... that’s when true growth can occur.
Why do you think it’s so important for men to practice?
Yoga is seen as a mainly female practice. That was my initial thought before I walked into my first class in Putney, but this just isn’t the case. I would hate to see “Men Only” classes as I think this would exacerbate the situation even more, but I would like there to be some specific promotional campaigns aimed at men, showing not only the physical but the mental health benefits that can be achieved by practicing yoga. With suicide rates among men soaring, I see yoga as something that could be used to help promote that mental wellbeing and help people take a different look at life.
What do you think are the barriers to men trying yoga and what do you think could help overcome those?
Probably one of the biggest barriers is the thought that it's just for women. Those of us who have been to yoga classes realise that there are many men getting bendy out there, but when you look at a lot of literature and websites advertising classes you rarely see a male used in the campaigns. Yoga is an activity used by many sportsmen to keep them healthy and prolong their careers. It’s used at the highest levels in many male dominated sports like football and rugby and this needs to be signposted more to help spread the message.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about trying it, but hesitant to take the first step?
Take the plunge and give it a go. I am about to move home and Eva told me to go on a yoga holiday - to go to a number of studios and find the one that fits me. Like a lot of things in life, the first time you try something you may not like it, but look at what you didn’t like and maybe try another class, another form of yoga or another studio, but don’t dismiss it too readily.
What’s your yoga ambition?
I have a couple of ambitions really. I would love to get through just one class without falling over (I am still a klutz at times), but I would really love to get more people, especially men, on board with yoga to help assist in addressing mental health issues. It has helped me and I really believe that it can help others too.