David, the founder of Bendyoga, started off his yoga journey when he was looking to alleviate his own physical pain. Now, two decades later, he's now teaching hatha yoga and meditation, having embraced the mental and physical relief the practice offers, passing on his knowledge to his students in a fun and relaxed manner.

We spoke to David all about how he found yoga during a stressful period of his life, his transition to teaching over 8 years ago, and how he wants to encourage more men to experience the benefits of yoga.

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When was the first time you practised yoga, and what drew you to it?

I have been practising yoga and meditation for over 20 years. I started in my early thirties when my children were very young; maybe I was trying to get out of the house for some peace and quiet! I also had a busy job - like everyone - and not really looking after myself physically or mentally. I wasn't doing any physical exercise and was quite stressed - busy job, young children, it happens!

For some reason, I had always been interested in trying yoga but had never got round to it. I found a local class, went along and it was amazing, I fell in love with it straight away. The combination of stretching the body and the strength work, followed by a final relaxation, made me feel really good inside and out. I bought a yoga mat at my first class and soon started to do yoga at home, developing my own practice. The benefits of yoga are feeling both energised and relaxed at the same time, it's a great way to change the mental state.

What made you realise that teaching yoga might be for you? And was it difficult for you to make that leap from practising yoga for yourself to sharing it with others?

I have been teaching yoga and meditation for over 8 years, and the transition from attending a class to teaching one seemed quite natural. The very first class I taught was a bit nerve-wracking though. I was asked to stand in for a teacher and I remember sitting there cross-legged looking outwardly calm, but I had a real sense of nervousness and excitement inside. It may sound weird, but something changed inside me and I knew this is what I wanted to do. The class went really well, I got some great feedback and I soon started my own class.

It took some time, and for the first few weeks I was the only person to turn up! But that was fine - I just continued to do my own practice and then people started to join me. I should say that at first it was a men-only class. Most yoga classes are made up of women and a token bloke. I was that bloke for many years, and I wanted to see if I could get more men to do yoga and feel the benefits that it can offer. After a while, it all got a bit too boisterous, and so I decided that we need to get a better balance. These days its about 50:50 men and women and it works really well.

David during one of his online practices

How do you maintain your inspiration now you've pursued teaching yoga as a career? And how do you pass that inspiration onto your students?

I really enjoy interacting with people, whether through a live class or online, and seeing how their mental state changes from when they arrive to the end of the session.  Most people who come to the class either need to mentally de-stress or feel they are tense in the body, such as having tight hamstrings, back pain or neck and shoulder issues.  At the end of each session, people seem lighter and calmer and it makes me feel I am making a difference. Someone once told me that 'you teach what you need to learn yourself' and I feel that's true.  The best thing about yoga is that there is plenty of inspiration to draw from whether the physical practice (asana), breathing (pranayama), or mindfulness meditation (dharana) and I'm lucky enough to be able to point people in a direction which will help them quieten the mind.  And helping people quieten their mind helps me too.  So its a win-win situation.

What is your favourite thing about yoga as a practice?

For me, yoga is a journey inwards.  A typical class starts with a relaxation to allow the momentum of the day to subside, this is followed by yoga postures, then breathing and finally meditation and relaxation.  My favourite practice right now is to simply sit and breathe. Try this right now: sit quietly with no distractions and close the eyes. Take 6 breaths and follow each individual breath as it breathes in and then out.  One breath at a time.  Once you have done this, how do you feel? It only takes a minute or so and is something that could be done several times a day. You can find this simple meditation (and more) on my YouTube channel.

What encouraged you to join Obby, and how has it helped you to grow as a teacher?

I really feel that everyone should give yoga a meditation a go so that they can feel the benefits both physically and mentally.  I joined Obby as a Teacher to reach a wider audience and make the world a calmer and peaceful place, one person at a time.

It is still early days for me with Obby but I am already seeing potential opportunities to encourage more people to practice yoga.  The class booking system is very simple to set up and - most importantly - for people to use.  The payment feature is simple and encourages people to commit to attending a class. I also really like to marketing help that Obby offers, and finally the ability to sell both products and services through the platform.

A snapshot from one of David's classes

What has been your favourite student interaction since you’ve started teaching?

It's a bit of a cliche but laughter is the best medicine, and I have a lot of terrible jokes which I dust off during classes to help everyone who comes to my classes find a little laughter in amongst their stressful days!

What is your favourite part about teaching?

I really enjoy speaking with people at the beginning and end of the sessions, hearing about their week, their state of mind, and then seeing how they change into a more relaxed and smiley state at the end.  Perfect!

Finally, do you have any tips for creatives who are looking to start teaching their own classes?

Just do it, what have you got to lose?

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Want to know more?

Interested in finding out more about our wonderful teachers? Check out some more blogs featuring Obby teachers and their stories below: