Patrick Beach, Virgin Active global yoga ambassador, has been working with the gym chain to demystify yoga and launched a new Calm by Candlelight yoga class earlier this year. Rolling out across selected VA clubs in the UK, I popped along to Virgin Active The Strand to give the session a try [read review here] and asked Patrick, a former basketball player, why yoga became his passion.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO YOGA?
I was so stiff from playing highly competitive basketball that, when I sat on the floor, I could barely touch my shins. I was just very tight all over. My mum showed me a few very simple hip stretches. I started to explore more areas of the discipline and tried different poses every day. I also began reading all kinds of books on yoga postures. That’s where I learned about handstands. The first time I tried one I completely crashed and was such a mess. Then I figured it all out very quickly. I found it so much fun to play around on my hands. Yoga also opens up my hips and centres me.
WHAT DID YOGA TEACH YOU?
I’m not saying that being competitive is bad but before I was playing a lot of sport centered around being the best and beating others. Yoga was a complete shift from this, in my thought process and thinking, and it gave me a new sense of balance. So often people want to do things that they don’t really know how to accomplish then they let it go or stress about why they can’t do it. What yoga helps me do is actually figure out and align what I want to do in my mind with what steps I need to take to get there.
DO YOU FIND IT EASY TO RELAX?
I’m a pretty even-keeled person, but before practising yoga I used to get stressed out quite a lot so I found it a brilliant way to not freak out about too many things. Also, to understand my responsibilities and the things I needed to be doing to align my intentions with my actions. This has helped me become a much calmer person.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A YOGI?
About a decade.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO INSIST THEY’RE TOO OLD OR INFLEXIBLE TO TAKE UP YOGA?
This is such a funny thought because there is a yoga move for every body type. Also, there is a yoga style for every individual, so you can never be too flexible or inflexible. You can never be too strong or weak. You can never be too old or young. Not everyone is going to be the same and you don’t need to try and be the same. You just want the moves to feel good to you. The more you begin to understand that as a realisation, the easier it is to understand that yoga is for you just as much as it is for anyone else.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE RELAXATION TIPS
USE SAUNAS: heat therapy, in general, is a really good way to relax your whole body.
EAT GOOD FOOD: take time to prepare meals, allot a specific time to eat a full meal and do not rush.
SWITCH OFF: when I’m feeling wound up I’ll give myself a specific time to turn off my phone, TV or any form of technology.
It really helps the mind decompress.
MEDITATE: take yourself away to a darkened room and sit upright with your eyes closed. Mini-meditation is a brilliant way to switch off and calm down your mind
PRACTISE: regular yoga and find the poses that help you mellow out