I have been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for 14 years and teaching for 7 years. 

I discovered the practice by chance at a Yoga centre in Edinburgh where I saw people doing the practice and was intrigued enough to go along to a beginners' class. I found it was the right exercise routine in the right environment for me.

The effort and enquiry in the class was serious, encouraging and enjoyable. People wanted to push themselves to explore their own possibilities and to get fit. The atmosphere was calm and without deliberate distraction, no TV screens, iplayers, machismo, branding, expensive equipment or competition. Yoga is the opposite of distraction, it is an exercise in developing awareness and concentration. You re-set these qualities in yourself each day as well as getting an intense workout which re-sets your physical parameters.

I had been to other yoga classes before but they were too general in approach for me, where the pace and potential of the exercise is determined by the fitness or age range of the people in the class, i.e. the oldest or the least fit and not by the discipline. That is not to dismiss any other type of yoga style or class, but just to recognise that all styles are not the same. 

Ultimately Ashtanga lets you take responsibility for your own physical and mental well being. The more you practice the fitter you get and the better you feel. It is an intelligent and scientifically planned system where one posture informs or prepares you for the next. At first the movements and posture can be confusing but you soon get used to it and because it follows the same routine each time it is easy to learn. This in itself is a motivation because you learn what to do next and you don’t have to make decisions and become distracted. Whatever you think of your own skills of concentration and perseverance, the truth is soon revealed in your own practice.