Teacher Spotlight: Michael Eley
30.05.2013 ● Alex Rees
Teacher Spotlight: Michael Eley
This month we spoke to Michael Eley who teaches at our Fulham and London Bridge studios. Michael’s been teaching since 2009 and, when we spoke to him, had just taken part in the National Yoga Championships. Click here to find out how he got on...
Can you tell us a little about the championships?
The nationals are held annually around the world and the two highest-placed in each division, male, female and youth, go on to compete in the international championships. These then take place in LA over two days in June.
In the competition you have to complete five compulsory and two optional poses in under three minutes. I chose tiger scorpion and om pose – basically because they're the best postures I can do. They're all scored out of ten but, like gymnastics or diving, your optional poses are marked on difficulty as well as how well you do them.
So, even more importantly, how did you get on?
I'm really pleased that, for the third year running, I came first. In the internationals so far I've come 8th and 5th. Obviously I'm hoping to do even better this year but you never know what might happen on the day. Just like in class, you learn to have no expectations! And on stage there's so many people watching and you're performing under really bright lights – clad in nothing but a small pair of Speedos!
What did you enjoy most about this year?
That for the first time there was a youth division in the UK. I definitely think it's time to make it an Olympic sport. I enjoy doing the competition because it helps to give you focus and improve your practice. But more importantly it spreads the word – I genuinely want everyone to give yoga a go.
It's sometimes difficult to convince young people though as it's not as exciting as football, for example, so making it competitive might help. Bikram yoga's had such a profound effect on my life that I want others to experience it. It really does give you something that no other exercise does. It's a bit like a martial art in that sense, it's designed to work all your body and your mind at the same time.
What did you do before you qualified as a teacher?
I worked in China for four years, running international sales for a furniture factory.
And how did you get into Bikram?
I first went to a class in 2001 and, like many people, was instantly hooked. Lots of people dream of being a teacher when they first start but then life gets in the way. In my case, it was the chance to work in China. Not long after I came back though, I broke both my ankles when I was snowboarding and got back into it big time to help with rehab – which it really did. It reminded me of how I'd wanted to become a teacher and this time the timing was right.
What do you find most satisfying in teaching?
Watching the students change both physically and mentally for the better. It's amazing how yoga affects their whole lives. Every day I continue to learn something new from the people around me, and I think that will continue for as long as I continue to teach. The potential benefits of yoga are unlimited.