Long before yoga became the hottest thing in town, David Roden was practising headstands and all the other postures he read about in his 1969 edition of Teach yourself Yoga. As a teenager growing up in the mind-expanding 60s, fascinated with all things esoteric, he balanced his formal education in engineering with evening yoga classes at a local college, studying the I Ching and a qualification in Astrology.
One evening, the yoga teacher didn’t show up for David’s class. Although the youngest, he was the most advanced practitioner and in his own words “I just started doing it”. He was so successful that he set up another class and even took his teaching to Malawi in 1972 where he was a volunteer engineer with the Ministry of Agriculture as part of a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) programme. “I taught a few of the locals while I was living there – but eventually my interest in teaching yoga waned”.
Some years on, not enjoying engineering and after a spell in the corporate world, David retrained as a Psychotherapist, specialising in clinical hypnotherapy to help people with personal and emotional issues. In more recent times, he has refined his services to counselling and coaching people with workplace and career related issues – including many displaced refugees who find themselves in the UK with great skills but no obvious work path.
Helping others can be stressful and David has used daily meditation over the past thirty years to keep himself calm and balanced. Despite his steady mind, he realised about five years ago that he needed to improve his body fitness. He was suffering from a few health niggles and was impressed when an Ayurvedic doctor in India completely cleared the problems. It sparked a renewed interest in yoga – so he signed up for classes at David Lloyd in Oxford.
“Yoga brings me energy, focus and agility – I love every class, any style, all of it”. He takes energetic, strength-building classes but particularly enjoys Yin Yoga, is a deeply introspective practice where challenging postures are sustained for several minutes in stillness. It stresses the deep connective tissues of the body so that these tissues remain healthy and it also stills the mind, allowing space around thoughts and feelings. “There are obvious parallels with my meditation”.
When asked about his views on the role of yoga in the West, David says “We have an aging population and many people have more leisure time or are working from home. There has never been more opportunity for people to get into yoga for their wellbeing and health. My message to everyone is go for it”.
Our Tales from the Mat come from the wonderful Joy Le Fevre, yoga teacher and founder of yogidup.com.