The Many Faces of Yoga: Tony Foran

We have had the pleasure of having Tony from Wexford attend our classes for about 6 months now. Tony is currently finishing his thesis for his masters in I.T studies, he is also a technical diving instructor which entails long dives on a regular basis.
Tony has yet to be proven wrong from my experience having him in my classes that “the sun is always shining after I go to yoga”.
How did you first get into Yoga?
I did my first Yoga class in Amsterdam in 1988, and I went to my first class because of a girl. I tried lots of styles- Ashtanga, Hatha – whatever was local. I can’t really explain why I was drawn to it, yes it was because of a girl at the beginning but she eventually gave it up and I stuck with it.
What was your idea of yoga before you started to practise it?
I don’t really know to be honest. As a child we lived and ran a hotel in Bray and when people used to come to the hotel and do yoga we used to think it was weird. Some people thought it was evil when I first came back to Ireland – even looking in the room to see if they were levitating! So Ireland has definitely changed a lot since then. That was the perception of Yoga when I started – I think this was probably why I was so drawn to it as a young, rebellious teenager!!
How has your idea of Yoga changed since you started it.
The main thing I noticed was that my mood was always better when I did yoga. I knew if I was feeling low or down and if I did yoga it went away, which I found really helpful especially as a teenager.
I made no connection between spirituality and yoga, it was more of a physical exercise.
Has that changed over the years?
I would say that I wanted to connect spirituality with Yoga, but I never did. I have practised yoga at some point throughout each stage of my life, from my teens until now. I feel I am starting to connect the two more now and by connecting the two it’s actually becoming better for me. I think you need to, it seems there is a deeper connection now that I haven’t made before.
Perhaps you feel you are ready now?
Maybe. The thing with Yoga is that it depends on who you are doing it with and the motivations of the instructors. You are affected by where you are; not only in your life but by the people and the surroundings you do it in.
What is your background in Yoga styles and locations before practising with us here at Earthwise Yoga?
I have practised yoga in lots of different countries, from Thailand to India to Holland. Personally I have found a lot of yoga classes can be more workshop orientated and you may not get a class out of it. If you are not connected to it or not practicing at home it can be harder to get any of the deeper benefits.
What I like about here is that the style of teaching presented here suits me. You get a yoga workout, with postures and adjustments, but after you leave you do actually get the benefits. The guided meditation helps to combine everything at the end and bring it together, which is great. I personally feel you have to find what’s comfortable for yourself.
Have you found any lifestyle or attitude changes since you have gotten back into yoga again?
Highlighting my mistakes in life for one!
I was a vegetarian since I was 14 but because of life and work I got back into eating some meat and fish. I feel a conflict of emotions in regards to that since I started back at yoga. I used to smoke and I’m off cigarettes a year now. The majority of my diet is vegetarian and organic and I have found I don’t enjoy going to the pub anymore – I guess it has reinforced my way of living.
What’s your view of men in yoga?
I think the most difficult time for men is the initial coming to a class, you are always outnumbered by women. However, if you get into the practice it’s not about gender. Men can sometimes try to compete with each other or overstretch and it can become a competition, which I don’t think is good.
I think yoga is a very female environment, but I don’t mean in a gender way, I just mean more the atmosphere- let’s say it’s a bit more yin! Yoga is still quite female dominated, but it doesn’t bother me that I am in the minority.
I’m a diving instructor which is very male-orientated and you get men asking me about yoga but they seem to have a word with you behind the corner. I think that a lot more people are starting to do it and when you get sports role models doing it, for example, guys are definitely more open to trying it. Personally, I find practising yoga really benefits my diving and swimming. We carry a lot of heavy equipment so it is great for my back and shoulders.
Also, over the years I have been in a few accidents on motorbikes and so I suffered from a lot of back problems. I’ve spent years going to osteopaths, physios and all sorts of healers and since I started yoga I haven’t been to an osteopath in 6 years. I couldn’t get out of bed sometimes from the pain and yoga is the only thing that has changed that. It not only acts as a preventative medicine, but it saves you money and improves flexibility. It has really helped open my body back up after so much diving.
What else can you say about Yoga or coming here?
This is just the part of the week that I look forward to now. I’ve been coming here for 6 months and I really hope you don’t go anywhere anytime soon! It’s just a really nice place to go and it benefits me when I leave it. I’m in better form, I treat people better, I think I treat myself better. It’s sort of my yoga family here. I look forward to it, and if I don’t come and do yoga here I am in danger of getting lost and caught up in life too much.
I like the classes here, I think they are quite unique. They suit me – there is a start, middle and an end. I feel like your body has done the right thing afterwards. I like that there are different teachers so you can mix it up. Different teaching styles and you know who to go do depending on which type of class you are after that particular week strattera capsule 10mg.
What’s your view on Yoga being so popular today?
Yoga goes through phases of being cool and then everyone starts to do it, the commercialized side of it can sometimes be disturbing. People can be more into the bags, mats and clothes and there can sometimes be a loss of the respect for the spiritual side of yoga. People go to practice yoga and then go out into the world and act in a way that goes against everything yoga represents- which is counter-intuitive and I don’t think it fits. Social media and internet has done a lot for yoga, you just have to accept the different ways in which it is delivered.