Autobiography of a ‘Yogibanker’

Name: Scott Robinson
Location: London, UK
Occupation: Banker and Yogi, aka ‘Yogibanker’

Scott Robinson side angle London.JPGThe ‘yogibanker’ was born in a yoga studio in Notting Hill, London in April, 2012. In preparation for my first career change on a 15-year working holiday to the UK, the idea of ‘managing stress’ seemed too good to refuse. It took a while I must say, until yoga became part of my regular routine.

My first ever yoga class was with a lady by the name of Julia. She encouraged me to continue with my practice, despite the initial resistance that I hopelessly displayed, so much so that she encouraged me to follow her to an art gallery turned yoga studio called Debut.

I look back at my yoga practice at Debut with much fondnessasana surrounded by contemporary, abstract art became a unique and interesting practice. Deep into the practice, I often found myself gazing at a particular piece, so much so that I ended up buying some of them afterwards. The art gallery owner was clearly onto something.

From there, my practice progressed in leaps and bounds, to a proper studio, the Life Centre. After trying many different styles and teachers, I settled on my practice and one teacher and became a ‘yogi groupie,’ only going to his classes. Perhaps I became a ‘yoga snob.’

But, above all, it was two yoga retreats over Christmas in 2012 and 2013, that deeply ingrained in me the practice of yoga. The first retreat was at Suryalila Retreat Center, an olive farm converted into a world-class yoga retreat centre, approximately an hour from Seville, Spain where I met the lovely and inspirational Vidya Heisel. Since that retreat, I have been determined to return there one day to complete my yoga teacher training.

The second retreat was in a beautiful retreat centre, La Serranía, in the north of Mallorca, Spain,where I met my lovely girlfriend.

Having built up my knowledge and practice, like every good yogi who has learned in the West, it was time to introduce and bring such techniques to the corporate world. I quickly learnt that the techniques and practices that a ‘yogibanker’ has are very powerful—perfectly balancing the competing demands of the workplace, all in the name of ‘sealing the deal.’

My regular asana practice before work has been nothing less than transformational. It’s like flicking on a switch as the subtle energies within my body come to life, leaving me feeling refreshed and focused. It’s no surprise that ‘Warrior II’ is my favourite pose, the steady focus that it brings as I stare down the length of my arms through my fingers,  visualising the deal at hand. In a time-poor environment where the opportunity to get away and spend time on the treadmill during hectic days is virtually non-existent, that half an hour before work with my YogaGlo (an online yoga platform) is a lifesaver.

Scott Robinson yoga tropics.jpgEven simply applying ujjayi breathing, a conscious effort to slow down the passage of air in order to induce calmness and inner strength, is a tool that we all have, here and now. The many techniques of yogic breathing have saved me many a time, especially when I’m having to deal with powerful bankers, as if I’m the matador with his capote, gently managing the flow of the conversation in a way that makes me feel totally in control.

Being ‘cool, calm and collected’ are also the traits of a successful manager. Inspired by Buddha’s teachings, having the realisation that anger is a mere ‘delusion’ of the mind helps me to become more mindful when managing conflict and making decisions.

The culmination of all these methods and practices was revealed publicly in July, 2016 for the first time in Balance magazine. A brave first step, but one that is necessary in order to be a ‘pilgrim’to show others that there is a different path that one can take in order to reach his or her own salvation in the corporate world.

Indeed, the very path that the ‘yogibanker’ treads is full of dichotomies and apparent inconsistencies. If we look around in life, we also see so many things that are diametrically opposite to each other: light and dark, black and white, love and hatred, God and the devil…being a yogi in investment banking feels to me like something similar, too.

However, if we really acknowledge ourselves and accept that this is who we are, and the role that we play, we can find a waya path that brings these two areas together, in balance and harmony.

To think that years ago I was in a completely different space…the transformation has been nothing less than remarkable. I thank many people such as Amanda Falkson, Maggie Richards, Satish Kumar, my lovely partner, Susanne, and many others for their inspiration and kindness in helping me on this path.

“When wealth is lost, you have lost a little, when health is lost, you have lost something of more consequence; but when peace of mind is lost, you have lost the highest treasure.” – Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Scott Robinson bio.jpg

Scott Robinson, aka ‘Yogibanker’ works in the financial industry in the City of London and is an avid yogi. Scott’s mission is to share with the corporate world the practice of yoga and all its amazing benefits. He passionately believes that the secret to professional success is to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle (including lots of yoga!). He also wishes to speak for the ‘silent majority’ of people that work in financial services and who are ordinary people living simple, holistic lives. Follow Scott on Facebook here and on Twitter @yogibanker1.


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Exploring Softness Within My Strength

Name: Kristi Johnson
Location: London, England
Occupation: Forrest Yoga Teacher

I remember my first yoga teacher training like it was yesterday. I didn’t feel like I was flexible enough to be a yoga teacher. I was struggling my way through the morning intensives, surrounded by ex-dancers, flinging themselves in and out of everything without a decent warm-up. My body chugged and screeched alongside them as I muscled my way through. Signing up for the training felt like a decision I had made against my own best judgment.

At some stage during the training I was called to the centre of the group and asked to demonstrate Chataranga. I went in and held it, strongly. As everyone ooohh-ed and aahhh-ed I continued to hold it. My muscles were pumped and my mind determined to keep the shape for as long as it took, to demonstrate “perfection.”

It was in this moment that I acknowledged my “strength,” and identified with it as my driving force.

Kristi Johnson photographed by Karen Yeomans, specialist in Sports, Fitness, Health, Well-being and Yoga Photography. Based in London.

Kristi Johnson photographed by Karen Yeomans, specialist in Sports, Fitness, Health, Well-being and Yoga Photography. Based in London.

Within my first year of teaching, I was partaking in a class and got badly injured. The teacher stood on my back leg in a lunge, pressing down hard and fast, which resulted in a herniated disc in my low back. I was in absolute agony. I couldn’t even stand up straight in the beginning. Every footstep sent nerve pain down my entire left leg for almost a year.

Being so firmly routed in my quest to be strong, and hold everything together, I pushed myself through it. I was teaching on average 22 yoga classes per week, practicing intensely every day, and indulged in spinning classes, boxing classes, and boot camp classes several times a week as well.

My practice sucked. I would grit my teeth through Wheel Pose after Wheel Pose, as my teacher barked at me to use my legs more, tuck my tailbone more, to trust him, it was the only way to heal. I was feeling pretty burnt out, in my practice, in my teaching, and in my life. I literally felt like I was on a treadmill, running hard and fast, but going nowhere. I knew that something had to change, and I truly questioned whether to go on and hone my skills as a teacher, or walk away from teaching all together.

Many of my friends and fellow teachers had studied with Ana Forrest and raved about her. I wasn’t convinced that holding a pose for a long time, being still, and breathing into my genitals was really my thing. Regardless, I took their advice and signed up for her Advanced Teacher Training in Hong Kong, where I was living and teaching at the time.

On day one of the Advanced Teaching Training, I introduced myself to the circle of trainees in such a bubbly, confident, and convincing manner; even I was fooled. As soon as I began to share my injuries with the group I fell apart, unexpectedly, into a puddle of tears, while mildly hyperventilating. Everything that I had bottled up, even my fear of crying in public, came to a head all at once. I went from not having cried for a very long time, to a blubbering mess for nine days straight.

I can’t explain exactly what happened, but something had shifted, in a big way.

My journey from then on became an exploration of softening—a huge learning curve for all things in my life. Forrest Yoga was a pillar of support in this sense, and as I have discovered, feeling supported plays a crucial role in my ability to soften and be vulnerable. The intents woven into the Forrest teachings like “Work Struggle Free,” and “Feed Your Spirit” became solid building blocks in my quest to embrace and honor softness and vulnerability.

I had always seen softness and vulnerability as a great weakness.

Kristi Johnson photographed by Karen Yeomans, specialist in Sports, Fitness, Health, Well-being and Yoga Photography. Based in London.

Kristi Johnson photographed by Karen Yeomans, specialist in Sports, Fitness, Health, Well-being and Yoga Photography. Based in London.

Forrest Yoga being strong, grounding and intense, fed the intensity junkie in me, but required deep feeling breath, and an element of softness to hold the poses for any length of time. Without these ingredients, I found, it is just a great big struggle.

Simple exercises like sitting on the side of my bed each morning as soon as I had woken up, with closed eyes, and a deep breath, were golden. To feel into what my spirit needed that day, reconnected me with my intuition, and knitted my spirit back together—a spirit that felt like it had been left somewhat in tatters.

Moving on, my personal mission to embrace softness and vulnerability, has shone a great big light on the immense power that comes from weaving in these elements. I feel super strong, but in a different way.

I can hold a solid Chataranga, but that strength no longer fully defines who I am.

I feel my power, and know that it lives in my spirit, my intuition, my heart, and in my vulnerabilities as much as it does in my legs, arms, or abs.

Finding softness within my strength is still a daily practice. I move much more slowly, in all areas of my life. I teach much less. I don’t numb myself out with ridiculous amounts of exercise, and I am no longer getting burnt out from my teaching. My teaching feeds me greatly, and I am hugely grateful that I did not walk away from it.

The place where my softness and strength meet is where I am committed to sharing from right now. I feel stronger, more grounded, and more vibrant than I ever have and I’m committed to empowering others in the same way.

Kristi Johnson Bio picKristi first discovered yoga in her native country of New Zealand. She traveled to Hong Kong and China in 2003 where she explored more deeply the physical, emotional, and spiritual practice of yoga. Kristi taught at PURE Yoga in Hong Kong, gathering a rich amount of experience teaching group classes, privates, and workshops, while furthering her training with teachers from all over the world. She experienced her first Forrest Yoga teacher training with Ana Forrest in 2010 and from then has never looked back. Kristi currently lives and teaches in yoga studios in London and Europe, and assists Ana Forrest in trainings and workshops around the world. You can also find Kristi’s Forrest Yoga classes online at Movement For Modern Life. Connect with Kristi here:

Website: www.kristimaeyoga.com
Blog: www.kristimaejohnson.tumblr.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/people/Kristi-Mae-Yoga/100011147582087
Instagram: www.instagram.com/kristimaeyoga/

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