Teacher profile: Tom Logan

This month we’ve been chatting with some of our male teachers and students about their relationship with yoga, and to explore what might encourage more men to give it a try.

Tom Logan is an Iyengar yoga teacher based in Clapham and currently teaching classes on Zoom.

How did you get into Iyengar yoga?

I was experiencing lower back pain. The doctors want to fuse my lumbar and I felt I needed an alternative solution. There was a yoga class at my local health club so I gave it a try and it turned out to be Iyengar yoga. After 6 weeks of classes my back pain improved.

How old were you?

Around 42.

Do you do other sports/activities?

Mountain biking, hiking and wild swimming

Have you tried other styles of yoga?

Yes – I grew up avoiding Catholic church by going to a regular Sivananda class every Sunday morning, which I did until I started college.

What was it about Iyengar yoga that stood out for you?

The detail of instruction and the varied classes. Before I tried Iyengar yoga I was accustomed to doing sun salutation at every class. Iyengar yoga worked.

Who was your first Iyengar yoga teacher?

At the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Maida Vale I met Stephen Richardson, who inspired me to make yoga a regular part of my life.

Do you have any favourite poses?

Not really, poses for me are a progression from challenging, to bearable, to understanding. As I progress I find a new one to learn and I spend time ‘making friends’ with the pose.

What do your friends and family think about yoga?

Mostly their perception of yoga is gym bunny pop yoga! I try to educate them but…my cycling mates just chuckle.  A few have come along to classes and a couple have stuck with it. My wife practises with me once a week. My daughter has also become a regular practitioner, and my sister-in-law goes to classes too.

Do you teach Pranayama?

Regularly, but only once a month as part of my restorative classes. Sometimes I’ll teach a special workshop.

How has yoga philosophy affected your life?

I try to live within the guidelines of what we interpret today as Yamas and Niyamas (I emphasise ‘try’!)

Do you have many male students in your class? 

Yes roughly 25%, sometimes more.

“Stiffer or injured people understand yoga more completely than those it comes easy to”

Do you think there are barriers for men wanting to attend yoga classes and if so, what are they?

Fear of failing, many men are naturally competitive. Also, men often think yoga is for women.  

Sometimes yoga becomes almost competitive. Men new to yoga find this painful and almost inaccessible. Some modern yoga classes have become like a fashion catwalk or a beauty contest – including the teachers – which is a confusing message.

I emphasise the origins of yoga as exclusively for men and particularly BKS Iyengar and his early story. I explain that stiffer or injured people understand yoga more completely than those it comes easy to.

What are some of the benefits of yoga that you’d like to share?

There are many practical benefits like overcoming injury, stress, worry, sleep problems and flexibility issues. It’s also great for building strength, as well as stabilising the emotions and improving your concentration.  

Where do you teach?

My most successful classes were at a local GP practice – the doctors refer their patients to me if it’s suitable. I also teach weekend classes at an old church hall.  These locations are on hold at the moment and I’m doing the Zoom thing.

Have you got any advice for someone trying yoga for the first time?

Go just for you and ignore everything else, except your teacher and yourself. Be kind but firm with yourself. Keep going back for at least 6 weeks and stick with one teacher if you can.  Enjoy the experience.

Find Tom’s profile and classes here