When I was young I was entranced by Star Wars and wanted to be a Jedi Knight and have a teacher like Obiwan Kenobi or Master Yoda. I began studying martial arts, which included different styles over a fourteen year period, accumulating two black-belts and one brown-belt. As a teenager I was introduced to Yoga by my martial arts teacher and continued to practice Satyananda Yoga a little each week to improve my flexibility.
In 1990 I began a Zen Shiatsu course which took 3 years to complete. At the end of the latter course I completed an Oki-do Yoga Teacher Training that was being offered by the same organisation. During this course I learned anatomy and physiology, Corrective Physical Therapy, Transcendental Meditation and Meridian Theory as applied to Yoga postures. I completed my first teacher training in 1993. During this course I began to explore both Iyengar Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga and was somewhat torn between deciding to do an Iyengar Teacher Training in Poona, India, or going to Mysore and studying with Sri K. P. Jois. I chose the latter.
In 1994 I went to Mysore for the first time and for the following three years stayed for 6 months each time. I returned there regularly up until 2006. Since 1998 my personal practice has included “Advanced B”, or 4th Series, and I have also explored much of Advanced C on my own. Part of my reason for staying in Mysore rather than going to Poona to study with Iyengar was the connection I had with Pattabhi Jois. On the day of my arrival he met me at his door, by chance, and told the rickshaw driver who dropped me off where I was to stay at the local Yoga student hotel. He was so kind and friendly to me (if a bit fierce, going by the thudding of my beating heart) that I loved him instantly.
The Mysore method contributed greatly to my focus; it helped to define my strengths and weaknesses. After going to Mysore I felt I had absorbed an aspect of the tradition – call it living history – that I had not really grasped before. I began teaching Ashtanga Yoga in 1996 and have continued to do so for more than 15 years. Over the last decade however my teaching style has shifted somewhat from a standard orthodox approach to something that is more holistic. Although I have a great love for the Ashtanga series and its tradition, my interest is in practicing and teaching any aspect of Yoga that works. Rather than adhering to one single viewpoint I do my best to connect to every student as authentically as I can.
After many years of Yoga practice I have developed my own Vinyàsa sequences that I promote and teach as suitable alternatives to the standard series. These unique Vinyàsa classes are conducted to encourage students to apply a therapeutic approach to their personal practice and to encourage an adventurous heart. These sequences are useful for students who may not be able to regularly practice Ashtanga Yoga, and also to help bring balance to the overall system. For this reason I now recommend the starting Vinyàsa Krama sequences to all Ashtanga Yoga practitioners. Vinyàsa Krama will add to your well being with the prospect of continuing to practice decades into the future with real harmony and joy.
I have also spent the last 20 years in self inquiry, including different styles of Meditation, a number of Vipassana 10 day courses, Tantra workshops, Gestalt Therapy, Transpersonal Therapy and Transforming Cellular Memory. All of these have contributed greatly to my understanding of Yoga and the connection between the body, Self, and the Divine.
I travel and teach Yoga workshops in Australia, Asia, North America and Europe and conduct 1 Month Programs in beautiful retreat locations each year.
May the Force be with you, Matthew Sweeney
Visit Matthew’s Website: http://www.yogatemple.com