HERE PRESENTS BRISTOL MINDFUL DAD, Yogadad ROB REID
by dana dyksterhuis
It was incredible talking with Rob Reid, aka “YogaDad” from Bristol. Although Rob has been practicing Yoga for over a decade now, things really kicked into high gear after his twin sons were born in 2016 and he knew he needed more help with the pressures that life gives us. Now, he’s a champion for getting more men involved in Yoga, has been interviewed by Sky News for International Men’s Day, and runs Yoga for Men, Yoga for Cyclists and Yoga for Charity classes. In total, he raised in the region of £900 for local, national and international charities through his classes this year. In fact, at the time of this writing, he had just completed a charity, fancy Christmas dress bike ride, and the money he donated was from his Yoga for Cyclists course this Autumn. “This makes me feel so good about my practice and embodying principles of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.” Rob also gives tips and sessions on how to integrate poses into your daily routine as well as while sitting in your chair at work, and offers donation-based, lunchtime yoga classes.
It was an honour talking with you Rob and we thank you for sharing your journey with us! Here is our Q&A with Rob and we hope you enjoy.
'HAS DOING YOGA MADE YOU MORE ABLE TO BE A MINDFUL PARENT AND DEAL WITH THE STRESSES THAT COMES ALONG WITH BEING A DAD?’
Yes. I must admit it’s definitely helped me. The pressures are so great nowadays, whether you have a single child or multiple children… And as parents you’re managing work, home life and so much more. Anything you can find to alleviate that stress, whether a walk in the park or Yoga, can really help to cancel that stress and allow you to reflect more on the positives. I think a lot of times you can get wrapped in the negative aspects because it’s hard, but Yoga gives me the opportunity to step back and reflect.
'IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIAL YOU DO TO HELP WITH NEGATIVE THOUGHTS IN YOUR HEAD?’
I’m pretty self-aware now and I think Yoga helps you get there. I’ll check in with myself, “How do I actually feel physically and mentally at this time? And what can I do to feel better?” Just taking five breaths can make a huge difference. One of the things I’m also trying to get people to think about is to take Yoga out of the studio and to their chair or wherever they are. It’s not always possible and you can get absorbed in situations, but try and take a step back and ask yourself, “What do I need to do to get better?”
I ran a Yoga for Men class recently where one of the men told me, “This may be the only opportunity I have this week to help feel better mentally.” So whether it’s taking a breath, or taking a class, find something you can do to feel better at the times you need it.
'ARE THERE ANY POSES OR MINDFUL MOMENTS THAT CAN BE DONE WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE A BIT OF TIME?'
I love to challenge myself as much as my students and think of how to explore different ways to do yoga, and use everyday items like a chair or a wall vs spending a fortune. Even if I’m standing at the sink washing dishes, or if I’m brushing my teeth, I can stand in Tree Pose or Mountain Pose. You can bring bite size portions to your day that will help you to stand strong and focus…. I find it beneficial to do things like this even for a short amount of time.
'DO YOUR KIDS DO POSES AT HOME OR TAKE MINDFUL MOMENTS AS A RESULT OF SEEING YOUR PRACTICE?’
I love the chaos of trying to teach the kids. For them doing Down Dog it’s very different, but just as in teaching, we have many varied movements of the body. I think with the boys (2 1/2-years-old), they’re not doing Down Dog or Tree Pose, they’re just moving and I love their freedom. I think it demonstrates the importance of leading by example, including breathing, for our children.
(photos provided by Rob)
yoga in the UK national curriculum
I did my Thesis for my 200h Yoga Teacher Training on how to incorporate Yoga and mindfulness into the National Curriculum. Titled, “Yoga in the National Curriculum - Promoting Wellbeing and Enabling Children and Young People to Realise their Potential,” I was looking at how to empower children to better cope with exams, etc. and how Yoga and mindfulness is the way.
I want to help them learn: “I can deal with this” to help manage the situation… “I can do this myself.”
more from Rob’s thesis:
“For children in particular, they are most likely to be interested in physical aspects. Therefore, introducing the benefits from a physical perspective would be a sensible starting point. For example, highlighting how yoga unites body, mind and breath through a structured and balanced programme of movements. How yoga can help children feel that sense of grounding and stability through say, standing poses. Or, how forward bends can be used to provide a calming effect to body and mind while also strengthening abdominals and lengthening the spine.
There is a clear correlation between education and health, whether that relates to physical aspects such as diet and childhood obesity levels or mental issues, related to having the right skills to identify mental health issues as they arise. This is where a yoga programme could add specific value within schools.”
WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TRYING TO be the CHAMPION FOR MEN DOING YOGA?
It’s been amazing. People in my classes are now suggesting other, different opportunities for Bristol. I never would have thought that after doing the Teachers Training it would have evolved into what it has. Doing the Sky interview on International Men’s Day, podcasts, etc. it makes me want to do more. There’s a real need for this, a real gap in the market and there needs to be more. If I can encourage more people to participate, then from my point of view I’d be very happy.
I’m finding with the Yoga For Men classes where there are about 10-12 men a week, it’s good to have something focused exclusively on them. Even physically, the challenges can be different - They’ve all got hamstring tightness, they can’t open their hips as much, etc., so to have this type of community support for them is very important.
One guy said to me that at another class the teacher told him he was useless in a pose, so it affected him and he never went back. Sometimes they open up by saying, ‘I apologise for the fact that I’m totally inflexible!’ For me, I tell them we’re all different, and the days may even be different with energy levels, injuries, etc., and I say it’s ok, we’re all here on a journey! The most important step is the first step in the journey.
ROB’S TOOLBOX OF MINDFUL PARENTING METHODS:
When you feel stress, do anything you can find to alleviate that stress, whether a walk in the park or Yoga to cancel that stress and reflect more on the positives.
Check in with yourself: “How do I actually feel physically and mentally at this time? And what can I do to feel better?” Just taking five breaths can make a huge difference.
Daily activities like standing at the sink washing dishes, or brushing your teeth provides bite-sized opportunities to stand in various poses like Tree Pose or Mountain Pose that will help you to stand strong and focus.
Doing Yoga with your kids is super because while they may not doing a “proper” Down Dog or Tree Pose, they are moving, exploring freedom and learning the importance of breathing.
No matter where you are in your journey, don’t focus on what you can’t do or what you’re not doing. Instead, try thinking of Rob’s words: “We’re all different, and the days may even be different with energy levels, injuries, etc., and it’s ok. We’re all here on a journey! The most important step is the first step in the journey.”
You can focus on yourself. You can take a step back to reflect, and focus on things you need to do to make you feel better.
Thank you again to Rob for taking the time to share his journey with us. We think it’s so great and applaud his mission to involve more men in Yoga and mindfulness! Be sure to follow more of his journey on his Instagram: @yogadaduk and his Blog here.