If you live in London, it’s likely you’ve come across the lovely Malcolm Medley covering a class near you – he’s taught just about everywhere… and in New Zealand, too. Despite being a born and bred Londoner, he’s as close to nature as you can get in a city, pitching his home close to a park and the river. He also loves his allotment and grows tomatoes and wildflowers on his balcony. Here, he gives us a glimpse of his past 14 years of kundalini yoga practice…
How did you get into kundalini yoga?
My friend Paula went to Guru Dharam‘s class in Hampstead 14 years ago. It impacted her a lot and she said I must come along with her for the next week’s class. I did, and I loved it!
What does your practice look like now?
Very varied – I do like variety. I’m less rigid than I initially was after my level one teacher training. My partner Anna’s a kundalini yoga teacher too, and we often start the day with a practice together. Sometimes we do a meditation or kriya for its remedial benefits, sometimes out of interest. Sometimes because I’m about to teach it and haven’t done it for a long while. I think it’s important to take the practice off the mat into the rest of your life too. I spontaneously started doing kirtan kriya many years ago while running and haven’t stopped since. It deals with the whole span of life, which is good to reflect on. I occasionally mentally chant the Siri Gaitri when I swim to keep me focused. I also do bifurcated kirtan kriya in many different situations: when I’m on the tube/on a bus/waiting in a queue. It has no mudra or prescribed body position so can be done anywhere. I find it very useful to cope with the stresses of living in a busy city.
What’s been the most life-changing kundalini yoga practice you’ve ever done?
Bound lotus for 111 days after having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011. It helped move things in the right direction – my PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels came down, and have stayed down.
What’s your favourite kriya/ meditation/ mantra?
Right now it’s surya kriya. I’ve been doing it for eight days so far. Initially I was intrigued by it and wanted to understand its effects on me, physically/ mentally/ spiritually. Now I just enjoy it. I’m very fond of the Adi Shakti meditation with celestial communication – I find that across the board, people really respond to it. My mantra is Ong So Hung. It just resonates with me.
You’re a gong master and trained with Don Conreaux and Mehtab Benton – what was that like?
They’re both very wonderful, beautiful human beings: Mehtab is very relaxed, and Don is very, very relaxed. I can’t recommend them enough. I also did a day’s workshop with Guru Dharam which was different again – a more spiritual approach. I always think it’s good to be at the feet of as many masters as you can, and then make your own mind up.
What initially drew you to the gong?
It was love at first strike, I just felt very connected to it, something deep happened right there.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to get their own gong?
Do it! Get some basic training, start playing, then while playing, listen to the Gong to hear what it wants you to do. Then just keep listening, and keep playing…. The Gong plays you, you don’t play the Gong!
KY teachings encourage men to grow their beard to protect their moon centre/ trigeminal nerve in the chin. How has your luscious beard affected you?
Growing my beard was a happy accident (camping with little chances for shaving) but then I found that I liked it. I am not consciously aware of my beard affecting me, or my moon centre, but I do know that I like it’s naturalness. When I’m with other bearded men I feel a deeper connection, man to man.
Favourite quote? ‘Before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment chop wood carry water.’ It helps me stay grounded.
Life philosophy in a nutshell? Life is endlessly interesting.
Indulgence? Pastéis de nata – Portuguese custard tarts.
Film? Ozu’s 1953 Tokyo Story is the all-time winner, but I generally love the last film that I’ve just seen, so BFG.
Book? Grace And Grit by Ken Wilber.
Cafe? Cafe In The Crypt at St Martin-In-The Fields for location, the Members Bar at the Tate Modern for view and ambience, and all time winner is The Chocolate Fish Café in Wellington NZ for food, views and sheer laid-backness – you could spend all day there!
City? London. I love my home town, but love to get away as well – Lucca in Italy was a stand out.
Teacher? For yoga it’s Guru Dharam because of the depth of his understanding, but teachings come from all walks of life. I just got very blasted by Wilko Johnson’s (of Dr. Feelgood fame) autobiography and his reaction to his diagnosis of imminently fatal pancreatic cancer: ‘I felt free, free from the future and the past.’
Kundalini yoga song? Long Time Sun
Breakfast? I endlessly experiment with porridge (different grains, seeds, nuts, fruit and milks – hemp, coconut etc) to find the best combinations. My partner calls it my ‘slop’, but when I get it right there’s nothing better!
Favourite thing about teaching? The connection with people, how you respond to the needs of the students in that moment…
Spiritual name? Mahan Deva
Blog/website? The Independent website.
Malcolm Medley teaches one-to-one classes in London, and is available to cover classes too. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07941 843228