Teacher feature: Daniel Gleeson

By 9 August 2016News
Performing yoga during long-haul flights

This month we meet one of our teachers who knows a thing or two about travel, as his non-yoga alter ego is a full time flight attendant.

What brought you to yoga and what about it made you stay?

“I’ve always been interested in fitness and exercise, and so a few years ago, like many others, I decided to try out the phenomenon that was Bikram yoga. Straightaway I was fascinated by it; trying to use my body in a different way, becoming so much more aware of it, understanding its capabilities and limitations, all simply by striking a pose on a mat. Not long afterwards, I discovered Fierce Grace, and I loved it even more – I found it to be a much better fit for me. In terms of attitude, variety, humour, and approach, I knew immediately that my yoga had found a new permanent home.”

Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?

“I don’t think teaching yoga is something to take up on a whim. I spent a long time deciding whether or not to train. Teaching (anything) is a humbling and rewarding experience, and should always be approached as such. Too many times I’ve been in yoga classes whose teachers are disinterested, or overpowering, or serious, or massaging their egos, or ignorant of the varying abilities in the class. All of these qualities only serve to turn people away. So I wanted show that yoga can be taught without any of these things, but with quite the opposite; playfulness, alignment, professionalism, passion. And above all, a sense of humour.”

You’ve recently started to teach Wild at Brixton – what do you like about Wild? Why would you recommend it to members?

“I love Wild because it’s tough. But still satisfyingly so. I think yoga or exercise or fitness of any type NEEDS to be challenging – this works your body, maintains your interest, and suggests ongoing improvement. Wild definitely offers all this. Throughout the class there’s usually groans of pain, sighs of relief (and disbelief!), and even the odd smile…!

Also, back on the issue of trying to get more men into yoga, I think Wild helps to address this through its format – a brilliant yoga/bodyweight/cardio crossover. Wild offers a more strength-based repetition-style workout, which still uses yoga influence & techniques, which I think is more appealing to men with little yoga experience/background.

So for men AND women I’d recommend trying Wild for the variety it offers.”

As a flight attendant, can you share your ‘Top Tips For A Good Flight’?

“I’ve flown long-haul for many years now, so I’ve seen people have good flights… and bad flights! A lot of it comes down to preparedness – physical and mental. Especially for longer flights, I’d try to be at least a little prepared; take water and snacks, load your iPad with things to read and watch, be aware of the flight length AND time change.

On board, just try to take things in your stride – sharing a confined space with other people for a prolonged time is going to push your buttons at some point. Like a busy yoga class!

Long-haul flying isn’t always a pleasant experience, but you can make it much easier on your body & mind by approaching it well. Arriving at a destination I ALWAYS try to stay with the sun – if it’s light, try to stay awake, then try to wind down and sleep when it goes dark. I find my body responds better to light/dark triggers than anything else.”

Which yoga poses do you recommend when flying?

“In terms of yoga on boardspace is very limited – unless you’re sitting further forwards! Neck stretching is an easy ad obvious exercise – side to side, and rolling forwards. Gentle spine twisting when seated is something I do on board. Also a quick Standing Pigeon hip stretch each side, maybe while waiting for the washroom!

When trying to battle jetlag post-flight, try calming postures which work into the hips after sitting for so long, like Half Tortoise, Reclining Pigeon, Full Pigeon.”

What’s on your Fierce Grace playlist?

“I love the use of music in a yoga class, I think it can really enhance it. But… it can also detract from it too! Mismatched or obscure music during class can really spoil the experience.

I have four different playlists I use for the FG class, but I’m always looking for music to help me create more! I’ll hear a tune, anywhere, and think “Oh that would be perfect for Sun Salutation!”, or for the abs section, or for the final 4 postures. So my playlists include disco to 80s to recent, RnB to chill-out and more.

I teach Wild too, which is faster paced than Classic or FG, so that definitely calls for an upbeat playlist – keeping you motivated when your muscles are starting to scream at you! For that I use some ‘happy house’, some 80s retro, and a couple of my own discoveries.”