Manchester’s booming yoga scene has been brought to life by a local photographer in a dazzling showcase of local teachers practising their trade.
Dispelling the Instagram myth that only super fit, thin and flexible goddesses go to yoga classes, photographer and yogi Madeleine Penfold picked up her camera to snap some of the city’s most authentic and diverse yoga teachers.
Motivated by her own sister’s misconception of what yoga is about, Madeleine found a diverse range of teachers all with their own story and reasonings for their practice.
An exhibition of her work at the Foundation Coffee house in the Northern Quarter promises to celebrate the “diversity, dedication and beauty of Manchester’s yoga teachers”.
The exhibition features Manchester yoga legend Granville Cousins, 64, who gave up a career in joinery to become a full-time instructor and hasn’t looked back since.
His laid-back zen approach to life and his teachings has his pupils flocking all over Manchester for a session with the guru himself.
Proving that anyone can take up the popular lifestyle choice, couple Teresa and Kevin Dennison ditched their profitable day jobs to become yoga teachers after having three children.
Teresa – who was Madeleine’s first instructor – got into yoga when her parents suggested it as a regular ‘date night’ with husband Kevin, after having three children and finding it hard to relax.
They were soon hooked, quit the rat race and embarked on careers passing their knowledge on to eager students.
Teresa, 55, who lives in the city centre, said: “I was an HR manager at a financial services business and had twins in 1997. One of them, Grace, has Down’s Syndrome. I stayed home and did early intervention work with her and was due to return to work part-time after six months maternity leave. I felt disengaged from the narcissistic attitude. The self-serving, egotistical, who were paid a healthy salary but not grateful at all. So I resigned and became a full-time mum.
“I had our youngest child in 2000 and after taking our parents’ advice (Kevin was working full-time), we embarked on a weekly yoga class just so we could be doing something together.
“We both soon became hooked. We bought a video, practised in the evenings when the wee ones were in bed. We loved it.
“After a number of years, I was ready to return to the world of work but had no enthusiasm for ‘conventional’ rat race.
“I believe that I warmly encourage asana progression, with no ego on the mat. So generally my people are normal; not self serving, not egotistical, not fake. That makes me feel very blessed.”
Kevin followed his wife’s lead after spending years working as head of staff development on a national newspaper.
“My mum died in 2013 and my epiphany happened,” he says. “I couldn’t see clients and didn’t want to work, so I just concentrated on yoga. It led me to Jivamukti yoga and that seemed to answer my questions.
“I believe that yoga is a gift that unravels people from suffering and torment and therefore strongly believe as a teacher you can not shirk that responsibility.
Madeleine – whose famous subjects have included Paul Pogba, Jurgen Klopp and Raheem Sterling – said: “I’ve been practising yoga for years and recently trained as a teacher, but even my own sister has been put off joining a class by the filtered projection of the craft that has been spread via social media.
“I wanted to show through this project that there is no one size fits all. Yoga can be for everyone and we shouldn’t be put off from trying new things because of the exterior or perceived idea of how something could be.
“I also wanted to try to reach out and promote how good yoga is for your mental health as well as physical.
“It’s so important to be able to find an outlet for your emotions and yoga really does that for me and lots of other people.
“So I hope lots of yoga newbies will be encouraged to join a class near them as the benefits can be life changing.”
The exhibition is free and runs until April 30th. Every Tuesday a teacher showcased will hold a class starting at 6.45pm introducing their unique approach to the world of yoga.
Foundation Coffee House, Sevendale House, Lever St, Manchester M1 1JB