from music to yoga: colly's story
A meeting at the fun factory
It’s a drizzly Monday morning as we ring the doorbell of Clockwork Studios in Camberwell, quite literally a bell, but you can’t help feeling an air of positivity around the place.
A blue plaque hangs on the wall outside to Fred Karno, a close friend of Charlie Chaplin, and the creator of the pie-in-the-face gag which raises an early morning smile. Beaming and thrusting a couple of mugs of coffee into our hands as he opens the door is Colly, the man we're here to see. As we walk through and into the courtyard he explains that Karno owned the studios in the 1920s, when it was known as The Fun Factory. Looking around at the various airy studios, filled with plants, and all manner of artistic paraphernalia, you get the feeling that fun stuff happens here.
Colly teaches yoga in Clockwork Studios and he’s been doing it for the past 3-4 years. It wasn’t what he always wanted to do, but he loves it.
He started his career in the music industry running a club night, a music blog, and working for a publishing company. All at the same time.
Life was pretty full on.
There was a lot of working hard, but there was a lot of partying hard too. The process of doing lots of different things within the music industry was really challenging and it put a strain on my body and my mind. And I think after eight years or so it just came to a head.
Burning the candle at both ends for almost a decade takes its toll. What should have been Colly’s dream job, the thing he’d wanted since he was 15, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The hype, the pressure to find the next big thing, the stress of running on empty, and the strain it put on his body. It was all stacking up.
He took a good look at where he was and realised that actually another 10 years might go by without anything meaningful happening.
A keen runner, Colly got into yoga to help with all the tweaks and niggles anyone in their late twenties starts to experience.
I found yoga through using it as a tool for injury prevention. Like many people, you start to realise that there's many layers to it, and I started to get really excited about what it can do for your mental health.
It opened up a new world for him, where he could spend time with his body and his mind to get to know them both a little better. This deeper understanding led him to realise that actually the music industry may have been teenage Colly’s dream, but it had run its course and it was time for adult Colly to take control of his life.
you start to realise that there's many layers to it [yoga], and I started to get really excited about what it can do for your mental health.
Having thought for 15 years that my dream job was going to be in the music industry, I came to realise that there were actually, so many different things out there that I could get my teeth into. And I have a lot more to offer.
One day, not long after his thirtieth birthday, Colly decided to call time on the music industry. A long-deserved break, in which he went to Malawi, reaffirmed his decision. He returned with fresh purpose to teach yoga and help people with their physical and mental health.
At the time, it did feel like a little bit of a failure, quitting my job and leaving this kind of lifelong dream that I'd had. But looking back on it now, it just prepares you better for what's coming up next.
Now Colly takes every day as it comes, working on things that genuinely excite him. That daunting feeling, that challenge of not knowing what lies ahead, is greeted with excitement.
It was very challenging to know that I didn't have anything to turn to. I was essentially starting again. But since being a yoga teacher, and since working on my own, I've come to really discover and come to get a pleasure from that unknown. I've come to understand that that space is actually where the most exciting things can happen. Putting yourself out of your comfort zone, trying new things, learning new skills, it can be really challenging, but ultimately very rewarding.
I've come to really discover and come to get a pleasure from that unknown. I've come to understand that that space is actually where the most exciting things can happen.
Even the challenge of lockdown was greeted with a smile and a can-do attitude. The courtyard and garage space at Clockwork Studios was cleared out, cleaned up, and given a lick of paint. A host of plants, rugs, and objects from travels now adorn the walls, as well as artwork from Clockwork’s exhibiting artists. Colly now hosts classes with people around the world tuning in.
One class. I had someone from Australia at the same time as someone from South Africa and someone from Spain and someone from Cornwall. So that in itself is really amazing.
Each class with Colly takes you on a journey, where you test yourself. You feel the highs, and lows. You learn things about yourself that are not only good for the next time you roll out the mat, but that you can take with you for the rest of the day. It’s always a nice balance of stretching those hard to get to muscles, getting a proper workout, and tuning into a bit of restorative time. And, of course, music plays a big role.
In our busy day to day lives, there's a lot going on, there's a lot of distractions, we kind of rush about the day from start to finish without actually stopping, which on the nervous system is pretty challenging. Sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down a great thing about yoga classes that you can do the same thing. But you can have a really strong awareness of what's going on whilst you're doing it. So there might be some really challenging moments, and there might be some more restorative moments. And in those moments, if we're able just to notice how your body, how your mind is reacting to those highs, and to those lows, and how to self regulate, that's the kind of practice that you want to develop.
a great thing about yoga classes is that you can [...] have a really strong awareness of what's going on whilst you're doing it.
get started with the loah yoga routine
Colly has been kind enough to share a really easy roll-out-of-bed morning routine featuring moves that will help warm up your body and mind. It’s under 10 minutes, preps you for the day, and gets some movement into the spine and lower back – perfect for a day of desk work. You could even give it a go in your lunch break or at the end of the day if you’re feeling stiff.
We also have a box-breathing routine for you which is a great way to get your mind focussed.
If you like what you see then hit up Colly’s website to see his full schedule. He runs regular classes on Zoom, as well as classes in the studio, and now that the sun’s out you can even rock up and roll out your mat with him in Ruskin Park. His site also features recorded full length practices and quick fixes for things like running, cycling, and even tennis.
Check it out – www.mistercolliemanyoga.com