From his first yoga class at age 18 at a treatment centre, to being an Instagram yogi today with thousands of followers, Jacob Manning has come a long way! He was in Dubai for the 2-day X yoga festival and Viki Shah talked to him about yoga and more.
Q: How did yoga happen?
A: Just being broken, lost, empty, looking for help. That’s how it happened.
Q: What led you to yoga?
A: Like what it says in your card; living the opposite, living bad, unhealthy, substances, not having anywhere to live and from just being mangled by life, you know empty inside? Just think about the worst feeling you’ve ever had, think that it’d be permanent and started asking for help and my Aunt Dawn took me to my first class when I was 18 years old and I cried for the first time in like 10 years.
Q: So what role would you say has yoga played in your life?
A: Its one of the few things that never leaves me and never can hurt me,
Q: So, even off the mat you are always practicing yoga?
J: Yeah, especially these past couple of months, the breath always comes with me off the mat, not the poses; the poses are on the mat. I don’t do warrior II you know, as I’m having a conversation with family, but my breath keeps me in the moment and best is when I’m practicing, continuing to come back to the moment. If I meditate a lot, I sit and I breathe in and I know this is my body and I breathe out and I know that I’m home and that I’ve arrived and that yoga really has been the start of the path of being able to look at myself like I look at people I fell in love with, looking at myself how I look at them, how beautiful is that to be able to see myself the way that I see the most attractive girl or making a ton of money whatever those feelings are, that’s what I want to feel about myself.
Q: Can yoga bring inner peace?
A: Yes, very much so. It has taken me a lot of years to bring me to this. All the skeletons are out in the closet and there’s nothing I haven’t faced that yoga gave me the strength for. I have nothing to hide. This is it right now.
Q: What do you think about the Instagram yogis who are all about these fancy poses and, twisting bends and all… What is your opinion on that?
A: This morning the way that I taught was the opposite of what people may see me doing crazy poses. All this stuff, music, different things, really are distractions of being comfortable, quiet with our self. Today I didn’t play my music, I kept the physical practice pretty mellow and so with that what’s left is just me, you, and our breathing.
We all can do the physical poses and because we can do the physical poses, we can stay tuned in with our breath and use that to be in the moment. I like all the Instagram stuff and even share it sometimes but when I’m like sharing on my Instagram, I’ll be like, “Man, this isn’t my thing and my cup gets full from what I do!” What I do when no one is looking? I wake up in the morning and then set my alarm for 15-20 minutes and just sit there and meditate on my breath and I fall in love with myself every morning and it is beautiful, it’s so powerful. Most of the reason for what I’ve done is try to make my body capable of doing things so that people started to pay attention to me and with that it was like okay, I’ve got the attention now where is it telling me to go? Where do people need to be taken? And you take them there and its all into yourself not to me, not to any Instagram, nor to any influencer who’s got tons of followers or tons of likes and comments. They are doing the best flows and seems to me, traveling the most and having the best time. But when you wake up and if you can speak comfortably with the person you see in the mirror, you’re ready!
Q: If you had a chance to choose a favourite style or a sequence or a pose, what would it be? Immediately grounding?
A: Sitting my legs crossed on the ground level, not a chair just sitting on the ground of my legs crossed with myself and nothing else.
Q: I find it a bit daunting when somebody says, do Hatha Yoga, or Vinyasa, try Ashtanga, go for power yoga; how do I know what’s good for me?
A: Whichever you feel helps you stay connected with your breath is the one for you. Whichever is making you feel happy, bringing happiness, feeling like it’s changing you on the inside and feeling is knowing so that’s how you know.
Q: What are your top tips to our readers to stay healthy and happy?
A: One, give out what you feel inside on the outside; for me that’s been meditation, mantra meditation. Seeking meditation practice, whatever you need to do to fill the inside with the outside stuff.
Second thing will be the truth, it will set you free. Whatever you feel that has happened in the past and you’re holding onto that ,you feel guilty about, shameful about or embarrassed about, its important to share it with one person and be honest and that will free up feelings that you or your body didn’t know were there!
Third thing would be to enjoy the people that are in your life because you never know when someone’s going to die.