City Centre Stretching – Matt Ryan Returns to Manchester

The words Manchester, Yoga and Ryan may conjure up thoughts of a high-achieving footballing star who is currently a bit quiet, but we’re here to tell you to put those visions to bed. There’s a much more authentic and wholesome Ryan on the local stretching scene and his name is Matt.

Having trotted the globe and worked with a few big names himself, Matt Ryan has returned to his home city to begin a new chapter of his Yoga journey. We’ve sampled his brand of spiritual exercise and wholly endorse it. We don’t always focus too much on local interest stuff but for this we make a worthy exception.

Read on to find out more and snag yourself a free session.

Mr Ryan, it’s been a while. How are you today?

Hey Mark – yep all good brother – just about to stand on me head!

You’ve been busy since we last spoke. Tell us about this latest development in your Yoga journey?

Well it seems like I’ve not come up for breath over the last couple of months as I’ve been working tooth and nail to get YogaMCR up and running in God’s Own Land. We launched on my birthday Feb 20 a few weeks back and so far so ace – it’s great to see so many many folk coming to the classes. 

For the uninitiated, what’s your history with Yoga and how you got into it?

Well this could quite easily turn into War & Peace , Yoga version. So I’ll keep it short and sweet.

Many moons ago I used to be a DJ (Dj’d at both Hacienda and Home nightclubs) and well I partied far too hard ! The next thing I know my mind and body had fallen apart and I was a bit of a mess. A friend of a friend recommended Yoga as a way of rehabilitating myself. And yes this was 25 + years ago when Yoga wasn’t as well known as it is now. I, like a lot of people, had the misconception that it involved little old ladies, churches and maybe lycra. Boy, I was so wrong. I rocked up to a class and within 5 minutes this first class was very nearly two  – my first and last. It was bloody hard work. God knows why but I went back the week after and the week after that and before long I’d hung up the headphones and naffed off to Mysore South India to totally immerse myself in the practice. And boom 2 months later I came back a yoga teacher- a mate used to say when Matt Ryan got cosmic .

You’ve travelled extensively and lived overseas yet here you are back in your home city. Has the pandemic had a hand in that or was it something you always envisaged doing?

Well I remember someone saying a while ago that Manchester is the Mothering City , and all those that leave , one day come back. I think in my heart I knew I’d always end up back in Manchester, and I guess the pandemic had a small hand in making that happen.

With the context of having immersed yourself in LA and other places, what sets Manchester apart?

Well apart from having my friends and family here (and my football team that play in blue) Manchester is without a doubt the best city on the planet. I’ve travelled all over the world and spent a good deal of time in Venice Beach L.A. and I have met some really good people – but Wilson was bang on the money when he said we do things differently here (and we do have the best record collections). 

Are there any misconceptions around Yoga that you’d like to put right?

Well apart from my own misconceptions mentioned above, there are probably still a couple of people (blokes mainly) still think that Yoga is some weird esoteric religious exercise for women only. 

Have you noticed a willingness from more traditionally masculine males to embrace Yoga?

Oh for sure , I know because I was one of them. I played football , swore at the telly and at traffic. I am not what people would call a usual yoga type. Yoga is becoming ubiquitous – and I’m all for it – it’s starting to attract those who might never have tried it, just because they’ve seen it on an advert or their favourite footballer is now practicing.

We tend to focus on the outer layers (ie. Clothes!) on our website and in our magazine, rather than getting too deep about what lies beneath. But the last few years have shown the importance of looking after the inside as well as the outside. Yoga can help with that, can’t it?

It seems every year the positive noise around mental health and well-being gets louder and as mentioned above my own way into the practice was for mental health reasons. I’ve been teaching and practicing now for the best part of 25 years and for me there ain’t a better mind/body practice out there. Even from a simple standpoint of the best way of getting out the mind (not off yer head !) Is getting into the body. Yoga helps to create strength flexibility and balance in the body whilst having this amazing calming effect on the mind.

PS I still focus on the outer layers too – got me Good Measure / Adidas Special / Battenwear threads for teaching in ! 

Who should we look at as the poster boy for Yoga now Ryan Giggs has been cancelled? There must be some mad 120 year old fella in India somewhere?

C’mon Mark – the new poster boy for Yoga is ME !! Ha ha. I remember when I was teaching in Venice Beach I had this Italian Yoga student ( she was a famous radio DJ who interviewed a ton of rock stars) and she always used to compare me to Liam Gallagher – actually it might have been Noel – anyway I wasn’t sure to be offended or take it as a compliment. 

Back to your new venture. Where can people find out more about what you’re up to? Class times, prices etc.

So you can find me on insta @yogamcr – web

The studio is in Castlefield in the City Centre. I’m teaching 3 classes a day 5 days a week and happy to offer all the Proper readers a free class – just message me on insta and I’ll sort it. – No excuses now.

Mark Smith

I had pizza for tea.

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